|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2008
From navigation to staying dry to predicting the weather, our primer will have you dialed.
Navigate Off-Trail | Stay Dry in a Downpour | Descend Safely | Beat Fatigue on Steep Climbs | Read a Rattlesnake's Body Language | Predict Weather With an Altimeter | Identify a Mountain Lion Track | 5 Ways to Navigate Without a Compass | 4 Ways to Prevent Blisters | Lace Your Boots for Maximum Comfort | Take a Perfect Summit Photo | Two-Second Tips
5 WAYS TO NAVIGATE WITHOUT A COMPASS
1) Sun Hold an analog watch flat, with the hour hand pointing to the sun. South is halfway between the hour hand and 12.
2) Shadows Stand a 3-foot stick vertically in the ground and mark the tip of its shadow with a rock. Wait at least 15 minutes, then mark the shadow again. The line connecting the two roughly coincides with the east-west line.
3) Stars Find the Big Dipper. Follow an imaginary line drawn through the two stars at the end of the cup and extending into the sky to a medium-bright star–this is Polaris, the North Star.
4) Moon Watch the sky. If the crescent moon rises before sunset, its illuminated side will face west. If it rises after midnight, the brighter side faces east.
5) Plants In Eastern and Midwestern prairies, find the bright-yellow bloom of a compass plant (Silphium laciniatum, right). In sunny spots, its leaves generally align themselves along the north-south line.