Desert navigation class
Black Rock Desert, August 28, 2014
"Why, when the fun in a journey can be in understanding the world we move through, would we want to hand that all over to a GPS unit?" (Tristan Gooley: The Natural Navigator)
You will have to get out of your vehicle with your precision compass.
- vehicle navigation
- dead reckoning
- identifying reference points, mountain profiles and finger prints
- your digital camera for enhancing perception, for remembering and measuring
- navigation with limited visibility (dust storms, smoke)
- vertical angles
Precision compassesruler with millimeters, pen and/or pencil, some paper, calculator perhaps for distance calculations. Bring your digital camera and a big dark cloth or poncho to look at the screen of your camera. A SLR-camera will be easier to take pictures in the bright sunlight, but even then you will have to look at the results and discuss them with other people while looking at the screen. Even inside your vehicle there is too much light, reflected from the white sand. Hi-tech people might bring their laptop to see their pictures on a larger screen. If you have binoculars with a compass and mils reticle (e.g. a Steiner Commander), bring them. Maps will be provided.
Carry enough gasoline, water and food for another day. Gas is available in Gerlach and Empire, food in Empire.
Carry extra clothing, nights can be very cold out in the desert.
A shovel might be useful if you get stuck in the mud - some places may be wet and muddy. A darker color of the ground should warn you: wet!
Once you're out, you're on your own!
Camping on the playa is free, but it is not permitted on the surrounding areas. You can also sleep at Bruno's motel in Gerlach or Soldier Meadows Ranch (a bit far perhaps).
Safety tipsAt this time of the year a large part of the Black Rock Desert is fenced for Burning Man, but enough space is left for us to get lost. There is no cell phone coverage. Distances are enormous for walking out.
Walter Schuit, Dutch, as an instructional designer I was intrigued by the design of map-reading instruction, outdoors, no class rooms. I experimented with instruction methods, at first in the Low Countries, then in several summer camps in the mountains of Spain.
* Precision compasses. The same article in Spanish.
* "The difficulty of orienteering".
* In September 2011 in the Journal of Geography "A method for teaching topographic map interpretation".
* In two conferences of the National (i.e. American) Center for Geography Education: "Multiple-choice maps for field work" (2010) and "Contour lines, an experiential approach" (2012).
* "Observing, photographing, identifying mountains" in mountaineering clubs of Madrid.
* I´ve been several times in the Black Rock desert, Nevada, USA. to practice distance navigation techniques. And in 2012 I gave a course on navigation in that desert. (opinion)
* I participated in orienteering events in Sweden, France, Scotland, England, Spain, Portugal and the USA.