Principle Form of Navigation.

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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby puredingo » Wed 27 Jan, 2021 8:14 am

Another for the map and compass brigade here.

But not because I’m adverse to technology or it’s advancements I’m just to lazy and tight to get involved in it.
I recently did a walk with a younger member of our fraternity who had GPS assist and it was a pleasant novelty for me to walk without checking the compass and digging for the map. I also liked playing a little game where I would go “by feel” and he’d check me if I went askew (thinking about this...it probably drove him mad?!)

I believe an important factor of off track navigation, not be overlooked or understated, is simply understanding the lay of the land.
This comes with Hours spent on country and experience in the bush and once achieved can go a long way to turning a had slog when lost to an easy and obvious return to safety.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 27 Jan, 2021 8:53 am

puredingo wrote:I believe an important factor of off track navigation, not be overlooked or understated, is simply understanding the lay of the land.
This comes with Hours spent on country and experience in the bush and once achieved can go a long way to turning a had slog when lost to an easy and obvious return to safety.


Agree. If I was lost in a steep rugged valley without any nav tools, the first thing I'd do is climb to a high point to get a overview of the land. From there look for spurs and ridges where a likely pass and route out of the valley could be found.

Hopefully I'm at least aware of the nearest trafficked road or township and it's not cloudy so I can look at the sun to work out where north, south, east and west is and therefore head in the right direction.

Good thing about south east Australia is that is relatively well populated, just heading in a consistant direction means your bound to hit a road or a house eventually. Though east is probably your best bet.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby FatCanyoner » Wed 27 Jan, 2021 11:56 am

I've spent most of my time as a bushwalker being rabidly anti-electronics in the bush. I use to ban people from bringing GPS devices on any of my walks. I love topographic maps. My style of navigation has never been very conventional -- despite learning the proper way of doing things while in the Army Reserve. I love to read the landscape, with the map providing a 2D representation of the landforms around me. I don't look at the map that much, and probably look at the compass even less, because I visualise the landscape from the map then follow the contours and landforms as I go.

In the last year or so, I've had a fairly substantial shift in thinking. It wasn't actually due to navigation, but photos. My last waterproof point and shoot camera died about 18 months ago. I couldn't bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on a new one. My phone, which is waterproof, takes photos that are just as good. So I started throwing my camera in the top of my pack, particularly for short walks. Then I realised that for short trips, which I often do at short notice, it was easier just to use the phone as a map. I have the relevant topo and aerial photos for the place I'm going downloaded (the second can be really helpful in rocky, rugged terrain, where topo maps are often less accurate). I generally leave the GPS turned off (I don't like the blue dot, don't take a trace of my route, and would rather preserve battery). It means I've always got the topo map at hand, on a device I am carrying anyway as a camera.

A few old friends have found this transition a little alarming. I still love maps, but unless it's a significant trip (exploratory, remote, or multi-day) I just don't feel the need to carry them anymore. Sure, the phone might break or get lost, but because I still study the topo map, on the kind of day trips where this is my exclusive form of navigation I am confident I'd be able to safely navigate out on memory. That's probably only possible because I spent such a long time operating primarily on map and memory. For people who only ever use a phone / gps, and have never learnt how to read the landscape and topography, this process would be much harder.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Kickinghorse » Thu 28 Jan, 2021 8:22 am

Nothing has changed in that the skill of being to use a map and compass is still an essential part of going bush. But to ignore the advances made in navigation via electronic means can only be counter to safety in the bush and the confidence of knowing where one is. The Aviation and Maritime sectors certainly wouldn’t consider a return to dead reckoning and the use of compass/sextants etc but imagine the ability to use these would still be part of Naval Training exercises.
To digress, the Luddites in 19th century England saw it as their duty to destroy textile machinery/technologies as a form of protest against what they saw as a threat to the livelihoods cottage based workers. In hindsight they were probably right in relation to the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent part it has played in Climate Change. A conundrum huh.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby rcaffin » Thu 28 Jan, 2021 7:49 pm

to ignore the advances made in navigation via electronic means can only be counter to safety in the bush and the confidence of knowing where one is.
Are then saying that pre-GPS walkers were unsafe? Really?

Anyone who uses map&compass will most likely know where he (she) is at any time. Mental terrain model. Can't say the same for the GPS mob tho'.

