Dead Reckoning with Castlemen Events

cattlemen events, hiking, mapping, navigation, recovery, trail walking, tribe, walking -

Dead Reckoning with Castlemen Events

Dead Reck·on·ing

/ˈded ˈrek(ə)niNG/


  • 1.
  • the process of calculating one's position, by estimating the direction and distance traveled rather than by using landmarks, astronomical observations, or electronic navigation methods.

Navigating is an incredibly simple task that at one point was as natural as using Siri. The ability to navigate terrain with a map and compass is a skill-set that’s become lost in the modern world. 

Have you gone for a hike recently? Grabbed a map and looked cluelessly at the terrain and trail system? Wonder how long your hike will be? 

I’d be willing to bet that you just picked a trail and hoped for the best. 

Most people don’t even think about the very real potential of having to navigate without their smartphone doing the work for them.

Castlemen Navigation Event broke down all of the nitty gritty of mapping and dead reckoning in a fun but challenging 10 hour event. 

We started the event by repeatedly walking 100 measured meters to determine how many of our standard steps would facilitate 100 meters. As simple as it sounds, determining our “pace count” was essential.  Certain conditions affect your pace count, and you must allow for them by making adjustments, such as inclines and declines. 

We spent a lot of time looking at our maps and understanding what each symbol means, determined scale -1:24,000 and 1:50,000. What that means is that on a 1:24,000 map, one inch equals 24,000 inches on the ground. This also equals 2,000 feet or roughly 600 meters. 

We discussed how to determine varying terrain… such as valleys, peaks and draws. By the end of the conversation we had a solid understanding of natural landmarks, degrees of incline, trails, rivers and drop offs on the map. 

After a refresher on the basic coordinates of latitude and longitude, we then utilized our protractor to further constrict the grid, creating a 6 point grid and then an 8 point grid - putting us within 3 feet of our desired target!  

Finally breaking out our compass, we put it all together! 

Now we were ready to hit the trail… or not. We made our own. Following just our compass, we set out to find a very small target.

Of course, my team was aggressive… efficient and fast. No really, we killed it. We didn’t go around poison oak… poison oak parts like the dead sea for us… ish. It’s fine, we all have Tecnu. 

Repeatedly… we practiced. First, look at the map… determine your 8 point coordinates, check twice, determine the degree at which you travel, account for azimuth, and move at a steady and calculated pace. Worked every damn time. Beautiful. 

Because Poison Oak isn’t fun, we then determined our coordinates, found our targets (yes, multiple), checked twice, determined our degree, accounted for azimuth and determined the trail system nearest our target. This… was harder. 

Michael (Shredder) Castillo had a million tips to make all of this easier and efficient. This was probably the most useful 10 hours I’ve ever spent and honestly, I’m a little obsessed.

It’s a beautiful art that I look forward to using on our future adventures!