The Philippine wilderness may not be that hospitable to the foreign
backpacker as well as to the locals, considering the state of the trail, location and number of participants. Knowing how
to organize and behave with your group will make or break your trip. Basic know-how and common sense plays an important role
in your survival in the wilderness.
Before setting out be sure that you are in good condition. Eat
a heavy breakfast to ensure energy during most of the day and stop walking when there is plenty of daylight to set-up your
first campsite. Following are warm-up and stretching techniques. This is particularly important since this will loosen your
muscles and therefore greatly reduce the chances of injury.
WARM-UP AND STRETCHING TECHNIQUES
The general warm-up should begin with ‘joint-manipulation,’
starting either from your toes and working your way up, or from your fingers and working your way down. Make slow circular
movements (both clockwise and counter-clockwise) until the joint moves smoothly. You should rotate the following (in the order
given, or in the reverse order): 1. Fingers and knuckles 2. Wrists 3. Elbows 4. Shoulders 5. Neck 6. Trunk/waist 7. Hip 8.
Leg 9. Knees 10. Ankles 11. Toes
After your general warm-up, you should engage in some slow, relaxed
stretching. Once again you should start from the top and work down (or from the bottom and work up) to stretch the following:
1. Forearms and wrists 2. Triceps 3. Neck 4. Chest 5. Sides (external oblique) 6. Back 7. Buttocks 8. Groin (adductors) 9.
Thighs (quadriceps and abductors) 10. Hamstrings 11. Calves 12. Shin 13. Instep. Hold the stretched position for 5 seconds,
Keep an eye on the mountain during the approach hike, studying
it for climbing routes. The distant view reveals gross patterns of ridges, cliffs, as well as the average angle of inclination.
As you get closer, you can get the general idea of the terrain, i.e. fault lines, brand of cliffs and crevasses. Throughout
the approach follow the old mountaineering dictum to "climb with your eyes." Keep on the lookout for alternative routes, possible
water sources, emergency campsites, firewood and or anything that can be used in case an emergency arises. In short, be wary
of your surroundings. The ideal distance between climbers is two (2) meters or seeing distance.
Before setting out be sure that your group set rules for signaling.
The following are the signals used by the MMS when climbing. The signal for stopping is two (2) short whistle blasts; while
signal to proceed is one (1) long whistle blast and these are the sole responsibility of the lead and tail men. The international
mountaineering distress signal is 6 blast to a minute. To signal that aid is on the way, give 3 blast to a minute.
The basic skill that is required for a mountaineer is walking.
The oldest form of transportation ever used by man and it is the most indispensable technique the mountaineer will ever use.
When walking into the wilderness the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. The shortest
distance for a mountaineer is the most easy and safe one. Also, before setting out, make sure that you are properly and thoroughly
warmed-up, either by a 5minute jog-in-place or stretching techniques.
Following is an insight on how to lace your shoes properly for
maximum comfort. This was taken from University of Texas Lifetime Health Letter dated January 1995. For mountaineers or backpackers,
all we know is that we have to lace our shoes the way we do it when we are in grade school. The way you lace your shoe can
increase your foot comfort or relieve foot pain while walking. Proper lacing can also increases the lifespan of your shoes,
according do the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.
Tips for lacing:
- Loosen laces as you slip shoes on to reduce stress on eyelets
and backs of shoes.
- Beginning at the toe end, tighten laces one pair of eyelets
at a time to reduce eyelet stress and ensure uniform pressure.
- When buying new shoes, keep in mind that shoes with more eyelets
make for easier adjustment (many better athletic shoes have two sets).
- Conventional crisscross lacing works best for most people. Alternative
lacing patterns may be appropriate for specific types of feet or to ease some foot problems.
Carol Fray, M.D. associate professor of orthopedic surgery at
the University of Southern California, offers these suggestions (letter in parenthesis indicates illustration):
- Narrow feet: Consider using wide-set eyelets that bring the
sides of the shoe more snugly across the top of the foot (a).
- Wide feet: Eyelets set closer to the tongue and set closer together
add width to the lacing area (b).
