Map, Compass & GPS

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

GPS Waypoints

Managing your waypoints isn't hard to do.  But one simple step gets you on your way!

I really like to keep my navigation simple.

Simplicity now makes life a lot easier when a potentially bad situation occurs or when someone in your party is injured. 

Before leaving home I "dump the junk" or get rid of those old, meaningless waypoints.  At the trail head I'll reset the "trip computer" and the track log (the bread crumb trail.)

On the trail I always verify that a waypoint has been saved.  Verification is a simple step that has saved my bacon more than once.

Waypoint List
When it's time to return to camp or home, there is nothing more unnerving to find that the waypoint you need isn't on your waypoint list.  In the illustration to the right, the waypoint to "home" isn't there.

It is easy to make this mistake.  Perhaps after executing the waypoint function you hit the OK button or you selected another option without saving "home" to file/memory.





My recommendation is to verify by selecting/depressing the "find" button (Garmin) and then selecting "waypoints" to view the waypoint list (figure above.)  If home appears you are ready to go.

Map Page 
Another quick way to verify is to go to the "map page."  First zoom in to about 800 feet or to a zoom setting where you can see waypoint names on the screen.

Verifying a waypoint will save you a lot of angst and worry later.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nine Navigation Steps to Take At the Trail Head

The following are nine quick navigation steps to take to ensure one’s navigation kit is set up to best support a hike.
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image

1.     GPS Batteries – load fresh batteries and carry extra for both the GPS and flashlight.

2.     Calibrate the GPS receiver’s compass after every battery change.

3.     Magnetic Compass adjusted for declination – Visit www.magnetic-declination.com for the most current declination value.  Declination changes over time (how old is that map?) and location.

4.     Dump the junk – How many waypoints are stored in the waypoint manager file.  Dump the old waypoints to the absolute minimum; this helps to keep navigation simple.

5.     Match the GPS receiver’s compass to the magnetic compass and the map.   .  Maps are usually set to degrees true.  Have the GPS and Magnetic compass match the topo map.

6.     Erase old track data – clean up the old the track (bread crumb trail) information.  Get rid of
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image
the clutter.

7.     Remember to stow the maps.  I use maps from www.caltopo.com and will occasionally carry maps from a hiking guides.  Maps are stowed in a zip lock gallon bag or rugged water proof map case.

8.     Mark a waypoint – Give key waypoints a name like “trl hed” or “camp.”  Select waypoint manager to verify that the information has been saved to memory.  If “trl hed” can be viewed on the waypoint manager file or viewed from the map page the hiker is all set.

9.    
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image
Orient the map at the trail head.


Everyone in the hiking group should be on the same page in regard to navigation settings.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Winter Camping and Our Internal Clock

This interesting news article was in a local paper on February 15.

Article by Brett French, The Billings (Montana) Gazette.


"Camping in winter can be miserable. The nights seem painfully long. I toss, turn and check my watch frequently, wondering how it is that only an hour has passed since I last checked the clock.
New research may give winter campers like me some hope that those cold outings may be of benefit in an unusual way.
According to a study published in “Current Biology” by the Sleep and Chronobiology Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, sleeping outside is a good way to reset your restless winter internal clock."
Brett French's complete article



Monday, February 13, 2017

Go or NoGO

You are in the backcountry and in a survival situation.  You need to make a decision.  Do you remain in place or "self rescue" and head out.

My friends Peter Kummerfeldt and Leon Pantenburg have both posted articles on this
Blake Miller/Outdoor Quest Image
subject.  This post captures some of their comments and my additional suggestions.


"GO – NO GO Decisions"


"Does anyone know you are missing? If you left a “trip plan” with friends or family members, and you did not deviate from the plan, a search will begin as soon as the trip plan expires and the authorities are notified.  The plan should include, at a minimum, your destination, departure and return dates and times, the names of those traveling with you, the kinds of clothing and equipment carried and the outdoor experience of the party."

Check out a suggested trip plan.
This plan is a critical first step and it's one taken before leaving for the trail head.  
Blake Miller/Outdoor Quest Image

Critical to this first step is to have the right gear.  A day pack with the "ten essentials"
is a must have.

Make a plan.  While waiting for rescue decide if it is better to remain in place or attempt self rescue.  Don't let your movement compound your situation.

Is anyone in the group injured?  If so don't leave that individual alone.

Get SAR activated early.  Call 911 and energize a rescue beacon (SPOT, InReach) early while there is still light.  It can take hours before SAR may arrive on the scene. 

Gather the material necessary to build a fire.  

Set up an emergency action shelter.  This can be a tarp or a tent.  
Blake Miller/Outdoor Quest Image





Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter Navigation Hazards

Sectionhiker.com has a great post about 9 important winter navigation hazards.

