How to improve one's sense of direction?

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lil_lost
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How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by lil_lost » Oct 01 2017 11:05 am

Hey friends, question for you all. A little background first: I am an avid hiker and I have gotten by OK thanks to the magic of GPS, but my natural sense of direction sucks! As in it is almost comically bad--my brain gets directions confused and turned around so easily. I have hiked with people who seem to have this inherent ability to know exactly where they are in a spacial sense, while I feel totally incompetent at this skill. So my question to you all is, has anyone here had any luck training themselves/improving upon their natural sense of direction? I don't mean just map-reading skills, I mean more of a brain-training to neurologically improve my grid-cells type of thing. I am curious if this is possible or if I am stuck being perpetually lost. :D Thanks in advance for your input!

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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Oct 01 2017 12:51 pm

#1 Every so often turn around and look at your surroundings. Make it a point to remember and reference a few landmarks as you go. Pay attention to the sun, moon and stars as they only move based upon time. Fix in your mind the direction of travel often so you can imprint your track into your mind for recall. If you get confused, stop, eat a snack, take a drink and think about your route thus far. Return via the same route until you become more experienced in your adventures out doors.
A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and restless as ever.
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imike
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by imike » Oct 01 2017 12:56 pm

Oddly enough, in over 45 years of hiking, I've only been "lost" once... and that was when using a map and compass and miss identifying a major landmark. I seem to stay oriented by focusing on the bigger picture... not the canyon I'm hiking but on the range... all of the drainages and how they orient to each other. Knowing where roads are... (up/down) and where the bottom of a drainage would dump me. Think Big...?
Ageless Mind... Timeless Body... No Way! Use It and Lose It. Just the way it is...

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nonot
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by nonot » Oct 01 2017 1:03 pm

Follow the map along as you hike it. Imagine yourself in the map, where you are, and what the map says you will see. Check for ridges, mountains, valleys, streams/rivers, and anything else interesting and visualize where you fit in amongst them, then look around and try to figure out where those features are. Over time you will start to do this naturally and will be able to picture what's on the other side of the rise that you can't even see, because your map says it will be there and your brain already knows about what to look for.
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

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joebartels
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by joebartels » Oct 01 2017 1:37 pm

While I religiously utilize GPS hiking. Reviewing the route area on map before and after the hike on a large desktop screen helps me understand where I'm going and where I've been.
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!

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big_load
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by big_load » Oct 01 2017 4:12 pm

Take a look at "Be Expert with Map and Compass" by Bjorn Kjellstrom. It contains a lot of practical exercises.
"Land Navigation Handbook" by W.S. Kals is pretty good, too.

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Nighthiker
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by Nighthiker » Oct 02 2017 8:29 am

Take note of your surroundings even at home when you leave. When you leave what direction are you heading ? When you park which direction is the front of the vehicle. As you enter a building which direction is the front of the building ? As you walk thru a building what direction are you moving thru the building. These exercise will help you develop and sense of direction (because you are being more observant).

If you use map, compass and GPS learn to use one of them with out the other two and also learn to use two of them together or all three. If you use a web site or guide book for trip planning compare the information from the sources with your navigation aids. Overtime your experience and confidence level will assist you in determining that the Coon Creek Ruin is over to the right and not across the Mesquite Bosque.
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rcorfman
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by rcorfman » Oct 04 2017 1:43 pm

I think there's a lot of good advice here. Pay attention to the big picture. What time of day is it and where is the sun? At night, where is the moon and stars? I assume you know what direction you are starting out in? Look at your surroundings so you get an idea where things are then. Pay attention to where new landmarks come into view compared to ones you already know of. Look around. Stop and look behind you. Notice how the landmarks change as you walk along. Pay attention to roads, fence lines, power lines, etc. Just watch and notice!
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The_Eagle
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by The_Eagle » Oct 04 2017 7:58 pm

@lil_lost
It may be out of your control, being a genetic or gender thing?

This article sums up a couple of other things I've read.
https://www.bustle.com/articles/99269-d ... -explained

I liked this quote from a different article.
“In ancient times, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Therefore, our brains probably evolved differently,” Pintzka said. “In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house.”
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
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Steph_and_Blake
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by Steph_and_Blake » Oct 04 2017 9:50 pm

For me, studying a map in advance and reviewing it after a hike is very helpful in "cementing" in my mind where I was, direction of travel, which canyon we turned into, etc. Maybe try a small hike without your GPS? I think back on my career, which involved a lot of travel by car and plane, and remember riding shotgun with colleagues that relied solely on their Garmin to navigate. They often had no idea if they were headed north, south, one mile, or ten. When roadblocks or detours were thrown up, they were, truly, lost. I have an incredibly long way to go in terms of heading out on a long hike with nothing other than a compass and a good topo map, so I can't point fingers. But, as others have pointed out, I think it helps to pay frequent attention to landmarks. Turn around now and again to see where you came from. Maybe even point out the landmarks to your hiking buddies to, for lack of better words, "cement" the landmark in your mind. Good luck!
Stephanie and Blake Barnard

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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: How to improve one's sense of direction?

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Oct 05 2017 7:11 am

And I quote: "I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks." Daniel Boone

The only time I was disoriented to the extent that I lost my mental compass bearings was when traveling in a rugged canyon during a heavy fog. I was finally forced to admit to my self that my compass was correct and that I was wrong. I hunkered down and spent the cold damp night under temporary shelter and had the early morning sun confirm that my compass was right and that my mind was wrong. I then backtracked to the route I should have taken the afternoon before. This was BGPS (Before GPS).
A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and restless as ever.
- Garth McCann from the movie Second Hand Lions

Another victim of Pixel Trivia.

Current avatar courtesy of Snakemarks

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