- Read the map regularly. Sure it sounds obvious, but many hikers look at the topo only when they’re lost.
- Visualize the terrain ahead based on the topo’s contour lines. If the area doesn’t look as you imagined, verify your location on the map immediately.
- Know your pace so you can calculate the time it’ll take to get to a landmark. You’ll be tipped off if it takes unusually long. Figure out your pace by timing how long it takes you to hike a mile wearing a pack.
- Use a compass to verify your general direction and orient yourself with the map, but don’t expect it to tell you where to go. You have to study the map for that.
- Never wander when you’re lost, and always keep a level head. As soon as the landscape doesn’t jibe with your map, backtrack to a place you can clearly identify on your map and start over.
- Daydream later. Keep track of the terrain you’re traversing, as well as any changes in direction.
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