[Cdt-l] GPS and Maps

ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com
Sat Dec 12 11:04:48 CST 2009

Ok, it's time to chime in on this one!

At Mountain Education we teach snow camping, winter navigation, avalanche awareness and rescue, snow caving, self-arrest techniques, and much more to thru hikers preparing to hike the PCT and CDT trails. Due to the effect of cold on electronics, we do not encourage the absolute reliance and trust on them.

We teach that hikers need to be as empowered with practical, realistic knowledge and relevant skills as they can be prior to their long trail departures to ensure that they have a happy and safe trip. Part of this emphasis in planning and preparation is the awareness of just this electronic failure and to learn the appropriate skills necessary to move right along the trail by map, compass, and what we call, Visual Route Referencing. 

This is largely pre-knowing your expected environment and route specifics well enough to know what you should expect to see, to compare that with what you do see, knowing the "lay of the land" sufficiently well to alert you to when you might be suddenly "misplaced." Not only does "having the map in your head" help you find your way, but being this alert and aware to your surroundings helps you enjoy your hike, because you know more about it!

Over at http://postholer.com/SnowTravel we have a lot of snow-related info that will help you plan and prepare for your hike. 

We offer FREE snow skills training 3-day weekends trips to all those who want to expand their hiking into the Fourth Season and, especially, to thru hikers, so they will be aware of what they'll be up against, the realities of the snowy trail, will not be afraid of it, and will have the skills to get through it all safely or have the wisdom to know when to get out and wait for awhile. The snow-covered mountains, like the San Juans right out of Chama, are too beautiful to be avoided when you could be so equipped to snowshoe right along, safe and sound, aware of the hazards, dangers, and the signs and sounds, thereof, knowing when its safe to continue.

For those who don't know me, yet, I hiked the PCT in 1974 and the CDT in 1980. We have been teaching snow travel skills since 1982 and have hiked, skied, snow shoed, and snow-walked the length of the Sierras (Donner to Whitney) in both directions in nearly every month of the year. Though I hiked the Divide, we are in South Lake Tahoe and do a lot with the aspiring PCT thrus. Although the Divide has its own set of unique hazards (and different snow than what we have here), training for snow wherever you are is very important. 

If you can not attend one of our free Snow Courses, seek out REI's classes, those of your local college, or of the Sierra Club and other mountaineering and Outdoor Schools in your area. "Be Prepared" is not just the Boy Scout Motto, it should be yours, too. Read Trail Journals to find out what others had to deal with prior to your trip. You'll be thankful for it in the long run. And, don't be so gram-conscious that you leave behind the safest gear and techniques that will keep you safe, warm, well-fueled, dry, and trained in how to spot the dangers in front of you so you can avoid them or get safely through.

Food for thought. Reliance on electronics is not as empowering as having the skills in your head and knowing what to do with them and what they mean. Electronics are tools and can be fun to work with, but be aware of their limitations!

Mtnned & Lady J
Mountain Education
South Lake Tahoe, Ca

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michael Donnay 
  To: cdt-l at backcountry.net 
  Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 5:46 AM
  Subject: [Cdt-l] GPS and Maps

        I appreciate the rich discussion and helpful advice regarding GPS.  I have never owned or navigated with one of these devices (let alone even tried one in a store), but I'm sure they are amazing technological breakthroughs.

        I hiked the AT and PCT with only map and compass.  I never believed in resting my life on something that operates on batteries.  Many GPS users agree, and so they also carry map and compass.  I'd rather save the weight and just rely on the map and compass and knowledge and skill to use them proficiently.  I'll be hiking the CDT next and am wondering if there are any CDT hikers out there without GPS and who rely only on map and compass.

        Tall Glass


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