How to: Find North
Get thrown out of a moving car just over the county line? Wake up in the woods with a Jason Bourne level hangover? Running away from a survivalist camp? Wherever you find yourself, you’ll need to get your bearings—and that starts with finding north. Here are a few tricks to help you to safety:
In the nighttime, look for Polaris, a.k.a., The North Star. The handle of the Big Dipper forms a line; follow it 5 lengths to an unmistakably bright star. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the star will lead you north.
MAKE A SUNDIAL:
An oldie but goodie—plant a stick in the ground, and mark a point at the end of its shadow on the ground. Wait at least 15 minutes and mark the end of the shadow again. Draw a line between the two points—that will represent the east-west line. If you stand so that the first mark you drew is on your left, you’ll be facing north.
Natural clues are everywhere—the north side of a tree/mountain is generally the coolest, mosses tend to grow on the north side of trees, while spiders and ants usually spin webs and dig hills, respectively, on the south side. If you’re in mountainous terrain, remember that snow always melts off the southern face first.
USE YOUR WATCH:
The answer is on your wrist: If you’ve got an analogue timepiece, simply point the hour hand at the sun, and find the halfway point (on your watch) between the hour and noon. So, for example, at 3 p.m., if properly aligned, the line on your watch that points to 1:30 will represent the north-south line. Use the movement of the sun to determine which way is which. (Here’s where it gets tricky: if Daylight Savings Time is in effect, find the halfway point between the hour hand and 1 p.m.) ADL