While surfing around over at Backpacker.com I came across this old, but very interesting and useful article. Basically, it’s a beginner’s guide to getting off the trail and navigating cross country. Useful for anyone who is heading out into the backcountry for sure.
It offers up some nice tips, such as doing your homework before heading out, using mapping software, and a GPS. It also has some nice, basic tips for reading contours, and looking for alternate routes. While it’s not a long article by any means, it certainly offers some sound advice for someone wanting to get off the trail for the first time.
Personally, I still think it’s a good idea to learn to navigate with a compass and looking for landmarks. Don’t get me wrong, I love my GPS, but should the batteries fail, or you get under dense tree cover, it doesn’t prove to be all that useful. I keep mine in my pack at all times, just in case, but it’s a good idea to know how to navigate through other means as well.