Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

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gdurkee
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Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by gdurkee » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:55 am

Campers:

I'm wondering how or if people are using digital maps in the backcountry. Are you using them at all or only paper maps? Do you have maps on your dedicated GPS or just use it for location that you look up on a paper map? Cell phone map apps?? Carry a tablet?

I was just hired to teach GIS/maps & gizmos to Yosemite rangers (and I thought I'd retired!). Howard, the Ostrander hutkeeper, just sent me some old waypoint data from the Horizon Ridge trail that I converted into a map with the waypoints labeled in Decimal Degrees (NAD 83) and added a GPS track for the Horizon trail (not yet for Bridalveil). So I started wondering if it would be useful to provide digital maps for people to use on their phones.

NPS Yosemite is exploring using an app (Android & iOS) called CarryMap which allows GIS layers (e.g. map, trail, waypoints) to be included in one package and turned on or off, searched for, and labeled) on a device. The question is how useful would this be to hikers and, especially, skiers (where trails aren't necessarily obvious).

So, it would be great if folks here could weigh in on whether or not you use digital maps in the backcountry and whether you think the above is useful to provide to the public and in what formats. What coordinate types are people comfortable with? I was thinking of also creating a GeoPDF, which works with the Avenza app. I think GeoPDF can also be loaded on many dedicated GPS devices (??).

Thanks,

George








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Silky Smooth
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by Silky Smooth » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:06 pm

Hey George, interesting question. Have discussed this topic at great lengths with colleagues and friends. Digital maps and data are extremely useful and you have the information all at the fingertips. But The UI, (User Interface) needs to be fairly easy to use and intuitive. People are stubborn and change is hard for people, I think it also depends how good you are with technology and how comfortable you feel. If you know how to use the technology it can be very time saving and useful. But someone who struggles with technology might see it as a barrier and it could slow them down. I have worked in software development and taught people how to use very specialized software.What I have found helpful is to simply the process and make it as standardized as possible. Let them drive and have them repeat over certain functions. I have digital mags in my huge phone/tablet , I use them for everything. My GPS has a lot of maps and specialized tracks and markings on there as well. I have everything I could ever need. Maybe its information overkill but I have a lot of info available. I also carry a paper map as well for back up. GPS tracks and way points very easy to use and pre-load into most units. The nice things about high quality digital maps, is that you can make it any scale you want. Hope that helps some, let me know if you need any help.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by Snowtrout » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:18 pm

What you are doing will be greatly appreciated by most. I believe that digital maps are the future and are already the preferred way of navigation for the under 30 hikers. I do load maps on my phone, as a backup, but my main navigation is by a paper map and compass.

My personal belief on this technology though is that this dependence is giving people a false feeling of security. Cell phones, GPS devices, technology....can fail, break or become corrupted. Then what?? :smirk:

Again it is the future and is needed but I believe at the expense of navigational skills.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by sambieni » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:34 pm

Last summer I pretty much used this technique w/ my iphone and worked super well as a backup/accompaniment to my paper maps. So well, until I dropped my phone out of my pocket in Yosemite when got lost off trail and had to rely on paper solely for next few days...

Still I intend to use same system going forward, but will always rely on the analog map/compass as my primary.

http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone-gps ... ckpacking/

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by Jimr » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:44 pm

I have maps of most of the Sierra on my phone, but rarely use them. I do agree that the younger generation will likely have more appreciation than the older crowd who spent many a year on paper and compass. I guess the only way to keep digital mapping a tool rather than a crutch is to keep pounding education on the fail ability of electronic devices.

I keep my phone off in the back country. One of the few times I used my phone map software to pinpoint my position, because I was too lazy to pull out the map and triangulate, I realized that I could have triangulated my position on paper faster than it took my phone to boot. One time where it was extremely useful was last year hiking through the night. There were a couple of key forks in the trail that I needed to assure I didn't screw up. It was very convenient to turn on the phone as I descended a certain rise and plot my course toward the waypoint.

All in all, I'd say it is worthwhile to make your project available to the public. The future is for the young and the young will want it.
“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by Shawn » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:42 pm

So, it would be great if folks here could weigh in on whether or not you use digital maps in the backcountry and whether you think the above is useful to provide to the public and in what formats. What coordinate types are people comfortable with? I was thinking of also creating a GeoPDF, which works with the Avenza app. I think GeoPDF can also be loaded on many dedicated GPS devices (??).
I'm an old guy, so most navigation is done via paper maps and compass. There are occasions I'll toss my Garmin GPS in my pack, loaded with digital maps of the area to save my route for later review or to quickly verify my position.

