## Simple Ways to Estimate Height in the Wilderness

Guessing the height of objects in the wilderness is a lot easier than you may think, and knowing a few tricks can come in handy when you least expect it. These may be useful for lots of practical purposes such as sizing up trees for building shelters or calculating the amount of rope you need to scale a cliff. Let’s take a look at some rudimentary methods that may not be precise, but they will get you in the ballpark.

**Stick Method for Trees**

Take a stick that’s about two feet long and hold it vertically in one hand by making a fist. Stretch out your arm and align the top of the stick with the top of the tree that you are trying to measure. Adjust the position of your hand so your thumb is positioned at the base of the tree and the top of the stick remains aligned to the top of the tree.

If you are holding the stick in your left hand, rotate it clockwise. Rotate the stick counterclockwise if it is in your right. Make sure to hold your hand in the same position. Keep rotating until the edge of the stick appears to touch the horizon as you look at it past your outstretched arm. Have someone stand at this spot in the ground, or mark it with an object. This distance will equal the approximate height of the tree.

**Measuring Cliff Height**

If you want to measure the height of a cliff, hill or other elevated area, all you need is to know the length of an object and place it against the base. A walking stick or person are your best options for this particular exercise. Take your stick, just like you did in the previous example and align the top of the object or person with the top of the stick. Align the bottom with your thumb and mark this spot.

Use this length to estimate height by placing it atop the person or object and imagining another equidistant line above the first. Keep repeating as you “climb” the face of the elevated area with your stick. Count the number of “units” until you reach the top. Translate the units into the known length of the person or object, and this will give you a general idea of the height.

**Use Shadows and The 11+1 Method**

Get behind a tree or object that you are trying to measure and mark the spot where its shadow ends. Take another object that you know the length of, such as a person or walking stick and place it at the edge of the shadow. Mark where that object’s shadow ends. The next step is to take the length of the second shadow and use it to calculate the length of the main shadow. Calculate this length in units instead of feet. Keep moving inward until you get to the base of the object that you’re trying to measure. Multiply the number of units by the length of the measuring unit. For example, if you are using a four foot long stick, and it’s six units to the base of the object you’re trying to measure, then multiply 4×6. The approximate height of the object is 24 feet.

These are just a few examples of numerous ways that you can estimate height in the wilderness. Try them for yourself and see how accurate they really are.