[Cdt-l] cell phones

Frank Gilliland frankgilliland at gmail.com
Thu Oct 25 15:11:49 CDT 2012

I am in the camp that a cell phone in the back country is for emergency or really important short calls to arrange a ride or let your spouse or contact know that all is well.  To date, i have taken a phone with me on all of my long hikes, but I don't believe I EVER received a call.  I have checked for voice mails or emails.  I keep my phone off or in Airplane mode…..Hey I'm out here to get away from the real world.  But, the real world sometimes needs to be checked into!!

I think it is just common since to treat back country phone use the same as smoking a cigarette or farting.  As long as no one is in your affective range……..Talk, smoke and fart away.

<Begin rant>
What gets my goat into a tizzy is the increasing use of bluetooth loud speakers on trails (being carried by mostly day hikers).  Come on.  Not every body wants to hear 70's rock ballads in the woods.
<End rant>

That being said……

I concur that Verizon is the best along the PCT and CDT.  My AT&T phone had poor reception.  I did have pretty good reception on my AT&T phone along the stretch of the AT from Harpers Ferry to Pawling NY this year.  I would assume Verizon was good along that stretch.

Common sense in the field is that if you need to get a signal, be in a high, clear spot and in proximity to population or transmission towers.  I got 4g service in some very odd locations.  Be careful of Roaming.  I got a nasty email stating that I was going to be charged for downloading files while roaming.  I guess that roaming is not covered under my "unlimited" plan.

There were several places that had no cell signal even in some areas that should, such as highway crossing, resorts, etc.  If you can tap into WIFI then having a GOOGLE Talk Account comes in handy to make Voip calls.  I called my wife several times this way.  As mentioned in one posting, pay phones are becoming very rare.  A few times I did make a quick call using a calling card from a friendly store owner, etc.  But, I keep this to a minimum to avoid being a pain and tying up a business line.  Most resorts, hotels, coffee shops, Libraries have free WIFI for customers.

I have been using an iPhone for several years.  I have my phone in a water proof case made by LifeProof.  it works great.  I use my "Phone" mostly as an iPod to listen to music and Podcasts in the boring sections.  Having a smart phone also allows you to check and send texts and emails.  Plus I have all of my GPS points and tracks loaded into an App called Gaia GPS.  This App allows you to view your location using downloaded contour maps showing saved waypoints and tracks.  The battery life is very short while using any navigation App.  So I rarely used it.  But it was a great back up navigation aid.

I had two detours this year on the CDT that required some Internet research and map downloads.  Having a "Portable Computer" in my hands made easy work of the re-routes.  I was able to save PDF files and web pages in a really handy APP called Good Reader.  I also loaded ALL of the Ley maps onto my iPhone as a back up that I could view and zoom using Good Reader.

As they say:  HYOH


CYOG:  Carry Your Own Gear


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