If You Are Lost, These 5 Signs From Nature Can Help Get You Home

By Sara Tipton

If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory and have lost your way, nature can give you predictable methods to help you find out way home; you just need to know what they are.  Being lost or disoriented can feel overwhelming, but knowing a few simple things can help keep you calm and rational.

Knowing the terrain beforehand is always the safest route, but if you don’t, pick out landmarks that do not change with the weather and that are clearly visible.  A mountain or high hilltop would be a good example, or a river that does not freeze over, or one with a bridge marked on the map that traverses it.

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While these signs are not always a 100% life saver, they can give you the clues you need to make more informed decisions if you find yourself lost. For instance, moss does not always grow to the north. Moss grows where there is moisture. That said, moss does like north-facing surfaces because they like the darker, more humid environment. So keep that in mind.

The following are some ways to determine the direction in nature:

  1. Ants – Ants will build their colonies so that they are exposed to the most sunlight, which is normally facing south. The exposure to sunlight provides them with more heat and better insulation for their underground colony.
  2. Vegetation – Plants need the sun to grow. Therefore, if you are in the woods and see a patch of thick vegetation, it is probably on a southward-facing slope. Finding berry bushes will usually grow in a southerly direction.
  3. Branches – Trees will grow their branches in the direction that receives the most sun. This means that trees will have more branches on the south-facing side since it is exposed to the most sunlight throughout the day.
  4. The sun – It always sets in the west.
  5. North star –  There is one star in the sky that always points North, which is why it has the nickname, “The North Star.” Finding the Big Dipper in the sky can point you in the right direction.

This article has more on the subject of using the sky, or astronavigation to find our way around.

“Of course, there are always going to be variations in nature, and these methods are not as reliable as a compass. Moss doesn’t only grow facing north, trees have branches pointing in all directions, and plants won’t die if they are facing North, East, or West. But, observing and checking these things can help you notice patterns in the natural world.” -Source

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Another way to know where you are at is to know your pace count. The pace count is your key to movement and land navigation on your feet.  It is the basis for your two components of land navigation when traveling from one location to another: distance and direction.

Always try to remember a compass even if it’s just a small one you’ve attached to your shoelaces or pack.

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When push comes to shove, survival is all about attitude. It’s also about remaining calm, refusing to panic, and staying in a mentally fit place so you can make the right decisions. When we get scared or panic, our minds will resort to a “fight or flight” pure “survival” instinct. But in order to make the best decisions, we need to know we have been able to learn what we needed beforehand, and can simply recall that information at any time. If you have the determination, you will do everything you can to get back home. But knowing a few clues here and there can certainly help!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on June 27th, 2022

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