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Aidless Navigation

i Mar 22nd No Comments by

Finding your way in any landscape brings a sense of freedom and adventure. Think about those salty sailors guiding their ships upon the open seas, figuring out their position and course with knowledge of geometry and astronomy, and the use of special instruments. Or imagine wilderness explorers pouring over detailed maps to track their progress on a trail, or find the nearest water source.

But what would it be like to rely on your own internal compass, free from navigational aids? How would you feel if you could trust yourself to take a short walk or even a long adventure, and return to your starting point without needing a compass, a map, or your iphone?   

Here are our three favorite Aidless Navigation Techniques to help you and your kids flow with the increased energy of Springtime and head out on adventures of your own, building trust and relaxation as you wander and explore:


In this technique, you create markers along your route to show you the way back to your starting point. Here are some simple ways to create markers along your trail:  

  • Break small branches (but don’t endanger the plant or tree)

  • Make a little pile of rocks

  • Place a branch on the ground

  • Tie a little string to a branch

Be careful to always point the marker you created toward the direction that you should return.

Three Object Sighting

This technique helps you to travel in a straight line toward your destination and back to your starting point. It uses three objects to find your way: an object in back of you, an object in front of you, and your final destination. It works best on a short hike, or when you have a clear view from the original sighting in back of you and in front of you.

  • First, identify an object behind you at your starting point.

  • Next, find an object in front of you (the marker) and your final destination.

  • Walk toward your marker.

  • Now choose another marker ahead of you, and keep the current marker behind you as you walk toward your destination.

  • Once you get to your destination, use the same technique in reverse.

Watch out for veering off course. When the object in front of you appears to the left of your final destination, you are traveling off course to the right of your final destination. When the object in front of you appears to the right of your final destination, your are traveling off course to the left of your final destination. 

Story/Song Lines

How do Indigenous Australians navigate vast distances across the landscape? They sing or re-enact the story of how the original route, or “Songline,” was formed by the “creator-being.” As the traveler sings or re-enacts the story of how the path was created, they actually describe various landmarks on the landscape, and find their way.

Our idea is similar. Choose a notable landmark and make up a name for it. Funny ones are remembered best. For example, a Madrona tree branch jutting way out across the path might be named “The Madrona Stretch,” or a rock with moss on one side might be called “The Half-Shaved Hairy Troll.” The point is to find something unique about the natural feature and give it a name that will stick in your mind. Then make up a story or a song about it as you travel from one feature to the next. Sing or tell the story in reverse to find your way back. Remember: only name more “permanent” features that will not disappear with a gust of wind or a heavy rain!

Happy adventuring!


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