Plot Your Progress
As you hike into unfamiliar terrain, you can keep your bearings by taking frequent compass readings and plotting your progress on a map.
- Note key points, such as stream crossings, to help you find your way back.
- Pay particular attention when you reach a high point at the top of a ridge.
- Use the elevation to locate landmarks visible from there.
Learning to set a course and take bearings takes study and practice. The best way to become proficient with a compass is under the guidance of an experienced individual.
- The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a navigation system based
on a network of satellites. Users with a GPS unit can determine
their exact location (latitude and longitude) in any weather condition,
all over the world, 24 hours a day.
- GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day and transmit information to the earth. GPS receivers use this information to calculate the user’s location by comparing the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received. The time difference tells the GPS receiver the distance from the satellite. By calculating the distances from several satellites, the receiver can determine and display the user’s location on the GPS unit.
- Once the user’s position is determined, a GPS unit can calculate other information—bearing, trip distance, distance to destination, sunrise and sunset times, and more.
- GPS receivers are accurate to within 15 meters (49 feet) on average. Certain atmospheric factors and other sources of error can affect the accuracy. Accuracy can be improved with a Differential GPS (DGPS) or WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System).