hiking mental health

Hiking Trail Tips: Navigating Using Waypoints

Getting where you want to go is very different when you get boots on the ground. Maps, no matter how much they’ve progressed still don’t quite do justice to the terrain and distance when you’re standing there; while a compass can tell you directions, it can’t tell you how to get there. This means that navigating – even if you know where you want to go – can be a challenge. This is especially true if the environment is overly sparse, like the Owyhee wilderness, or overly dense like the deep forest. And often, as we say on campus, the path is not The Way! So, what do you do?

One good method for traversing a landscape is Waypointing…
Simply put, you break a large area into smaller ones by picking a feature in the landscape as a point to move towards. By doing so you can break a big area into a smaller one, and also create better mental landmarks for returning should you become lost. Here’s a little more insight in a video I made:

For instance, you might pick a particular large boulder, or strangely shaped tree not too far in your distant vision; then move towards it. Once there you might want to check your compass to confirm your desired direction and then pick your next waypoint feature to move towards. By repeating these steps over and over you can split vast amounts of distance into much easier to handle chunks, not only for your feet but also for your memory.

It can be easy to get disoriented, especially if you are brave enough to leave the trails frequented by most others, but it’s no reason to fear getting out from your usual places. With a little trail planning and hiking preparedness there’s even the wilderness can be a place of beauty to be enjoyed!

Most of all, remember:

Happiness is a direction, not a destination!