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Adapted from AMC’s Mountain Skills Manual If you’re lost in the woods, one not-so-well-known approach to locating a more familiar area is the find-me cross. This technique is quite effective, but you have to be self-disciplined to use it. After admitting that you’re lost, mark your location by building an obvious landmark using rocks or…

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It can happen to even the most seasoned hiker. You casually duck into the woods to relieve yourself, zip up your pants, and—uh, oh. Which way was the trail? If you’re a solo hiker who becomes disoriented—or, worse, injured—nobody is there to help. Don’t panic! You’ve got options. Before You Go Getting found starts before…

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One of my favorite family traditions is our annual orienteering dash. Each year, we head to a nearby forest with a unique amenity: a permanent orienteering course. Because we hold our dash on Thanksgiving, when lots of family is around, grandmothers are paired with sons-in-law, cousins with uncles, and moms with nieces and nephews. Then…

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The shiny brass theodolite in AMC’s Library & Archives was built by a British firm, likely in the late 1800s, but its exact provenance and its path to AMC remain unknown. Artifacts make up a small portion of AMC’s collection, but the theodolite’s relationship to AMC’s own history of cartography and trail building is strong…

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Magnetic declination refers to the angle between the geographic North Pole and the magnetic pole located in the Arctic Ocean. You will discover that good hiking and topographic maps always indicate the local magnetic declination via a declination diagram, which includes one arrow pointing to geographic north (commonly labeled as True North, or TN) and…

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A map and compass make up two of the 10 essentials recommended for safe backcountry travel, but they’ll do little good if you don’t know how to use them. Misuse could even turn a situation in which you’re simply confused into one in which you’re totally lost. The bottom line? Learn proper technique before your…

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Last fall, National Geographic introduced a free, user-friendly web tool that automatically breaks up USGS topographic maps to fit onto standard 8.5 inch x 11 inch printer paper. If you’ve ever used any standard-sized USGS topographic map, you are well aware of the over-sized dimensions that such maps typically come in. That means that if you download one in its entirety—and you can…

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Regardless of the length of your trip, from a three-hour hike to a three-day or three-week expedition, all hikers should carry the 10 essentials—a list developed by the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, the public agency responsible for the majority of search and rescue operations in New Hampshire. In this outdoor skills video, AMC…

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I admit it—Pokemon Go is a pretty awesome game. Basically a digital treasure hunt, it combines so many great elements into one smooth game: finding new places that you would never have found otherwise, walking around outside, stacking up points by finding treasure. As a parks director, I like to see people outside, and if…

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X marks the spot. As easily as that, you can get a kid interested in a map. Who doesn’t like looking for hidden treasure? But ask that same kid where north is or how far it is to her grandmother’s house, and she might not have a clue. Lisa Gilbert, an instructor with AMC’s education…

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