Book Review;The Natural Navigator


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The Natural Navigator
By Tristan Gooley
Reviewed by Oldsarge

With all the talk of maps, compasses and GPS devices, have you ever thought to yourself, “How did early man get around without getting lost”? We always hear of using the sun, moon and stars, let alone the old stand by “moss on the tree”. But what did early man use as primitive methods of navigating? Not only out and around his encampment, but what about the early explorers who ventured far beyond their comfort zone. This book clearly defines methods used to when modern technology fails. Whether you’re out on a long backpacking trip or just a short hike, the information here can be applied.

Tristan Gooley started his natural navigation school after studying and practicing the art for over ten years. He has lead expeditions in five continents and is the only person to have both flown and sailed across the Atlantic. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society.

Tristan states in his book, that natural navigation is the art of finding your way by using nature, without the aid of tools or instruments, referencing the natural clues given by the sun, moon, stars, land, sea, weather, plants and animals. He also states that there is a subtle difference between finding direction and knowing direction – it is sometimes possible to find direction using nature in seconds without feeling any great understanding of the natural world. To get to know direction, it is necessary to have a more fundamental understanding of the world we move through. I was amazed on reading how the wind, sun and water affect the land and can help in determining direction.

For those of us who spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, the teaching in this book will open your eyes to a new light. After reading this book, I started paying attention to different things. I actually found it fun to go out and look for clues for direction, looking at plants and trees, studying puddles and the stars. This book covers methods used in deserts, open ocean wooded terrain and even towns. There’s something for everyone here, even writings about moss and trees which will clearly enlighten those who voice this technique. Even if not practiced, the information is greatly entertaining for its historical content. At 296 pages this book is an easy read, something good for around the camp fire.
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But sometimes lots of work and more patience than our quick tanks. Just remember that you are dealing with a finely balanced enclosed ecosystem.