Did you know that you don't have to possess a compass to know which direction you are heading? Of course in a perfect world, I would hope that you have one packed in your BOB for when the need arises, but if you are caught without a compass you can always get an idea of which direction you are heading.
It’s true. You can simply use your body and nature guides to help you know which direction is what.
How do you use your body as a compass? Well think of it this way. If you were lying down on your stomach, arms stretched out - your head would be north, your feet south, your right side east and your left west.
Standing up it would be the same. Head (or in front of you) is north, south is behind you, east is to your right and west to your left.
This never changes. Only thing that changes is where you are looking and where you are moving.
We all know or should know that the sun rises from the east (if you didn't know – now would be a really, really good time to ‘know it’.)
As the sun rises, if you were to turn the right side of your body towards the sun (remember sun rises in east), north would be in front of you, south in back of you, and west on your left. So, if you knew that your destination was due west you would then turn your body towards the west and head in this direction.
As the sun moves (remember east to west) you can get a general idea of your direction by following its movement.
"But what if it is night time?" You ask.
Well, if it is nighttime we would focus our attention to the North Star.
Before I go any further, I will tell you that I was one of those who thought you looked for the brightest star in the sky at night and that was the North Star… t'aint so.
First of all, you need to find the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper - and no we are not talking about a dipped twisty treat at the Freezy Cone.
It will take some time to find them, but once you do, look at the Big Dipper and follow the outer two stars (the bottom of the cup) with your eyes across to the Little Dipper. You will now be looking at what is the Little Dipper’s handle.
Follow your eyes up past the end of the handle of the Little Dipper – and right above it you will see a very bright star. This is the North Star AND also true north.
Now again, using your body, as you are looking at the North Star, east would be to your right, west to your left and south behind you.
The North Star doesn’t move (well just so I don’t get lambasted, let’s say its movement is so small it’s not noticeable), the stars and constellations rotate around it.
You can actually place a stick into the ground, pointing directly towards the North Star and if you don't move the stick, each night it will always be pointing to the North Star.
Now there are tons of ways to learn what direction you are heading by using vegetation, streams and rivers and such, this was just merely a couple. I suggest you do a little ‘exploring’ on your own and research other means. But whatever means you find and learn - your body compass like the North Star will stay the same.
Can't get any easier than that!
Remember – head/face north, feet/back south, right east and left west.
Oh, and repeat after me, sun rises in the east, sun rises in the east, sun rises in the east, sun rises in the east …
- Survivor Jane
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