Wilderness Navigation 1999

I had the pleasant opportunity to take the Wilderness Navigation Course offered through the provincial gov't. This course is one module of the Leadership Training Program. I found myself in the excellent company of Bruce D., Bruce M, my son Jeff and husband Gord. We were all in the annoying company of blackflies out for a wonderful buffet of fresh blood as were the ever persistent wood ticks!

These creatures aside, the program was well presented, beginning on a Friday evening and running through to Sunday noon. We were about a group of 30, 25 participants and 5 or so leaders. We all came to the course with varying skills levels - ie I had none and Gord could have taught the course. We did exercises on taking bearings, learning to pace and translate our own pacing to distances on a topo map. In groups of about 5 with a leader each, we ventured into the woods taking bearings, getting lost, finding ourselves and actually getting back to "home base". We learned about grid north, map north, magnetic north, declination, adding to map, subtracting to compass, GPS, and topography.

To "test" our new found skills, Saturday night we were given a topo map with, I believe, about 11 stations marked on it. Encouraged to do this alone, each of us marked out a course, took bearings from stations to stations as required, filled out a map route, one for ourself and one for the leaders and laid out our plan of attack for reaching each station within the three hours we had Sunday morning. We were orienteers! Needless to say, I dreamed bearings, woods, wild creatures, streams, hills and vales that night nestled in the tick/blackfly infested tent with my dearly beloved who slept like a baby. Did you know that Bruce D talks even when he is asleep!?

Sunday morning we were off with maps in hand and compasses slung around our necks. Our start times were staggered. Gord, the gnu, finished in under an hour and had sooooo much fun he went around again....good grief! Most of us came in in 2-3 hours. Bruce, got turned around Murphy, made it back in over three hours, but didn't miss lunch...which was a highlight in itself. I got "lost" a couple of times, didn't sit down and cry, but successfully got myself straightened away and back on course. Jeff had no trouble, and was probably just waking up by the time he got through his route. How did he do that asleep?

Tired but pleased with ourselves, I certainly can say that we all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, learned a lot and are primed for the ROGAINE!! Meals were provided by a local couple who laboured very hard and did an excellent job. Bruce D. confessed that he wasn't hungry ONCE all weekend!! Next year, I would like to do this again and learn even more. Gord can't come!

Have a good one!

Nancy Warnica