Cheers
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby GBW » Thu 28 Jan, 2021 8:24 pm

I find the screen on the Etrex very small but my eyesight isn't great. I like the security of having map/compass/notes in case the electronics fails and I'll usually refer to them at the beginning of the day, during a break or if I'm lost. I suppose plotting a route on a GPS and following a line makes you a bit lazy but I do it.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Kickinghorse » Thu 28 Jan, 2021 9:03 pm

Roger you have misrepresented the intent of my post in that nowhere do I insinuate that pre GPS walkers were unsafe. My proposition is that advances in technology allied with map and compass can only enhance safety in the bush. You’re reference to the “gps mob” reflects your real position in this matter. Image those in your party would be reticent to produce said GPS device.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby crollsurf » Fri 29 Jan, 2021 8:40 am

The suggestion that people who don't use map and compass are inferior or not safe is simply not true. I for one, spend time preparing for a walk on my laptop and download the electronic maps onto my phone. And these maps also have satellite overlays which generally give a better understanding of the terrain (rock outcrops, unmarked tracks...) so I'm better prepared, I think.

"Your phone is not safe because it can break" (never happened touch wood), well so can your ankle. "Sometimes it doesn't accurately point to North", same with a compass. "You'll run out of battery", not if you bring a charger. "What if you forget to bring a charger", what if you forget to bring your maps. "What if you need to walk out due to an emergency", electronic maps can cover 100klms. What if it's really windy, it's no where near as fun as map(s) :lol:

And what about walking in a white-out, especially when surrounded by nearby cliffs and cornices. What about when the shrub is well overhead. What about at night. What about when you are actually lost and not sure where you are on a map. A phone will answer all those questions.

Each to there own, use whatever suits you but phones are a safe way to travel. You just have to look after your phone just as you have to look after your maps.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby rcaffin » Fri 29 Jan, 2021 6:39 pm

advances in technology allied with map and compass can only enhance safety in the bush.
All accusations leveled at me are probably correct.
That said, I suspect there are far more significant 'safety factors' around compared to the incremental difference between map&compass on the one hand and GPS on the other.

I will repeat what I have said before: I do own a basic GPS and I have used it in a couple of places to solve some interesting navigation problems. Like errors in Wollemi maps (which are expected) and being on top of Mt Anton in a howling winter storm in the evening with 1 m visibility. In the latter case we put the tent up and snuggled down inside and then said 'I wonder where we are?' Our route next morning was by compass though, with no better visibility.

Cheers, and enjoy
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 30 Jan, 2021 2:34 pm

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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Kickinghorse » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 7:38 am

Not sure what the heck is going on in your image Chris but to continue the theme, read on.

https://pwifland.tripod.com/historysextant/index.htm
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby puredingo » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 8:00 am

Yeah, not sure what going on in Chris’ pic? But. I think I’ve been there.

Did the bloke just down a bottle of Mercury then stares through his yo-yo, rocking the cradle, all the while wondering how the Hell he will fit into his miniature tent?...oh yeah....been there!
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby rcaffin » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 8:23 am

At the risk of stating the obvious: the mercury is poured into a dish and forms a dead level reflector. This creates (I think) an artificial horizon for the measurement of the angle of elevation of the sun. When you are at sea the ocean can provide that horizon of course. Then you need the date and some (paper) tables of the solar cycle etc and an accurate timepiece. A bit slower ...

Cheers
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 9:20 am

Very interesting article Kicking Horse.

Unfortunately so much to do with early maritime navigation relied on having a line of sight to a nice level horizon which is not always an easy thing to find when your in the bush !! But it is the final line in that article that says it all for me, "the simple satisfaction of shooting a star". So too is the simple satisfaction of using a map and compass to find your way. There is really no doubt that modern bush walking navigation tools are extremely fast and accurate and far more efficient than a map and compass but the successful use of a map and compass is just another one of the joys that keep drawing me back to the bush. I just dont get the same satisfaction from looking at a GPS screen.

Who knows where we'll all be by the time GPS navigation is looked upon as old school. Maybe by then someone will have discovered a way to introduce homing pidgeon DNA into humans and we will always know where we are........ :D
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby peregrinator » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 9:54 am

Mechanic-AL wrote:
. . . Who knows where we'll all be by the time GPS navigation is looked upon as old school. Maybe by then someone will have discovered a way to introduce homing pigeon DNA into humans and we will always know where we are........ :D


When "humans" become "post-human"?
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 10:03 am

peregrinator wrote:
Mechanic-AL wrote:
. . . Who knows where we'll all be by the time GPS navigation is looked upon as old school. Maybe by then someone will have discovered a way to introduce homing pigeon DNA into humans and we will always know where we are........ :D


When "humans" become "post-human"?


The biggest navigational error of them all !!
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby peregrinator » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 10:50 am

Mechanic-AL wrote: . . . The biggest navigational error of them all !!


Beautifully expressed.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby CBee » Sun 31 Jan, 2021 12:27 pm

Albatross, inbuilt GPS and water desalination filters. Long distances covered over an impressive amount of non-stop travelling. No complaining or overthinking the trip.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Kickinghorse » Wed 03 Feb, 2021 9:41 am

A little of track as regards the original intent of this thread but I wonder how many of our fellow members who are reticent to apply electronic means to their interactions with the bush , would actually put their hand up to owning/hiring a PLB ?

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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby rcaffin » Wed 03 Feb, 2021 9:52 am

I am nearly 76 years old.
I walk only with my wife (ie just the 2 of us).
I use map and compass for navigation.
I have children and grandchildren (who don't want to inherit just yet).
I own a PLB.

Cheers
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Moondog55 » Wed 03 Feb, 2021 10:11 am

Kickinghorse wrote:A little of track as regards the original intent of this thread but I wonder how many of our fellow members who are reticent to apply electronic means to their interactions with the bush , would actually put their hand up to owning/hiring a PLB ?

Phil

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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby stry » Wed 03 Feb, 2021 10:42 am

Kickinghorse wrote:A little of track as regards the original intent of this thread but I wonder how many of our fellow members who are reticent to apply electronic means to their interactions with the bush , would actually put their hand up to owning/hiring a PLB ?

Phil


I don't think that is an apple to apples comparison. Carrying a PLB, which is dormant until needed, is not the same as living in a screen as one moves through the bush. Certainly a PLB can't be regarded as interacting with the bush.

I have a GPS which is seldom used, and a PLB, which hopefully will never be used.

My concern with many GPS devotees is that they don't seem to actually know where they are, beyond what the screen is showing them. Others in this thread have expressed this more eloquently, but it is very real. I have always navigated with map and compass and with what some one earlier referred to as topographical awareness. If I watch treelines, ridgelines, spurs, contours and watersheds, I don't have any problem knowing where I am and choosing a fuss free route to wherever I want to go. Usually :lol: :lol: Darkness can introduce a few problems :lol:

Another post earlier mentioned bee lines. bee lines are what one gets sucked into with navigating solely by GPS, and in mountain country will quickly see you exhausted and frustrated. I have also seen inexperienced people trying to move through forested mountain country following bee lines determined by compass, and that was equally unsuccessfull.

Wildlife does not travel in straight lines. Wildlife takes the easy way.

My experience is almost entirely in Vic High Country, and I readily acknowledge that in flat or relatively featureless country, a GPS would be far more usefull. GPS could also have benefits off track after dark, or when visibility is poor, in which circumstances I have managed to temporarily dislocate myself a couple of times; although on these occasions, I have been able to think my way out of the problem with occasional reference to a simple compass.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Wed 03 Feb, 2021 10:44 am

Me too; same as carrying a map and a compass. It's common sense.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby north-north-west » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 6:28 am

Interesting. I'm primarily map, line-of-sight, compass and GPS if I get really confused.

It's a bit different applying some of this when your brain doesn't work "normally". I have trouble transfering visual data from short-term to long-term memory. I can look at a map (and I LOOOOVE maps) and see where the best descent spur runs, and then need to pull it out again three minutes later to re-check. "Left" and "right" still get mixed up (never ask me for directions; I'll point to the left and say " ... and then you turn right ... "). But the GPS is mainly carried to keep a record of where I've been and as a back-up if I get totally bushed.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Aardvark » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 10:26 am

north-north-west wrote: "Left" and "right" still get mixed up (never ask me for directions; I'll point to the left and say " ... and then you turn right ... "). But the GPS is mainly carried to keep a record of where I've been and as a back-up if I get totally bushed.


Funny thing that. My partner to this day has always gone to opposite to that advised. When i say left, she goes right and vice versa. On foot, in the car, anywhere.
And just to note... it's not deliberate.
Ever on the search for a one ended stick.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby rcaffin » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 12:03 pm

One would have thought that by now YOU would have learnt?
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Aardvark » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 3:38 pm

What makes you think i haven't?
Ever on the search for a one ended stick.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby north-north-west » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 8:47 pm

Aardvark wrote:
north-north-west wrote: "Left" and "right" still get mixed up (never ask me for directions; I'll point to the left and say " ... and then you turn right ... "). But the GPS is mainly carried to keep a record of where I've been and as a back-up if I get totally bushed.


