June 20, 2024

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The Hand of Time

Here’s a little tip that  has always come in handy for me (no pun intended) when I didn’t have a watch on.  I never wear a watch anyway so I’ve used this method to get an idea of the time on numerous occasions.
The first thing you need to know is what time the sun usually sets, once you know that you can consistently  get to within 15 minutes of the actual current time and from that figure out how long you have until the sunsets. The first thing you want to do is hold your fingers straight out in front of you, tuck your thumb into your palm and move your hand up into the sky until the top finger just blocks out the sun.  Take your other hand and  place it directly under the first and continue walking your hands down to the horizon line. Keep track of how many hands it took starting at the sun all the way down to the horizon. If you end up with a partial hand at the horizon then keep track of how many fingers you used.   Now it’s time for a little math, don’t worry it’s easy!! 

Each finger on your hand represents 15 minutes, your whole hand then is equal to one hour. Once you have counted how many hands and fingers it took you to go from the sun to the horizon just add them up and subtract that total from the known time of the sunset and you will have the current time.  In the picture below it will be 2 hours until the sunsets.

Here’s an example to make it a little easier. The sun sets here at 5:00 pm.  I’m standing at the edge of a clearing and can see the sun will be setting behind the mountain in front of me.  I hold my hand up in front of me and block the sun out with my top finger. It takes me 4 hands and 3 fingers to go from the sun to just blocking out the top of the horizon line on that mountain in front of me. I know that 4 hands equals 4 hours and 3 fingers equal 45 minutes.  If I want to know what the time is now I take 4 hours and 45 minutes and subtract it from 5 pm, that would leave me the current time of  12:15 pm.  You can usually come to within 15 minutes of the actual time if you do it correctly.  Give it a shot sometime, it’s useful to know if your in the backwoods or fishing a lake without a time piece and need to no how much longer you can stay out and still get back to camp or the car before dark.
Happy Hiking!!