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Course Catalog

Course Catalog

Backcountry Navigation & Leadership

Wolf Journey Book Cover - Artwork by Joanna Colbert

Saturday, April 1, 2017 Workshop 10:30-5:30 in Puyallup WA

The primary goal of this workshop is to prepare participants to lead hikes as well as hike alone.  Your instructors Kim & Chris Chisholm have a combined 35 years of Search & Rescue and Outdoor Leadership experience as well as a lifetime of hiking/backpacking to share.  We will start by getting onto the same page regarding:

Then, if you are already an expert navigator, this class will give you great teaching tools for use when hiking with novices. If you are “navigationally challenged,” then we hope the simple way we teach these skills will open a world of understanding for you in the wilderness.


Instructor Chris Chisholm summarizing the 30 points of nav.

Top 10 Lostproofing Skills: The most important skill for lostproofing is awareness. In fact, some people say there is no such thing as being lost, just in being unaware, so we will practice skills to improve your spacial recognition including wide-angle vision, expanded hearing, and new ways of walking appropriate to various environments, among other skills such as reviewing the 10 Packing Essentials and risk management tips shared from our Search & Rescue background,

Top 10 Orienteering Skills: You will be amazed by some of the incredible ways to find north-south-east-west in order to walk in a straight line toward your destination on a map. One of our favorite is floating a leaf in water, and placing a pin on the leaf. Amazingly, it points to magnetic north. We’ll demonstrate that, and some other ways to orient yourself to the cardinal directions in city and wilderness, from GPS to the stars.

learning-to-use-compass

Keeping up with the teenagers on an orienteering challenge:)

Top 10 Navigation Skills: There are some very important skills to learn in order to negotiate your way through nature without map or compass. For instance, do you know how to follow the contours of a hill in order to stay above thick brush and away from steep cliffs? How about lining up landmarks in order to go straight? We’ll talk about these skills and practice others as allowed by time and location.

Map & Compass Field Training: No matter whether you have GPS or not, the crux of these skills is understanding map and compass. Our method of using map and compass should allay your fears, even when it comes to contour lines and magnetic declination. We are going to transition to a big, near-by commuter parking lot to practice navigating withi compasses, as well as we helping you test to see if you are “right or left dominant” because when walking in nature, most people continually veer left or right when they actually want to go straight. Key to navigating in nature is learning how to compensate for your dominance.

Resources & Questions: As you can tell, we really pack in the knowledge, so we allow wiggle room at the end of class to review skills that you wanted to cover more deeply. Please join Chris & Kim after class to review experiences, browse resources, discuss feedback, and brainstorm ideas for the future. Email or Call us at any time with any questions and requests.

PLEASE BRING:

– All the 10 Essentials a safe hiker or any leader should bring, plus hats, warm clothes, proper footwear, and rain gear as necessary for the outdoor portion of class.
– Notebook plus Pencil & Red/Blue Pen if at all possible for good highlighting of map contour lines. If you have a terrain map of the class area with contour lines, or can print a map with contour lines from the Google Maps “terrain” option, please bring that as well.
– Orienteering Compass if possible, but please note that “surveyor’s compasses” and other non-map-compasses won’t work. If you don’t have a hiking compass yet, try online, or cheaper sports stores for last-minute purchase, and we may have the following recommended compasses for sale at class, including: the Rothco Orienteering Compass Item #337 for learning in the $10-$15 price range, or the Brunton 15TDCL Compass if you want to go up to the next level in the $35 price range for precise mirrored sighting and adjustable declination, the Silva Ranger 515 Compass at about $45, or the patented Suunto “global needle’s unique ability to handle tilts up to 20 degrees makes it perfect for hikers that don’t want to break their stride. Not having to level the compass exactly makes it easier to take an accurate reading while you’re still moving along the trail.”

Even the youth who accompany experienced parents can figure out our nav methods which cut through complexity and lead to success!

To get a jump-start on the skills we cover in this class click here for our blog post on the subject and to practice these skills in depth, check out our summer kids camps, our overnight youth camps and adult expeditions covering navigation skills.

For more training and active events to practice your navigational, map and compass skills, we recommend the following:

The Tacoma Mountaineers annual navigation class and weekend practice series in Western Washington.
Cascade Orienteering Club which has introductory to advanced events almost every weekend in the Puget Sound area. Experience not necessary, instruction available at the start, and courses for all skill levels.  Practice your navigation skills and discover the sport of orienteering!
MerGeo which puts on endurance navigation events on larger maps with less detail, in more rugged areas. These endurance-length navigation races are popular as a team event and often done at a hiking pace. Using only map and compass, it is up to you and your team to find as many checkpoints within the stated time limit as you can! Events range from 2 to 10 hours (and sometimes 24!) and take place in rugged, beautiful venues across Washington State.

Cost & Registration: Who & How

$75 general.
$65 per additional friend/family member.

Our weekend workshops are designed for adults, but youth are also welcome to register with an enrolled parent or guardian.  Directions to meeting location and carpooling information will be provided upon registration.

Credit/Debit Card Registration Option: Just call us at 425-248-0253 and we will take your registration securely over the phone.

Check/Mail Registration Option: Send with a check donation payable to the Wolf College, 1026 14th St. SW, Puyallup WA 98371 with participant name(s), phone number, email address, age of any minors, and any allergies or health restrictions we should know about.

Or Use PayPal to register via secure online donation with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Use the link below (might not be visible if you are using “reader view” on your phone or other device) or sign into paypal.com and “send money” to our email address: (we’ll get back to you with any additional information we may need)


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Refund Policy: Standard deposits ($75 for day programs, $175 for overnight programs) are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.

Preparatory Information

Please prepare as you normally would for a hike, including lunch, water bottle, 10 essentials, etc. and dress for the weather! Also, be aware that sparks from the campfire can melt your synthetic clothing, so wool might be a good option. Join us today and at any of our Saturday Workshops on themes of survival, wildlife and ethnobotany, and please contact us for carpooling information.