October 23, 2012

Orienteering just does not refer to using a compass on a Topo map to find your way around uncharted grounds. Orieteering can be as simple as just keeping track of the compass cardinal points of North, South, East and West. In many situations, this is all the Orieteering you will need to have to be safe, find your way around, and keep track of your where-abouts while out exploring.

To me, the best Orieteering is done with both the latest technology and Native American observations. A GPS unit or compass, in connection with observing landmarks, specific terrain, tree growth and water flow directions is the very best of Orieteering.

Just laying a compass on a Map, or looking at a map on your GPS unit, and not directly connecting it do your surroundings is a useless effort. You can have the finest Topographical map in your hands or loaded into your GPS unit, but if you do not relate those Topo lines, to the elevation changes in the lands you are traveling, they are almost meaningless for you.

This is also where observing the land and waterways you are traveling, come into play. Not only do they connect you with the techno maps you may have, but they connect you with the actual area you are Hiking in. This may not always make alot of sense until you are actually out in the forests and see that the lines on the map you have, is that ridge line the Trail is following. This kind of connection is a very soothing feeling.

Not only does it give one an inner confidence on just where you are at, but it also gives you a Natural world connection that is hard to describe. That connection is the one you may hear Native Americans talk about having with Mother Earth, or the bond that Native people have with the land. They become part of the natural world. Something that we have discussed many times here at Hiking Michigan. You can actually practice these connections by just heading out to a local pond and sitting there undisturbed for an hour or so. You will be amazed at what you see, hear and what happens during this bonding time. It is those feelings and connections I speak of here.

The combination of these connections with Mother Nature and then adding in a compass, or GPS unit or Map, that will take you to a new level of understanding not only your where abouts in the forest, but will also give you a whole new perspective of the Forest and Waterways around you. You will see them all in a new light. Certain trees will become special and noticed like you would recognize an old friend. That big curve in the ridge line will be like the facial lines of someone you have known forever.

When you begin to look at where you are at, in these terms, it is no longer a task, but rather a pleasure to understand. The joy you get when you see that old friend, will be the same joy you receive when you recognize that ridge line running along that Pond where your favorite stand of Pine trees grow. And by the way…….the ridge line runs North to South…….the Pond is on the west side of the ridge, and those beautiful Pine trees grow along the east side of the ridge. Who needs the Maps, Compass, GPS unit or anything else then. 🙂



One comment

  1. I would love to learn this skill but there doesn’t seem to be any place near Hesperia, Michigan. The PDF is helpful though and I really appreciate you making it available. Thanks!

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