SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

Navigation: Canyons and Deserts

Learn how to stay on track and find water safely in the desert and canyons.

by: Kristin Bjornsen, Dougald Macdonald, & Kristin Hostetter



clutch skill
Aim Wide to Stay on Track
In a featureless desert environment, finding a specific spot, sans GPS, often involves lots of wandering, since it’s hard to stay perfectly on your bearing. “Aiming off”—plotting an intentional offset or error—can prevent such meandering as you trek toward a hard-to-see place.

Say you’re crossing sage flats east toward a chimney that drops into a canyon. The canyon runs north-south, and the chimney lies at a 90-degree bearing from your position. Since few people can follow a compass in an absolutely straight line, how will you know which way to turn to find the chimney once you reach the canyon rim?

Here's how Aim off in one direction: by 10 degrees for distances up to one mile, by five degrees or less for greater distances. If you deliberately err to the south of the chimney, for example, with a 100-degree bearing, you know you’ll be to the right of it once at the canyon rim. Turn left to find it. Use the same method to find a hidden spring or car parked on a road.

Find Water Safely
Springs and seeps tend to surface lower in canyons, so start near the canyon mouth and travel upstream. This is safer than moving down-canyon, since you won’t descend a drop-off that you can’t climb back up. Also, never scramble into potholes unless you’re certain you can climb out; and beware of pools, which can hold deceptively deep, cold water.


Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Anybody going to watch Bear Grylls tonight?
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: mtnsteve
Gear
Want a pair of "grippy" rock climbing shoes
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: fifeplayer

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

>
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions