A few years ago when I explored Penitente Canyon with my neighbors, we happened across this sign. This sign sucked from us every vestige of confidence. First of all, there was no trail. It was that open landscape you see in the photo unless you REALLY went out of your way and climbed up the bluff and into the Piñon. Second, you could see for miles and miles around in all directions. Getting lost wouldn’t be extremely challenging…but…

I came home and (naturally or unnaturally, it’s hard to say) Googled “Trail Confidence Marker.” I learned that these signs are mainly to reassure mountain bikers they’re still going the right way. Penitente Canyon is a destination for mountain bikers so that made sense, sort of but not really. Also, as I thought about it, people navigate differently than they did back in “my day.” Now there are map apps and GPS…

I’m so anachronistic that I do things like look at the sky and the landscape. I have a tendency to find something in the distance, a fixed point, and use that to navigate with, too. In all my wandering on foot in the landscape, I’ve never been lost. I found maps useful, too. 😀 Godnose I have no idea how mountain bikers navigate these days — or any other days (ha ha). For all I know, today’s bike rider’s have apps on their phones that guide them from trail confidence marker to trail confidence marker. It has to be different from my golden age of mountain biking which was the 1990s.

Still, to me the sign was a little like birth. “Here you go, Sweet Cheeks! You’re in life! Good luck! Watch for Trail Confidence Markers!”

On the plague front (ha ha) I slept all night. Yay!!!! I’m very tired and weak, but I think I’m over the hump.

18 thoughts on “Navigation…

  1. Daniel Boone, when asked if he ever got lost out in the wilderness, replied, “I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was once bewildered for about 3 days.” I’ve never had the battery die or lost the signal on my topo map or compass.

    • I imagine Daniel Boone had to contend with those nasty horizon obfuscaters — tall trees… Even I’ve experienced their evil tendency to confuse. There was a guy out here a few years ago who got lost in the mountains in a blizzard. He got found and saved, but he got lost because his phone and GPS lost the signal in the storm. If he’d had a compass — and he said so — he’d have made it down the mountain to a town. He said the experience changed his life. I thought, “it could have been changed even more, dude, if search and rescue hadn’t had a dog and been paying attention to your family when they called.”

  2. How did we do it? I’ve never been lost. I’ve gone the wrong way, but find apps confusing. There is some discussion about the hippocampus (the part of the brain navigating humans), shrinking from lack of map use. I’ll stop here. . .just saying, trouble is ahead.

    • Birds have a little magnet in their nose/beaks that helps them navigate. I’ve read some papers that say some humans do, too. Other papers say no. For me it was always study the map and pay attention. When I think of all the back-and-forth human migrations in ancient times I wonder what’s wrong with us? 😀

  3. I get lost at the mall – without a map or point of reference I’m lost. Well, not lost just directionally challenged! I hope you are feeling a lot better than when you wrote this post!!

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