The point of navigation is to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Local Map or Chart
Pencil and tablet
Ways to establish reference points: (orienteering)
During the day, east-west can easily be established by the sun's apparent movement. The best time to obtain the most accurate reading is just before, until just after the sun is at its highest point. (local apparent noon) To do this:
Put a stick in the ground and place a rock at the end of the sticks shadow.
Wait a while and place another stone at the end of the moved shadow.
A line between these two stones will be east and west.
Finding the North Star:
Locate the big dipper. The two stars on the outer edge of the bowl are known as the pointer stars. A line between these two stars, multiplied approximately 5 times from the top of the bowl, will end at the North Star (Polaris). The North Star is also the tip of the handle on the Little Dipper. Polaris is always true having never varied more than one degree in eons.
On a cloudy day when there are no apparent shadows, a handy little trick is to place the point of a knife or a nail file on your thumbnail and slowly rotate the point. The matte finish on your nail will reveal a shadow. (Rotating the point on your thumbnail will make this faint shadow easier to see.) The sun will be in the opposite direction of the shadow, giving you a rough idea of east and west. Even a rough idea of the cardinal compass points is better than none at all.
Once you know the compass points then you can travel in a reasonably straight line in any direction from where you are. Of course, this is not taking into account any obstacles that you may encounter such as mountains, ravines and large or swift moving bodies of water (to say nothing of the lions, tigers, and bears - oh my!).
Navigation using maps:
Topographical is best - showing very accurate details of the local terrain
Road maps, most common - indicate towns and arteries between them
Localized tourist maps - show attractions specific to the area and may or may not have a north orientation.
Navigation using a watch for a compass:
In the northern hemisphere point the hour hand of an analog watch at the sun. A north-south line will be half way between 12:00 and wherever the hour hand is pointing. This is true only in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere point the 12:00 mark at the sun and due north will be on a line halfway between the hour hand and the 12:00 mark. This is based on Grenwich mean time, not daylight savings time.
Navigation using a GPS
A global positioning system (GPS) will give you the most accurate reading of your current location within ten feet and will have an owner's manual instructing you how to use it. Some models come preloaded with topographical maps.
no longer accurate. A little distance from any of these areas will allow your compass to work properly again, so don't panic if the needle spins or gives very erratic readings. (Most likely, it isn't a UFO)
Trust your compass, however, there are places where large iron deposits such as a vein of ore or a large buried pipeline will affect the compass needles magnetic pull and skew the readings so that they are
Carry a pencil and paper to keep an accurate record of any twists and turns in your travels, as well as any adventures you might have along the way
As a general rule of thumb, try sticking to the road you came in on. Heading off road with limited navigation skills is very risky for anyone.