Time to observe nature like you were Sherlock Holmes with a forest green safari hat in camouflage green combat fatigues, so that you can possibly save your life. See how those two darker mature trees in this forest picture are leaning to the left (for best light)? [go play Rush, The Trees now] At our latitude premium sunlight passes on average of about 15-35 degrees southerly over our heads throughout the year (that bald spot on your head being 0 degrees). And you know what time of year it is. The direction of the right side mid image where it seems darker, is west north westerly, along the side of the hill, which I deduce is running east by south east by north by west north westerly. This hillside is why those trees needed to bend away from the hillside all of their lives. Mature trees have reached there pinnacle of sorts in their growth and their struggle for light (and water) is spelled-out biologically on their fat trunks to tell the story of their lives and clearly the specific direction they were headed for. Like it or not we often prejudge the quality of someone else's life and history by subconsciously observing the lines and absence of lines on their faces! Are we that shallow? Often! As young and middle aged trees these two mature (genetic twins also) trees and the others around them are not and did not get direct morning sunlight from the east because the hillside is blocking the south east, and the thickness of the forest from their light reception perspective is too much to even get good indirect light from that direction (behind you) and so the trees are biologically programmed to compensate to meet their normal carbohydrate requirements. If those mature trees had grown at the equator without nearby competition for light, they would be straight as an arrow, they would not have had to bend. Knowing this you deduce facts about your direction from what trees are not doing. A tree bending it's trunk to reach premium light is doing so with sacrifice - a bending tree is a weaker tree because weight can not be well distributed toward the base of the trunk, and so it is a tree far more vulnerable to downing from high winds, ice and rain. A bending mature tree has some advantage in staying alive because it has seated it's roots deeper and thickened them in opposition to the weighty bend of the trunk.
|About 285-295, or "west north westerly," is the view.|
Consider clearly, you are conceptually standing and lost in point B and you have a good Bering on point A where you want to return. (Bering was a nineteenth century Russian naval explorer and Admiral of great fame, inventor of the 360 degree navigation and communication method!). But before you formulate a plan of direction try this: feel at this moment for your intuition, like a tiny consciousness is tapping on the wall of the rear of your brain. Feel because now you have much related information and imagery to draw on - intuition isn't magical and it's not psychic, the feeling has basis in your mind you may not be fully aware of when it happens to you. Which direction now feels right to you? The answer from intuition or not is to turn around 180 degrees from facing the view in the picture and walk south east along the ridge, through the forest, and do not deviate, until you meet the trail or meet the roadway that the trail's entrance was located on. To maintain your path on a straight line, turning too frequently is very bad during your escape, pick out the farthest tree straight in front of you that you can distinguish, keep an eye on it, when you reach it, pick another far tree that is directly behind the tree you are currently hugging and panting on. When you start walking through empty Jack Daniels whiskey mini bottles you are almost at the road near town. Congratulations! But oh no! You're still in southern
1. Know your direction always! It's just like that classic R.E.M. song "Stand in the place where live. Now face north. Think about direction wonder why you haven't before." And so on like that. If you're a person who is not one of those genetically blessed with an internal compass which provides strong intuition about direction (related to one of the gently balancing bones of the inner ear), then you may want to stay out of the forest alone. And don't even get into a car with me, okay? I mean you're a genetic freak man! A mutation that got by our eugenics practicing god!
2. Be more observant of nature's breaks in the seemingly blurry mosaic of your visual pattern. Notice that branch that has been growing downward that you just walked passed off trail. Puzzle for a moment why you stepped over deer scat that appeared to have been dropped while running, and then ask yourself "Is there a werewolf in this forest?" A downed tree is memorable enough. A tree half down, held by another is of interest enough to be recalled. Notice trees with tumors on them, and wish you could do something for them, anything. A fungal life form of larger diameter or of a bright color is a good landmark because there will be others of the same variety in the vicinity. Definitely observe rock walls in forests, I'm not sure what they are exactly, but they all seem to go in a straight line to somewhere.
3. Blaze your own trail! Get some spray paint and . . . no - kidding! I promised my p.o. I wouldn't touch another can of the stuff within one-thousand feet of a national park again. The greatest thing out there now for doing this is neon colored rubber flex bands, available as a package of many sizes, but the small ones can hook over a small branch, loop over a branch. These cost a little so you'll remember to collect them on the way out, if you need to use the dark colored ones stuff some leaves under so it looks very odd to you in the morning. Here's a tip that Sierra Club will want my ass for: blaze a trail with your fingers and hands. Choose mature bark covered trees you are walking passed, turn around and face the way you want to exit and pull a thick piece of bark off the tree, try to expose a couple of inches of under-bark which should appear a yellowish whitish, there's your trail blaze. The under bark is a protective layer, and exposing it air you will cause a hardening to further protect itself. In the life of theses bark-blazed trees this activity is amazingly insignificant.
4. Make and observe an impact trail. Deer make small "deer paths" from a few inches wide to about 8 inches, and if you see one it probably crosses the very trail you walked-off of, use that. Those deer path have something in common. . deer make them horizontally mostly to travel around a mountainside rather than over it, to travel to water and to travel deer orgy grounds. And you can make a human path or a Debbie path, or whatever. Except your path has to be looked for to be followed, and will be only temporarily seen in local nature. While walking to your lost doom step on that branch hard, mash your heel down into the dirt now and again, rip the end of a fern or a handful of leaves off of a branch and toss it to the ground where you walk. Play ACDC Thunderstruck as you trample the forest and rip branches down left and right of you with your bare hands. Step on mushrooms. Torture a cockroach to death on a little execution pedestal so you'll remember exactly where that scene you staged from Insect Braveheart took place.
That's it for today's Crazy in the Wilderness Show! Now go out and get lost with confidence!
Copyright Reserved, James G. Mason, May, 2014