I took a survival and orientation course over the weekend. Reading maps is a lost art and good skill to have; being able to plot a course using a simple protractor, degrees and adjustments for magnetic north. The error calculations are interesting: for example if you are off by 1 degree over a 1000 meter walk this is 18 meters of error. Over a few miles this error can be quite large and easy to see how people get lost in the woods. GPS can solve many off these issues, but still good not follow GPS blindly as it could lead you over cliff or an obstacle heading to a coordinate. Accuracy and attention to detail are important in planning. Once in the field you should use the terrain features to makes sense of the course, look for check points and reevaluate often.

In survival there is a rule of 3's. The body can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours in harsh conditions without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. If you have a plastic bag, wrapping it around a green branch will produce condensation water in just a few hours if there is sun on the bag. Fire can be made with shoe laces leveraged to turn wood pieces using friction. It is not easy, but possible. Shelters can be built in a few hours and improve both physical and mental outlook. Preparation is critical and a few simple things like having a plastic tarp, knife, and first aid kit can make a big difference. Improvising is important: For instance batteries in contact with metal will heat and make fire; Tree branches can be used to make simple snares; pine nuts in the west or acorns in the east can sustain the body.


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