How Not to Get Lost in The Woods

Do you see the arrow?

One recent morning, my husband Dan and I were talking about a spot on our 40 acre property.  He was explaining to me how to get to this particular spot: “You walk along the Ridge Trail (we have names for the trails and even some of the more distinctive trees on our property) almost to the Meadow (a clearing in the woods that you can’t see from our house). 

I interrupted, “Do you mean until you are parallel to the Meadow??  because the Ridge Trail doesn’t get close to the Meadow”. 

“Um, yes it does”.

“Nope. Nope it does not”!

We then looked at an aerial photo of our property, where lo and behold our Meadow was indeed very close to the Ridge Trail.  How can that be?!  Our 40 acre square looks so different in my head! 

I must admit here that navigating through woodland is a skill that I am, um, well I don’t want to say ‘lacking’, so I’ll say ‘honing’ instead. I may have even gotten sort-of-lost in my own woods, once. A long time ago.

Why am I telling on myself like this??  Because I want to point out that We Don’t Have To Be Good At Everything. 

Though it seems reasonable to WANT to be good at navigating through woodland when foraging for wild foods is your chosen profession, you don’t HAVE to be. 

Really.

What I lack in skill here, I have learned to make up for in rigorousness.  (Is that a word?  Yes, yes it is).   I do what I CAN do, without getting lost, and I have some ‘rules’ that I’ve made for myself. Obviously, I could forage in fields and open places where it would be difficult to get lost……..but……I LOVE being in the woods! And that’s pretty much the only place you can find wild goodies like fiddleheads and morels. SO….here’s how I navigate:

  • I follow trails, and only leave the trail if I can still see it. 
  • If the trail forks, I mark it somehow so that I’ll know which way to turn when I come back. See the photo at the top of this post? I took a few sticks and laid them out in an arrow shape in the middle of the trail so I’d be sure to see it, and take the correct trail.
  • I make mental notes about things that stand out – like a boulder that is heart-shaped, or a  tree that looks like it has lips.  When I’m heading back to my starting point, I can reassure myself along the way that haven’t gotten turned around.
  • I always tell someone where I’m going. Usually this ‘someone’ is my husband, Dan. That way, if I get myself in trouble and my phone doesn’t have service, he will at least know where to start looking if I haven’t returned in time for cribbage on Saturday morning.

You don’t have to be good at everything, so be good at what you DO know.  Be fearless. And make a smart plan.

Isn’t this a beautiful stump? It marks a turn on a trail that I like to hike on.

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