Driving distances to and from jobs have increased as companies moved to suburbs or further into rural areas. Daily commutes of 25, 30, or 40 miles each way are becoming typical. This presents a very serious problem if you should be at work and an event occurs that would necessitate you having to leave your vehicle behind and face a long walk home. It becomes more problematic if for some reason you have to avoid masses of rioters, martial law, or medical quarantine. An EMP, pandemic, or even an intense weather disaster like Katrina. Matthew or a tornado could force you having to look at the possibility of walking for days over land that you are unfamiliar with. The average person walks at about 2-3 miles per hour depending on their physical condition. Consequently, if you were facing a 40 mile hike, you are probably looking at a minimum of 3 days assuming you can cover 12 miles a day or so. During that time, you will need water and nutrition. The nutrition part can be covered simply enough by having a stock of protein bars in your GHB. Water becomes more of an issue because it is heavy to carry. Researchers claim a person needs about a gallon of water per day. Given a 3-day hike, you would need at least 3 gallons of water, which at over 8 pounds per gallon becomes near impossible to carry without creating a heavy burden. That leaves you with having to find water along the way or risk asking for help. Depending on the situation you may have to forgo dealing with people and find your own. Finding water can be made easier if you utilize simple satellite maps such as those found on Google Maps. These maps are also very beneficial in plotting a course to get you home safely by taking advantage of natural barriers such as trees, which would allow you maintain a stealth presence as you find your way home. An added bonus is that you can plot your course right now, from the comfort of your home. You can then put the printed maps in your BOB and feel confident in knowing where water is located anywhere along your path. The first step in this process is to access Google Maps and after typing in your location, placing your location at the edge of the map in the direction from your home you would travel….if you are plotting the map from your job and you work to the West, put your job location to the Western edge of the map. Next, re-size the map until your home is at the other edge of the map. If the distance is too great that the map is unreadable, make two or more maps as needed. In doing this, you will have a map of the entire area of travel. Hopefully you will see various lakes, farm ponds or rivers somewhere along your intended path. Google Maps are not very informative beyond showing roads and waterways but if you click on that little square at the bottom left that says “Earth” it will give you a satellite view of exactly the same area, complete with waterways, roads, buildings and wooded areas. This can be re-sized to zoom in or out, which is very beneficial for finding landmarks and water. Google Maps also has a feature that allows you to plot distances on the map. You simply place the cursor on the map and right click the mouse. A list will appear, and at the bottom will say “measure distance”. Move the mouse cursor to your starting location, click the left button and a small circle will appear with a short line. Hold the mouse button down and drag the line anywhere you want. You can change direction by clicking on the line which will create another small circle. Like before, hold the mouse button down and move the line wherever you want. As you create your lines on the map have it lead to various water sources and possible hiding spots shown on the map so you can refill your water supply and rest in safety. (I use a Sawyer Mini filter…others use a Berkey Sports Bottle, the choice is yours) You may also have to find safe cover to spend the night, which is easily accomplished by zooming in on the map and picking a nice hiding place such as a stand of trees. You should also find landmarks such as buildings, waterways, water towers etc…along your line of travel that you can use to show when and where you should change course. When your course is plotted all the way to your home, print out your map on as large paper as you can. Most libraries can print 11×15 which should work well. You now have a plotted course that takes you to water sources as well as reasonably safe route all the way home. Useful links and info on how-to Using a Map and Compass Orienting a map so it matches Magnetic North is a fairly simple process. Since we are dealing with shorter line of sight distances, declination is not a major factor, so let’s begin by orienting the map so it coincides with the compass. Follow this link to a very easy to understand set of directions using the lensatic compass. How to Orient a Map Once the map is oriented do not move it again. Now its just a matter of figuring the angles of the lines you have created and their relationship to North. These are your “bearings” and they determine the direction of travel. If you made note of landmarks on your line of travel its just a matter of sighting through the compass as shown in the video while reading the bearing you created pointing toward the landmark. For example…if the first leg of your trip calls for a bearing of 45 deg. Hold the compass level up to your eye as shown in the video.. and turn your body until a reading of 45 degrees appears in the sight glass. Without moving the compass, look through the sighting lens and line up the sighting wire while glancing down at the bearing. It sounds complicated but just watch the short video a few times and it will become easy. Keep doing this sighting, traveling and reaching your landmarks until you are close to home…then it becomes unnecessary.