A recent article from the UK’s Daily Mail leads off with a common has-this-ever-happened-to-you scenario:
“What started out as a bracing country walk has degenerated into a grim ordeal.
“You are in the middle of nowhere, it’s bucketing down and visibility is shrinking. You had been heading west towards the setting sun, but now you have no clue where you are.
“Your smarty-pants mobile phone has neither a signal nor battery power.
“It never occurred to you to pack a compass, and now you have no idea in which direction to walk. What do you do? Shout for help? Flip a coin? Start arguing about whose stupid idea this was?”
All those seem like viable courses of action to me. However, the article—intriguingly titled “Lost? Forget Google maps. Follow the butterflies and satellite dishes”—preaches a better way.
It seems that one Tristan Gooley, a former travel agent and lifelong explorer/adventurer, has compiled something close to 1,000 commonly overlooked clues provided by nature to answer everything from “Which way is north?” to “Will it rain today?” to “How far into the Arctic Ocean have I drifted and when will I see land again?” (Cause you never know when you’ll need that one.)
Gooley, who has written four books on the subject and teaches courses and seminars to survival experts, bases his information on both ancient wisdom and practical experience. As a sample, he explains that rusty orange patches on tree bark is a moisture-loving algae—an info nugget that could help determine north in the situation described above. As a Brit, a few of Gooley’s tips are a tad regionally specific (gorse bushes and wandering flocks of sheep are scarce in my area, for example), but the principle is important.
Check out more of Gooley’s Tips by reading the UK’s Daily Mail article.
Part of preparedness is having the right gear on hand. But another big part is having the know-how to survive if you find yourself without the gear. Do you think you could? What are your best tips for finding your way, sans compass?