Map, Compass & GPS

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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Trail Shoes

Section Hiker has a very nice review of Trail Shoes for the backcountry hiker.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Buying a New Compass

This is an older post but is a good reminder what to expect when shopping for a new compass.
Silva Ranger  - Outdoor Quest Image
There are several things to keep in mind when buying a compass.

My preferred compass is a declination adjustable sighting compass (with mirror) like the trail proven “Silva Ranger.” (Silva, Brunton and Suunto all make good compasses.) The key is that this type of compass can be adjusted for magnetic declination and that keeps your wilderness navigation simple. You can expect to pay roughly $35.00 - $60.00; a cheap compass will not serve the hiker well.

My experience is that most sales clerks are compass illiterate and have little navigation experience.  While looking at a compass ask the clerk to remove it from the plastic container/packaging.  Check the compass to ensure:
  1. The dial moves freely and does not stick.  
  2. There are no bubbles internal to the liquid filled compass housing.
  3.  Information engraved on the base plate must be legible.  If there is a magnifying glass verify that it is clear and not scratched. 
  4. The tick marks on the dial are in two degree increments.  The tick marks should be readable.
  5. The base plate, rotating dial assembly, and mirror are not chipped or broken.  
  6. The sighting assembly hinge allows freedom of movement without excess side to side movement at the hinge .
 Packaging should clearly state that the compass is declination adjustable.  Many adjustable compasses may have a small metal tool that allows for setting the declination.  If the packaging states that the compass has declination marking but does not use the word adjustable move to another model.

After purchase visit the website www.magnetic-declination.com to determine the declination of the area the hiker will be traveling through.


Remember that the red magnetic needle will always point to magnetic north.  With a declination adjustable compass the rotating dial has been adjusted so that the information provided by the compass is now in degrees true.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Avalanche

Avalanche is of real concern for those who travel in the back country  during the winter.

A good resource  is the Pacific Northwest Avalanche Center.

Here is a link to their Web page:  Avalanche


Rattle Snake Bites

Take a look at the OUTDOOR magazine article by Kyle Dickman about snake bites.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2315436/surviving-rattlesnake-biteSnake Bite



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Backstops for The Hiker and Hunter

A backstop keeps the hiker safe.  By using a natural and man made land features, a backstop keep the hiker in the right area.  Backstops are found by a careful study of a topographic map.

One feature every outdoorsman should pay attention to is called a “backstop.”   A  backstop is a boundary or a natural barrier that keeps one in their specified hiking area.  If a hiker goes beyond the backstop, then they will know they have gone too far.

When looking over a map of a hiking area, it is essential to understand the impact of terrain and land features.  Doing so will allow one to build an association of topography with a general lay of the land.  Key on natural and man-made features that includes roads, streams, buttes and buildings.  Take the time to really examine the map’s topography by studying the brown contour lines. This attention to detail will give the hiker a “feel” for elevation changes, shape and important land marks.  More importantly, it will allow the hiker to develop a mental map of the hiking area.  This concept lends itself to map training for those not backcountry experienced, and it is an excellent  teaching tool for children.



For example, in the image above ForestRd 32 serves as a backstop.  The hiker should remain west of ForestRd 32 because traveling east of 32 is hazardous due to the Swamp. Additionally, note that key terrain features associated with the trail include the river, mountains, a road and the swamp.

The example above is very simplistic but demonstrates the importance of having that “mental map”, especially if visibility becomes an issue.


The image above offers another example.

The map above is an area of steep terrain to the west, a lake to the east and trails surrounding most land features.  If the hiker planned to bushwack west of the campground (just below the larger lake) and hike in fairly flat terrain with gentle elevation changes, then the steep terrain to the west (Tam McArthur Rim) would be an excellent backstop. This is because it provides confirmation of the hiker’s general location. Care should be taken when using  trails that border Little Three Creek lake-note that the trail doesn’t continue west.  In such a situation, it is possible for the hiker to walk beyond the lake.

Backstops are another navigation tool that can keep the hiker in a safe location, and should be utilized as a visual resource.




Monday, November 12, 2018

Backcountry Travel Plan




After the loss of James Kim in the Oregon back country in 2006 I wrote a hiker's trip plan and posted it on my blog.  I had input from several valued sources.  I wanted something better for the wilderness traveler.  A plan more than a note to a neighbor.  My intent was to provide the search responders something valuable to go by.

In far too many SAR missions, the reporting party has little information for the searchers to go on to begin their search.

My plan can be found here.  It is a basic .pdf form.

Suggestions are certainly welcome.


911 Call center
Still, that responsible person plays a huge role in contacting authorities to begin a search.  My recommendation would be to pick a person that will make the 911 phone call without hesitation.

Travel safely.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Essentials For Your Day Pack


Always Carry The Right Gear

On a warm afternoon in July, a family leaves a trail head with the goal of summiting the South Sister Mountain in Central Oregon.  It was a rough hike as they took a path not frequently traveled.  By evening it became obvious that this group would not make it to the summit and the glacier they were attempting to cross was icing up; it just wasn’t safe to press on.  911 was called and a local SAR team reached them after midnight.  The temperature on the glacier dropped below 40° (F) and the hikers were getting cold.

When the SAR team reached them, they found that the group had some food and water but no other gear.  The hikers’ clothing selection was questionable too.

So what is the right stuff to carry in the outdoors?  What is the minimum?  What should you consider before hitting the trail?

A climbing group in the 1930s, The Mountaineers from Seattle authored the “Ten Essentials” describing ten items that should be carried in the back country. 

“The Ten Essentials” has been modified by different groups over the years.  The following is the list that REI recommends:

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter
    1. A space blanket is fine to carry but it is a poor shelter.

This is the minimum that one should carry; it is a starting point.  The key is to always carry your kit with you.  I have a day hiking kit that fits into a fanny pack.  It is only limited by its poor ability to carry extra clothing.