ive done a decent amount of backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail in MN and i did some in montana when i was in middle school (but this required no navigation on my part). the SHT requires no navigation skills whatsoever, its simply follow this single trail from site to site, therefore i lack these skills.i want to start backpacking out west after this summer, colorado, montana etc, but i think that type of backpacking is much different and i was wondering if there would be some books any of you would advise someone in my position to read. thanks
I can't help you as far as recommendations - but if you don't get some replies here, try posting this question under Practices and Philosophies or Backcountry Beginners to see if it gets more attention.
I don't know where "Out West" you are planning to hike, but most of the places we go are pretty simple to navigate. there are trails, and maps for almost all the hikes. And for many locations there are signs at the junctions.
True, you can choose to wander off and around, but I imagine you could do that on the SHT, too.
Loc: Portland, OR
Hiking trails in Oregon and WA can vary greatly in how much skill may be required to navigate them. The most popular trails are generally very simple, as they receive so many boots in a season that they are trodden to a fare-thee-well and it would take a generation of disuse to eradicate them.
Some of the less-traveled trails can disappear on you, perhaps in a confused welter of blowdown trees, or in a swath of burned forest where the tread is little more than a shallow depression in an ashy, blackened landscape, or else a trail can lead up to a meadow and become... lush green grass, but no trail in sight.
The sad fact is that the Forest Service has thousands upon thousands of miles of trail to tend and very little money to maintain them. So, the little used trails are slowly reverting back to a state of nature. Signage can be pretty spotty in places, too.
Chances are that your attention will be drawn to the more active and attractive trails, so no worries. Just be aware that if you are going well off the beaten path, that you will find a beaten path much easier to follow.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
It never hurts to develop map and compass skills. You never know when you might need them. There are a number of websites on navigating with map and compass. You might want to check for a local orienteering club, too--a really fun way to learn these skills.
The classic book on map and compass navigation is this one.
IMHO, a GPS (which this luddite doesn't use) is a supplement to map and compass skills, not a replacement for them.
Edited by OregonMouse (03/28/1004:55 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey