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First time backpacking solo?

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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:29 pm

ChinMusic wrote:
Maps would have not helped me in the snow this year in Yosemite. With my GPS I knew within a few feet of where the trail was under me. Never made a wrong turn. I read trail journals where PCT thrus could not find the trail to Cathedral Pass (side trip) with map/compass. Piece of cake for me.

Give me technology ANY time.


I'm faster with a map. I'll use technology but there is a reason SAR teams are trained and trained and trained and trained with the map and compass. We absolutely must be able to get where we need to be and not be an additional lost victim.



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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:08 pm

TRAUMAhead,

The simple solution is to take those map/compass courses, even try them out at home. Then, if you want a backup, take a GPS unit. I always bring a map, and the GPS goes if I'm really out of my element (new place). Took the GPS to trinity 2 years ago, and I'm glad I had it. Knew exactly where I was the whole time, especially when on-trail turned into a nasty off-trail.

Funny, I only took maps last year to Humphreys because, well, It's really hard to get lost there.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:28 pm

Being real good at map and compass makes you BETTER at using a GPS. I find that many folks who only use a GPS while on trails, will not look at it often enough and when they are "lost", then pull it out. They also fail to look at the terrain enough. Well, what if you cannot get reception when you pull it out? Whether you use a GPS or map and compass, or map alone, you have to regularly look at your "maps", whatever their format. The point is to really internalize your location in your surrounding physical space. That includes knowing the big picture- general drainage patterns, mountain ridge, etc. The GPS is harder to get the "big picture" because you loose resolution as you zoom out. Get the most out of your navigation tools. Refer to them often. In tough terrain, my map is in my hand at all times! Most backpackers of my generation do better with paper maps. Today's youth, growing up on GPS technology, may be a lot more comfortable with gagets. Knowing both, makes you a complete outdoorsman and expert navigator. Both can fail. Loose a map. Drop a GPS in a stream. But if you always have a good picture in your mind where you are, you can probably get back out OK in an emergency.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:55 pm

I agree the quad maps are good for the "big picture". They lack the you-are-here function I require under poor weather conditions. They also lack the cookie-crumb tracks from where I have been. The GPS offers me that and more. I find the paper maps to be great for planning. I find the GPS to be great for executing the plan

Look, I'm not anti-map. I am pro GPS.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:17 pm

ChinMusic wrote:I agree the quad maps are good for the "big picture". They lack the you-are-here function I require under poor weather conditions. They also lack the cookie-crumb tracks from where I have been. The GPS offers me that and more. I find the paper maps to be great for planning. I find the GPS to be great for executing the plan

Look, I'm not anti-map. I am pro GPS.


I'm not anti-GPS. I'm a realist. We use the GPS all the time, each person on the SAR team is issued one at the beginning of every training and search. Consequently, we become acutely aware of how fallible they are and how crazy wrong they can be. At one point the GPS one member used sent her on a bearing that would have had the team going two different directions, since the other GPS units were going a different direction on the same coordinate. We pull out a map when stuff like that happens.

Not too long ago I was at a California coastal park hiking with the GPS. After acquiring six satellites it placed me as being 20 miles offshore. This is the unit used by our SAR team exclusively with mostly good results - a Garmin 60CSX, never loses satellite connection even in tree cover.

A number of people have been rescued after being lost while trusting their GPS.

May all your trips be safe and end with you at your destination.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:23 pm

and yet, you knew you were not 20 miles offshore. :) see, someone who kind of knows where they are wouldn't be fooled by that (big picture concept).. That is really important to look around and kinda know where you are.

I don't run with my GPS on all the time, and on start-up, it gives me some weird track positions. There are places it tells me I have been to, and I know I was never there. So, I let it stabilize.

Still, TH, learn the map/compass stuff, learn to look around and keep present in your mind where you think you are, and double check it with the map/compass. This isn't going to help you much in weather or darkness. Weather is a whole different course. Best to hunker down at that point.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby mp88 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:38 pm

I personally do not carry a GPS specifically for the reasons that AlmostThere has laid out, I like to use topo maps and most of all, guides or data books with descriptions of the trail and it’s surroundings. With that said...

In 2010 on the PCT, myself and some thru hikers lost the trail on Apache Peak in the Jan Jancinto mountains and got rocked by a storm simultaneously. We pretty much covered 3 miles in 48hrs and that was just wandering around in the storm looking for the trail that was covered by snow for miles. Finally, on the third morning there was a guy there with a Magellan GPS and he lead us out of there no problem, we just followed the red line on the screen and within two hours we were back on the trail, amazing.

Here is a pick from that morning
Image
Last edited by mp88 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:42 pm

Yes, I did know - no dolphins in the redwoods, and I wasn't watching the fishing boats go by. And it did correct itself, and then informed me I had managed 30 mph on foot somehow into the bargain. Insult to injury, the trail I was on didn't appear on the mapset, either.

But, people can and do follow GPS units to their deaths sometimes in adverse conditions, because they stop thinking, panic, and think a beeline to the car is possible. The group of backpackers who ledged out in a snowstorm a while back in Kings Canyon and had to ride out the storm until a helo could long line them off it are a perfect example of it.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:53 pm

So, I'll hazard a guess here and say most who find this site aren't so dumb as to believe what a device is telling them completely. Most here actually can think if they already got here..
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:02 pm

mp88 wrote: Finally, on the third morning there was a guy there with a Magellan GPS and he lead us out there no problem, we just followed the red line on the screen and within two hours we were back on the trail, amazing.

Funny that, huh? :wink:

To each his own. I embrace the technology. I have yet to be eaten by a shark due a rogue point. I know a rogue point when I see one. My GPS ain't even considered modern, as it is a 2004 model.

If I ever lose a trail in bad weather/dark/tree cover/etc. I KNOW I can find the trail quickly and easily. That map may help with starting a fire.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:03 pm

That would be my guess as well, but I'm frequently wrong in my assumptions about what people will or won't do... perfectly rational-seeming people have surprised me many times.

Do what you will - we'll still come looking for you, just like everyone else.
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Re: First time backpacking solo?

Postby ChinMusic » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:07 pm

AlmostThere wrote:Do what you will - we'll still come looking for you, just like everyone else.

And with my cell/sat phone I will be able to tell you where I am within 20 feet. You'll be able to be back home for the big game.
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