- Narrow heel, wide forefoot: Consider using two laces for a custom
fit (c). The wide-set eyelets help snug up the heel, and the closer-set eyelets help adjust shoe width to the forefoot.
- Feet pain: For pain in specific areas of the foot, try skipping
eyelets in the vicinity of the pain and tightening laces above and below the skipped eyelets (d).
- High arches: Lacing straight across between eyelets (instead
of crisscrossing) can reduce or eliminate pressure points (e).
- Toe problems: For toe problems, including hammertoes, corns
and painful toenails, insert laces so that one lace traverses diagonally across the length of the tongue, from toe to top
(f). Pulling on the lace will raise the toe box to reduce pressure.
- Heel fit: The lacing pattern shown in illustration (g) can help
prevent your heel from moving in the shoe and rubbing blisters. Laces are looped through each other before being tied.
Beginners often makes two mistakes in walking; they walk faster
than they should or they walk slower than they could. Walking too fast is the most common mistake. This may be due to concerns
of the long miles ahead or from a desire to perform well in front of the group and or companions. But why wear yourself out
of the first mile of a 10-mile hike if the whole day happens to be available for that walk? Enjoy the walk, take your time
and smell the flowers. Pacing varies from person to person. It also depends on the cardiovascular capacity of the person.
A simple test may reveal that your pace is too fast if you cannot sustain it hour after hour. You’re going too fast.
The other mistake is walking too slowly. Your body might ache but they still have 10 miles in them; your lungs may be gasp
but be able to go on gasping for 3 hours. A degree of suffering is inevitable on the way to becoming a good walker. Pacing
also depends on the time of day and also the humidity. Walk slowly at the start, letting your body adjust to the demands to
come. Then start striding out, using willpower to get through this period of increasing work until the body experiences it's
second wind. Physiologically, this means that the heart has stepped up is beat, the blood is circulating more rapidly and
the muscles have loosened. Psychologically, the hiker feels happy and strong. Vary your pace depending on the trail. Plod
slowly and methodically up steep hills; as the grade lessens, pick up the tempo. Your pace will slow late in the day as fatigue
sets in. Adrenaline may fuel short bursts of exertion, but there is no "third wind." When in a group, the pace should follow
the slowest member or person with the heaviest load. Do not lag anyone behind.
- When walking with a group, with any number
of participants, walk in a single file to protect the side vegetation. Avoid overtaking. Stay on the trail even if it is muddy
or rutted. Help save vegetation and prevent erosion by not cutting switchbacks. Make your rest breaks in resilient areas and
guard against damaging stream banks. If you see something interesting, just look or take photographs of it instead of picking
or collecting. Do light trail maintenance and remove litter as you pass by it. Leave the trail as you passed it. Remove cairns
and flaggings unless they are already there; let others experience the adventure of route finding. If you need to mark you're
route, remove the markers on your way down. Choose talus instead of fragile meadows for cross-country travel. Always take
the ridgelines for path finding and avoid water lines and gullies. Water always takes the steepest route down the mountain.
Do not step on obstacles; it might upset your balance. Avoid dislodging rocks.
- When walking uphill lean forward and place
you foot flat on the ground before pushing the other foot forward and take small steps to conserve your strength. Do not walk
on your toes since this will cramp your legs readily.
- When you walk downhill, take small steps and
move steadily. Lean backwards to take the strain off your knees and never lock them straight when placing you foot on the
ground. Learn to dig with the heels or side of the foot first. Use a walking stick if necessary to relieve help relieve the
strain off your knees.
- When walking on steep slopes, place your foot
sideways and place the walking stick downhill for added support. Always look for support, hold on to roots or vines and make
sure that these are sturdy and free of thorns.
Depending on the terrain, weather and the capacity of the individual
in a group, rest stops are determined. Some have rest stops of 5 minutes per 1-hour walk for flat terrain. A 5minute rest
per 30-minute walk is advisable for ascending terrain while a 5-minute rest per 15-minute walk is recommended for steep terrain.
Rest stops on descent will depend on the terrain but usually its 5 minutes per 1-hour descent. Do not sit or lie down at once
during rest stops. Keep standing for 30 seconds before sitting to stabilize blood circulation. Take only sips of water. Drinking
too much will induce an abrupt lowering of body temperature making it hard for you to maintain your pace again.
