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How To Navigate Yourself During A Hike

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Hiking is fun and all but not really when you are lost somewhere in the deep end of the forest. With how tall and dense the forest is, it can be hard to navigate yourself and find your way back to safe place. Hiking alone increases the risk of getting lost especially if you are unfamiliar with the place. Hence, it is a must to develop skills to navigate yourself. It is also essential to always bring the right tools to help you find your way during a hike. here are useful tips to help you navigating yourself when lost during a hike:

jungle trekking, group of hikers backpackers walking together outdoors in the forest, close up of feet, hiking shoes

Navigate your route even before the hike

It is possible today to see the forest from above before plunging into it. You can get aerial overview of the forest you are going to explore in advance by using Google Earth. Hence, you will get to see trails, rivers, roads, and everything else that forms a perimeter. This is a good preparation so you can plan how to orient yourself back.

Print a paper map

Of course, you can always use the more modern version of map you can easily download from your phone. However, it is best to not rely solely on those modern technology. However, you can always have good navigation app and handheld GPS to compliment your toolkit to stay oriented throughout your hiking journey. If you are not familiar with the apps, learn those prior your hiking dates. 

Find your way during the hike 

What you have prepared in advance such as studying the route, printing paper map, downloading navigation app, and bringing a compass can help a lot in orienting yourself. However, there is always possibility for you to get lost during your hike. What to do when it happens is stay calm. Then look for trail blazes marked at eye level on rocks, trees, or posts on major trails. 

Don’t bend your map

When you see the map, don’t bend them because it increase the risk of you reading it wrong. Also, it is best to keep checking your route through the map instead of waiting until you get lost somewhere. This way, you know you stay on the right routes. It allows you to orient yourself frequently. You can check the map while having a drink of water. 

Stop moving

When you are lost, stop moving around and stay as calm as possible. It can be difficult  when you know you are lost in unfamiliar place with no one to help you. However, moving around will only add the panic and you may get deeper into unfamiliar area. Try to think clearly and remember the route. 

Observe your surroundings thoroughly and look for any signs such as foot scrapes, trail blazes, etc. Then, have a solid plan before moving again. It is also recommended to follow water downhill if you don’t have any alternative to find your way. Water downhill and downstream leads to coast or lakes, where humans tend to be.