Alright, so everyone knows a few fundamentals of navigation- north is always up, the sun rises in the east, and compasses usually point towards magnetic north. But at some point in time, outdoor enthusiast or not, you'll want to be able to find out where you are, and where you need to go.
I decided to create this Instructable after a challenging three day backpack in Olympic National Park, located in Washington State. In 2008, our snow levels were 165% of what they usually are. This means that in July, we found snow as low as 3500'. Great for skiers, but for the casual hiker or backpacker, it makes trips just a little bit more challenging.
Lucky for us, I'm pretty comfortable with rudimentary navigation. In this Instructable, I'll explain to the best of my ability how to use a map and compass to keep you found.
P.S. My first Instructable. woot!
Step 1: Choosing a Good Map
The map is your most important tool, as you can always squeak by without a compass (not recommended!). Right now I'll stick to what kind of map you'll need, and save map features for later.
USGS maps are the standard for wilderness navigation.
A scale of 1:24000 (1 inch equals 24,000 inches) and line intervals of 50 feet make them pretty detailed.
They have WGS84 (lat/long) and UTM coordinate systems.
The 7.5minute maps are huge and can be unwieldy.
Many maps haven't been updated since 1950.
Custom Correct Maps- Exclusive To Washington
15 minute coverage
Scale is 1:62500
Derived from USGS maps, but arranged to show popular loop hikes and trails.
Updated more recently- 1990-84
Both lat/long and UTM
Only for Washington
100 foot contour lines
Green Trails Maps-
15 minute coverage
Originally based on USGS, but updated frequently.
Uses lat/long, UTM, UMS coordinates
Scale is 1:69500
Only Available for WA and OR right now, with plans for AZ CA NY and NV.
100 foot contour lines.
Essentially, be sure your map-
-Covers the entire hike.
-Has a map scale or datum that you are comfortable with.
-Includes features like roads, boundaries and streams.
For the cash-strapped, you can download USGS maps in pdf form, for free, on their [http://store.usgs.gov/b2c_usgs/usgs/maplocator/(layout=6_1_61_75&uiarea=2&ctype=areaDetails&carea=%24ROOT)/.do website].
Unfortunately, the maps are difficult to read when compressed to 8.5x11.
As you can see, I've only included maps found for Washington State (except usgs). If you've got any more favorites I'd love to expand this list.