Land navigation the old fashioned way

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Land navigation the old fashioned way

#1  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 23, 2016 3:49 am

My boys and I are starting to learn geology. But first, they need to know how to read topographic maps, and locate themselves on the map.

Now, any fool can switch on a GPS receiver and find their location within about 10 meters in a few seconds. That's just fine, until your batteries are dead, etc, etc. My GPS receiver is an older Garmin GPS 12XL, which still works just fine. It's Mr. Backup.

I have an old Brunton pocket transit I picked up when I was in a tactical comms unit in Korea in the 1980s. I replaced the glass on it, and used a piece of toothpick as the needle locking pin actuator. I have a plastic Brunton Classic orienteering compass for each of the boys.

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The US Geological Survey has 7.5 minute, 1:24000 topographic maps for free download. With some careful printing, trimming, aligning, and pasting, you can put together one of these maps. I have a plastic map cover I also got in Korea to protect the paper map. If anyone knows where, I'd like to get a couple more of those map covers.

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That's the bearings we shot from features we could see. They don't converge very well:

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I suspect we misidentified the two landmarks I marked on that image with pink arrows on the map. By using other sources of information available to us, namely, relative positions to known features (roads, trail intersection), we were able to eliminate the two erroneous sightings.

That positioned us within a 100 meter square at UTM coordinates DF 13T 72305730. Mr. Backup confirmed our triangulated location within 50 meters. Not too bad.


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Land navigation the old fashioned way

#2  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 23, 2016 4:02 am

Here we are, working the map and compasses in the field:

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Image

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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#3  Postby Made of Stars » Oct 23, 2016 7:33 am

Nice choice in hats! But seriously, this is a great thing to do with kids - getting your bearings and reading a map are two essential lifeskills.
Last edited by Made of Stars on Oct 23, 2016 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#4  Postby Macdoc » Oct 23, 2016 8:04 am

like long division ? :)
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#5  Postby Made of Stars » Oct 23, 2016 8:18 am

More important. Not knowing long division won't get you killed. Unless you've got helicopter parents.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#6  Postby LucidFlight » Oct 23, 2016 8:48 am

Very cool. That's a nice bit of rock, too, if you don't mind me saying. I'm going to guess... sedimentary, with clear iron deposits, possibly part of a river bed during the late Devonian-Mississippian— aaaaand I have no idea what I'm talking about. I would like to know more about geology so that I could describe such a rock. Alas, I cannot.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#7  Postby Macdoc » Oct 23, 2016 8:55 am

Just teasing but it reminded me of the "I dont need no stinkin' GPS " motorcycle crowd.

We keep having to remind them that a map is useless unless you actually know where you are.

That said - doing map and compass races through the muskeg to check points at summer camp was fun.

These days its a decent backup ....sometimes wish mcycles had compasses.

BTW a facinating read is The Map That Changed the World. The first geological map of Great Britain ...cracking good tale.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#8  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Oct 23, 2016 10:05 am

Great idea. Brings back memories from learning to navigate with the Scouts.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#9  Postby Scot Dutchy » Oct 23, 2016 10:53 am

I did orienteering as a sport for year but charging around dark dingy forests does get boring.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#10  Postby laklak » Oct 23, 2016 2:10 pm

Add sun and star shots to the mix and you're good to go on land and sea. And an ephemeris, sextant, and chronometer, of course. A calculator is also good, but not necessary. I've got two sextants, but they're both on the boat. I'll post pics at some point if I remember to remember.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#11  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 24, 2016 6:13 pm

Made of Stars wrote:Nice choice in hats! But seriously, this is a great thing to do with kids - getting your bearings and reading a map are two essential lifeskills.

Big brimmed hats, to keep some of the sun off of us. There's less air up in the mountains between us and the sun. Too easy to get a nasty burn.

Tertius really likes his new cowboy hat. Primus needs a new one, his fedora is getting small.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#12  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 24, 2016 6:15 pm

laklak wrote:Add sun and star shots to the mix and you're good to go on land and sea. And an ephemeris, sextant, and chronometer, of course. A calculator is also good, but not necessary. I've got two sextants, but they're both on the boat. I'll post pics at some point if I remember to remember.

I thought about that, too. I'd have to get a sextant with a good artificial horizon, though.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#13  Postby lofuji » Nov 25, 2016 2:42 am

The_Metatron wrote:My boys and I are starting to learn geology. But first, they need to know how to read topographic maps, and locate themselves on the map.

...and then you will have to learn how to interpret geological maps. Like topographic maps, which contain a lot of information that is not required for navigation, geological maps don't just show what rock types are under your feet. They also reveal a lot about the underlying structure. I last worked as a geologist in 1970, but I still see structures that the untrained eye would miss when I'm out and about in the mountains.
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Re: Land navigation the old fashioned way

#14  Postby ElDiablo » Nov 25, 2016 2:54 am

Very cool!
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