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-   -   Bushwhacking navigation tip (http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=23208)

Bark Eater Too 06-08-2016 04:45 PM

Bushwhacking navigation tip
 
I had an interesting experience last week that I wanted to share. Bushwhacking (no trail whatsoever) through some very heavy blowdown. At some point after climbing over and under a bunch of fallen obstacles I reached into my pocket for my compass to get a new bearing. Compass gone. Obviously a rookie mistake committed by an old timer. I was about a mile away and 1000 feet up from the nearest trail. Moral of the story: Tie your compass onto a belt loop or some other point of attachment. In this case it wasn't that big a deal. At that point I was headed downhill and knew roughly where I needed to go. But it could have been...Now there will be a bunch of posts asking why I didn't have a GPS. Old school I guess. I did have my phone in the pack as a back up.

richard1726 06-08-2016 05:46 PM

I'd rather depend on my $20 compass powered by the Earth's magnetic field than the battery(s) in a GPS or cellphone.

geogymn 06-08-2016 06:32 PM

Stuff happens! Whilst bushwhacking I depend on a lanyard and also carry an extra compass in my emergency kit. I also have lost a compass in the back country. Bummer!

Justin 06-08-2016 06:42 PM

When bushwhacking I usually keep my compass in my hand. When it's not in my hand it's zipped away in my hip-belt pouch/camera bag for easy reach. I used to wear my compass around my neck with the lanyard, but I've found it would often get caught on branches while fighting through thick brush.

TCD 06-09-2016 11:42 AM

I wear mine on the lanyard in open woods so it's quick to grab. Like Justin, I put it away in a secure (zippered or Velcro) pocket in thick brush, or when rock hopping or scrambling.

Most of the time I am navigating by terrain features anyway, and I glance at the compass mostly for confirmation.

1894 06-09-2016 01:15 PM

Yes , I have always used a leather lace or good string to tie my compass to my belt loop and keep it in my front pocket. 2 things happened with that 1. the lace came untied once ( didn't loose the compass ) but good reminder none the less. 2. I argued with my one compass once , sure that it was wrong and I was right :gripe: nope I was wrong. :rolling:
Since then I added a pin on ball compass to my outer coat pocket , and a third to whatever pack I have. That way I can clearly be outvoted as to who / what is right

Wldrns 06-09-2016 02:53 PM

An old guide once told me to carry 3 compasses in separate places in my gear. One as primary, another in case I lose or break the primary, and a third to give to the poor soul I come across who has lost his.

Actually I do usually follow this advice. Compass #3 would be a much cheaper model.
When I am bushwhacking in tough stuff, I tuck the compass inside my shirt so it doesn't snag on brush.

One of those things best learned by the experience.... I was on a long bushwhack one time, when I noted the landscape I was in was not meeting my expectations for what it should be doing. (I learned much earlier how to navigation by what I call "great expectations" in the landscape.) I thought I was following a compass bearing closely enough, but something was wrong. So I recalculated my intended course from the map and noticed that my compass was not set to that azimuth. The bezel must have gotten randomly turned somewhere in the brush. Did it happen just once (a relatively easy fix) or more than once along the way (a more complicated fix) and where?

I tell my land nav students they are allowed one mistake for an easy fix. Compound with two mistakes and things may get a lot tougher. It wasn't a very big deal to figure out what really happened, though it was frustrating and made me loose a lot of time. But lesson learned, check the azimuth frequently when in the thick stuff. Minimize the chances of that ever happening again.

By the way, old school myself and confident in my skills, I would never chastise an accomplished traditional method navigator for not bringing a GPS. A phone? I feel forced to carry one sometimes when I leave home. An old stye flip phone. Usually leave it in the car where it can be stolen. No pictures, no touch screen, no accessible GPS on it, no texting ever. Just voice for when I am at the store and forget what I was told to get. :D

Justin 06-09-2016 09:30 PM

Wldrns,
Great point!
Always remember (or note) the azimuth or bearing!
I too have many times accidently turned the dial when zipping away my compass and/or taking it out again. Even if it had only turned a few degrees off it can cause a lot of confusion when you're far off trail. I've had that happen and thankfully was able to recognize the mistake & learn from it.

