How to Get Wet and Lost
So, this is how you practice using your map and compass.
First, have someone with you who has told you knows how to use a map and compass really well.
Give them a map, compass, and GPS filled with waypoints for an orienteering course. Then, in the parking lot, find someone who is not going with you to chose a waypoint for you to hike to. Find out later the friendly guy in the parking lot is in the military and runs marathons for fun.
Also, make sure you have an absolutely adorable german shepherd puppy along to bound through the brush and laugh at your clumsy two-legs.
Copy your coordinates down and plot them little suckers on the map.
Then, notice none of the topographical features as you mindlessly wander passed them. Be sure to concentrate on counting your steps so as to estimate exactly how far it is to that ridge you were aiming for. Get distracted by a couple of funny smelling plants and a particularly attractive mushroom and forget what number you were on.
Completely forget why you were counting in the first place and start wandering a bit further downstream.
Remember all of a sudden you were looking for a place to cross the ridge on your right at some point around here and start looking. Walk a bit further south until you find a lower point on the ridge. Just, assume this is what you were looking for and climb up the hill.
Figure out that you completely blew past the first saddle and walked down to the second saddle twice as far south. Be elated when you find the road crossing your line of travel and immediately forget why this was important. Make sure at this point to try a different navigation tactic known as following a bearing.
Only do this across the largest and steepest number of hills possible along your route believing that doing so will magically take off all the pounds you have been trying to lose for the past 5 years. After fully committed to plan, realize that climbing hills is exhausting with a 30 pound pack. Also recall that your favorite fast food restaurant is on the way home and you are likely to eat enough food to gain an extra 10 pounds.
Next, encounter a massive thunderstorm!
RAIN THUNDER LIGHTNING
Drenched, you start muttering to yourself.
“The marker should be here. Maybe we are still south of it. Perhaps we should walk upstream for a bit? The marker is supposed to be at the narrowing of the canyon.” Trudge, squish, trudge, trudge, squish. This explains the drunken squiggles on the left side of the map.
Notice your “teacher” is clearing his throat with a smirk and setting the bezel on his shiny new watch to time something. Suspect he is up to something. Find out later that you passed the marker and he is timing how long it takes you to figure it out.
While walking back, notice how one hill is curved and the other has a steep side jutting straight out towards the stream. If you had only looked at that before you would have walked right back to the marker. Now, don’t be too hard on yourself, you are learning here.
Take obligatory pictures with wet dog next to the marker.
Now, get lost trying to find your way back to the car.