How To: Find Your Position When Lost In The Wilderness

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Sometimes the call of the wild is too intriguing. While everyone may have the adventurer within, not all have the survivalist. Stunning scenery on a hike, stalking an elk or the evermore popular dead battery in the GPS can lead you far off path. Ideally, always carry a map and compass - even alongside fancy technology. A map will allow you to triangulate your position using two distinct geographical features in your surrounding landscape that can be identified on the map and used to pin-point your location. To triangulate your location on a map follow these steps:

  • Adjust the compass for declination specific to the area.
  • Orient the map so north on the map faces true north.
  • Take a bearing to the first landmark. Point the direction of travel arrow at the landmark it and turn the compass dial until the compass needle is centred in the orienting arrow.
  • Place your compass on the map so that the orienting lines are parallel to the map's north-south meridian lines.
  • Move your compass so the top end of one edge of its baseplate ends at the landmark, keeping it aligned with the map's meridians.
  • Draw a line along the edge of your compass from the landmark along the bearing you took. You are somewhere on this line.
  • Repeat taking a bearing and drawing a line for a second landmark.
  • Where these two lines intersect is your approximate location.