Wilderness Navigation - Everett - 2024

Navigation Course

Wilderness Navigation

Learn to use a map, compass, altimeter and GPS for trip planning and navigation in the back country.

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The Everett Mountaineers Wilderness Navigation Course consists of one day in-field and lecture.  In addition, we are using CoAssemble online training guide as an optional, at-home study guide.  It is highly recommended to take these two CoAssemble classes prior to attending the in-person field trip, but we WILL be using in-person training to go over lessons and practice skills.


Due to the limited availability of spaces, we are limiting signups to those students that are already registered for either the Alpine Scrambling Course or Basic Climbing Course offered by the Everett Branch of the Mountaineers and still need the navigation course as a graduation requirement. This signup restriction will be in effect until Feb 1, 2024.

We are keeping an “off-line” sign up on a first come, first served basis. If you would like to be added to this list, please contact the Course Leader (under Contacts to the right). We currently expect there to be availability at that time.

We encourage you to enroll even if there is a waitlist. No fees are required to be on the waitlist and there are always some cancellations before the course begins. The waitlist is managed on a first come, first severed basis. If a participant does cancel, you will receive an email offering you the option to register. Payment of course fees are required upon accepting this offer to enroll.



Washington State no longer has a COVID mandate for vaccination status, but we still encourage safe distancing and hygiene.  Students can choose to wear a mask for the indoors, but please ask the Course Leader for questions or concerns.



  • Register for this Wilderness Navigation Course (pick one of two dates in Feb or March 2024) and pay the course fee.
  • Register for the CoAssemble online Map & Compass activity.
  • Register for the CoAssemble online GPS activity.
  • Obtain required equipment and materials listed in “Required Equipment” and “Course Materials” tabs.



Once you sign up for an activity, please try to keep your date. If you must drop from the course or change an activity to a different date, do soon as possible so others have time to fill your spot. Changes at the last minute truly do affect everyone.



Upon completion of this course, you will be awarded the Basic Navigation Course badge.  If you have chosen to complete the CoAssemble GPS class, you will also earn the optional Basic GPS Course badge.  The Basic Navigation Course badge is a requirement for many advanced courses such as Climbing, Scrambling and Intermediate Snowshoeing. The Basic Navigation badge is valid for three (3) years. Currently, the GPS badge is NOT a requirement for any other courses, but still highly recommended to take.



This is not a beginner's course; however, it is suitable for students with little or no navigation experience. There are no prerequisites for the Everett Mountaineers Wilderness Navigation Course. This course focuses on off-trail navigation requirements for Climbing, Scrambling, Intermediate Snowshoeing and other more advanced courses.

If you are simply looking for an introductory course focusing on on-trail navigation, consider "Introduction to Map and Compass", " Staying Found On-Trail Navigation " and/or “Introduction to GPS Navigation, Trip Planning and Workflow”. NOTE: These courses do not meet the navigation requirements for Climbing, Scrambling, Snowshoeing, etc. Wilderness Navigation does.



The 3 course activities of Wilderness navigation course are the optional CoAssemble Map & Compass online class, optional CoAssemble GPS online class, and thirdly the in-person lecture and combined in-field exercises. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE TIME COMMITMENT FOR THE ONLINE ACTIVITIES. THEY TAKE TIME to COMPLETE.  THEY ARE OPTIONAL HOWEVER AND YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO TAKE BEFORE OR AFTER THE IN-PERSON COURSE FIELDTRIP/LECTURE.

  • The Online Map & Compass activity is “at your own pace” over a 2-week period. It takes 7 to 8 hours to complete. It must be successfully completed before moving to the Online GPS Module. This activity covers the basics of map and compass, coordinate systems, plotting and taking bearings and coordinates, altimeter and GPS system basics, and an introduction to trip planning. It includes readings from the book and practical exercises at home with map and compass. Register after signing up for the course.
  • The Online GPS and Digital Navigation activity is “at your own pace” over a 2-week period.  It will take you 4-6 hours of online work and practical exercises. It expands upon Online Map & Compass into GPS and the use of digital tools for trip planning. It has you set up Gaia GPS on your smartphone and use CalTopo for trip planning. Register after signing up for the course.
  • The In-Person Trip Planning Workshop and Field Trip is an all-day activity at Boy Scout Camp Edward north of Monroe, WA.  We will spend between approximately 4-5 hours indoors on practical exercises with Map, Compass, and GPS in preparation for the outdoor Field Trip. The 2-3 hour outdoor Field Trip includes both on- and off-trail exercises, with about 6.0 miles of hiking and 200' of elevation gain. You will tie together different ways to use all four tools in your navigation toolkit: map, compass, altimeter, and GPS. Register for one (1) activity date in Feb/March after signing up for the course.  Plan to start about 7am and end around 3-4pm rain or shine.



