I've now been a "BASART" for about three weeks. I have to admit, I'm really enjoying it thus far. The last two weeks we've gone over navigation, both during the day and at night. As usual the more I learn, the more I find I don't know.
I mentioned previously that I don't go off trail much. What I like about SAR (Search and Rescue) it that is EXACTLY what we do. Saturday we had our "night navigation class" where we practiced using terrain features to get our group to a certain location and back by midnight. This ended up being one of the brightest nights of the year, but for me to begin to get a handle on things, it was a great night to start.
While I've looked at plenty of maps, I'd never paid attention to all the numbers and things that ACTUALLY mean something. I've also never REALLY used a compass for navigation besides to say, "that direction is north" I do have some map reading experience, as far as terrain features go (from that one year as a geology major) but it's a whole new game when trying to picture what the topographical map looks like when you are looking at it AND when you are looking at it in the dark.
My thoughts have swirled around the fact that I really already should know this and the fact that I really ought spend more time practicing and perfecting these techniques as well. It looks as though I'm going to have to round up some buddies for a night hike!
I'm beginning to really understand the importance of outdoor education, if not for navigation but because since I have become involved with SAR I have consistently heard crazy stories of rescue and survival from the smallest of accidents that become catastrophic. I'm not a safety freak, but it's surprising and I'm really glad to be getting some training.