When trail-blazing, avoid indiscriminate cutting of vegetation.
Keep trailblazing to a minimum to preserve the natural state of the wilderness. Make sure to inform the immediate person behind
you of the obstacles and/or dangers encountered along the path. A leadman should be assigned if the group is unsure of the
trail. Side trails not used should be closed to prevent others from taking it. Do this by blocking the path with sticks or
branches. To make the path safer, cut sharp thorns and poisonous plants along the trail. Avoid littering. Pocket all candies
and biscuit wrappers. Smoking on the trail and /or during short rest stops is strictly prohibited. It may cause forest fires.
Flop belts and knots and shoelaces might become loose. It is the duty of the man behind to check if the man ahead of him has
dropped anything on the trail. If lost, do not panic. Try to assess your position and then take necessary steps to find the
correct route. When walking in cold weather, minimize the rest stops to prevent the body from cooling-off too fast.
One of the characteristics that backpacking offers is the challenge
of overcoming differing obstacles due to bad weather or difficult terrain.
When walking up the mountain the temperature changes rapidly.
It can be from a high temperature and humidity to cold temperatures and dry air. A cold wind easily dissipates body heat.
When resting be sure to cover the head and neck to slow down the heat loss. The ground may also be cold, therefore sit on
your backpack if possible.
The Philippine weather changes rapidly. One moment it’s
sunny and in 30 minutes, a torrential rain is pouring in. Rains here are occasionally accompanied by lightning. Therefore
when climbing, especially at around 1,000 meters take these precautionary measures in avoiding lightning strikes. Some signs
are apparent like the smell of ozone and the crack of thunder. Lightning usually looks for the shortest route it can make
between the cloud and the ground. Therefore get off peaks and ridges as much as possible. Medium sized trees provide some
protection if they are not hit first. When you are above treelines, look for rocks that are taller than you do and stand several
yards away from it. When lightning hits the ground it travels to a point of least resistance, therefore stay away from paths
- Steep inclines; where the current travels more freely
- Wet areas; since water is a good conductor
If you find yourself above the treelines, look for big rocks
that you can crouch on to (not the highest one) that is elevated and not connected to other rocks underneath. Do not go into
a cave or a rock depression or even an overhang, since these places attract ground currents.
When crouching, the best position is to put your feet close together
as possible. Stand on something that can insulate you from the ground, like a sleeping bag, mattress or a coil of climbing
rope, or even your backpack (without the metal frame). You need to stay away from any metal objects like your external pack
frame or mess kit. Being hit by lightning requires emergency first-aid procedures like shock, burns and if necessary, CPR.
Trails signs are used to keep the next group to follow the persons
lead. They are usually set-up by the first sweeper for the next group. They are placed in the middle of the trail for everyone
to see. Rocks, pebbles and small branches are used for this.
The Philippines, as a tropical country has numerous streams and
rivers. Many are wide and deep and some are just streams. Considering the geography and weather conditions of the Philippines
we do not have a lack of this natural feature.
Crossing them will depend on the physical feature of the river.
It can also depend on the weather, since most of the shallow rivers here turn into raging rapids when rainfall hits. You may
have the choice of using bridges. It may be a short distance and a waste of time, but at least you are dry. If there are no
immediate bridges available, scout the river upstream and downstream to find a suitable shallow area to cross. You may find
rocks to hop on to. This is just an option if the river or creek has small rocks or boulders to hop on to. But if it is knee
deep, chances are there might not be enough rock to hop on to. Especially here, the rivers may be shallow but the rocks are
covered with moss that the chance of slipping is inevitable. Accept the fact that your feet will get wet and also your boots.
If you are to cross a river, never go barefoot. There is a great
possibility that you may step on sharp stones or bones and shell fragments. Wearing sport sandals is the best alternative.
Aside from giving adequate protection to your feet, they also dry out relatively easy. Another alternative is the local rubber
sandals or "tsinelas." They are much lighter than the sport sandals, dries out more readily, cheap and comes in various colors.
