Walking the Boundaries: An Earlier Attempt

By , March 16, 2010

Recently, I described our efforts to discover whether or not the beloved spot we call “The Knoll” is on our property, or belongs to our neighbors to the north. Figuring out just what is a part of our pie-wedge shaped homestead and what is not isn’t easy, mostly because of the rugged terrain and extremely limited lines of sight.

The southern boundary of our property has always been clear. Surveyors went through at some point and cut down trees to mark that line. All you have to do is follow the row of pointed stumps! The west line is very short; the north line is more difficult to determine.

Part of the reason we’re still not clear on what we do or don’t own after more than four years of ownership is that the northwest corner pin took awhile to find. We’d searched for it, following descriptions of its location from the previous owner and the neighbors. Once we found it, we can’t figure out how we hadn’t seen it all along.

The day I found the pin, I tried to walk the north boundary home. Using the orienteering method I’d learned in Boy Scouts, I stood at the pin, found a landmark near to it, and sited along a vector to another landmark. I walked to it, then, checking the last mark, chose a new one along the same line. Going over the ridge, I tried to keep my line straight, but when I needed to waiver, I made sure I did it on the southern side—I was determined not to “cheat” north to include the knoll in our land.

Shortly, my surroundings became less and less familiar. I continued on, hoping to relocate myself. Eventually, I stood at the top of a steep rock scree, looking down on a trail. I seemed to have veered wildly north, somehow passing on the back side of the knoll, arriving on our neighbor’s trail well behind our property. Carefully, I picked my way down the slope. As I stepped onto the trail, suddenly everything fell into place, and I knew exactly where I was. I stood on our trail, at a point where it skirts the southern boundary of our property. Instead of veering north, I’d turned south, almost 90° from my original vector! In an embarrassingly short distance, I’d become completely lost on my own property.

I was excited to get home and tell my family I’d found the pin. I concentrated on not “cheating” north, making me veer south. I took a few cues from my surroundings, decided I knew where I was, and operated on that mistaken assumption. These are just a few of the very common ways people get lost in the wild. Luckily for me, this reminder came while on my own land.

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