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Thread: Time measurement in wilderness

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    Default Time measurement in wilderness

    How many different ways are there to measure time in the wilderness without a time keeping device from civilization?

    I was watching a recent episode of Discovery Channel's "Dude, You're Screwed" where the new guy basically lost the game because he could not tell time and did not sleep enough (On summer solstice above arctic circle in Norway). Other than that he had great skills.

    Most of us were taught to use our fingers or hand against the horizon with sun (best to use electronic clock to calibrate your hand first). Here is a link, my words are boring.

    http://howtowilderness.com/2012/01/0...-measurements/

    But how about moon and star movements, logs burning, water draining from hole, ice melting, cord wicking water from a pot and so many more. Just ideas off the top of my head, I have never tried these or calibrated them. I apologize if there is a very long thread on this already and I was not able to find, it just seemed like a fun discussion.

    Also, how difficult is the hand method to use above the arctic circle where on W.S. the sun is basically moving along the horizon not down to it?

    Edit: a related thread
    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...me+measurement

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/chp18.php
    Last edited by TXyakr; 12-18-2014 at 12:45 PM. Reason: edit: related threat


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    I'm one of those maddening people that, in my current local area, pretty much knows what time it is at about any time of day. Even when cooking it drives the family crazy that I show up to pull things out of the oven just as the buzzer is going off.

    Losing a game just because you don't know when to sleep? That's stupid. Even in a place with 24 hour "days" there is still a cycle to the sun. Might take a day or two to figure it out. In the meantime, sleep when tired.

    Is there a reason you need to tell time in the wilderness? Because any method you use will need to be referenced first.
    The Chinese used sticks of incense that were measured.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incense_clock
    You can make a candle clock.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle_clock
    Or a regulated water clock:
    http://www.historyofinformation.com/...ed.php?id=2306
    If you look at the workings of a simplified pendulum clock, assuming you can get the gearage right, you could make one.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Wood...lock/?ALLSTEPS
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    Default time measurement, simpler is often better

    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    Losing a game just because you don't know when to sleep? That's stupid. Even in a place with 24 hour "days" there is still a cycle to the sun. Might take a day or two to figure it out. In the meantime, sleep when tired.
    That survival game on the Discovery Ch is not super realistic because it is made for TV, but basically they blindfold the guy and take him somewhere he does not know and give him 100 hours to make it to civilization or find another human. This particular game the guy was allegedly blindfolded in Maine and taken to Norway. It seemed odd to me that he would not have at least put a stick in the ground and used a rock to mark and measure the shadow's movement. Whatever, he fell asleep while floating down the river did not see that he passed a road (i.e. best takeout to civilization), and proceeded on until he almost went over a waterfall, was pulled out and disqualified with over 20 hours still to go.

    He was not given much useful stuff from civilization (like a candle or pot), but something burning slowly in or beside the fire should have told him he only slept 3 hours not 6-9 hours. A takeaway for me was if you rush, you may make life endangering mistakes. So take the time to sleep enough and try to eat something that will not make you sick and has calories. Endurance race not a sprint.

    When I was about 5 my grandfather in BC, Canada set up a large Swinging Pendulum to prove that the world rotates. Perhaps he was afraid I thought he lived on the N-pole or something, S.P. still rotates up there, but it was cool. This survival game guy could have used his axe or a heavy log and let it swing, but that is fairly complicated and such an improvised device would probably only swing for 15 min or an hour.
    Last edited by TXyakr; 12-19-2014 at 01:51 AM. Reason: typos

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    I can understand that. It would be hard if you come in from some other place into our summer. The extra light does give you extra energy and you don't notice until you crash and burn. Many, many times during the summer, we are having dinner at 11 or even midnight because I didn't realize how late it was. Yes you sleep when you get tired but coming in cold turkey from somewhere else, your body would not be used to listening to that clock yet.
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    When I am in the wilderness I only use the sun.....when it comes up, time to wake up, when it goes down, time to go to sleep. Why do I care about anything else?
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    Right, but what would you do if it did not come up and go down, just went in a circle around the sky?
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    When a kid we were visiting my father's childhood friends near Edmonton, Alberta one summer as we did on occasion. After dinner they said lets go work on this roof. I thought it seemed like a waste of time since it was a drive to the location. But we got several hours of work done in great light. It sort of freaked me out since I had spent most of my life within 200 miles of the equator. Humans are the most adaptable species, that is why we live in more environments than almost any other single species. But it takes a lot of discipline and planning way up north.

    If it was overcast and the sun was moving around the sky in a circle and I had no "civilized" technology to tell time and was affected by jet lag I would probably mess up as well.

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    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    My dogs eat at 6, noon and 10. They have it down to a science.

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    Greetings everyone.
    I would think if the sun was shining, you could get pretty accurate with a compass. Probably to an hour of accuracy with a little practice.