Funny thing that. My partner to this day has always gone to opposite to that advised. When i say left, she goes right and vice versa. On foot, in the car, anywhere.
And just to note... it's not deliberate.


It's not uncommon amongst autistic people. Something in the brain wiring just reverses the words.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby Equivocator » Sun 07 Feb, 2021 10:23 pm

I always have a Topo map in my pack, but it rarely gets pulled out. In ~5 years I've only pulled it out once to give it to other hikers (who only had a "Tourist Sites" map, deep in Laminton NP, but on a trail. After offering to guide them out) or sometimes at camp just to look at/show others where we're going tomorrow.

On trail/the move it's primarily my phone.

With my watch and phone both having a compass, and being ok-ish at celestial navigation (enough to get +/- 20°), I don't carry a dedicated compass.

There are a lot of people that follow their phone blindly, as a lot of people here are saying, but there are also a lot of people that don't.
There are also a lot of people that can barely turn on a phone and wouldn't know how to navigate by one, or open a map and zoom in/out, have maps stored offline, or how to calibrate an Electronic Compass... Different tools work, there are pros/cons to both methods.

There seems to be a lot of judgement in this thread on people choosing to use new technology, disparaging their other skills (or lack there of) which is a bit sad to see to be honest.
It would be equally sad to see people who primarily using their phones come in here and say that those that rely on Maps only do so because they're too old to understand/use technology.
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Re: Principle Form of Navigation.

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 08 Feb, 2021 7:35 am

stry wrote:......

My concern with many GPS devotees is that they don't seem to actually know where they are, beyond what the screen is showing them. Others in this thread have expressed this more eloquently, but it is very real. I have always navigated with map and compass and with what some one earlier referred to as topographical awareness. If I watch treelines, ridgelines, spurs, contours and watersheds, I don't have any problem knowing where I am and choosing a fuss free route to wherever I want to go. Usually :lol: :lol: Darkness can introduce a few problems :lol:

Another post earlier mentioned bee lines. bee lines are what one gets sucked into with navigating solely by GPS, and in mountain country will quickly see you exhausted and frustrated. I have also seen inexperienced people trying to move through forested mountain country following bee lines determined by compass, and that was equally unsuccessfull.

Wildlife does not travel in straight lines. Wildlife takes the easy way.

My experience is almost entirely in Vic High Country, and I readily acknowledge that in flat or relatively featureless country, a GPS would be far more usefull. GPS could also have benefits off track after dark, or when visibility is poor, in which circumstances I have managed to temporarily dislocate myself a couple of times; although on these occasions, I have been able to think my way out of the problem with occasional reference to a simple compass.


I'm not sure when you reference 'bee lines' if you're referring to my image post of a bearing line?

I posted that to illustrate the amount of information one can get from a digital map program without turning the GPS on and how it's possible to use a phone as a replacement for map and compass (without turning the GPS on)

It wasn't to advocate the use of 'bee lines' in all circumstances or even most.

But honestly I think your disparagement of 'bee lines' is misplaced.

They are a tool used in a specific set of circumstances. Usually to keep heading in the right direction when walking in terrain with minimal other physical indicators/features of location.

If you're in relatively easy navigation country such as a location with line of sight to identifiable hills, valleys, ridges, spurs etc then it's not needed.

But...for example if you're walking along a very wide, wandering, multipronged and thickly forested ridge and aiming for a certain decent spur. (Actually quite common), it's very easy to start drifting and start heading in the wrong direction. Without a 'bee line' of going from tree to tree you will end up substantially off course and won't come anywhere near the target spur after a km or two. Worse case you don't realise it and mistake another a spur for the one you were aiming for. Suddenly your in a different gully/valley than the one you planned and may not realise it until your quite lost.

Even with a bee line there will be a fair bit of drift as you negotiate the trees etc but at least your much more likely to continue head in the right general direction and less likely to head along one of the ridges other prongs. If you're trying to follow 'the land' without the aid of a compass in such country you will be drifting East or West instead of North before you know it.

Of course the easier solution in such terrain is to use a GPS to stay on route but it's not nearly as much fun. And the skill comes in handy in the unlikely scenario that the GPS is lost or damaged. Very unlikely of course but the 'one time' it happens it's good to know the 'old fashioned' way of getting to a destination in terrain with minimal features.
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