One disadvantage is its unsturdiness. Sneakers are another alternative. Aside from giving better protection to your feet,
it dries out longer. Many still wear their boots (fabric boots), since it provides much more protection to the feet and ankles
if the water is too deep and the bottom cannot be seen. Before wearing your boots in the water, be sure to take off you socks.
At least there is something dry to wear on the other side.
When crossing a river be sure to pick the widest area, since
a narrow channel is generally deeper. Look for a part of the river that is still and you can see the bottom. Do not go straight
or perpendicular to the direction of flow. This will leave you more vulnerable to the current. Before wading into the water
be sure that you take measures to protect your clothes dry in your backpack. Loosen all straps, sternal and waist belt of
your backpack. This is done to easily discard your pack if you fall into the water. When wading alone, use a pole to probe
the bottom of the river. This will serve as your third leg and to maintain your balance during the crossing. Some use two
poles to provide better stability. Always head downstream and in an angular direction. Place your foot sideways across the
current and squarely on the riverbed.
There are many types of maps. There are political maps, world
maps, street maps, topographical maps, National park maps, Profile maps and others, each with a different purpose and use.
For the outdoorsman a geographic or topographical, "topos", is the ideal type to use. It shows the supposed terrain of a particular
locality as seen from above. It displays the hills, valleys, and mountains, rivers and also man-made structures that are represented
by grids and contour lines. There are 2 types of topos; the 15-minute map and the 7.5-minute map. A minute refers to a fraction
of a degree and one minute is equal to 1/60 of a degree. Therefore, one inch on a 15-minute map is equal to one mile or 1.6
km on the ground. For the 7.5-minute map, a one-inch will equal 2/5 of a mile on the ground. The advantage of a 7.5-minute
map is its more detailed picture of the land. Another type of map is the National Park map. These maps provides the traveler
with general info about major hiking trails, as well as where to find campsites, foods, restrooms, good swimming and other
activities but it does not provide enough detail for serious hiking. A profile map provides info such as the ups and downs
of a trail, the mileage between important landmarks, and the steepness and length of climbs and descents. But profile maps
are not topos. Instead of using contour lines these maps convey information on a graph that measures the elevation gained
or lost per mile.
The worst time and place to learn how to read a map is when you
realized that you’re lost in the middle of a remote wilderness. The best way to learn is to take a map with you when
you’re on a well-marked trail. Start by identifying the map’s landmarks in the field such as mountain peaks or
a river’s mouth. As with everything, the more you practice the better you’ll get to read the map.
There are also times you are deep in the woods and you cannot
see any of your established landmarks. Right before entering the forest you should have established your route. You can then
rely on where you were last, your general direction, and the speed of your walk. This is your "educated guess" in which time
provides an approximate location on where you are based on the last location verified. When you’re out of the woods,
in an open field or peak, re-establish your location by using identifiable landmarks. Be careful in choosing landmarks since
they are a lot to choose from in an open field or summit.
BASIC PARTS OF A MAP
The grids determine the approximate distance as described by
their scale. For walkers a 1:50,000-scale map will do. Vertical lines are called eastings while the horizontal lines are called
These lines are the basic building blocks of a topographic map.
It describes the actual look of the terrain, if it is a hill, mountain, valley, or river as seen from above. Following are
some map features in relation to the actual terrain. Successive circles form hills and mountains, getting smaller and smaller
as the altitude goes higher and as they get closer to each other the steeper it gets. Valleys are drawn as lines with varying
lines. Saddles are drawn when two hills or mountains are close together. A ridge is drawn with an elongation and a circle
at the end. (with pictures and illustrations)
These are used to describe the slope of a particular terrain.
They are usually drawn as successive lines that are either close together or far apart. There are two kinds of slope, one
is the convex slope, wherein the contour lines are close to the slope and spread out towards the top. The concave slope has
its contour lines bunch up at the top.
These are usually found at the side corner of your map. They
describe man-made features such as churches, houses, roads, bridges, farmlands, and others. Some maps have color legends to
describe forestlines, rivers, lakes and other natural features. One important feature of a map that is to be without is the
declination factor. This will be discussed on the topic of compass reading.
