Tips for Navigation in Bad Weather


There are aspects of survival that seem to work in your favor, for instance, if there is a poisonous plant, insect, or snake in the area, there tends to be a treatment available from a plant that also grows in that area.  But there are other times when it seems that nature is conspiring against you, when you need a fire the most is when it is going be the most difficult to find dry material.  Another example is navigation, if the weather is nice and you can take your time getting to safety, it will be easy to navigate using the sun or the stars, but if it is raining or snowing which will make it much more difficult to survive, it could be impossible to use the sun or stars to navigate.  But, there are ways to find approximate North and help you get to safety.


Tree Growth

Trees in the Northern hemisphere will tend to grow more branches toward the South, than toward the North.  Old trees, solitary trees in a clearing, or clumps of the same species that have grown together (the entire clump should be viewed as one tree, each individual tree within the group will not be a good indicator.) can be used.  Almost no trees grow symmetrically; if the tree does appear to be symmetrical you may need to walk around the tree to get a better view.

Angle of Branches

If you are in an area of thick growth which makes it difficult to view a tree from a distance in order to use the above method, you can also determine direction by observing the predominate angle of the branches.  Again, in the Northern hemisphere trees will tend to have more horizontal branches on the Southern side, and more vertical branches on the Northern side.

Moss Growth

The best known, and least reliable method is to use moss growth as a directional indicator.  In the Northern Hemisphere, moss will tend to grow on the shadier side of trees, which is the Norther side.  Never use one tree only, but continue to check the trees as you go, using a landmark to determine if the moss is growing on the same side of all the trees.  This method should be confirmed with the above two methods and not relied upon solely.


Celestial navigation is a great primitive skill to have, but it will not always be an option.  Knowing how to use trees as directional indicators could be a live saving skill in bad weather.

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