It would seem the use of decimal degrees would at least appear easier for casual users of coordinates?

As others have said, digital maps are here and will be the likely default in the future. For that matter seeing a digital kiosk at ranger stations would not surprise me at all.

While it's beyond the scope of your work, I do make good use of digital maps via a Nexus 7 in my jeep while traveling back roads (or no roads) using Back Country Navigator). It has proven invaluable thanks to it's many features (similar to other apps used in the wilderness I suppose).

No doubt your work will benefit many in the future. :thumbsup:

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by gary c. » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:25 am

I map my planned route on my GPS but mostly just use it to keep track of mileage and elevation gain/los. I also print maps with the route from my GN program for everyone in our group to follow.
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by psykokid » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:18 am

Shawn wrote:
I'm an old guy, so most navigation is done via paper maps and compass. There are occasions I'll toss my Garmin GPS in my pack, loaded with digital maps of the area to save my route for later review or to quickly verify my position.

It would seem the use of decimal degrees would at least appear easier for casual users of coordinates?

As others have said, digital maps are here and will be the likely default in the future. For that matter seeing a digital kiosk at ranger stations would not surprise me at all.

While it's beyond the scope of your work, I do make good use of digital maps via a Nexus 7 in my jeep while traveling back roads (or no roads) using Back Country Navigator). It has proven invaluable thanks to it's many features (similar to other apps used in the wilderness I suppose).

No doubt your work will benefit many in the future. :thumbsup:
I'm younger, but was taught always to have a paper map and compass. Something I've instilled into my son as well. As said before batteries die, devices can be lost or damaged, but a paper map and compass will always work.

I too use BCN when out and about on lesser traveled backroads and trails and have found it very useful. The fact I can download a whole area, and have several versions of different maps to reference is great. Recently BCN added the USFS MVUM's as an add on where you can overlay on top of other maps as well. Very useful for vehicle based exploring, making sure that you are on a legal and open road.

I've went from using the standard lat/long coordinates to using UTM. I find it's a bit easier to narrow down coordinates with the UTM/MGRS system once you get the hang of it.
gary c. wrote:I map my planned route on my GPS but mostly just use it to keep track of mileage and elevation gain/los. I also print maps with the route from my GN program for everyone in our group to follow.
I do this as well. I normally set up a rough track of a route in the GPS to have just in case. I like to nerd out on data points after the fact and keep a running log of mileages and elevation gained/lost. Being able to print out custom maps using caltopo with tracks and waypoints marked is great. I use this feature for hikes with my son's boy scout troop a lot.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by rlown » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:26 am

gdurkee wrote:Campers:

I'm wondering how or if people are using digital maps in the backcountry. Are you using them at all or only paper maps? Do you have maps on your dedicated GPS or just use it for location that you look up on a paper map? Cell phone map apps?? Carry a tablet?

I was just hired to teach GIS/maps & gizmos to Yosemite rangers (and I thought I'd retired!). Howard, the Ostrander hutkeeper, just sent me some old waypoint data from the Horizon Ridge trail that I converted into a map with the waypoints labeled in Decimal Degrees (NAD 83) and added a GPS track for the Horizon trail (not yet for Bridalveil). So I started wondering if it would be useful to provide digital maps for people to use on their phones.

NPS Yosemite is exploring using an app (Android & iOS) called CarryMap which allows GIS layers (e.g. map, trail, waypoints) to be included in one package and turned on or off, searched for, and labeled) on a device. The question is how useful would this be to hikers and, especially, skiers (where trails aren't necessarily obvious).

So, it would be great if folks here could weigh in on whether or not you use digital maps in the backcountry and whether you think the above is useful to provide to the public and in what formats. What coordinate types are people comfortable with? I was thinking of also creating a GeoPDF, which works with the Avenza app. I think GeoPDF can also be loaded on many dedicated GPS devices (??).

Thanks,

George
Why did you pick NAD 83? I thought WGS 84 was more the standard. Wish AlmostThere would chime in on their settings..

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by oldranger » Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:16 pm

Don't need no f ing electronic device to navigate in the Sierra!
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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