MEASURING MAP DISTANCES
After knowing where you are, you have to know how far you have
gone. You can estimate the distance traveled by using a piece of paper. Since the route you are taking is rarely a straight
line, your estimating technique must be accurate.
- Start at the corner of the paper, align the edge with the route.
Put a pencil at the point on the route where it turns. Mark the paper.
- Rotate the paper and align it to the route again. When you encounter
the next turn mark it with the pencil. Place any landmarks you have encountered along the way.
- When you reach the other corner of the paper, rotate it and
continue along the edge of the paper.
- After you have completed the route on the paper, place it against
the key at the foot of the map. Mark each kilometer or mile on the sheet.
- Total the number of kilometers or miles. This is your route
distance. By marking the steep gradients, it will help you determine the length of time it will take to walk the route.
ESTIMATING JOURNEY TIME
You already know the distance but how long it will take you to
walk the route is another problem. You must bear in mind that the paper procedure for determining distance is on a flat surface
and does take into account the topography of the route. Therefore when estimating travel time you must include allowances
for time lost when climbing steep hills. But this can be gained when going down a steep terrain or hill as well as it can
slow you down.
There are several other names for this travel time estimation
technique, but the basics of the technique are:
- For every 5km of easy going, allow 1 hour
- For every 3km of easy scrambling, allow 1 hour
- For every 1km of rough land, deep sand, or thick bush, allow
- Add an extra hour for every 500m up (cumulative)
- Add an extra hour for every 1000m down (cumulative)
- Add an extra hour for every five hours, to allow for fatigue.
For example, take our hike up Mt. Banahaw (Tayabas trail). We
will be travelling about four kilometers over clear terrain. So allow one hour for that. We will be climbing about 200m, then
coming back down 200m, so allow an extra half-hour for that. We won't be travelling for a long time, so there is no allowance
The total travelling time is therefore 2 hours. This is a very
pessimistic approximation, as I have done the complete trip in less than half an hour - but that is with no pack. Once you
do the walk with a pack on, in rough country, on fire trails rather than on open road, your speed will start to drop a little.
Note that not everyone can maintain a cracking pace of 5km/h
with an 18kg pack on their backs! You will need to adjust this rule to suit yourself and your hiking partner or group.
The best way to do this is to find a day hike close to you, get
the topographic map relative to that area, and do the hike. While you are doing that hike, time how long it takes you to get
up hills, down hills and along straights. Once you have done that, calculate your straight and level travelling speed. Use
the time it took you to climb the hill to calculate the "up climb" adjustment. Use the time it took you to climb down the
hill to calculate the "down climb" adjustment. When you have finished, apply Naismith's rule to your hike and see if you get
within 5% of your actual travelling time and checkpoint times. Keep adjusting the figures in the rule to suit you.
USING A COMPASS
[Did you know: The compass is less than 4500 years old. It is
a fairly simple piece of equipment that was invented by the Chinese around 2500 BC. It consists of a magnetized piece of steel
balanced on a pivot so that it is free to swing in any direction.]
One of the important gadgets you need when in the wilderness
is a compass. Without one is like asking yourself to get lost. You can use the compass to do the following;
- To know where you are by identifying landmarks surrounding you
like peaks, ridges, passes, lakes.
- To know what is your position. By using a map you can know where
you are through bearing readings.
- To give directions to others. Basically, if you have a map and
a compass you can give bearing directions to other people. This is also important on emergency situations wherein your location
- To follow a bearing to a location which you cannot see.
TYPES OF COMPASS:
Air filled compasses work just fine,
the drawback is that you must wait quite some time for the needle to come to rest so that you can take a bearing. It also
requires the compass to be held stationary, so they do not work well when hand held.
compasses are the most effective in breaking the swing of the needle quickly. The majority of compasses on the market are
liquid filled which is a mixture of water and alcohol.
