Wilderness Enlightenment School





      Navigation is a fundamental skill that must be mastered to the point where it is second nature, if we plane to enjoy nature to the fullest. When "we" refer to navigation as it pertains to Wilderness Enlightenment, we are referring to the ability to reproduce a self established route. While this does include the ability to following someone else’s map, it is not the primary meaning or purpose of Wilderness Enlightenment, because we rarely have the opportunity to follow someone else’s map. In fact following someone else’s path is contrary to what we seek to achieve while we are in nature. Since we are not in the military, competing in map reading challenges, geocache, or other such activity, the distances covered will be (relatively) short. The closest comparison to what The Wilderness Enlightenment School does would be a "Walk a Bout" similar to what is performed in Australia. We must also remember that the Earth is not a piece of paper and the person viewing the map is not a compass. Each person seeking enlightenment must blaze their own path throughout the wilderness, just as they must blaze their own path in life. One seeking to find a place to meditate, practice yoga, the martial arts, or bird watch can not do so by following a map. One must explorer and continue to find new and exciting places on his or her own and then endeavor to return from various locations.



    On your initial solo Wilderness Enlightenment outing, I suggest that you simply walk into the woods in the direction that feels best to you. Once you are a few yards in, look down at your compass and make a mental note of the direction. After you have noted the direction that you are going (heading), the next step is to make a mental note of the opposite direction that you should head back. Proceed a hundred yards or what ever is comfortable, place a bright bandanna on the ground, take a look around an then head back to your starting point. This simple exercise will get you used to the area and your mind will unconsciously make mental notes of key features. You can do this in all four directions if you choose, but you will need to do this for at least two (2) adjacent directions. ex. North and East, North and West, South and East or South and West. Throughout the week while you are at home, practice with your compass, by looking through the window at structures outside. Remember the heading and write it down and later that day or the next see if it matches  what you recorded.

    Another option that does not involve the compass, but is a traditional part of navigation is the following exercise. Once you have a heading, make a mental or written note of the location of the sun and the time of day. Every hour make a mental and/or written note of the location of the sun in the sky and the time of day. As your visits to nature increase, you will began to see a pattern for your area of the world and time of the year.

Once you are comfortable with the basics of reading a compass, you can proceed to a location that feels right to you and perform your meditation and/or activity.

Gear Needed

  • Compass
  • Note pad
  • Pencil
  • Watch

Note: A compass is affected by iron and magnetic fields, therefore you should keep them twelve inches or more away from your compass. The larger the iron/steel object the greater the effect it will have on your compass and therefore your ability to navigate accurately.