One way to escape the heat and bustle of the city is by camping and hiking in one of the national parks this summer. Many of the parks are still wild, and you need to make sure you take proper precautions when hiking in unfamiliar places since it's easy to get lost. Remember, cell phone batteries die if not charged, and you might not be able to access your position through a smart phone. If you're new to hiking in the wild, you should take the time to learn how to use a compass and a map to determine where you are in case you get lost. If you're not used to going to national parks to camp and hike, here is how you can figure out which way to hike to get back to your campsite using a simple compass and a map of the park while staying safe and having an enjoyable time.
You Will Need:
National Park Map
The National Park Service has maps at the entrance of the parks, where you pay for your entrance and applicable camping fees. You should grab at least a couple of maps to make sure you always have one on you.
A quick tip: Put one of the maps in your hiking gear right away and leave it there as a spare one. This way you know you'll always have a map available in an emergency as long as your hiking gear is nearby.
If your plan is to just get a little off the beaten path, a simple compass such as a captain compass will do. All you'll need is a compass with an arrow in a glass or plastic tube that points north and an adjustable ring that allows you to point in the direction in which you intend to head. You don't need an expensive compass to hike safely.
Using the Compass
The first thing you need to do before you go out on a long hike is to figure out where you are on the map. Take the map and look up the name of the campsite area you are camping in. The map will show which ways north, south, east, and west are. Take out your compass and let the arrow inside the glass case come to a stop. The arrow will always point north.
Adjust the outer ring so the arrow points in the direction you want to go. The ring will note whether this direction is east, west, north, or south, or it will show the markings for the 360 degrees in a full circle. Head in the direction you have placed the arrow and go wherever you want to go. When it's time to return to the campsite, head back in the exact opposite direction that you had set the arrow on the outer ring before you started the hike.
The key thing is that you always hold the compass so the arrow in the glass points north before you determine the exact direction you are hiking toward.
When I was a kid, I used to love to get outdoors, get my hands dirty, and enjoy a little nature. However, as an adult, I became a lot more uptight about the wild. I realized that I didn't like laying on the ground or dealing with dew covering my sleeping bag in the morning. I also realized that I didn't like going to the bathroom in the wilderness, afraid that a deer or bear would wander my way. However, a friend of mine taught me how to take some of the hassles out of camping. This blog is all about learning how to camp like a true professional, so that you aren't left uncomfortable and missing home when you should be enjoying yourself.