[Cdt-l] GPS and Maps
m.karon at comcast.net
Sat Dec 12 11:32:48 CST 2009
I sure wish I had taken such training before heading out on the CDT. I was
rotten at map/compass reading and didn't really know how to use the GPS
effectively. But, hey, I got back home. But, my enjoyment would have been a
lot greater with those skills and the correct mental attitude - I hate being
lost (or feeling I was lost).
And yet, realize that the maps you have are not always going to be
up-to-date nor will the most current trail be on the maps. So you sometimes
need to visualize the trail as you are on it. For me, the GPS helped.
As for comparing the AT and PCT to the CDT, route finding is way different.
On those trails you often have to try to get off the trail. Only if you
follow the crowds, best trail, or blazes thinking they always mark the trail
you want will you get misplaced (I've done all of those). On the CDT, often
there are no trail markers or they exist at the beginning and end of
sections with no junction markings. The GPS is just another tool. Many folks
do just fine without it - and it wasn't available until recently.
And as for relying on things - how about your resupply drops with maps in
them - or food - or equipment. Or your watch, camera, flashlight - all take
batteries. All part of the adventure.
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:05 AM
To: Michael Donnay; cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] GPS and Maps
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
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
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> http://postholer.com/SnowTravel
we have a lot of snow-related info that will help you plan and prepare for
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
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
Mtnned & Lady J
South Lake Tahoe, Ca
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Donnay <mailto:mdonnay at yahoo.com>
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.
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