Which Way Wednesday - Topo reading, Gully or Spur?


“Which Way Wednesday” features a navigation or trip planning related post every Wednesday.

This week - contours and terrain. Understanding these lets you “read” two key features of a topographic map.

  • When contour lines cross a gulley or ridgeline, which way did they bend?

  • Does a stream flow into or out of a lake?

  • How can you tell higher vs. lower elevation areas just by looking at stream patterns?

These questions are from the Wilderness Navigation Challenge - a series of about 80 questions and answers/explanations that cover beginner to intermediate wilderness navigation skills.

It's designed as a teaching tool and for self-evaluation. Every question is followed with an answer and explanation, so you can learn as you go along.

Below are a few sample questions and answers from the challenge. If testing your knowledge and learning more about navigation flips your switch, you can check out the entire navigation challenge here.

Note - at the bottom of the answer slides, you may see a reference for a “Lesson number”. That refers to a youtube video series that covers that topic in detail if you’d like to learn more.

Here’s a video that covers today’s topic.

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