Orienteering/Navigation

This story was originally published in the Summer/Fall 2019 issue of Appalachia. Dan McGinness is among the hiker elite in New England, where many of us admire his exploits. Four years ago, he endured a scary, unplanned overnight in mid-December. He agreed to show me where he’d hunkered down that night so that I could…

Read More....

Obtaining an accurate measurement of a mountain’s elevation has become something of an obsession among hikers. Whether you’re tagging New Hampshire’s 48 peaks above 4,000 feet, the 46 4,000-footers in New York’s Adirondacks, or each state’s high point, your list is ultimately determined by elevation. But how, exactly, do geodesists­—scientists who measure and monitor Earth…

Read More....

The number of New Hampshire peaks over 4,000 feet is thought to be 48, but according to AMC cartographer Larry Garland, that count could change. If you’ve hiked in the White Mountains over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance that the maps of Larry Garland were guiding you. For over two decades, this…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

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…

Read More....

It was at AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge, somewhere around 1:30 in the morning, when I overheard a visitor ask a friend with whom he was traveling, “Do we have butt cream?” It wasn’t all that unusual a query, really. You see, this duo was part of a European team competing in the 200-mile Untamed New…

Read More....