The three (3) course activities build upon each other, with these ultimate learning goals:

  • Identify items related to topographic maps.
  • Relate items in the field to items on topographic maps.
  • Identify the parts of a compass.
  • Demonstrate how to use a compass with a map and in the field.
  • Plan and follow a route on- and off-trail through various terrain and conditions.
  • Maintain situational awareness: Determine your line and point position and be able to return to the camp or trailhead.
  • Navigation tasks are shared among the entire team, but everyone must be skilled in the full tool set: map, compass, altimeter, GPS, and awareness of emergency procedures and devices.



Compass, Book, Maps, Smartphone, and Gaia GPS (with subscription), Altimeter (optional: Gaia GPS functionality will suffice). See the Required Equipment and Course Materials tabs for details and links.



During the Online Map & Compass CoAssembel activity, you will be assigned required reading from Wilderness Navigation, 3rd Edition by Mike and Bob Burns. Mountaineers members get a 20% discount when ordering it online from Mountaineers Books as well as purchasing it in person at the Mountaineers Bookstore located in the Seattle Mountaineers Program Center (7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA). Please support the Mountaineers by purchasing it directly from the Mountaineers.

Additional (optional) reading is available in Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition and Wilderness GPS: A Step-by-Step Guide by Mike and Bob Burns.

New for 2024 - we have access to Steve McClure's newest navigation book which includes good content for GPS and modern technologies.  Please see Evan for details as the book hasn't been published yet.



Click HERE to download directions to the Camp Edward parking lot. PLEASE!!! DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH CAMP PIGOTT TO GET TO CAMP EDWARD!! Those roads are for Boy Scouts Service Vehicles ONLY!! Please park along the far west edge of the lot to leave room for any other visitors accessing the camp.  Carpooling at this time is optional.  Camp Piggot for the Feb class is just south of Camp Edward and just off Woods Creek Road (either from west or east).

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

Computer, laptop, or tablet with internet access for online activities

Book - Wilderness Navigation, 3rd Edition by Mike and Bob Burns. Mountaineers members get a 20% discount when ordering it online from Mountaineers Books as well as purchasing it in person at the Mountaineers Bookstore located in the Seattle Mountaineers Program Center (7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA). Please support the Mountaineers by purchasing it directly from the Mountaineers.

Maps –USGS Baring for the Online Map and Compass Activity (also available at the USGS website: USGS Baring – stay away from any TNM GEOSPATIAL options). Maps used at the Field Trip will be provided at the field trip.

Compass – Must be purchased before the course field trip.  Unfortunately, you cannot share a map or compass with a friend or family member during the field trip exercises, but there are some loaners to borrow as needed. Some local stores might run out of the model you want so it is recommended you buy a compass well in advance. Only specific compasses will be accepted, so before purchasing a compass review these documents:  2016 Everett Navigation Compass Requirements and 2018 Seattle and Foothills Compass Requirements.

Smartphone with Gaia GPS Premium App. The Gaia GPS Premium App works on IOS and Android phones and tablets, so long as you have a GPS chip in the device (GPS and/or GLONASS capability). You will be instructed on setting up Gaia GPS during the CoAssemble GPS Activity. Gaia GPS Premium is available as a Mountaineers Member Benefit, at no cost for the first year. See the Member Benefits page and scroll down to GEAR DETAILS for complete information. You may use a dedicated GPS device; however, this may have differences that an instructor will not be familiar with and thus limit the assistance provided.

Altimeter – There is an altitude reading in the Gaia GPS Premium App, and it will get you through the course. Many people prefer a wristwatch style altimeter or analog altimeter as they delve further into mountaineering.  For reviews of inexpensive (and expensive) altimeters, see the Blog Entry on How to Pick an Altimeter.

10-essentials including rain gear for the field trip (boots, gloves, and appropriate clothing for inclement wilderness travel).  Temperatures in March are usually in the high 40-50', but be prepared for inclement weather and wear layers.  If raining, we advise indoor comfortable shoes, and boots for the in-field outside exercises.  The terrain is steeper hills to flat road forested DNR land.  The class is rain or shine or little bit of snow, but promise we'll make it fun and enjoyable learning experience.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.