KINDS OF COMPASS
Silva compass (protractor, orienteering)
PARTS OF A COMPASS (PROTRACTOR/SILVA TYPE)
Direction-of-travel arrow on baseplate
north indicator (needle)
Orienteering arrow on bottom of housing
Map scale – expressed in mm or cm
North-seeking end of the rotating arrow
Rotating compass dial, with cardinal points and degrees
DECLINATION OR MAGNETIC VARIATION
When you see your map there is that reading at the side, bottom
corner, stating the declination factor. This number indicates the corrective reading for the map based on the three norths
and three arrows mark them. The map will show you only the relative direction you are taking, mainly from one point to another
point. But when you relate the direction of your compass to the map you might find that it is off to a few degrees. This is
declination. It is the difference, expressed in degrees, between where your compass says north is and where the grid north
and magnetic north really is. There are three north poles, one is the magnetic North Pole, wherein your compass points to,
the grid north, it is the north marked on maps and the "true" geographic north pole. The true North Pole is taken from measurements
of the astral and geography of the earth, it’s the axis where the earth rotates.
Maps are typically drawn using the true north reading typically
because it is based on mathematical calculations and it does not vary from one location to the other while your compass points
to the magnetic north, it changes from time to time therefore it is not that accurate.
Orienting your map
Before beginning your trip, make sure to set your map with your
compass. This will ensure that you know your destination on the map. In addition to knowing the bearing of your destination,
you must also know its distance. You can do this by using either the scale along the edge of the compass, or the scale provided
at the bottom of your map. Be sure to check your bearing on the map while walking against the terrain you are crossing.
Here are some steps you can make to orient your map using your
- Place your map on a flat surface. To find the bearing from point
A to point B, lay the compass between points A and B. make sure that the direction arrow is pointing to your destination.
Read the distance between the two points using the scale at the edge of the compass. Compare the reading to that of the map
- Without moving the compass, turn the central dial until the
parallel north-south lines are aligned with the grid lines on the map. If you don’t have a topographical map with the
gridlines use the margins or side of the map. The number on your compass housing that line up with the direction of travel
is your bearing. If you have a hassle free compass with the built-in declination feature, then the number is your true bearing,
otherwise calculate the declination.
- Take the compass off the map and hold the compass firmly against
your chest with the direction-of-travel arrow pointing toward the landmark. When you adjust your position turn your body with
the compass. Check and recheck the alignment of the direction-of-travel arrow. Face the landmark squarely.
- Look down at the compass and turn the dial until the north end
of the needle is closest to N. Do this without changing your position and the direction of the compass. Read the bearing on
the dial against the direction-of-travel line (arrow).
Reciprocal bearings and headings, sometimes marked on the azimuth
dial, are simply the reverse of your original bearing, or 180 degrees different. For example: For an original bearing of 20
degrees NE, the reciprocal bearing is 200 degrees SW (20 + 180).
If math isn't for you, simply line the red arrow up with
south instead of north and use the same heading you took to get there.
In the wilderness accurate prediction of where you are is vital.
This is true if you don’t have a compass to start with or something happened and you have just lost it along the way.
Knowing where you are in relation to the four cardinal directions – North, East, West and South is a basic skill that
every mountaineer or backpacker for that matter must know. Other ways of finding your way is by the sun and a staff; the sun
and a watch and at night, the North Star is your guide.
Finding directions by using the sun
This method is often used since we are given the fact that the
sun rises at the east and sets in the west.
This method uses the staff and the sun to find directions. Get
a staff or a similar implement. Post it in the ground in direct sunlight in the morning, mark the tip of the staff’s
shadow. In the Northern Hemisphere this is West. Get a string of the same length as the cast shadow of the staff. Tie one
end to the staff and the other end to a small stick. Draw a semi-circle with the staff as the center. Be sure to tie the string
loosely on the staff. In the afternoon mark the tip of the shadow where it touches the arc, this is east.
Draw a line from the afternoon stick to the point where you placed
the morning stick. The halfway point between the two sticks is the true North.
Northern Hemisphere: using a watch, point the hour hand
at the sun. Then draw an imaginary line between the hour hand and 12 o’clock mark. Halfway between the line is south.
Southern Hemisphere: point the 12 o’clock mark at
the sun. Halfway between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark is North.
*Since the Philippines is in the Northern Hemisphere the first
procedure is applicable. Nevertheless knowing how to use this in the Southern Hemisphere is an added bonus.
FINDING NORTH BY THE NORTH STAR
Stars can be used at night to find direction. They move through
the sky as the Earth rotates. But there is only one star that never moves and this is called the "North star" or "Pole star."
