It has been some 25+ years since I did land nav in the Boy Scouts, but those skills still managed to remain in somewhere deep in my brain. And they really helped me for the past 2 days. Yesterday morning, we had classroom instruction on plotting grids on a map and use of a compass. In the afternoon, they took us out in the middle of nowhere to a land nav course and gave us each a map and protractor (we already have compasses) and gave us 3 hours to find 5 points (each marked with a relatively small sign). Everyone had different points to find so I was alone for most of the time. The terrain encompasses just about everything you could imagine...forest, grass prairie, streams, rocky hills (400+ meters high). I found 3 of the 5. I would have found all 5, but my plot on #1 was wrong which threw my nav to #2 off. I realized my mistake when I got to #2...but it was the wrong #2. I corrected my course and got the last 3. That was the intro.
This morning at 3 am, we went out again. We had 5 hours to get 8 points. In order to pass the land nav we need 5 of 8 points...in my program now, this is not a requirement to move on to the next course (I am in DCC...direct commission course. On June 7, I start BOLC...basic officer leadership course). In BOLC, we need to get 5 of 8 to pass the course. DCC is a familarization course to prepare us for BOLC. So back to the 3am adventure...they let us plot our grids on the ground in front of the trucks' headlights for 20 minutes...then it was lights' out and we could only use our flashlights with a red lense (we have red inserts for our flashlights...red light doesn't travel as far, it preserves your ability to "see" in the dark w/o a long readjustment, and the details of the map are generally still clear). The problem with the night nav is that you almost have to be right on the nav sign to see it...as I learned with my 1st target. My 1st target took me about an hour or so to locate...I was about 50 meters from it, but didn't see it and walked in the opposite direction. After walking away from it (searching the opposite direction), I double-backed and found it. By the time I made it into the general area of the 2nd point, it was starting to get light outside so the rest of them came easier. When I got my 5th, I was on the side of one of the 400 meter high hills around 7:15am. Rather than go for the 6th (which was on the same hill, just on the other side of it), I decided to take a break...so I had some water, ate a breakfast bar and took a couple pics of the view (will have to wait for those pics...they are on a disposable camera). Then I headed back in and was about 40-45 minutes early which gave me time to eat an MRE breakfast (not very tasty).
We came back to the barracks, had a class on pitching the big army tents, cleaned our weapons and were released about 11:30am. I went to lunch, took a shower and then slept for about 4 hours....getting up just in time for dinner! So that was my day.