"Winter hiking navigation is different than three season navigation because easy trails can become unsafe from avalanche danger, deep snow, or dangerous weather conditions. When planning winter hiking routes, it’s important to factor these hazards into your route plans and preparation, even if it means taking a longer and safer route."
Sectionhiker

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Healthy Eating and Quitting Smoking Permanently


A healthy diet can have a positive impact on your life in so many ways. It can give you more energy. It can improve your mood significantly. It may even be able to help you quit an unpleasant and persistent smoking habit. If you want to permanently stop smoking, there are numerous healthy food options that may be able to get you on the right track. Eating well can give you a glow that just can't be replicated. It can also help you achieve a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.


Fantastic and Quick Snack Options

People often smoke out of the desire to eat. If you can't resist the temptation to smoke, it may help to reach for a healthy snack instead. Examples of nutritious snacks that can fill you up include unsalted nuts, fresh fruits, a bagel, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal and low-fat yogurt. Strong fruit choices include blueberries, peaches, bananas, apples, grapes and cherries. Frozen fruits can be particularly filling and enjoyable for many. If you make the decision to eat yogurt, go for one that doesn't have much added sugar. Almonds make a fantastic choice for people who want to nosh on unsalted nuts, too.


Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake

Omega-3 fatty acids are often thought to minimize nicotine cravings in people. If you want to do away with your desire to puff away on a cigarette, you should make sure you get adequate omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. These fatty acids aren't only terrific for people who want to stop smoking. They're also excellent for people who want gorgeous hair and complexions. People who want to decrease their nicotine cravings should consume healthy foods that are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids. Examples of these foods are chia seeds, flax, wild salmon, soybeans and canola oil.


Concentrate on Food Texture

Various food textures, interestingly enough, may be able to help you stop smoking. If you want to keep cigarettes out of your life, you should reach for healthy foods that are crunchy and crispy. Carrot sticks are a fantastic example. Other appropriate choices are popcorn, nuts, apple slices and celery stalks.

Useful Smoking Alternatives

Healthy foods can be extremely helpful to people who want to quit smoking. There are other options available to people who want to abandon their smoking habits, too, however. E cig juice is one option that's becoming increasingly popular. If you're interested in a smoking alternative, vaping may be something to consider. Vape juices definitely aren't food. They sometimes come in food flavors, though. If you want to stop smoking, you can look for juices in enticing flavors such as strawberry, pineapple, lemon, mango, banana, apple, watermelon, peach, blueberry and grape. These flavors are influenced by some of the healthiest fruits around.


Foods and Beverages to Avoid

If you're committed to your goal of quitting smoking, you may want to stay away from caffeinated drinks, alcohol and meat for a while. These beverages and foods sometimes improve the flavor of tobacco. That can be a bad thing for people who are trying to stop smoking. Replace these beverages and foods with high vegetable and fruit intake. Vegetables and fruits have the ability to make tobacco taste significantly less appealing. That can be a serious advantage for people who want to keep their smoking habits at bay.


Keep Your Promise

A healthy diet can indeed be helpful to people who want to stop smoking. Vaping can be helpful, too. Those things mean nothing without pure determination, however. If you truly want to make smoking a thing of the distant and dark past, you have to be fully committed to your goal. You have to let nothing get in your way. Smoking doesn't have to control you. The only thing that can control you is your own mind. You're powerful enough to combat a lasting smoking habit.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Benchmarks On a Map

                                              
When looking at a US Geologic Survey (USGS) map the hiker will find benchmark symbols sprinkled across the topo.  Benchmark and the many other symbols provide the details of a map.  Symbols represent features such as mines, bridges, dams and many more items.  To see a complete look at symbols visit the USGS site for more information.


Figure 1 Symbol examples from the USGS Topo Map Symbols web page.


Figure 2  Benchmarks on a topographic map.

A benchmark is control point on the map.  Control points are positions of accurate measurement in terms of elevation and position (latitude and longitude.)  Benchmarks are also known informally as “survey markers.”  Originally, these markers were used in land surveying and by civil engineers for construction purposes.  Benchmarks help to accurately determine location.

From www.mytopo.com’s frequently asked questions: 

“A benchmark, abbreviated "BM," is a location whose elevation and horizontal position has been surveyed as accurately as possible. Benchmarks are designed for use as reference points, and are usually marked by small brass plates.”

Occasionally the hiker will find a benchmark plate in the backcountry.  The image below is an example of the brass plate.  These plates should not be tampered with and are not souvenirs to be taken home.


Figure 3  Brass benchmark found in the backcountry.

Note the elevation data found in the center of the plate.  Importantly, the elevation information is measured in feet above sea level and not in relation to the adjacent topography.  Wikipedia.com reports that over 740,000 benchmarks are dispersed around the United States.

Though elevation data is provided on the map, coordinate information (e.g., latitude and longitude, UTM) is not.  It’s is up to the hiker to interpolate and determine the information through the use of a map tool.

Remember that the coordinate data provided on a topographic map is in degrees, minutes and seconds (GPS menu settings format: dd mm ss.s) while a new GPS is set at the factory to degrees minutes.minutes (GPS menu settings format: dd mm.m.)

Finding a benchmark can confirm your position on the map. 


To improve you GPS skill level try “Benchmarking,” an activity similar to geocaching.  The objective is to find the brass plates in the field.  For more information visit Geocach.