Trails and Sign

How many layers … Which to read?

How many trails? Who? Last was? Any differences in soil color?

Layers, they make things a lot more interesting.  Take books for example;

“He went for a run up the road.”

… or …

“After locking the weather-worn front door, he glanced up before starting down the worn concrete steps, and noticed that half of the sun, red through the humidity, was visible above the ridge across the valley.

Below the house shreds of fog drifted through the old oaks and tulip trees along the stream.  Pausing at the huge old maple living in the front yard, he rested his palm on the rough bark in greeting.

Starting a run this early there never was any traffic on the old blacktop farm road.  Its crumbling edges made softer landings for his heels, and with the sunlight still edging down the slopes to the west the valley air was cool and damp.”

The same is true for the story in a track.  Reading and following a trail brings all the layers together and makes the story so much more complete.  Along with a knowledgeable instructor, learning the layers is a most helpful learning tool.

This includes sign.  An old Texas farmer, Pa Jay was skilled at reading signs and rarely misinterpreted them.  In the 1950’s, Texas farm roads sometimes had “Stop Ahead” signs posted well before an intersection.  After grandfather discovered that these were good places to read trail sign, when we approached one, he would often ease off the gas, downshift the rusty dark blue farm pickup, and as it began to slow, reach across the cracked vinyl bench seat and press a work-calloused hand gently against his grandson’s forehead, “Now, that sign says stop a head …”.

In reading trails much progress can be made quickly and it’s a learning process one can spend a lifetime in … It combines all the other layers, including sign.  (“Layers” … could that even be illustrated?)

And since every trail is different, how many trails does one have to read before they’ve seen every possible layer, or movement?  Yeah, greater ‘time required to learn’ … And if the student has already chosen to spend big chunks of their lives at work or parenting, or in some other day-consuming way?  Should they give up on tracking … or work … or parenting?

In the photo above, the entire area where the trail was used had been erased the evening of Aug 7, 2008.  The photo was taken the next day.  How many layers do you see?

This page is about illustrations designed to help students learn the skills needed to read trails.

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Concept Illustrated: The Human Trail

The Idea:  Build a first attempt at a scene where a human trail is created, and use rigid body physics to control the interaction between feet, sand objects, and gravity.

Yes, the example is limited (by the processing power of the author’s PC) and the animation needs help, and that’s ok for now since this page concerns what to illustrate as much as it is about eventually, developing full and complete illustrations.

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The Other Concepts:

Page: The Concepts of Tracking… The Essentials
The Translucent Foot

Page: Aging Tracks… How long ago?
Color Change

Page: Foot and Body Movements … How body movement creates and is reflected in the tracks, and how to read it from them.
Canine Claw Tip Leaves Track in Fine Sand

Page: How To Find and See Tracks … Ways to reveal hard to see tracks and details
Predicting where the next track will be…
Dust Compressions (Dull on Shiny by Canine Toe Pad)
Controlling Lighting to Increase Visibility of Tracks
Track on ‘Bare’ Rock (Red Fox Front Foot)
Using Stone Rolls to Find Tracks
The Tracking Stick

Page: How To Read Tracks … (and trails) – The problem isn’t lack of information
Simple Tire Track and Direction of Travel
True Track (Canine Toe Pad)

Page: The Invisible Skills … Think you’ve gone as far as you can?
Problem Solving by Baby Steps
The Only Way to Get Anywhere Else…

Page: Species … Tracks of distinct species and track features unique to them
Deer Foot – One Walking Step
Red Fox Front and Rear Feet – Side Trot

Page: Track Features … The story is revealed by the details
Pressure Against the Track Wall (Canine Toe Pad)
The Wave, Simple?
The Ridge Between Canine Front Toes
The Layer of Sand in Contact With The Foot