Map, Compass & GPS

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Solar Storm That Almost Hit Earth

The following post is an article from the Washington Post.  A coronal mass ejection would have serious and significant impact on society.

How a solar storm two years ago nearly caused a catastrophe on Earth

Solar flare preceding CMEs on July 22, 2012 (NASA)
CME captured by NASA July 23, 2012 (NASA)

On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA.

To read the rest of the post go here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rain Suit or Poncho

Interesting discussion from my friend Leon's blog. 

by Leon Pantenburg

Rain follows me. Over Christmas break, 1977,  John Nerness and I went backpacking in Death Valley, CA. Packing rain gear seemed like a waste of time – after all, the average annual rainfall is 2.36 inches.

Bob Patterson at waterfall on Blue Earth River, Minnesota.
Bob Patterson kayaking at a waterfall on the Blue Earth River, Minnesota. (Bob Patterson Photos)

But two days before Christmas, we ended up at the bar at Furnace Creek, waiting out a rain storm that washed out the road.

On my John Muir Trail through hike, it rained nine consecutive nights, with intermittent showers during the day. In Louisiana, during my 1980 Mississippi River canoe voyage, the rain lasted more than 40 hours at one stretch.

The moral of the story is you never truly know what the weather might hold and it’s always best to prepare for anything. And you better prepare for the worst!

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Compass Tune-up

Recently I watched on one of the many outdoor cable shows.  The guest is a noted ballistics expert, writer and occasional backcountry guide.  During a segment of the interview he was demonstrating what was in his day pack.  It kept my interest, had the ten essentials, and all was going just fine until he brought out his compass.  It looked like a wonderful antique, might have come across the Great Plains and Rockies with Lewis and Clark –but in terms of reliability-it was questionable. The sad part is he spent absolutely no time discussing the key factors of having a reliable compass.  He touched his compass and quickly put it down. 
And touching a compass is about all that most people do too.  Hunters preparing to go afield will spend hours with their rifle at the range evaluating their zero, adjusting optics, and measuring the initial velocity of that hot new round.  Navigation takes time to get dialed in too.
Navigation is not “rocket science” but it takes practice.  It is a perishable skill.  The analogy that I use in my wilderness navigation classes is that you can hop on a bike after not riding one for ten years and head on down the road.  But trying to triangulate after ten months can be a chore.
For starters, you need a decent compass.  Leave the $5.00 compass on the shelf at the store.  For more information on buying a compass check out my article on selecting a compass.
Here are a few recommendations for a compass tune up:
·     Store your compass in a safe spot.  Keep the compass off the dash of the rig, away from flashlights and the GPS.  Let’s not take a chance that an electrically induced magnetic field will degrade your compass.
·     Compare your compass with another to verify that the red needle is pointing to magnetic north.   Take it a step further and find a road in town that is aligned north/south.   Most likely it will be aligned in degrees true; as in true north.  Again, verify that the compass is pointing correctly.  Do this for every compass you own.
·     Is the compass leaking?  Is there an air bubble floating in the compass housing?  I “deep six” (toss) those units.
·     Brush up on your compass navigation skills.   June Fleming’s book “Staying Found” is a excellent read.   Visit  Practice shooting a bearing, triangulating your position and orienting your map and compass to your surroundings.
·     Review the components of a Topographic map.  Start with the USGS’ site here.
·     Insure you have the compass adjusted to the correct declination.
·     Practice with your children.  Give them a good education with a map and compass before you give them a GPS.
·     Don’t depend on your friends being the navigation experts.  Make it a goal to exceed their skills.  You might find that your initial impression was mistaken. Instead of a “sense of direction” develop the skill of navigation.
Practice with a compass is essential to safe wilderness travel.  To quote Fleming, “The key to knowing where you are is constant awareness.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lost in the High Sierras

Another lost hiker.  From the Merced Sun-Star

by Carmen George

Hiking from the summit of a remote peak in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks last Saturday, something went very wrong for Gregory Hein of Clovis.

Climbing down the rocky mountainside of Mount Goddard — which soars to a height of about 13,500 feet — rocks loosened beneath the 33-year-old's feet.

As he tumbled down, a large boulder plowed into his leg — breaking it in a serious compound fracture — and he fell from a ledge.

Then things got even worse.

Read more here:

Tough guy, no doubt about that.  From a SAR perspective I do appreciate the last few paragraphs of the  post:

Charlton said he was "incredibly surprised" to hear Hein was missing and applauded him for good wilderness sense in a difficult situation: Finding water and shelter, and staying "put" — waiting for a response.

Still, McCormick of the Fresno County sheriff's search and rescue unit said Hein could have done a few things differently.

When going on a long backpack, consider carrying a satellite-linked device that sends messages about your location, which rescuers can access, he said. Before entering the backcountry, always apply for a wilderness permit so there is documentation of your proposed route, and never hike alone, McCormick said.

Read more here:

To read the complete post go here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The 10 Essentials - What You Don't Need to Carry

I came across this post from the Appalachian Mountain Club's web site.  The writer discusses why you really don't need to carry a compass.

The post starts out by stating:

The Least Useful Item in the Ten Essentials?
I recently wrote about the Ten Essentials,
which includes quite a few extremely, ahem, essential items. But which is the least useful? From my perspective, it's the one I've carried for more than 20 years and barely ever used: a compass.
Why do you need a compass?
A compass allows you to very quickly orient yourself if you become turned around in dense off-trail woods; during low-visibility, fogged-in conditions; or for other reasons.
To read the rest of the post go here
Well let's think about this. 
A compass weighs next to nothing.  It takes up little space.  It's vital when you need it.  Sure you can use terrain association and good map skills to fix you position when on the trail. 
Take a look at some of the comments that follow the post.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

REI Web Page

Here is a web page that every one should keep an eye on.

It's REI's list of coupons and promotions.

Go here to check this one out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Compass Accuracy

Check out my latest post on about compass accuracy

The quality of a compass wil make a difference in its accuracy
The quality of a compass will make a difference in its accuracy
Navigation is a practiced skill, and when not practiced on a regular basis it becomes easily forgotten. Sighting and triangulating with a magnetic compass is a skill that the responsible outdoorsman should never allow to lapse.
The accuracy of a magnetic compass and the information presented depends on land characteristics, the quality of the compass and the ability and knowledge of the hiker.
The hiker will experience natural factors and conditions in the backcountry that impact accuracy. Some of these factors the hiker will have no control over but may be able to mitigate. One of the most important factors is declination. Declination is the angular difference between true north and magnetic north.
To read the post go here.