More About Our Tracking Practices-
When Nicolai and I are out in the bush, we make it a point to observe any tracks we come across, even our own. We make careful examinations of our own tracks whether they be footprints in a canyon bottom, the sign left behind after a lunch break under some juniper trees, or all the tracks and sign left by us as we leave a campsite in the morning. We practice Leave No Trace principles on all our adventures, but as trackers, there is always plenty to see at a campsite no matter how careful and clean we are. It is especially interesting to examine the campsites and break areas, not to mention the tracks and sign, of others. Building a tracking picture of a group of hikers might include the number of people, their gender, if they used tents or slept on the ground, what kind of food they ate, and how conscientious they were of cleaning up and leaving absolutely nothing other than tracks. If you haven’t tried this before, and are interested in tracking, give it a try the next time you are out. It can be a fun exercise.
I have been meaning for some time now to add a bibliography of tracking books to the website. Following is a list of books we have read, or are in the process of reading, and a few that are on the list to buy. Many of the titles that are specifically about tracking cover a lot of the same material- the technical aspects of tracking and how to go about learning the process. But each one has something to add. I follow each title with a brief description of the book (or books). We will post this list in the Tracking Pages at the Desert Explorer website, and update it periodically.
- The SAS Guide to Tracking– Bob Carss- our favorite, great all-around guide on learning to track
- Training in Tracking– Gilcraft- A book written for the Scouts (the Boy Scouts) early in the 2oth century
- Tactical Tracking Operations- David Scott-Donelan- great guide, great stories, military or police applications
- Tracking- Signs of Man, Signs of Hope– David Diaz- another introduction to tracking
- Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking- the book I started with
- The Tracker– Tom Brown- great stories about hsi tracking adventures
- Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee detective novels- real tracking information embedded in most of the stories
- Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories- Holmes teaches us about observation and tracking
- The Dobe Kung (The Dobe Ju/’hoansi)- Richard Lee- the Kalahari bushmen are considered some of the best trackers in the world
- The Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers– Richard Lee and Irvin Devore
- The Old Way– Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas- about the Kung/San/Ju Huanse
- Kim– Rudyard Kipling- where “Kim’s game” comes from, a memory game used to build observation skills
- The Rhodesian War– from the Stackpole Military History Series- about a brutal conflict; trackers were vital
- Footwear Impression Evidence– William Bodziak- a very technical manual written by an FBI footwear scientist for investigators
- Shadows In The Sand– Sisingi Kamongo- accounts of trackers and soldiers during the late 80’s Angolan/ South West African bush war
Highway Cameras for Trip Planning
For those interested in nearly up to the minute data on climate conditions in southeast Utah, the Utah Department of Transportation maintains a number of cameras along the roadways around the state, including a few in canyon country. One of my favorites is the camera on Highway 95 right at Salvation Knoll, on the north side of Cedar Mesa. Click here to visit the website, drag and resize the map so that you can click on the cameras in the southeast corner of the state. There is also one down near Monument Valley, a few on Highway 191 between Blanding and Moab, and a number of them in the Capital Reef area. The cameras are a great way to add to pre-trip data collection.
First Trip of the Season
This is about the time of year that Nicolai and I start preparing for our first trip of the season. We will head to Utah at that end of March, as we do each year. This year we will spend another week in Poison Spring Canyon, near Hanksville. We have plans to explore some of the side canyons, work on our primitive bows and arrows and associated skills, search out rock art, and just enjoy the quiet of the canyon in the spring. We’ll make a stop at North Wash for a little canyoneering on our way to Cedar Mesa where we also plan to spend a few days. We will post a trip report once we return, and try to make a post or two from the road.
In The News
Southern Utah is in the news once again with yet another “fugitive”. Robert sent me the following link this morning. It concerns a “mountain man” who has been using and abusing vacation homes in the Zion National Park area for as long as the past five years- the story says “he’s roamed across 1000 square miles” (not a radius of 1000 miles, as I first wrote). There is no mention of any kind of reward in the present story; no one has been harmed yet. But it does mention him being armed (see photo), and dangerous. Lets hope we don’t have a repeat of the recent Moab ranger shooting, or the mess we had in 1998. I will research the story further and post more info in my next blog. Click here to see the full article at MSNBC. Larger photos can be seen at the Iron County Sheriff’s Office website.
For more on our adventures, tracking, and trip planning, visit the Desert Explorer website.