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Smithgall Woods navigation program helps you find yourself

POSTED: March 8, 2012 12:30 a.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park and Dukes Creek Conservation Area in Helen has planned a workshop this weekend to ensure that folks don't lose their way.

The park is hosting a Basic Land Navigation program, which will include an explanation of the compass, true north vs. magnetic north, bearing/azimuth, terrain features and contour lines.

Additionally, participants will learn compass-to-map and map-to-compass application. A discussion on GPS versus traditional compass will also be included.

Smithgall Woods interpretive ranger Johnna Tuttle said these skill can really come in handy, making people less dependent on technology for navigation.

"Most people know how to use a GPS device, but most of them wouldn't know how to apply basic navigation skills without it. That's what the program is about: giving people more awareness while navigating. It can be applied to everyday situations like driving or getting around unfamiliar places," Tuttle said.

The program will be taught by former Army special forces instructor Bob Finke.

"He is a volunteer here who was interested in ways to share his knowledge. He previously trained soldiers in Afghanistan and is highly skilled and experienced in navigation," Tuttle said.

Tuttle said that basic land navigation is a skill everyone should have. The program can useful to a wide range of people, from those who spend a lot of time in the woods hiking to hunters and anyone else who wants to be able to orient themselves without being dependent on technology.

The program is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10. The cost is $20. To register, call 706-878-3087.

For more information on this program and others by the park, you can sign up for the monthly newsletter at


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