The Great Escape: Orienteering
REI offers a great way to learn the fundamentals of land navigation
My husband and I recently participated in the course "Introduction to Map and Compass", hosted by outdoor equipment retailer REI. The class is a six hour experience held at Fountainhead Regional Park (less than a 30 minute drive from Alexandria). For someone whose idea of exploring is seeking out new restaurants, this class was a truly novel experience.
The class begins with a tutorial on the proper use of a compass and how to decipher the topographic features on a map. Utilizing the map and compass provided, we learned how to plot a course, set a bearing and navigate through the forest using landmarks, contour lines and other information available on the map. We learned the difference between magnetic north, and true north, and how to determine the magnetic variation.
I found the class challenging, interesting and fun. The instructor, Paul, was very friendly and knowledgable. Fountainhead is a beautiful place to spend the day hiking, and even though the weather was quite warm, the tree canopy offered cooling shade. I highly recommend taking this class. These skills can be applied to many activities, including city tours, my version of the "outback".
The class is $80 per person and $60 for REI members. The next class is scheduled for June 26th. For more information, check out the REI Outdoor School website.