Map, Compass & GPS

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bear Country

Washington and Oregon have large populations of black bear.  It is a population that is growing and growing. 

In Colorado warm temps are rousing black bears early

By R. Scott Rappold
Nature’s alarm clock is ringing early for black bears, and some aren’t hitting the snooze button. Recent warm weather in Colorado — temperatures as high as 75 degrees — is stirring some bears from their dens a few weeks early, and officials are reminding residents in bear-prone areas to start being careful with their trash.
“‘Early’ is kind of subjective when you’re talking about nature,” says Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Most bears come out of hibernation from late April to early May, but individual bears can come out sooner, he says.

There have been spotty reports of roaming bears in the mountains. In Colorado Springs, residents have reported a mother and two cubs wandering in the northeast part of the city, Hampton says.

“Certainly, warmer temperatures probably are contributing to this,” he says. “Is it early for a couple of bear calls? No. Is it early for lots of bear activity? Yes.”

The warm temperatures trigger the bears’ instinct to awaken, and since many bears hibernate in snow-covered dens, the melting of the snow brings sunlight in. Hampton says there is not a concern about these bears starving from lack of vegetation or berries, because newly emerged bears will consume mostly water and grasses for now.

“You don’t just wake up and start scarfing down food. Bears slowly, over a period of several weeks, will begin to warm up their system,” he says.

Unless, that is, they find your trash or pet food.

So the DOW has been reminding residents to use bear-proof trash containers and take them to the curb in the morning, not the night before.

Read the rest of this post here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Potential Mega Quake In The Pacific Northwest

Japan's recent 9.0 quake has drawn a lot of attention  to the Cascadia fault zone that lies off the Oregon and Washington coast.  Lot's of concern here.  For example, Red Cross staff anticipates Central Oregon receiving approximately 100,000 refugees from the Western part of the state.

Posted on April 25th, 2011 by Leon in Leon's Blog

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan, local governments in Central Oregon are starting to take a hard look at their community preparedness plans.
Here is a story that was published recently in the  April 25, 2011 Bend Bulletin: by Leon Pantenburg LA PINE (OR) — The potential for a massive earthquake occurring off the Oregon coast and directly affecting the tricounty area (Central Oregon) is real, say experts, which is why La Pine City Councilor Stu Martinez got a new job not long ago. At a recent council meeting, Martinez’s colleagues asked him to “get the ball rolling” to prepare for a large-scale disaster. To that end, he will review disaster preparedness plans for La Pine and the surrounding south Deschutes County area. To read the rest of Leon's story go here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Illness and Injury in the Wilderness

Posted on April 25th, 2011 by Leon in Leon's Blog

The question is “What am I preparing for?”  There are five broad categories that capture most situations where a person may have to “survive” until rescued or until the weather conditions improve and the individual can rescue themselves.

The categories are: Becoming lost, being caught out after dark, becoming stranded, becoming ill or injured and unable to proceed and bad weather that makes continuing on dangerous. This article will look at the fourth of these situations, “injury and illness.”

by Peter Kummerfeldt

As I have analyzed stories of survivors and the survival situations they found themselves in I have come to the conclusion that there are two underlying causes for the difficulties the survivors experienced.

First: There appears to be a lack of understanding of the physiological threats to the human body and the body’s reaction to the threats.

Second: Survivors, lacking specific survival training, appropriate clothing and survival equipment are left to cope with the situation as best they can relying on their will-to-survive, their ability to improvise and luck!  Not a good situation.

This article will look at some of the physiological threats to the body and suggest ways to minimize the impact of the threats.

Disabling illnesses include hypothermia, dehydration, illnesses associated with going too high altitude too quickly and any other illnesses that limit a person’s ability to survive.  These same illnesses can result in a person becoming incapacitated to the point where they can’t help themselves and only outside intervention will prevent a tragedy from occurring.

To read the rest of Peter's article go here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

GPS Electronic Compass

A tip to keep your GPS performing to the design specs.

If you have a new GPS check the owners manual to see if you have an electronic compass.

Some models have a compass page but don't have a true electronic compass.  Models such as the Etrek (basic), Venture, Magellan Sportrack have a compass page but the direction information presented is based on movement and satellite data received.

Models such at the DeLorme PN60, Garmin 60CS/CSx, Vista, Garmin62 have electronic compasses.

Compass Page
If the compass data presented when you are returning to a destination looks questionable you might need to calibrate the compass.  For example, if you can see the destination (e.g., a red tent) and the compass is 20 degrees "off." I would then check the calibration.

If I have changed the batteries in my GPS compass calibration is required.

Here is how it's done with a Garmin GPS receiver.

Press the page button to get to the compass page.

Then press the menu button one time.

The page menu will give you several options and in this case select calibrate compass.

You will then receive an on screen prompt to calibrate the compass.  Now you just follow the directions.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Purchasing Your GPS

What should you consider when you buy a GPS receiver?

By Blake Miller
I was in a sporting goods store in and watched a clerk recommend a very expensive and complex Global Positioning System (GPS) to an elderly gentleman.  The customer simply wanted a GPS that would “get him back to his camp in Oregon’s Ochocos National Forest during elk season.  The clerk kept pushing the latest, high tech, touch screen and very expensive GPS receiver. 