The North star is particularly important if you are in the Northern hemisphere, while in the Southern hemisphere you must
find the Southern Cross to establish South.
Northern Hemisphere: the Big Dipper or Ursa Major is the constellation
to use to find North. It is those group of seven stars that form which looks like a ladle (Plough). When you have established
its location look for its front end. The two stars of the bowl farthest from the handle will point you to the North Star.
Do this by drawing an imaginary line about four times the distance of the two stars. The bright star is the North Star and
directly below it lies North.-
Southern Hemisphere: use the Southern Cross to find the approximate
South. After you have found the Southern Cross draw an imaginary line 4 Ã‚Â½ times its length. Locate two stars just below the
Southern Cross. Draw an imaginary line in between these two stars. The point where the imaginary lines cross is south.
As with finding the directions using the sun, you can also use
any star to roughly establish your direction. When the stars move up, you are facing east. When the stars move down you are
facing West. If the stars move in an arc towards your left, you are facing north. When the stars move in an arc towards your
right your are facing a Southerly direction.
KNOWING THE WEATHER
Going out to the wilderness does not mean that you are always
dry and warm. In the Philippines, since our location is on the equatorial region, most of the Philippine wilderness is rainforests.
Expect rain, most of the time. You can apply the expression "when it rains, it pours" and it really does. Weather here, typically
is unpredictable. It might rain on one side while at the other side its dry. Combined with high humidity and temperature walking
along most Philippine trails is very taxing to the body.
Because of the location of the Philippines, the mountains here
are usually wet rainforests. Temperature may range from 36 degrees Celsius at sea level to 10 degrees Celsius at 800 meters
above sea level. Therefore, it is best to check weather forecast before making your trip. Although it is not accurate, at
least you have a general idea on what to expect.
BASIC WEATHER FORECASTING
Clouds may indicate what weather to come. Cumulus clouds (billows)
indicates good weather though they can sometimes turn-quite quickly into darker clouds, which means that thunder and lightning
will become the order of the day. Stratus clouds (layered looking) is usually prevalent on hazy days. They become thicker
and get dense enough to block the sun. it this happens, a light rain may ensue. Should they turn dark and get lower in the
sky heavier rain may be on the way. Cirrus clouds (wispy) have turned up ends that give them the nickname "mare’s tails."
If they get dark and seem to descend from the sky, rain can result. These are the most elusive of clouds, and can keep you
guessing as to what they will do.
Hot air rises and cold air falls. Wind is created when this happens;
combining this knowledge with your observations of clouds, you can guess the coming weather fairly well. When clouds are moving
quickly across the sky, condition can change quite rapidly. If the temperature gets cooler as clouds are getting darker, there’s
a pretty good chance that foul weather will follow. If cumulus clouds appears at a distance, and temperatures are on the rise,
count on fair weather.
Humidity and Fog
Humidity results from a lot of water in the air and can indicate
coming of showers. Hikers who notice greater humidity in combination with a darkening sky should prepare for rain. Fog is
an extreme form of humidity – saturated air; in fact, it’s a cloud that has formed down near the land because
conditions happen to be right for it. Fog may become so dense that vision is limited; identifying the landmarks on your map
may become impossible.
Many birds flying around a cloudy sky can indicate rainfall.
- Red sunsets usually indicates good weather the next day. A gray
or yellowish glow indicates wet weather is on the way. A red sky in the morning shows the sun lighting up high cirrus clouds,
which may lower later on – a warning that wet weather may follow.
- If voices seem louder, or the clink of pats and pans against
the side of the rock or at each other are more shrill than usual, this may foretell an approaching storm. As clouds lower
in the sky, sound waves hit them and bounce back faster than usual. You might think that your hearing has become more acute.
Once the clouds have lifted, sounds will return to normal.
- At night a halo around the moon tells of approaching rain. The
halo is the refraction of light off ice crystals in cirrus or light clouds.
- Observe camp fires, when the smoke is sideways, rainfall is
PLANNING A ROUTE
Planning your route
Before climbing be sure that you know where you are going, exactly.
