Right….You can’t see as well as in the day. What navigation, especially at night, boils down to is... keeping track of your position as you move away from the known point of your starting position.
Whether hiking, mountain biking, or paddling; at night your planning must be more detailed.
While underway you must pay more attention to details. Distance must be measured more accurately, the time must be “watched” more closely, more attention must be paid to your pace, bearings must be measured more closely, and bearings must be followed more closely.
Night Navigation on Land
Organize Trip Into Short Legs
Use a Point on the Horizon
Use Ranges Inline with the Horizon
ON LAND: When it looks like this outside, no moon and overcast...
It is pitch black outside. You can walk over there on a bearing of 243° but given the steep side-sloping terrain, deep gullies, the rocks, and the fact that you can’t see a step in front of you (good
thing you have extra batteries for your headlamp), you decide not to.
Instead, you visualize climbing once and then descending on a curved course to your objective. You mentally divide it up into 5 legs. And no computations are
Note: Remember you do not need to read any numbers off your compass, just rotate the bezel ring until the index lines are parallel with grid lines, box the needle and go! I’ll give the numbers for conversation sake.
Leg 1: 304° and stop on top of the hill.
Leg 2: 284° and stop when the terrain starts sloping off into an abyss (575 m).
Leg 3: 226° and again stop when the terrain starts sloping off into an abyss (520 m).
Leg 4: 192° and stop after you have crossed the saddle and have climbed out of it (450 m).
Finally: 214° and 240 meters up onto the little hilltop and you’re there.
Note: For night navigation you will want to get accurate measurements quickly.
Here’s the technique I use:
The tick marks on the plastic base plate are usually very faint.
I mark the scale of the map I’m currently using onto pieces tape that I place on the end and left sides of the base plate. This tape is waterproof clear fabric repair tape.
Each small mark is legible and equals 100 meters.
This enables me to use my compass as a plotting tool.
At night, after you have decided upon a course and measured a bearing on the map, sight it, pick a point on the horizon and go.
Note: As you get closer to those mountains, your horizon will change and you will lose sight of that point, pick a new one and continue.
At times you have no horizon, because it is so dark you can’t see anything…or you might be in a storm in a full “white out”, in that case, sight to the next tree, bush, or rock and make your progress in short increments.
Note: As you are walking your bearing, and as you are walking around obstacle after obstacle; average the errors out by passing some obstacles on the left and some on the right. And remember you can move fast, you are not surveying that property just hiking through it.
Night Navigation on Land...