[Cdt-l] GPS & Map Options

Rick Ostheimer rick.ostheimer at sbcglobal.net
Sat Feb 12 19:04:41 CST 2011


The Delorme PN-60W/SPOT combo will work fine for you.  It comes with software into which you can import .GPX files for loading a track onto your GPS.  I replaced my Delorme PN-40 with the unit you bought to save a little weight and to be able to send text messages via attachment to the SPOT via satellites.  I carried the PN-40 and original SPOT last summer on the first half of my CDT hike in 2010 and it worked fine except that I found loading the entire Ley track resulted in abridgement of the points and therefore showed a zig-zag line on the screen.  I left dealing with the GPS as the last item in my trip planning and didn't have enough time to learn the software and get to know the units capabilities.  This year I will have a separate track for each state which I broke out from OOO's (Out of Order, CDT 2009) track file.  Since you've got the Delorme, you'll be using the Delorme Topo North America v. 9 mapping software that came with the unit on your computer.  You'll probably want a fairly large SD card to load all the maps (that came with the GPS) and tracks onto your GPS unit.  Allow a bit of time to get to know this software; it's not as intuitive as it might be, perhaps because it's loaded with options.  You'll find the PN-60W, though better on battery economy than the PN-40, will go through a lot of batteries if you attempt to collect track data for your entire hike along the CO section of the CDT.  Since the CDTA has already collected and published a track file for the official CDT in CO, there's no need to use it for that purpose, however.

I believe Ley has tracks in a format compatible with Google Maps, but you can convert them to a file compatible with the Delorme software.  If they can't be loaded directly, you can convert them to a usable format via a free program (GPSBABEL) that you can download.   I'm not aware of any National Geographic Trails Illustrated software, but they do publish a lot of maps for the area the CDT goes through in Colorado.

As for maps, everyone carried paper copies printed from Jonathan Ley's DVD---Google him and get on the list for a copy (....and be sure to send him a contribution for the effort he puts into updating and maintaining this info).  Ley's maps cover both the official and alternate routes.  I believe the CDTA map book (and downloadable .GPX file) covers only the official route.  If you get Yogi's CDT guide, you'll be able to see what TI maps to get depending on what route you take and it will give you good info on the towns that you can go into for resupply.  Also a number of people carried the Delorme Colorado Gazeteer map pages for a higher level view of the area and in case of a need to bail off the trail.

In Colorado, there's an optional route in the south (the Creede route) to avoid snow in the San Juans, though those of us who went through the San Juans in 2010 found them spectacular and one of the high points of the hike.  Further north the "official route" goes from Copper Mtn ski area over Grey and Torreys Peaks while an alternate route goes into the Dillon-Silverthorne area either by trail or by following the bike trail there. I wound up on the Silverthorne route both for convenience of resupply and to avoid thunderstorms.  I was happy with that route, but, if I did it again, I'd take the route over Grey and Torreys.

As to maps, I recommend Ley's as it shows lots of alternates.  You might also get the new maps from the CDTA (Continental Divide Trail Alliance, www.cdtrail.org) along with the matching GPX track file.  The CDTS (Continental Divide Trail Society, www.cdtsociety.org) is managed by Jim Wolfe who publishes a set of guidebooks describing the "Wolfe route" in a N to S direction.  I didn't find the maps in these guides suitable for navigation in the field.  Also, I found trying to read the N to S trail description backwards as I hiked S to N was daunting and finally gave using the guidebook sections except to read on zero days to get an overall impression of upcoming sections of the trail.

Happy planning,


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