Pressure Releases and Pressure Release Systems, Part I
by Tom Brown Jr.
My new standard classes are now learning the major pressure
releases and systems, as well as foot mapping, and an assortment of other
tracking skills that weren't covered in classes previous to 1982. Thus, anyone
attending a standard before 1982 will find himself at a disadvantage when taking
an Advanced Tracking, Nature Observation Class held this year. In an attempt to
catch up my students, I will be covering the major pressure releases over the
next few issues of the newsletter so that all advanced tracking students will
have the same skill training.
This first instalment will cover the moving forward pressure
releases and the systems that teach us what speeds, gait changes, and other
things the moving body has undergone. Remember that these are only a few of the
larger pressure releases for forward movement, and we will be using a human
track as our standard. Keep in mind that these pressure releases will be found
in all tracks, larger in sand, smaller, almost minute in hard-packed soil, only
as grit compressions and spirals on rock.
Wave - The large general pressure release of wave or
waving means that the man or animal is walking at a slow gait showing no slow
down, speed up, fast pace, or unbalanced stance (see illustration). This can be
easily seen on the beach when someone is walking. Keep in mind that strolling
has a different waving system. On hard ground it will be a gentle gathering of
particles and dust in the arch axis of the footprint.
Double Wave - A double wave is a small wave followed by
a larger wave, moving from the front to the back of the track. This pressure
release indicates a faster pace and will continue with the walk, until it slows
down. On hard ground it will appear as a ridge, in front of the gathered
particles and dust, previously described in wave pressure release.
Disk - This round disk-shaped pressure release appears
just behind the ball of the foot and indicates a speed change, from slow to
fast. As the speed increases, this disk will fissure, then eventually crumble.
Remember that fissuring and crumbling are separate pressure releases so you must
use the two names together, such as: disk crumble or disk fissuring. Remember
also that fissuring comes from forward movement against the primary wall in any
direction. Crevicing comes from dirt on the primary wall being pulled away; and
cracking is an act of nature drying or contorting the soil with the two flex
Dish - Right after the disk crumbles the arch of the
foot begins to split from the wave and creates a dish, indicating higher speeds.
This dishing will occur the entire pattern until the body slows or picks up more
speed. The dish will then fissure then eventually crumble as speed increases
more. (Keep in mind that if a dish-like pressure release occurs on the outside
of the true print, this is called a plate or plating.) Dishes can be read on
hard ground as mass accumulated ridges.
Explode-Off - The final act of acceleration is where
the dirt literally blows out the back of the track, much like a drag racer
peeling out. This pressure release is only kept up until high speed is obtained,
then evens out to piling fissure dishes.
Please keep in mind that these are only the larger
acceleration pressure releases. I have left many more subtle pressure releases
out because they would only confuse you at this point. Later, in a Field Guide
dedicated to Advanced Tracking, or in an Advanced Tracking Class, I will be
teaching those in-between pressure releases.
From The Tracker magazine, Summer 1983,
published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the
Tracker Trail website.