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Navigation: Exploring Off-Trail

When your route takes you off-trail you can still be on course with these navigation tips.
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Take Bearings From a Map
Finding the direction between one point and another is called taking a bearing. Say you want to find the bearing from Owl Pond to Cherry Knoll (left). Place the compass on the map with the long side of the baseplate in line with those two points; the direction-of-travel arrow (A) should point in the direction of Cherry Knoll. Now turn the dial so the meridian lines run parallel to the map’s north-south lines with, importantly, the orienting arrow pointing map north (B). The number at the index line (C) reveals your bearing. In this case, 45 degrees.

To follow that bearing (called plotting the bearing), hold the compass level in front of you and turn your body until the magnetic arrow aligns with the orienting arrow. The direction-of-travel arrow now points toward Cherry Knoll. Proceed forward, making sure the magnetic needle stays on the orienting arrow. In map circles, this process is known as “putting Red [the magnetic needle] in the shed [the orienting arrow] and following Fred” [direction-of-travel arrow].

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