As a young marine, I heard "Left add, right subtract!" more times than I could count. And here I thought I joined the Marines to avoid math!
Land navigation was a dark voodoo to me then. So many rules, numbers, variables and oh so many tools (compass, protractor, DAGR, Garmin GPS etc). With time and practice, I grew to not only understand it but feel a level of comfort and confidence in the woods because of this very necessary backcountry skill.
My intent with this blog is not to talk to the basics of orienteering . I recommend you seek out a good class and get your Google on and find some good solid sources (link: http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/navigation-basics.html) to read up on contour lines, declination, map symbols and compass work. The focus of this article will be terrain association, a very specific skill that I find most helpful.
Terrain association is the practice of comparing major terrain features against what is visible on an oriented (basic skill) map. The navigator has a number of options to pick from when doing their assessment of the terrain in an attempt to orient their present location and upcoming route. The major terrain features on a map include hilltop, valley, ridge, depression, and saddle. These prominent terrain features are not however the only option. Water sources like lakes and rivers are also good indicators. Simply walking down the trail and seeing a hill top to the left and a pond to the right a hiker will likely be able locate that combination easily on a map. Streams are somewhat variable, but finding a dry stream or river bed is still a clue to your location.
Other features on the map include the use of vegetation or lack of (fields/meadows), Understanding the symbols on the map, the traveler can easily ascertain a vineyard, orchard or farm. Unlike the more variable nature of vegetation or small water sources, man made features on the map are a huge help in terrain association. Roadways, firebreaks and buildings are terrific indicators when they are marked on your map.
Always remember in planning a hike seasonal changes will impact your terrain association methods and abilities. Snow sometimes makes terrain features more prominent, while obstructing micro terrain. Thicker canopy or vegetation in summer months will obscure your view and droughts will wilt vegetation and dry up water sources. Also take into consideration that this is 100% visual tool, so times of lower visibility will negatively impact your reliance on this method of travel (have a compass and GPS if you can - two is one, one is none).
Melanie and I have relied heavily on this skill on all of our trips. It is not foolproof by any means. We were presented with two trail heads about 10 feet apart in Yosemite. We took what we thought was correct. It turned out the route of the two trails paralleled each other in a manner that didn't allow us to determine we were going the wrong way for miles. Both trails hit the same ridge lines, similar switchbacks, the same water sources etc. No harm done. We just had a nice visit to Sunrise Lakes campground BEFORE we did Clouds Rest.
Some best practices for effective terrain association include:
Hope this helps. Stay Safe
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As a 5'1" female, I have trouble finding pants that fit in general. Many companies have gotten better about offering short or petite sizes, but when you are dealing with niche items like trail pants, it's a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. So when I saw the Prana Halle pants at REI last year in short lengths, I was pretty pumped.
Prior to that moment, I would wear yoga or workout pants while hiking in cooler weather. While they are super comfortable and easy to wear, they lack things like pockets, wind and water repellency (is that a word? it is now), and protection from thorny brush. Over the years, I had tried a few variations of trail pants, Columbia and Royal Robbins come to mind, but none ever truly felt good to wear.
I've had the Prana Halle pants now for over a year, I actually have two pair. So far, I have been super happy with them. They fit my short legs better than any other pants I've tried. They are slightly stretchy, but not in a clingy way. They are truly comfortable, and they are the pants I reach for when I am traveling as they look nice and feel better than anything else I own. They have button pockets on the back, which are flattering and accentuate your booty in a good way. The material is water repellent and doesn't get caught on brush. They have lots of pockets. They also have tabs so that you can roll them up and wear them as capris, which is great in hotter weather or when hiking in wet conditions. They are flattering and are as at home on the trail as they are running errands around town. I actually get more use out of them as regular pants than trail pants. I have worn them to work many times and always received compliments on them. They wash and dry perfectly and seem impervious to wrinkles. For someone who has a strong aversion to ironing, that quality alone makes them worth their weight in gold. These seem to have a slightly generous fit, I am 5'1" and 125lbs and wear a size 2, but a 0 would have probably worked better for me due to the stretch of these pants.
There are really only two things I would change to make these go from almost perfect to perfect.
I recently found out that they have a lined version of these pants for cold weather. I look forward to checking them out and can almost guarantee they will become a part of my wardrobe very soon. I hope Prana keeps making these pants for a long time, because my search is over and I won't even look at other pants anymore.
If any men out there have tried the men's version, we would love to hear your opinion!
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Whats better then finding one person who is just as nuts about the outdoors as I am to contribute to Hiking Forward? Finding TWO! I am a firm believer in the outdoor gods or the nature of serendipity that surrounds those of us in the outdoor community. Mike and Melanie came to Hiking Forward for basic inspiration for their own blog they have started All The Adventure (which is awesome BTW ~ go check it out!). Upon reading the first page, a story I wrote about our collective love of outdoor and gear stickers sung to both Mike and Melanie. Soon, I get an email for some stickers for their own adventure mobile.
Happy to oblige, I wrote back saying that the stickers would soon be en route to them. Before I emailed, I had to check out their site and recent work. Quite impressed with the quality of the content and excited they too adventure with their pooch trilled me to no end. In the response back I asked both Mike and Mel to consider becoming Hiking Forward Correspondents. Let me just say that this was all transpiring while I was hopping planes in the airport last week. Within a short flight from Atlanta to St. Louis, an application was in my email and a phone conversation at 11pm ET transpired. Most people would think we are nuts, crazy and out of our minds. Yes, what is your point? We are all lovers and stewards of the outdoors and will go to the ends to enjoy them, protect and help others experience them.
After an hour long and enjoyable conversation about our individual perspectives on blogging, gear, favorite trips etc. we were collectively all excited about moving forward together on this project.
I am honestly stoked to have our first couple, first female, dog adventurer and another veteran on board for this project. Diversity is the name of the game and Hiking Forward has struck it rich with the addition of these two very driven and committed adventurers.
Stay tuned for more from our newest members of the Hiking Forward Family.
In the meantime check out Mike and Melanie's Hiking Correspondent Profile here on Hiking Forward as well as their other social links and blogs.
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