Podcast #343: How to Read Nature — Awakening Your Senses to the Outdoors

Nature. Even if you’re an avid outdoorsman, you likely take it for granted. When you’ve seen one tree or one blue sky, you’ve seen them all, right?

Well, to those with well-trained senses, natural surroundings can actually tell you a whole lot. The leaves on a tree can tell you what direction you’re headed and the smell in the air can tell you about the weather. There are bits of knowledge and fascinating signposts all around you. My guest today has spent his life observing and cataloging these small details in nature and uses them to deftly navigate the wild without a map and compass. His name is Tristan Gooley and he’s the author of several books, including How to Read Nature.

Today on the show, Tristan tells us how he got started with natural navigation and how he’s having to rediscover what was once common knowledge to our ancestors. We then dig into specific ways you can use nature to navigate or even know if there’s a storm coming soon. After listening to this show, you’ll never look at trees the same way again. I guarantee it. 

Show Highlights

  • How Tristan became so interested in nature, and especially in using nature for navigation
  • Why you shouldn’t leave your compass and map at home, even when navigating by nature
  • How Tristan came to discover (or more accurately re-discover) these methods for navigating
  • People and cultures who still use nature to find their way
  • Why and how the wind leaves “footprints” everywhere on Earth
  • How do you get to a point of knowing nature’s signs and guideposts?
  • How 20 seconds of navigating without your smartphone can increase your competence
  • The benefits of studying migration patterns — even among humans migrating towards city centers for work
  • The SORTED method for getting the lay of the land
  • Using trees (and all plants, really) to navigate and find direction
  • Nature’s common sense
  • Why shape recognition is so important in natural navigation
  • Using the sky — even a clear blue one — to get our bearings
  • Why we all need more outdoor time in our lives

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

How to Read Nature is one of my favorite books of 2017. It’s literally changed the way I look at the world. When I’m outside, I’m looking at trees and plants in a whole new way. This would make a great gift for the outdoorsmen/women among your family and friends.

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Recorded with ClearCast.io.

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