January 21, 2013

How To Find Your Way Without A GPS

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Global Positioning Systems (GPS) rely on satellites to pinpoint specific spots on a map, which then translate to an area on the ground. Hunters, hikers, campers and the military to name a few, rely on GPS systems and internet systems to find their way from one point to another, but what happens when satellites can no longer broadcast their signal to your device, can you find your way using common but possibly forgotten methods of land navigation?

Everyone knows the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; this of course gives you a general idea of your direction of travel. You can follow the sun but obstacles will force you off track and you only have a general direction of travel, and then there are days of course, when the sun is not visible.

The maps also annotate natural terrain features such as rivers, lakes and so forth. The maps are divided up into a series of grids with each grid having a set of coordinates. Coordinates can be four, six and eight digits with eight digit coordinates being the most precise, in fact putting you within 10 meters of your target or supply cache. A four digit coordinate puts you within 1,000 meters, and six within 100 meters.

You will need a compass and a topographical map if you need to travel off road or to find a specific location. You will plot your course after you have determined your present location. To get from point A to point B you need to know where point A is, your location. To find your location on a topographical map you would use triangulation. Identify three landmarks or natural features that you can see, and then find them on the map.

Now that you have your location, and grid coordinates you can then plot a direction of travel. To do this you place the compass on the map and move both compass and map, adjusting the map’s north to true north on the compass. Pencil in or draw an imaginary straight line from the location you want to travel to a point on the compass and note the degrees on the compass bezel, and then turn the compass to determine which direction to travel, north, south, east or west. You then place the compass on a flat surface and line up the degrees noted with the direction of travel. Once you begin walking, you will need to check periodically to make sure you are still walking in a straight line toward your goal.

Use your map and compass to cache supplies; find rendezvous points or other locations by using grid coordinates. Once you know the coordinates, you can find the location that corresponds to those numbers. Find the numbers on your topographical map by reading left to right from the bottom up. Start by reading up to your location and then left across, the bottom number may be 45 while the side number is 32; your grid coordinate is 4532. Use landmarks or the sun to help aid in travel. Without landmarks to focus on you may tend to veer left or right off course without realizing it, and if you do not take readings often enough you can conceivably wander off course by miles.

Your travel may be Northwest (NW) at 180 degrees. Hold the compass flat in your hand and line up the arrow with 180 degrees NW and walk in that direction. Check the compass often to make sure you are still following the right bearings. Pick out landmarks that are along the route to walk toward; this keeps you from veering off course. Simply walk to the landmark and once their take another bearing, pick out another landmark and walk toward it.

Power outages can occur at any time due to hurricanes, earthquakes or solar storms. Preppers need to be prepared to navigate themselves without the use of electricity. Learn more about how to prepare for such disasters by visiting The Smart Preppers website.

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