Hiking is a wonderful pastime and a great way to connect with nature. You can typically go on hiking trails that have waymarked paths for you to follow, but a lot of people like to go off-trail hiking is rather popular as well. Regardless of which you prefer, it can be extremely easy to get lost. This is where survival skills and tools come in handy, such as the ever-useful compass. But what happens if you realize you don’t have a compass? Here’s how to navigate safely when you’re lost and without a compass.
Use The Sun
Your most reliable and easiest-to-access way of figuring out where you are without a compass is the sun. As long as there is sunlight, you should be able to use it to your advantage to figure out exactly where you’re located and what direction you should be going in. People have been using the sun to determine their location practically forever, meaning it should be your first choice if you can use it. The easiest way to take advantage of it is by always remembering that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also good to remember that the sun’s highest point on any given day is located due south. This should help you get an idea of where you’re going.
Use The Stars
If it’s nighttime, that means you won’t be able to use the sun. Your next best bet would be using the stars if you can see them. While it may be a little more difficult to use the stars, they can be extremely reliable and it’s worth remembering how you can use them to your advantage. In the Northern Hemisphere you can use Polaris, or the North Star, to find your way. If you know what to look for, it’ll always be pointing north and give you a sense of direction. In the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a quadruplet of stars known as the Southern Cross. This star group is rather recognizable and by drawing an imaginary line from the top of the star group to the bottom, then continuing south roughly five times the star’s height, you’ll be able to more or less figure out the cardinal directions.
While it may be one of the least reliable ways of figuring out where you are, using moss can be a good alternative if you don’t have a compass. Since several variables come into play when it comes to reading moss, it’s not the most trustworthy method but can still be useful when you’re stuck. Moss usually grows on the side of trees that spends most of the day in the shade. In the Northern Hemisphere, that means the side that the moss grows on is the northern side and it’s the south side in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, variables such as humidity and shade from other natural features can come into play, which is what makes this such an unreliable method.