The GPS is not the territory

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
Shawn
Topix Expert
Posts: 939
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:56 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: The GPS is not the territory

Post by Shawn » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:40 pm

Good words of wisdom SSSDave.

And Mr. B - nice picture!

I usually have an 8x11 map stuck in my front pants pocket which I refer to often and a full map stashed in a cargo pocket.

Years ago I read thru this little gem of a book before venturing off trail. Not long after I was meandering down Sphinx Creek on my way out and expecting to see the obvious trail which I had just left the day before. Rather than refer to my map (just like SSSDave says above) I had *assumed* (cough) that the trail would be obvious where it crosses the creek. After all, it seemed simply enough when I left the trail.

Anyway, I walked right past the trail and a fair amount beyond it. Eventually I noticed my surroundings didn't look right and my gut was telling me something was wrong. As I peered down the next headwall to descend, that little book kicked in and I came to a full stop.

A quick glance at my altimeter watch provided the altitude, a look at my map told me specifically where I was along the creek. Needless to say I turned around and marched back to the trail.

Thankfully this simple little lesson has served me well over the last half-dozen years, thus my comment about SSSDave's words of wisdom.
Image








User avatar
rlown
Topix Docent
Posts: 6811
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Petaluma, CA

Re: The GPS is not the territory

Post by rlown » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:50 am

Shawn wrote:A quick glance at my altimeter watch provided the altitude, a look at my map told me specifically where I was along the creek. Needless to say I turned around and marched back to the trail.
how is an altimeter watch better than a GPS? I have to admit that maps are great if you can see landmarks. My maps are well worn as well, and carried in my pocket, but it seems every 15 mins, i get asked, "where are we?", if i'm leading a hike. GPS kinda removes that setting altitude/pressure issue with altimeters. I'm not saying GPS are perfect all the time, but i like mine when it gives me 3+ satelites.. My map has become a backup to gps if i have problems on the trail.
If weather blocks me and i'm off trail, i hunker down.

Shawn
Topix Expert
Posts: 939
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:56 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: The GPS is not the territory

Post by Shawn » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:55 pm

It's not that the altimeter watch is better or worse than a GPS, it's just having the altitude information given my situation.

Since I knew I was clearly along the Sphinx creek, all I needed was the altitude info to pinpoint my location by using the elevation/contour lines on the map where they intersect with the creek. Once I could determine where I was along the creek I could readily see that I had passed the trail crossing. I think this is refered to as "straight line navigation".

My Suunto watch isn't all that accurate (my GPS is much more accurate but I don't carry it that much). But I've had the watch for so long I've learned it's altitude variances without having to adjust it much.

Funny you should mention being asked all the time about "where are we" when leading a hike. I actually experience the opposite, seems no one cares which troubles me a bit. Wouldn't you think others would want to have a clue just in case?

User avatar
Jmma
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 9:57 am
Experience: N/A

Re: The GPS is not the territory

Post by Jmma » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:14 am

There was an article recently in the local paper where I live in Ventura County about emergency beacons.It was similar to this GPS story,hi tech gear cheaply available to low tech thinkers.It told a story about a group hiking down the Grand Canyon that used their emergency beacon to summon help because the water in their bottles tasted salty!Unbelievable!The rescue crew arrived in a helicopter to find this out.They then summoned help 2 more times for frivilous non emergency B.S. and the third time the rescue crew made them all get in the helicopter and told them they have to go home.I would hope that the people in theese ignorant non emergency situations are fined to cover the costs and danger they put rescue crews in.

Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1309
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: The GPS is not the territory

Post by Cross Country » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:42 pm

Shawn
I'm confused as to where you were hiking down Sphinx Creek. As far as I know (I've been to Sphinx 5 times). if you're walking down the creek and miss the trail you wouldn't want to go back to Sphinx Creek Crossing. Instead you would hike somewhat uphill and basically to the right -- much shorter and easier.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: canukyea, creekfeet, FilthyPhill, Flamingo, goddard's will, TCalfee, Yahoo [Bot] and 5 guests