Orienteering Skills

8:10 p.m. on October 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I am looking to brush up on my orienteering skills. Many years ago I took a course that covered many of the basics and I was able to navigate very confidently using dead reckoning, adjusting for declination, and pinpointing my location using triangulation. I also earned a pilots license many years ago. But, I have not put these skills to use in quite a while and I am looking for a book or online source that discusses orienteering skills.

Most often these skills will be put to use in the mountains of Colorado. One other question is what map size is recommended for solid navigation? In the past I have always purchased the USGS 71/2m maps in order to have a smaller scale.



12:23 p.m. on October 23, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't remember the name but the maps I prefer are the 1/25,000 scale. I guess thats the 7.5 maps? I use a combination of the usual paper USGS maps and www.mapcard.com which is a USGS site where for $19.95 a year I can view,scan,copy and print all the maps I need. I only print the area's of the maps I am using instead of carrying the whole 2x2 foot maps.

Plus at Mapcard, I can view scales from 1/6,000 to 1/200,000 map views, Aerial view in most sizes, draw lines,routes, place GPS markers, measure distances, and also see Regional grid maps, Regional watershed maps, 1/6000 to 1/1,000,000 scale watershed maps, topo maps,aerial and aerial topo/photo views. See below.

Regional-grid-map-Yosemite-Valley-centerRegional grid map Central California Yosemite area center


Regional watershed map Yosemite Valley


1/25,000 scale watershed map Yosemite Valley El Capitan


1/25,000 (7.5) scale topo Yosemite Valley El Capitan


Aerial view of Yosemite Valley El Capitan at 1/25,000 scale


Hybrid Aerial topo/photo Yosemite Valley El Capitan

Added-markers-to-El-Capitan-map.jpgThis map shows examples of GPS marker,route in red, pencil circle drawn in blue and a text note (Valley Trail) all midright.

Click on the above images to bring up larger views.

I also use Google Earth's free version to locate area's I am hiking and view aerial views of.

In the field I still use when needed my Brunton compass I have had since Boy Scouts in the late 60s. But generally I use the sun as my compass to judge direction and rely on the maps to see where I am going.

I don't know or have ever looked at any books or websites on orienteering skills, at least since my scout manual way back in the 60s.

3:18 p.m. on October 23, 2010 (EDT)
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...One other question is what map size is recommended for solid navigation? In the past I have always purchased the USGS 71/2m maps in order to have a smaller scale.

The 7 1/2 minute USGS maps are 1:24,000 scale, or 1 inch is 2000 ft (Gary is thinking of the metric maps at 1:25,000). That is the standard quad.

The correct term is that this is a larger scale. "Smaller scale" means that the ratio is a smaller fraction. Hence 1:24,000 is a larger fraction than 1:100,000, hence is larger scale. Another way to keep it in mind is that the details are larger at 1:24,000 than at 1:100,000. The 15 minute series has a scale of 1:63,360, or inch to a mile, smaller scale than the 7.5 min quads, with the details being smaller. It's hard to find the 15 min series, which was actually very convenient for extended hikes.

Since you are in Colorado, a hotbed of competitive orienteering, I suggest you look on-line at the OrienteeringUSA website (the new name for the US Orienteering Federation). Look for the Colorado clubs and go to their meets. You don't have to be competing, just take a stroll in the hills. But it will really sharpen your skills.

The newest edition of Bjorn Kjellstrom's Map and Compass book (updated by his daughter), the "bible" of map and compass, has a lot of updated material. I have seen it in REI, and I suspect that EMS has it in stock as well.

6:02 p.m. on October 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for the reply and the clarification on the map scales (larger vs smaller). I will take a look at the web site you suggested. 

May 26, 2018
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