Boys’ Page for October: “When You Are Lost in the Woods” The Youth’s Companion October 1, 1914, p. 512
Few persons become lost in the woods when the sun is shining; but on a cloudy day, or in a snowstorm, it is easy to go astray. A familiar piece of woodland will look strange when the trees are overloaded with snow, and their branches hang close to the ground.
It often happens that you find yourself in the woods without a compass. To meet such an emergency, those versed in woodcraft offer many rules and suggestions, but their advice is not always to be depended upon. A sign that is correct in one part of the country is often misleading in another. All signs depend on one of two things—the sun or the wind. Winds are likely to follow up or down watercourses or along the valleys. Therefore, they vary in different localities. Likewise in hilly country, the sunlight does not fall evenly upon the trees and plants, and often leaves misleading signs. Since you will probably have a fairly accurate idea as to what hour of the day it is, you can easily lay out your course for home or camp if you can find the position of the sun.
Find a place where the light is even, that is, not in the shadow of a large tree. Then place a pin or a sharp stick, point down, upon your thumb nail, or other polished object.
A dim shadow will fall away from the sun. At any time before sunset the pointed end of the shadow will show where the sun is, no matter how heavily clouded over it may be, or how thickly the snow may be falling.
This method of laying a course has led many a man to camp many times, when all other signs had failed. When you are lost, it is important not to get excited. As long as you keep cool, you are not very badly lost.