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    Default True north without a compass, time by sun and stars

    Section10, I agree a large quality compass is very useful for this I have one of those with clear plastic that can be overlaid on a map. In worst case a iron/steel needle suspended from thread magntized with small powerful magnet may work but difficult, I need to experiment some time, I keep 2 needles in FAK. One yarn needle and one sharp upholstery, many other uses for these.

    Using 2 sticks or rocks if skies are not overcast to determine movement of sun and stars works reasonably well, if you are far from distant mountain ranges using those in relation to sun/north star is good. Here are 2 links from WikiHow that are a little complicated and should be practiced or if you are like me you will quickly forget almost everything. Generally all I really care about in the wilderness is relative time, not exact time of day as measured by a clock, but remembering when sun up and sun down helps and when sun will reach max south (typically not noon by city folk's clocks).

    http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-Time-Without-a-Clock

    http://www.wikihow.com/Find-True-Nor...hout-a-Compass
    Last edited by TXyakr; 01-13-2015 at 03:18 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by finallyME View Post
    When I am in the wilderness I only use the sun.....when it comes up, time to wake up, when it goes down, time to go to sleep. Why do I care about anything else?
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    Right, but what would you do if it did not come up and go down, just went in a circle around the sky?
    Then still, what would it matter? Just more time to get things done…sleep when your tired. Unless you have a dinner date with Yogi Bear or something...
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilderness medic View Post
    Agreed.



    Then still, what would it matter? Just more time to get things done…sleep when your tired. Unless you have a dinner date with Yogi Bear or something...
    It would only matter if you were in a situation like the original poster was posting about. It's easy to get sleep deprived up here in the summer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by finallyME View Post
    When I am in the wilderness I only use the sun.....when it comes up, time to wake up, when it goes down, time to go to sleep. Why do I care about anything else?
    Me too. I use the sun to tell the morning, noon or when the sun is 45 degrees after noon, I know I gotta find a safe spot and gather firewood. i always have water so once I have enough firewood, I know its time to put up my shelter which takes about 10 minutes....But in case I could not see the sun, I have my Casio Protrek..hehehe..but usually, u can see the sun.
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    Casio with a five year battery.

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    Shadows. I use the old sundial method. Trees trunks make a pretty good sundial.

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    I use the "rock method".

    First find a rock and place it in front of your tent.

    If you look out of the tent and see the rock it is daytime.

    If you can not see the rock it is night time.

    if the rock is bright and clearly visible it is a sunshiny day.

    If the rock appears dull and is dimly lit it is a cloudy day.

    If the rock is wet it is raining.

    If the rock is covered with cold white stuff it is snowing.

    This system has never failed me.

    However, one of my pet peeves in the reenactment world is the rule on historic sites that one can not wear a watch due to historic accuracy concerns, then they schedule events to the minute and gripe if you are late.

    Or they send a runner through the camp telling everyone to assemble in 10 minutes!

    I love going to long term reenactment camps where not only do you not care what time it is, you also lose track of what day it is???
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyratshooter View Post
    I use the "rock method".

    First find a rock and place it in front of your tent.

    If you look out of the tent and see the rock it is daytime.

    If you can not see the rock it is night time.

    if the rock is bright and clearly visible it is a sunshiny day.

    If the rock appears dull and is dimly lit it is a cloudy day.

    If the rock is wet it is raining.

    If the rock is covered with cold white stuff it is snowing.

    This system has never failed me.

    However, one of my pet peeves in the reenactment world is the rule on historic sites that one can not wear a watch due to historic accuracy concerns, then they schedule events to the minute and gripe if you are late.

    Or they send a runner through the camp telling everyone to assemble in 10 minutes!

    I love going to long term reenactment camps where not only do you not care what time it is, you also lose track of what day it is???
    I use that as well..............
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    I hung mine in a tipi stand....Makes it multi function "weather/time rock"

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    Default Circadian Rhythm in Arctic Circle

    I rarely take a watch/clock unless a shuttle/outfitter requires that I be at a trail end or river takeout at a particular time, but generally avoid this by leaving a vehicle parked there and shuttling to trailhead/putin. They are never on time anyway.

    I have never lived for an extended time near the Arctic circle but I have worked night shift for many months and flown east/west by jet a lot and know how that can mess up my circadian rhythm. Especially as a person gets older if they go for days without enough continuous hours of sleep most will make dangerous judgement errors and lose coordination. Therefore in these situations I use ear plugs and a dark shirt or something over my eyes and disciple myself to sleep for more than just short cat naps at will. Not easy without some relatively accurate time measurement.

    Time between flight attendant asking if me if I want another tiny drink is about "What the #%&!, I just fell asleep, leave me alone!!!".

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter63 View Post
    I hung mine in a tipi stand....Makes it multi function "weather/time rock"

    Keeps it out the way......bottom brown......mud slides
    If its swinging....windy....
    Standing straight out.....Hurricane/tornado....Take cover.
    Cool setup hunter, how large of a mule cart does it require to haul all that gear through the wilderness?

    a.aaa.jpg
    Last edited by TXyakr; 01-14-2015 at 09:03 PM.

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