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The lost art of getting lost

I bought a handheld GPS last week to replace my old one, which finally gave up the ghost in December. Getting a new one was a very difficult decision.

I’m not referring to choosing which model, although there is a great deal of variety in features and price tags on each. No, the decision was difficult because possessing and knowing how to use a GPS removes any chance of getting lost ever again.

Call me sentimental but I miss getting lost.  Worse still, I truly believe that, if we are not careful, future generations of outdoors enthusiasts will never learn how to get lost properly.

I know what you are thinking. Getting lost is easy.

Well, yes. But getting lost properly is a different matter altogether.

To get lost properly, you first need to begin with a statement such as, “I’m just going to leave my map and compass in the car because there’s absolutely no chance of getting lost here and I don’t feel like carrying the extra gear…”

That’s a good start.

You can also begin a proper getting lost by telling someone, “I’m actually not sure how to use this compass, but if we need it, we’ll figure it out.”

Those are certainly tried and true, but, as somewhat of an expert, I feel it is my duty to pass along a few advanced methods.

My favourite one is what I call, “That guy told me there’s a brook trout lake over there” technique. In this technique, you park your car at a non-descript location along a back road and walk over at least one  ridge. Then you look around for a lake. Several hours later, you, the guy you’re are going to introduce to fishing and 12,000 black flies stumble towards the sound of a distant chainsaw and, after talking to the man using it, walk down the road back to your car and drive to the boat launch of the lake you were searching for.

Next in line is the, “If I recall correctly” technique.” This one begins with you saying those words in association with others such as  “when I was a kid there was a beautiful duck pond over there” or “this guy in a bar told me…” or “you make a left at the poplar…”

Another tried and true way to get lost is the “I know a shortcut” method. To do this, you leave a nice well-groomed trail or logging road because you think that cutting cross country will allow you to “shave” almost a kilometre from your hike and get there earlier – which probably would have worked if not for a bog, two impassable rivers and an angry cow moose.

What I have described are the primary ways to get lost  properly, but of course there are other ways too, such as saying, “Don’t worry, I have a fantastic sense of direction …”

The point I am making is that, with modern handheld GPS units, future generations are never going to know the unbridled joy that comes with finding a person who knows where they actually are, or the feeling of elation that accompanies stumbling onto and kissing a road that seems to lead to civilization or just being able to tell your social media friends you picked up 12,000 new followers yesterday (they don’t need to know they were black flies.)

None of these things will happen if you learn how to use a GPS – unless, of course, you are bad at replacing batteries. Don’t ask.

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