Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Yellowstone Volcano

From  Time

Atricle by 
2 September.

An eruption could blanket the east coast in a few millimeters and bury the Rocky mountains in several meters of ash. 

If Yellowstone erupted into a massive, ash-spewing volcano, how far might the plume travel across the continental United States? From coast to coast, blanketing every city in ash, according to an unsettling new study.
Geophysicists developed a computer model of a Yellowstone “super eruption” that would spew 330 cubic kilometers of volcanic ash into the sky. The resulting ash cloud, depending on wind conditions, would blanket the continental United States in ash deposits of varying thickness, according to the study, published late August in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
New York and Washington D.C., would get a light dusting of ash measuring roughly one-tenth of an inch, while San Francisco and Seattle would get a heaping 2 inches. Billings, Montana, meanwhile, would have to dig out from a 70-inch pile up.
If the findings sound far-flung, so to speak, researchers point out that Yellowstone’s last massive eruption spewed ash over tens of thousands of square kilometers. Deposits from that eruption have been traced as far afield as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the last time Yellowstone erupted on that scale was some 2 million years ago and counting.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Calibrating The GPS Electronic Compass

Calibrating your GPS receiver's electronic compass is a must.
Recently I held a GPS navigation seminar at a Sportsman’s show in Oregon.
At one point during the seminar one man described the inaccuracy of his GPS and asked what he could do about it.  He was frustrated that on several occasions while returning to camp the GPS compass arrow (while in the “Find,” “Where to” mode) was providing unreliable information.  He’d arrive in camp and the receiver would direct him in a new direction and distance.
As he related his story, I noticed that several other attendees nodded in agreement that they too had the same problem.  I asked the fellow if he had ever calibrated the electronic compass.  “Yes, when I first got the GPS,” was his reply.
When I explained that the electronic compass should be calibrated after EVERY battery change, the group’s response was one of surprise.
To read the rest of the post go here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Solar Flare

New flare headed our way.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An extreme solar flare is blasting its way to Earth and could mess up some power grids, satellites and radio transmissions, scientists say.
It's been several years since Earth has had a solar storm of this size coming from sunspots smack in the middle of the sun, said Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.
Solar storms happen often, especially during peaks in the solar cycle, and don't directly harm people. But what makes this one more worrisome is its location on the sun along with its strength, he said.
"There's been a giant magnetic explosion on the sun," Berger said. "Because it's pointed right at us, we'll at least catch some of the cloud" of highly energized and magnetized plasma that can disrupt Earth's magnetic sphere, which sometimes leads to temporary power grid problems.
To read the rest of the post go here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Mini Survival Kit

Here are several mini kit options and recommendations.

Mini, pocket sized survival kits are in every outdoors store. But, really, what good are they?
by Leon Pantenburg

Several years ago, the editor at the newspaper I worked at tasked me to write a practical winter survival guide for Central Oregon. It was an investigative reporting assignment, and I interviewed local experts from the Deschutes

This survival kit weighs about as much as your IPod. Carry it in a waterproof container for added security.
This Altoids tin survival kit weighs about as much as your IPod. Carry it in a waterproof container for added security. Don’t waste space!

County Search and Rescue team , as well as local survival equipment tester, the late Jim Grenfell, and internationally-known survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt.

The end result of months of research and testing was a system that included a personal, pocket-sized kit as well as a complete backpack setup for hardcore winter survival. (No survival kit system is perfect, and no kit will work for everyone. View any system as a baseline for developing a kit that will work for you.)

To read the rest of Leon's post go here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marking a GPS Waypoint

Trust but verify that the GPS waypoints that you have marked are saved.

There is nothing magic here.  Then again, there is nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you are in the backcountry, it's time to return the trailhead, you select "trailhead" and that waypoint isn't listed in the waypoint library.

So here are a few suggestions about marking a waypoint.

  1. While driving to the trail head, place the GPS receiver on the dash and let it begin receiving satellites.
  2. After parking, place the receiver on the hood or in a spot where it will have a good sky view.
  3. Take a look at the satellite information page.  (On some models you may have to go to your "main menu" page to find this display.)  Ideally you will find that the receiver is tracking more that 4 satellites.  There should also be an indication that you have a "3D" position fix; "2D" is not acceptable.
  4. Mark your waypoint as usual.  Perhaps you will give it a name; trailhead.
  5. Now verify that the waypoint has been saved.  This is key.  I find that there are two easy ways to do this.
    • Select the "Find" or "GoTo" button or option.  The waypoint number or name (that you typed in) should be found in your library of saved waypoints.

    • OR, using the page button, go to the map page and you should see the waypoint name visible.  If your receiver zoom setting (as in zoom in or zoom out) is at 20 miles, you may not see the waypoint name.  I keep my zoom setting at 800 feet while hiking and this allows me to clearly see the waypoint name or number (see below, Elk1 is the saved waypoint.)

Another option is to look at your waypoint list.  Select "find," then "waypoints" to take you to the list.  Notice that Elk1 is there too.

If the waypoint isn't there or listed I'll use my track log to help me get back. 

When I am on a hike I will keep my GPS in a case that clips to the shoulder straps of my pack and I leave it on all day.  Batteries are cheap.  At the end of the day I could follow my track history back to the trailhead.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pre-Trail Maintenance For Your GPS Receiver

The following post I wrote was just presented at  

  Photo by Davynin
Summer is a great time to head for the trail and practice with a GPS receiver. There are several things hikers can do before leaving home. First, make a short checklist so that nothing is forgotten. Begin by checking the electronic setup of the GPS receiver:
  • Take a look at the batteries
  • The coordinate system setup
  • Electronic mapping
  • Review the waypoint management.
Then, tune-up the receiver to maximize position accuracy by looking at how displays and waypoints are managed. Here are a few recommendations to consider.

To read the rest of the post go here.

To read another post about GPS navigation (Marking a Waypoint) go here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Families in the Backcountry

Travel safely in the  backcountry with your family.  Start them early and start them with the right skills.

I wrote the following article a year ago for a local family news magazine in Bend, Oregon.

      My wife and I began our outdoor journeys over thirty years ago while in college.  So, it was natural that my children began their trips in the field at a very early age.  Our family continues to backpack and camp all around Oregon.  Though our children are now in college, we still find our trips memorable; it’s still “cool” to spend time together. 

      Central Oregonians are fortunate to be close to some of the finest forests and trails in the nation.  Our woodlands offer spectacular recreation opportunities and vistas, all at amazingly affordable rates.  Children find the outdoors a place to learn, explore, and let their imagination run wild.
For the complete post go here.