Getting lost can be a terrifying experience.
The feeling is even worse when you’re in the woods away from civilization with limited options for rescue.
That’s when this one skill will become vital to your survival.
One of the most important items to have when you’re on an excursion in the woods or the mountains or any remote area is a compass.
However, accidents happen. Maybe you forgot it, lost it, or perhaps it broke.
Modern compasses are battery-operated, so simply running out of juice could put you in peril.
If so, you’ll still need to be able to navigate in order to find your way back to civilization.
That’s why it’s important to know how to figure out the cardinal directions – north, south, east, west – without a compass.
Here’s how to do that.
Most people know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
However, it might be overcast, or you might have to navigate in the middle of the day when the sun is overhead and it’s difficult to determine which way it’s moving.
So you’ll need to make your way to a flat, open area that’s not covered by shade.
The idea is to use direct sunlight to create a shadow.
Using this method, an area of barren terrain is more effective than grass because it’ll create a more defined shadow.
Next, find a stick or branch that’s at least three feet long and plant into the ground at a 90-degree angle.
Find a stone or rock and place it at the tip of the shadow created by the vertical stick.
Wait about half an hour or so, then place another rock at the tip of the new location of the shadow.
Repeat this once or twice more to have good data points to analyze.
Next, draw a line in the dirt connecting the rocks.
This line will indicate east and west; the first shadow is always west and the last shadow is always east.
Draw a perpendicular line through the first line, and this second line will represent your north-south directions.
From there, it will be easy to determine all four cardinal directions; when facing north, west is always to your left.
Not only will identifying directions help you travel back to safety, but it will also help in communicating your location if you’re able to make a distress call.
Sadly, many campers and hikers go missing every year for a variety of reasons.
Though there’s no official tally, an estimate of over 1,600 people have gone missing in national parks and forests in the country.
Wildlife can also be very dangerous if you’re unprepared.
It’s important to have all the necessary gear and equipment, but it’s even more important to have refined survival skills in case things go sideways.
And as Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Don’t put your life in jeopardy due to a lack of preparedness.