A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2016 Jun 2, 12:23 -0700
Since you have professional expertise in this topic, could I ask you to have a look at this article: So you're lost in the wilderness...? It strikes me as a reasonable mix of modern and traditional advice. For philosophy, I liked the closing lines: "The truth is, getting lost doesn’t kill anybody. You don’t die from not knowing where you are -- you die from bad decisions." The article also includes a bit of practical advice, take photos as you go, that I have never seen before as a navigation recommendation though it's something that I have done myself for several years without really labeling it as navigation. Photos cost nothing in the modern world, so long as you have spare batteries (you do!).
I have never been lost in the woods. Being "lost" to me implies not so much a large error ellipse on position, but instead that state of panic where you have no idea where to go next. But I have been "stuck" in the woods, thanks to a bad decision. Once while hiking in rough terrain thirty years ago, I decided to get off the road and follow a boulder-strewn streambed. Why? For adventure, of course! It went well for a few hundred yards. And then at a certain point, I decided to slide down the face of a large boulder to continue along the stream. Immediately after I made this choice, I turned around and realized that there was no going back. I had made an irreversible choice. This was a potentially dangerous situation. I had no supplies, not even water, and was bound by the topography to continue downstream. A few hundred yards on, with the foliage closing in from all sides to the point where I could not stand up straight, the stream turned into a swampy bottom with steep walls on both sides. The weather was nice, but even so I began to contemplate flash flooding. I considered calling for help, βοήθεια! (that's pronounced "voitheia"... did I mention I was in the mountains at Meteora in Greece?? Here: 39.7235 N, 21.6324 E). Unfortunately, as I realized later that night when I got back to my books, I had remembered the wrong word, and I would have been calling out αλήθεια! (pronounced "alitheia" ...similar to "voitheia") which means "truth". I wonder how other hikers would have reacted to someone calling out "truth! truth!" in Greek in the woods below the old mountaintop monasteries... I eventually found a spot where I could scramble up the rocks on the side of the little ravine and got scraped up good, but I got out. Lesson learned though: make no irreversible decisions. Is that an established backwoods rule? Does it have a better name?