Is it stil worth carrying a compass?

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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,881
1,792
McBride, BC
I saw Orienteering as an attractive activity. Nobody else did. Somewhere, I still have a book called Something (?) With Map and Compass. I worked my way through the book. My old steel-case Recta Prospector compass is cool. Glowing radioactive points, I think. I enjoy reading topo maps from anywhere.

A lot of the Churchill River across central northern Saskatchewan is really a chain of lakes filled with dozens of islands. A quarter mile in any direction and the far shore lines all look identical. Precambrian Shield rock, water and trees. In a matter of minutes, you can be lost on a sunny afternoon.

After a few trips, the landscape becomes familiar and a compass helps in odd situations. I lived on The Lake of the Dead (Nipew) for 4 months, off grid.
You can't help but memorize the shorelines. Odd rocks, odd trees.
We rarely met lost people in canoes. Nearly panic-stricken. No compass, no maps and exhausted from paddling against the river current all day.

Time to take lots of compass bearings and follow the travel on the map ( always a photocopy, one for each person in the boat.) I enjoyed that part. Is that sort of orienteering? I've been on some 80km of that river from Black Bear Island Lake, all the way down stream to Keg Falls. Over those years, it fit me like a hand in a glove.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,655
730
Canada
I saw Orienteering as an attractive activity. Nobody else did. Somewhere, I still have a book called Something (?) With Map and Compass. I worked my way through the book. My old steel-case Recta Prospector compass is cool. Glowing radioactive points, I think. I enjoy reading topo maps from anywhere
Be Expert with Map and Compass - Bjorn Kjellstrom. I have a copy of that somewhere. Good it is.

The point of Orienteering is, well, Orienteering. You get given a map, compass, some coordinates and, at intervals, alone or in groups, off you run ... coming back with clues as proof. Whoever does it quickest wins ... encounters with enraged wildlife, skinning your knees, falling down waterfalls, getting lost, pissing yourself laughing at the misfortune of others, lying to competitors; these are the rewards.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,609
706
Vantaa, Finland
Competitive orienteering is rough cross country run, at the moment the balance is fairly strongly on running. In the army speed was not so much the point but that one knows at all times position. In the US army there is a saying that there are few things as dangerous as a lieutenant with a map and compass. It comes in many shades.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,534
3,805
Mid Wales
I saw Orienteering as an attractive activity. Nobody else did. Somewhere, I still have a book called Something (?) With Map and Compass. I worked my way through the book. My old steel-case Recta Prospector compass is cool. Glowing radioactive points, I think. I enjoy reading topo maps from anywhere.

I did competitive orienteering for a (short) while when I was at school; for some reason that I still can't fathom a lot of girls participated ;)
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,881
1,792
McBride, BC
Wish I had kept it = I travelled one time from a map scratched in birch bark by a Cree First Nations guy. It was a series of landmarks, some very old lobstick trees (I'll let you look that one up.) Turns were little elbow marks which the landmarks didn't follow. You just go until you get to the next landmark. "Half a day. Take water."
 

henchy3rd

Full Member
Apr 16, 2012
390
249
Derby
IS IT STILL WORTH CARRYING A COMPASS.
You could save on a compass/maps & GPS.(although I wouldn’t recommend it).
Tristan Gooley wrote a very informative book called the Natural Navigator were he supposedly traveled far & wide without any of them.
Just relied on his knowledge of what nature & the sky's had to offer..I found it hard to read in places.
I know the basics of the celestial sky’s, rough navigation by the sun & of course moss/lichen growing on the north side of trees & prevailing winds from the west,Just like most of us with a liking for the outdoors.

So, If you’ve tried this with success or failed ,I’d really like to know.
Any takers?
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,881
1,792
McBride, BC
Whether you are a consumptive or non-consumptive user of the landscape, the best senses of human navigation are unreliable in bad weather. Visit the same places as I do, it's pretty hard to get lost under any circumstances. Maybe 100 trips up the only logging road with many of the same destinations. The places are so familiar to me now. All the little landmarks, some as small as peculiar rocks along the road. Burnt tree stumps.

