Have you ever seen a slope in the distance that looked perfect for some winter backcountry adventures, but couldn’t figure out how to bushwhack your way there? Have you ever worried you lost the trail after leaving it for just for a moment for a (Leave No Trace-compliant) bathroom break? It can be scary departing from the path in front of us to explore beyond marked boundaries, so having a baseline knowledge of map and compass is a crucial skill for outdoor enthusiasts. It also opens all kinds of doors in the wild and expands your playground significantly.
The SheJumps Wilderness Navigation class, hosted in the woods of New Hampshire, is structured to teach women and girls map and compass basics. The workshop starts early, so much of the packing is done the night before, which is easy thanks to Big Agnes mtnGLO® Tent and Camp Lights. They’re super bright and easy to hang. What we love most about them (besides the fact that when they’re hanging in their pouch it doubles as a lantern) is that they are nearly impossible to tangle!
The event starts with a classroom-style interactive demonstration–this one led by local expert Beth Zimmer. Beth is an active hiker, backpacker, dog walker and volunteer instructor and has completed multiple rounds of NH’s 48 four-thousand footers (trailed hiking), the NH 200 highest (bushwhack hiking) and she was the 43rd person to complete a “Redline,” hiking all 1420 miles and 600+ trails mentioned in the AMC’s White Mountain Guidebook. (Beth, you’re an inspiration.)
While we learned about topography, magnetic north versus true north, how to use a base-plate compass and how to route plan, we also had an epic raffle of top notch Big Agnes products to raise funds for SheJumps and our mission to get more women and girls into the outdoors doing fun things. We couldn’t offer all the amazing free and low cost initiatives that we do (like Wild Skills) without partners like Big Agnes. The big winner of the day left with a women’s specific sleeping bag to the cheers of the room!
After the classroom, we get into the woods to put our new skills to use both on and off trail. We discussed the importance of eye protection while bushwhacking, the ten essentials, proper hydration, how to take a responsible “bio break” in the backcountry, and how to navigate and orienteer ourselves based on our map and compass. It’s empowering to gain knowledge that allows for more freedom in the outdoors. “Fabulous event! Feel so much more confident,” remarked a participant. Confidence is built on skills, knowledge, and experience gained over time. SheJumps provides opportunities to jump into or continue that journey.
And Big Agnes is right, the journey is awesome (and so are their hammocks).
–Jaimee Rondeau, Northeast SheJumps Ambassador: NewHampshire