Desert FootprintsHumans can get lost quite easily. In terrain with a lack of landmarks to aim for, we end up walking around in circles. And in this instance, it’s our own bodies letting us down.

Have a look at the soles of your shoes. Which sole is more worn than the other? As a general rule most of us have a dominant leg and this is reflected by more wear on the sole of the dominant foot.

If you’ve got new shoes, have a look at some older ones, or notice which foot you step out on. We often step out on our dominant leg. Stand still for a moment, now walk forwards at a normal pace. Which foot went out first? Knowing the dominant leg means we can hazard a guess as to where to start looking for someone if they are already lost. It will also help us to understand which direction our own circle will take.

(This is a great one to try out with the kids.)

  • Look for an object about 30 metres away to aim for (make sure the terrain is clear in front of the object)
  • Make a note of the object and face its direction
  • Close your eyes and walk at a normal pace towards the object
  • Make sure there are spotters – you don’t want to walk into a tree!
  • See who gets closest to the chosen object

Guaranteed, even in that short space of 30 metres, the dominant leg will already be causing you to veer either left or right or your mark. The reason? The leading leg takes a longer stride than the less-dominant leg causing you to drift off course. Multiply that distance over many miles and you can see how easy it is to lose your intended direction.

Of course, you have your eyes open when walking, especially in a survival situation. But if there are no landmarks to aim for you are effectively walking blind – and the likelihood of straying from your course increases.

Which leg are you?

[Photo Credit: Vu Bui]