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I was recently approached by a young man in a country store who was in need of directions to a local trailhead.

This particular local OHV area wasn’t hard to find but being in a remote area cell service wasn’t great and at at times was non-existent.

When I asked him why he didn’t just buy himself a county map he shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Well, I’ve never used one of those.” WHAT?

How can we survive as an off-road community and not know how to read a map or use a compass? How is it that as a society we’ve forgotten many learned skills like reading a map or remembering a phone number? Do smart devices make us lazy or are we just blaming laziness on the computer in our pocket?

There’s a place for basic orienteering skills. If you travel out onto the trail without a GPS or phone service and get lost, simply knowing how to read a map could help you get back to camp safely.

Here’s a challenge for you. Next time you head out onto a trail system, grab a local trail map and try to plan out your route using the map ONLY. Find check points so you know where you’re going and do your best not to use your electronic device to guide you.

You never know, developing this basic skill could save your life one day.

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