Sunrise It Up

We are going to explore the basic of mapping and location. I am going to start us off with a quick and easy way to map out your surroundings. This is a very simple method but it will give you a quick and easy way to remember what you have found in your travels.

This method is called the Sunrise It Up Method. It is based on the direction that the sun rises in relation to the cardinal directions (North, South, East, West). The easiest way to determine the direction that the sun rises in would be to use an analog watch if you have one. If not, no worries! You can still do this by using your hand as a guide.

Sunrise: T – West

Sunset: B – East

Sunrise with a Hand: S – South

Sunset with a Hand: N – North

If you have ever been hiking or camping you have probably used this without even realizing it.

The next step would involve picking out some landmarks within your map area that line up with those directions. You could use trees, rocks, mountains or any other type of landmark for this step. These landmarks will help you remember what is located in each section of the map area. It would also be good idea to take note of other

“Where the hell are we?” The question comes up often in the backcountry. Many GPS units and cell phones have mapping capabilities, but these services are often not reliable and sometimes cost extra. A quick way to find your location and pinpoint nearby landmarks is to use an old-fashioned map and a little artistic license to fill in the details.

Sunrise It Up

Step 1: Identify major landmarks around your campsite and draw them on your map. Try to choose features that can be easily identified from other viewpoints throughout the area, such as mountain peaks or large rivers. Mark each of them with a dot. These dots will serve as your guideposts.

Step 2: Next, find where you are on the map—your position should be marked by a dot with an “X” inside it, called a “waypoint” or “waypoint marker.” If you don’t have one yet, you can create one by locating yourself on the map with your GPS unit or handheld device and pressing “save.” The same process can also be used to mark your destination; if you know how far away it is, mark both locations on your map so you can see how much ground you covered and which direction you traveled.

Step 3: Now look

Drawing a map is one of the fundamental skills of an adventurer. But not just any map will do; you need a map that is portable, easy to read, and simple to draw.

That’s why I’ve developed my own technique for mapping–the Sunrise It Up Method (patent pending). My maps are based on a simple question: what landmark would be visible if the sun rose right above me? This method has the advantages of requiring no compass and being useful in any environment. And because it relies on the position of the rising sun, it is always accurate.

The Sunrise It Up Method is based on three basic principles.

1) Always face north. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if you face north then you are looking due east. If you face south then you are facing west, which means that anything west of you will be hidden by the western horizon. So if your sketch shows you facing south then all your landmarks must be west of you, which means that you are probably missing some important features of your surroundings, or at least some interesting things to explore.*

2) Always start with the biggest landmark first. If there are multiple big landmarks visible at sunrise then draw them in order from left to right

A prepared mind can make all the difference in the world. In this guide I will be walking you through my process for what I call “map art”, a quick and easy way to map out your surroundings. I have worked out this system over years of practice in the wild, so it is a tried and true method for me. But always remember to exercise caution when navigating unfamiliar areas, there are many dangers that you may not encounter in a classroom or on a practice run.

I. Things You Need:

1. A pencil or pen

2. A ruler

3. A compass/GPS device (optional)**

4. Tic Tac containers (optional)

We all have a mental map of our surroundings. We rely on this map to take us places and to get us out of places we don’t want to be.

To build your own personal map, find a nice sunny day and go outside. Start by facing the sun, then turn 90 degrees to your right and face that direction. Now turn 90 degrees to your right again and face that direction. You should now be facing directly away from the sun, looking at a line perpendicular to the original line you faced.

For each of these four directions (if it is not windy), mark an “X” where you can see the horizon; if you can’t see the horizon for one or more directions, use your imagination. If you are in a field, for example, imagine what that horizon might look like and mark an “X” where it would be (See diagram).

Now draw a line between each pair of “X’s,” and shade in the area enclosed by the lines — including any other features you can see: buildings, mountains, trees, etc. This is your map! If you have time, repeat this process for each 90 degree angle until you can no longer see any area you didn’t already draw.

If you are a nature lover or an adventurer or just can’t get enough of the great outdoors, you may have come up with a few ideas on how to capture the beauty of your surroundings using art. This probably involved finding a few tools and supplies and heading out into the wilderness to take pictures and possibly learn new skills.

Now, while taking pictures is a great way to start learning about photography, it’s not always the easiest way to map out your surroundings, especially if you’re in an area with no cell service or internet connection.

The good news is that all you need for this project is a pen and paper, though if you have access to a compass and some graph paper that will make drawing the map out easier. This project is also perfect for people who want to learn more about their surroundings without having to carry around heavy equipment. If you find yourself interested in learning more about the world around you (or even mapping out your own neighborhood), then this project is for you!

In the early morning hours before the sun rises, take a look around your neighborhood. Look at each building and imagine which areas are the darkest and which are the brightest. You can use this to create depth in your maps.

Take time to observe different angles of buildings that you wouldn’t normally see at night. Take a close look at the front of a house or apartment building. Are there any details that are lit up? A door-knocker, streetlamps, living room lights, etc.

When you zoom out to several blocks, you’ll begin to see patterns of light and dark emerge on the map. You’ll notice how some areas such as parks and bridges are naturally brighter because they have more light sources (lights and street lamps). These areas will become important when you start using roads and rivers as vectors for your light source.

Emphasize lines of sight in parts of your map that are naturally brighter than others. Draw roads with an emphasis on where they cut through parks, plazas, or other outdoor areas.

Use these observations to create contrast between foreground buildings and background ones.

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