I also like to abide by the 3 compass rule...when one seems off, consult the other two, but that has yet to be an issuse in any of my Adk bushwhacking travels thus far.

As a side note for another bushwhacking tip...
Trekking poles are all fine & good for trail use, but many times you may wish that you didn't have them when traveling off trail. Just sayin'.

geogymn 06-10-2016 07:50 AM

Hmmm? A trekking pole with a compass embedded atop the handle?

wiiawiwb 06-10-2016 08:03 AM

I only carry two compasses but three sources for fire. Better not tempt fate and add a third that is otherwise sitting at home. Thanks for sharing and good lesson learned.

I always carry one on a lanyard along with a means by which to start a fire. Some people don't like having something on their neck that could get snagged. It's the way I've always done it.

Fly Rodder 06-10-2016 08:30 AM

Bushwhacking navigation tip
 
GPS (either iPhone or garmin) pin-on ball compass, and trad compass, and waterproof topo of the area. I use the gps to quick check my location, verify by terrain and topo, set my bearing with the trad compass, check against the ball, and navigate by glancing at the ball.

It's worked for me well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Justin 06-10-2016 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by geogymn (Post 246464)
Hmmm? A trekking pole with a compass embedded atop the handle?

Real bushwhackers use a hiking stick, not a trekking pole. ;)

Bark Eater Too 06-10-2016 01:26 PM

Guys, great discussion. Thank you. I agree on the trekking poles. In thick terrain they just get in the way when you are scrambling.

geogymn 06-10-2016 08:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Justin (Post 246469)
Real bushwhackers use a hiking stick, not a trekking pole. ;)

I've never been a fan of either. I will pick up a stick when fording a stream but I think I'm too close to the ground to need one whilst hiking.

Justin 06-10-2016 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by geogymn (Post 246498)
I've never been a fan of either. I will pick up a stick when fording a stream but I think I'm too close to the ground to need one whilst hiking.

Ha...Real bushwhackers use a hiking stick with a GPS attached at the top. :clap:

1894 06-11-2016 09:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Justin (Post 246501)
Ha...Real bushwhackers use a hiking stick with a Go-pro attached at the top. :clap:

Fixed that for ya :D:D

Justin 06-11-2016 09:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1894 (Post 246511)
Fixed that for ya :D:D

Ha!
Real bushwhackers use a hiking stick as a selfie stick. ;)

Boreal Fox 06-14-2016 11:38 AM

I carry a Garmin GPS as my main navigation which I keep in a zipped pocket and have a regular compass tied to my pack inside a readily-accessible pocket in case my batteries die and I lose my spare batteries for some reason. It's always a good idea to have a backup, especially when your primary device is electronic.

Wldrns 06-14-2016 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boreal Fox (Post 246623)
I carry a Garmin GPS as my main navigation which I keep in a zipped pocket and have a regular compass tied to my pack inside a readily-accessible pocket in case my batteries die and I lose my spare batteries for some reason. It's always a good idea to have a backup, especially when your primary device is electronic.

Your choice, but the order is backward in my opinion. Compass and knowledge of map with eyes on terrain should be primary, then GPS is only an optional backup tool best left buried in a gear bag. :D

Justin 06-14-2016 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wldrns (Post 246628)
Your choice, but the order is backward in my opinion. Compass and knowledge of map with eyes on terrain should be primary, then GPS is only an optional backup tool best left buried in a gear bag. :D

Agreed! :thumbs:
GPS is for recording data.
If you rely on a GPS as your primary navigational tool (in the backcountry or in your car), you're doing it wrong! :gripe:


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