[cdt-l] Does using GPS diminish the experience?

FJ ephja at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 26 23:59:16 CST 2006


Last summer I carried a GPS  on my CDT hike.  However, I rarely used it.  I really thought I had the proper map and compass skills to get through it without a GPS.  It turned out I did and finding my way through areas where there was not clearly defined path was one of the best things about my hike.

There were times where the GPS proved useful.  Being able to search for and then navigate to a spring selected from a list of names was very beneficial.  I would have been fine without this assistance but it did make life easier and a bit more reassuring.

Other than that, the only times I used the GPS, it told me what I already knew.  I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be.  I then had to pick and chose my way back to "my trail".

Ironically, I lost the damn thing itself.  I was more concerned about the lithium batteries in in than the GPS itself.

In short, I guess it all depends on what you want to do and your comfort level.  Same goes for any piece of gear.  Previous posts seem to lean the same way.

===> sidewinder

----- Original Message ----
From: "jonathan at phlumf.com" <jonathan at phlumf.com>
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 10:11:56 AM
Subject: Re: [cdt-l] Does using GPS diminish the experience?

I think this relates back to the "hike your own hike" philosophy. One
person's superfluous gadget is another person's valuable tool. I guess it
depends on why you hike - there are some people who hike specifically
because they love to use things like GPS.

>From certain perspectives, we all depend on all types of technology out
there - silnylon doesn't grow on trees, the US mail isn't magical, many
maps are drawn or refined with satellite data, people do a lot of
preparation via the internet, etc. So, if you think you're "technology
free" by leaving the GPS at home, that might not really be the case.

My personal measure is if the gear starts becoming distracting - if I'm
forever fiddling with electronic gear, worrying about battery life,
fighting technical glitches, looking for reception, or just futzing with
it (i.e looking at waypoints instead of mountains), etc. it can be hard to
really  "immerse oneself in the moment", which is one of the things I like
about being out there.

I don't think there's any clear answer...

-Jonathan

> I've read of some CDT hikers using GPS devices.  Granted, the CDT is hard
> to follow and you'll almost certainly get lost or "misplaced" often.  If
> you're like me, who admits to panic when I lose the trail, carrying a GPS
> makes sense.  It not only eases your mind, but allows you to get back on
> track and get to where you're going.
>
> On the other hand, isn't part of being a hiker, developing the skill of
> finding your way?  I mean really, are we so lame that we can't find our
> way without beaming up to a satellite?   If long distance hikers are at
> the forefront of modern humans' attempt to get back in touch with the
> Earth, can't we at least learn competent navigation skills?
>
> What's your take?
>
>
>
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