November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
On-Trail Route Finding: When the Trail is Hard to Follow
Display Avatars Sort By:
Stevan Beer
(PapaBeer) - F

Locale: Gunnison Valley
Good stuff on 05/03/2012 22:53:01 MDT Print View

One of the best articles I've read on BPL in the last few years. Roman and Dave - keep bringin' the wisdom.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
On-Trail Route Finding: When the Trail is Hard to Follow on 05/05/2012 08:47:05 MDT Print View

Dave, a tome worthy of joining the realm of future-classics in the BPL archives. My favorite line is, "Be prepared, plan accordingly, and accrue a body of experience in a more conservative fashion." Also, thanks for dating me by reminding me those saw marks I helped cut up on Howe Ridge were nearly a decade old.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: On-Trail Route Finding: When the Trail is Hard to Follow on 05/07/2012 21:39:10 MDT Print View

In addition to employing the "look ahead and look behind" method of route finding, I also look up. Many snags have distinctive shapes (broken out top, double top, etc) and are invaluable in staying on track during winter travel or when going cross-country.

John Nielsen
(johndn) - MLife

Locale: Matanuska Valley, Alaska
Searching for the trail? on 05/08/2012 03:49:18 MDT Print View

When the trail is sketchy or when following animal trails I find it counterproductive to focus on staying on the trail or finding the trail. Know where you want to end up in a couple hours and calculate where that is approximately in relation to where you are now. Constant evaluation of this develops some uncanny skills in this area.

Also look a ways ahead for places where the trail probably exists. Examples: passes, cols, easy stream crossings, channels around cliffs or intense brush. Chances are someone else or an animal used this and the trail probably crosses here.

Pay attention to lineations and wavey lines in the landscape. These can reflect rock structure, strata, faults, erosional and depositional patterns, and vegetation patterns on a grand or small scale. These are often the best routes and a trail might just be there. You might even find them a better route than the sketchy trail.

Know your local vegetation. An old growth forest is much easier going than brush in in many parts of the world. Alpine tundra plants like Alpine bear berry can be traversed much easier than wet tundra plants such as grasses and sedges, etc. You can spot patterns of these plants at quite a distance when you know what to look for.

You need to use trails to advantage, not be tied to them in backcountry.

Kristin Tennessen
(ktenness) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevadas
Great photos on 05/08/2012 18:31:24 MDT Print View

Very descriptive photos!

chris Nelson

Locale: San Francisco
Re: "On-Trail Route Finding: When the Trail is Hard to Follow" on 05/20/2012 11:32:23 MDT Print View

Great Article! Learned a lot and will put it to use next weekend at Emigrant