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Good To Know: Moss

Myth: If you are lost in the woods, look for moss as it only grows on the north side of a tree.

Fact: Moss will grow wherever there is enough moisture, and this could be on any side of the tree. Factors such as prevailing winds and amount of sunlight affect where moss might grow.  But in general, if you have moist wood, you have moss.

If you do happen to get caught out in the woods without any sort of navigational tool, there are a few natural tricks you can use to help you head in a general direction (that is if you know in which general direction you should be heading).

In general, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but keep in mind it only rises due east on two days of the year–the equinoxes. Every other day of the year it rises and sets to either side. The trick is to think about the season and which pole, north or south, is pointing towards the sun. This will give you an indication as to which side and approximately how far of east and west that the sun will rise and set that day. You can also use a stick to aid your sun navigation– the shortest shadow cast by a stick each day will form a perfect north-south line anywhere in the world and this happens at midday (when the sun is at its highest point in the sky).

At night, use the stars if you can see them to establish north. Anyone with a bit of basic astronomy knowledge should be able to pick out the Big Dipper. Trace a line from the star at the right-hand base of the pan, through the star at the right-hand rim of the pan, and follow it upwards. The north star is roughly five times the distance between those two pointer stars. Once you locate the North Star, drop a vertical line down to the horizon and that is north.

Another trick is to know from which general direction weather usually moves through the area. The breeze will indicate that direction. Throw a few leaves or bits of light grass in the air to follow the wind.

And if all else fails, remember the best thing you can do is to just stay put if you get lost. This will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

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