Directional Refresher Course

Summer demands a directional refresher course. I’ve posted this before and will do so again. Put down the GPS and learn how to tell north from south –

Imagine yourself lost in the woods without a compass or GPS. An accurate sense of direction could save your bacon; so which way is north or south? In the Northern Hemisphere the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. At noon the sun will appear in the middle of the horizon and directly south. Walk facing the sun and you will be heading south, sun at your back sees you trudging north. For the Southern Hemisphere simply reverse the process.

Not noon, don’t know the correct time – here’s another method. Find a stick about a metre long, drive it straight up into the ground of a sunny spot. Mark the end of the shadow it casts with a rock. This will be west. Wait about 15 minutes then mark the end of the cast shadow with another rock. This will be east. Draw a line between the two points for your east/west position and another at a 90 degree angle for your north/south line.

No sun? Look for moss on trees – moss on the southern side is usually greener and thicker. Ants also build their hills on the warmer southern side of trees or hills,just  as snow melts faster on southern exposures.

What if night has fallen? If the moon rises shortly before sunset the bright side will face west. If it rises much later around midnight, the brightly illuminated side faces east. If you can’t see the moon but the sky is clear enough to find stars, look for the Big Dipper, next find the Little Dipper and draw an imaginary line between the two brightest stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper to the brightest star in the handle of the Little Dipper. This should take your eye to Polaris or the North Star; the bright middle star in the constellation Cassiopeia.

I’ve only ever been lost once, and that was in a department store when I was four. If I ever find myself lost in the woods – at least I’ll be able to find my direction home.


4 thoughts on “Directional Refresher Course

  1. I have always had a pretty decent sense of directions. However…. every single time we come to the left coast I get turned around. Most of my life my brain is trained to think that the big water is to the East, as it has always been. And out there the water is on the wrong side of everything so my sense of directions is inverted. Is it possible that water exerts a force over us like magnetism?

  2. I tend to take my watch off and point the small hand at the sun. The south is then halfway the small hand and noon. Buti didn’t know the rock and stick method. Now I have to try this out!

    Re water swirling in sinks, when I moved to Australia I was all excited that water would swirl the other way. Sadly the Coriolis effect is quite week and the design of the toilet has a lot more to do with it.

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