But, I will forever carry my good compass when I'm on foot and off the road any distance. It's for those 1% moments.

This is the west slope of the Rockies, facing the warm moist airflow from the tropics, which we call the "pineapple express." It snows and rains a lot. The wettest July in all of Canada is 50km west of here. The Selkirks Mountain range south of me is reporting an average winter of 60' of snow. Big winter is 80+.

It's cloudy a lot of the time, day and night, so celestial navigation is rare.
It's so wet that moss grows everywhere. No such thing as a dry or wet side of a tree.

Because it is cloudy a lot of the time and the trees are quite big, conifers create pretty much a closed canopy. Look up. This is Interior Western Red Cedar /Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone. You will see more tree branches on the south-facing side than on the north sides of the trees. Add that to the list.

Find this road on a map. Off you go. There are no other roads.
 

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BrewkitAndBasha

Full Member
Feb 4, 2021
54
54
Far East
Be Expert with Map and Compass - Bjorn Kjellstrom. I have a copy of that somewhere. Good it is.

The point of Orienteering is, well, Orienteering. You get given a map, compass, some coordinates and, at intervals, alone or in groups, off you run ... coming back with clues as proof. Whoever does it quickest wins ... encounters with enraged wildlife, skinning your knees, falling down waterfalls, getting lost, pissing yourself laughing at the misfortune of others, lying to competitors; these are the rewards.
That made me laugh, thank you. That is exactly how I remember my first orienteering in the Army - all of the above and at night. We had to use prismatic compasses and protractors with our OS maps, in the dark dark forest blocks. How the heck nobody lost an eyeball to sharp pine branches I'll never know. What a gaggle of newbie navigators, all crashing through the trees, lanyards akimbo, mini-maglites clamped between teeth, seeking the elusive orange hole punch. We were later allowed to use Silva compasses but the novelty had completely worn off by then!
 
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BrewkitAndBasha

Full Member
Feb 4, 2021
54
54
Far East
Whether you are a consumptive or non-consumptive user of the landscape, the best senses of human navigation are unreliable in bad weather. Visit the same places as I do, it's pretty hard to get lost under any circumstances. Maybe 100 trips up the only logging road with many of the same destinations. The places are so familiar to me now. All the little landmarks, some as small as peculiar rocks along the road. Burnt tree stumps.

But, I will forever carry my good compass when I'm on foot and off the road any distance. It's for those 1% moments.

This is the west slope of the Rockies, facing the warm moist airflow from the tropics, which we call the "pineapple express." It snows and rains a lot. The wettest July in all of Canada is 50km west of here. The Selkirks Mountain range south of me is reporting an average winter of 60' of snow. Big winter is 80+.

It's cloudy a lot of the time, day and night, so celestial navigation is rare.
It's so wet that moss grows everywhere. No such thing as a dry or wet side of a tree.

Because it is cloudy a lot of the time and the trees are quite big, conifers create pretty much a closed canopy. Look up. This is Interior Western Red Cedar /Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone. You will see more tree branches on the south-facing side than on the north sides of the trees. Add that to the list.

Find this road on a map. Off you go. There are no other roads.
Am a bit jealous! I visited Banff and the Yoho Park many years ago and loved it there. More recently, several trips through Ontario's Algonquin, but the Rockies were just incredible.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,881
1,792
McBride, BC
I worked my summers in the western mountain parks while u'grad at uni. You get so used to it, you almost take it for granted. I bought my home here in the west slope 20 years ago. Like Jasper National Park without the crowds or the prices. Nothing in the east range or the west range along the valley over 8500' (2600m). Lots of heliskiing and this is a premier snowmobile destination.
Time and again, I watch the storms sweep along the valley sides and think: "Jeez but I am glad that I am not up in that thing." Always reminds me of using my compass. I laid my hands on both of them just yesterday.
 
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