Determining time and location.


If you took my advise from an earlier post and went out for a walk in our great country, but now your cell phone or GPS battery has died. Now you have now clue what time it is, location or how far you have gone. Hopefully you have a map and compass but if not there things you can do to rectify this situation.

First thing you need to do is stop to take a drink of your purified watter and get your bearings straight. I do suggest taking water and a snack with you anytime you meander the great out doors. When we search for lost trekkers, the first thing we would do if conscious is get them to eat a candy bar and drink water. This helps to ward of mental shock. If you have a map try to orientate it to your surroundings if possible, to safely get to an elevated position. By doing this, you will be able to see other prominent positions and terrain features.

Way points

If you can see two or three prominent positions, try using a straight edge (any thing with a straight edge) to try to line up the two or three positions. The point where the three lines intersect is your position.
If your map has a key section showing distances you can make those on a piece of paper and make a ruler to figure how far you are from the prominent positions.

Now before you go walking off try to mark your current location on a tree with a flag, piece of shirt or anything that can be seen from several feet away. Most every person has a prominent foot. Check the wear pattern on your shoes. It will help you figure out which direction you tend to drift while walking. I have located fellow soldiers who were walking in circles because they had no compass to keep direction in the woods. Same trait in civilians. To combat this, drift past obstacle’s on opposite sides. Right side this time and left side next time.

Count steps

Keep a pace count to keep track of how far you have walked. A pace is equal to one natural step and a natural step stride is 30 inches long. A Pace count is how many steps you take in 100 meters. The military uses metric measurement when walking in click’s short for kilometers.

What you need to do now before ever becoming lost is to learn your pace count. Things like wind, rain, ground slopes, foliage and visibility affect your count and you will need to compensate by increasing or decreasing steps.
Keep track of your paces. For me, it is every 68 right steps equals 100 meters. I carry ten small stones or 10 coins in my left pocket and move one to the right pocket every 100 meters. 10 times means you traveled 1000 meters or 1 click (Get the previous joke).

You can accomplish the same thing with Ranger Beads or tying knots in a shoe lace or para cord.
Pay attention to terrain features like hills, ridges, valleys, saddles, spurs and depressions while walking along. Try associating these features to your map if possible. Regular road maps will not generally have these features try the geological sites, forest service or BLM online first before venturing the outback.

Time by shadow

A shadow clock is not a time piece in the ordinary sense. You would install a straight stick upright into the ground so it casts a shadow. It will always read 0600 hrs at sun up and 1800 hrs at sun down. The closest it will read to conventional time is at noon. Things that will affect this reading are the locality and date. Being north or south of the Equator.

As a compass while using this same stick in the ground, mark the tip of the shadow it casts with a stone. Wait 15 minutes after the shadow moves a few inches and mark the tip of this shadow with another stone. Draw a straight line between the stone and this will be your East West base line. Standing with your first mark to your left (west) the rest of the directions will be simple. North to the front, East to the right and South to your rear.

Before you venture out to practice your skills, make sure you tell someone where your going. Let them know what route you will be taking and a no later than time you plan to return so they will know if something is wrong.
You can go to for addition material on this land navigation. You’re location is important. People can’t find you if you don’t know where you’re at and in need of help.

Stay safe and healthy my friends. Be sure to follow our blog for more informative articles.

Ralph Tcat

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