Right now, the best way to plan your route is by going there yourself. It is quite impractical and time consuming but if you
are to be with an expedition group it may be a time saver. Clearing obstacles and solving problem trails during this time.
In the Philippines, you can plan your route by asking the locals. They can point you to an established trail, since most trails
here are already being used by the locals for their agricultural as well as hunting needs. If however you got lost, look for
an open spot, or a high point to survey the land. Usually, ridgelines are easier to follow, as well as rivers, since they
have footpaths that have been used by locals.
Walking at night
When walking at night, have a torch strapped on your head. Walk
slowly if the trail is not familiar, muddy and raining. If in doubt, test the ground with your foot before putting any weight
on it. This is true in situations when it is raining and the ground is saturated with water, mud can easily accumulate and
slippage is imminent. Walk in hearing distance with each other. This will ensure your safety along the way.
Knowing your own personal measurements is a big plus when walking
in the wilderness. You can determine the distance you have taken during your walks, know the height of certain trees and cliffs
and widths of campsites and rivers. There are standard measurements such as a foot (12 inches) or 1 meter (2 strides). But
these are relative measurements, meaning that they differ from person to person. Therefore it is important to know your own
measurements. For instance, your foot can measures 8.5 inches and your stride can be 1.5 stride per meter.
Shadow Method - (this method can be used
only if the sun is in the position to cast a shadow over an object)
- Measure the length of the shadow cast by a person or staff of
known height (CD in the illustration).
- Measure the length of the shadow of the tree (AB).
- Divide the distance in (2) by the distance in (1).
- Multiply the result by the known height.
This is the height of the tree
Here are some simple ways to find out the width of a river.
Napoleon Method (usually used if the river is narrow)
- Stand erect on one shore or bank of the river.
- Bend your head so that your chin rests on your chest.
- Push your hat forward until the front edge of the brim seems
to touch the opposite shore. (If you have no hat, place your hand on your forehead, palm down, so that the front edge of your
palm seems to touch the opposite shore).
- Standing on the same spot, turn 90 degrees to the right. (make
a right face)
- Transfer the point on which the brim of your hat or the edge
of your hand which seemed to touch the opposite bank to a spot or the ground on your side of the river.
- Stride it off and find the distance.
Stride or Step-measuring method (usually used if the
river is wide)
- Select any point (A) on the opposite side of the river which
can serve as a landmark – a tree, a rock, etc.
- Place a stake (B) on your side of the river exactly opposite
the point (A) you have selected.
- Walk a straight line along the shore for a distance of 100 steps.
(More may be necessary if river is very wide. Your path should make a right angle with the imaginary line AB.)
- Place another stake at this point, (C).
- Continue walking along the shore on the same line (BC) half
as many steps as you have made before (in this case, 50).
- Place another stick on the spot indicating the 50th
- From point D, turn left 90 degrees (make a left face).
- Walk a straight line (your path should make a right angle with
the line DB) until you can sight point C and landmark A forming a straight line.
- Stop and mark this point E. the distance between points I and
E is half the distance across the river.
- Walk from D to E, counting your steps.
- Multiply the result by two.
There are times when you are tasked to judge distances. Practice
will play an important role in doing this. You may have to start at short distance, lets say 20 meters and gradually increase
it by 100 then to 150 and then to 200. By practicing this you can gain accurate measurements by just looking at a subject
at a distance. The following are some hints to measure distance accurately:
The range of objects is usually overestimated:
When kneeling or lying;
When the background and the object are of familiar colors;
On broken ground;
In avenues, long street, or ravines;
When the object is under the shade;
In the mist or falling rain, or when heat is rising from the
When the object is partly seen.
The range of objects is usually underestimated:
When the sun is behind the observer;
When the atmosphere is clear;
When the background and the object are of different colors;
When the ground is level;
When looking over water or a deep chasm;
When looking upward or downward.
It is worthwhile to know and remember the following
At 50 yards the mouth and eyes of a man can be clearly seen;
At 100 yards the eyes appear as points;
At 200 yards buttons and any bright ornament can be seen;
At 300 yards the face can be seen;
At 400 yards the movement of the legs can be seen;
At 500 yards the color of the clothes can be seen.