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Mapping the Territory

There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life.
Thomas Henry Huxley
The probability of someone watching you is proportional to the stupidity of your actions.
A. Kindsvater

As a Scout, I took pride in the official Boy Scout compass I hung on a lanyard around my neck. On our trail hikes I would pour over the topographical map of our area, orient myself with compass and landmarks, and then proceed to provide our scoutmaster more running information about the countryside than he probably cared to hear. I learned to pick out the springs, cliffs, creeks, and landmarks that told us where it was safe to hike and camp.

There are probably few things more hazardous than a patrol leader with a map and compass, but I did develop the skill to read the territory. Like most people, I liked knowing where I was going.

Knowing what to avoid also helps. In later years when I led backpacking groups in Yosemite, knowledge of maps and compass helped us steer clear of campsites without ...

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September
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