The customer would have been satisfied with a basic starter model, and it would have served him very well.  Instead, he left the store very frustrated, without buying anything.

Buying your GPS receiver is a lot like shopping for your first car. You want reliability and simplicity in providing transportation from Point A to Point B.  There are many outdoor opportunities that may impact what kind of GPS model suits your specific needs.  As a hunter you need to shop intelligently.  Here is what you need to know:

Start with a quick education on common GPS terms, and why they’re important.
  • Waypoints – These are your navigation coordinates that you have saved to memory within the GPS.  Most receivers will hold 500.  That said, you only need to keep a few on your GPS all the time.  Use the free program at to store the rest.
  • Find/Go To – This is the navigation function of the receiver.  It is this function that will “steer” you to your destination.
  • Coordinates: This refers to a geographic grid system and pinpoints your position in the world.  The most common is Latitude and Longitude though many outdoors men quickly shift to Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) because of its simplicity.
  • Compass – An electronic counter-part to your magnetic compass. The GPS compass is dependent on batteries, like the rest of the system, so don't leave your magnetic compass at home.
Every GPS has these basic features.  Anything additional are bells and whistles. It will be up to you to determine which ones are functionally important.  For example, I am both a hunter and backpacker.  I like a GPS with a Barometric altimeter because I use that function to monitor atmospheric pressure at high elevations.  I know through personal experiences that when the pressure drops the weather is changing - I may be looking for shelter.

To read the complete post go here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departmant SAR

A SAR team member sent me this article from the LAS Vegas SAR organization.  It's a good read.

A Typical Rescue Scenario

Friday, April 15, 2011
Earlier this week, Mountain Rescue Officers and Volunteers rescued two stranded hikers from a cliff-face in Red Rock.  It was a gorgeous day, they weren't hiking a challenging trail, and they only planned on hiking for a couple of hours.  As they left their car, both hikers were wearing shorts and a t-shirt, tennis shoes, they grabbed a harness, and had about 4 liters of water between the two of them.  As the pair hiked into one of the canyons and scurried up a cliff face, they found themselves in a precarious position.  They could no longer climb up, they were nervous about climbing back down, and they were running out of day light very quickly.

This is the type of situation that our Unit sees far too often.  Hikers leave their cars with only the best-case scenario in mind.  It's a beautiful day, so what on earth could go wrong?

In the case of these two hikers, they did a couple of things right:
  1. Before leaving for their hike, they told friends and family where they were going.  They had a plan, they stuck to it, and someone else knew about it.  This is good.
  2. When the pair found themselves in a precarious position, they didn't attempt to do something that would harm them.   They knew that down-climbing could potentially hurt them, so instead of trying anyway, they found a giant ledge and stayed put.
To read the complete article go here.

Monday, April 18, 2011


A simple long lasting food for either survival or camping.

As a young hiker I would occasionally purchase pilot biscuits for my backpacking trips.  I found that you can still buy them but the price seemed a bit high.

So, I did some research and came up with a few recipes.

Saying that hardtack is bland is an understatement.

Still, they store well, are light weight and when eaten with  spaghetti for example, they aren't bad and are filling. 

My friend Leon has some info on hardtack that is worth checking out.

by Leon Pantenburg
Looking for a way to use up surplus flour, or make a cheap trail food or durable survival ration? One answer may be hardtack, a baked, unleavened wheat cracker. As a survival food, hardtack has a proven track record.
A sit-down dinner was usually a luxury!
Vicksburg, MS: My gray-clad brothers-in-arms and I  hunkered down to eat. In the morning, we would do battle with those “heathen Yankee horde” Civil War re-enactors at Champions Hill, between Jackson and Vicksburg,  Mississippi.
I was “under cover” on assignment for the Vicksburg Post to photograph the battle, one of the biggest re-enactments of the year. Except for the Nikon safely hidden  in my haversack, my gear, weapons and accouterments were authentic in every way.
Since I was working for the Post, I had to represent the home team and be a Confederate. (This probably caused a minor earth tremor in Ruthven, Iowa, as my great-great-grandfather, James Hallowell,  92th Illinois Infantry, rolled in his grave!)

To read Leon's complete post go here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Knife Review

Survival Knife Review: Cold Steel Master Hunter

by Leon in Survival knives

After the two-day Mississippi deer hunt, my friend Buddy Douglas was displaying the tenacity some would call “Pig-Headedness.” Despite my repeated efforts, Buddy would not accept a cent for food or drink, nor would he let me pay my guest fee at his hunting club.

Southern hospitality, you must understand, is a very real tradition to many Mississippians, especially as it relates to whitetail deer hunting. We were raising our voices.
“The deal was NEVER that you would pay for everything, even if this is your hunting club,” I reiterated. “Damn it, Buddy, you’re about to piss me off!”
“You’re my guest,” he stated again. Buddy was starting to get a little red around the collar. ”And you’re not the only one fixin’ to get pissed off!”
I dropped the subject. Later, I sent Buddy a Cold Steel Master Hunter. While a southern gentleman might not accept payment for taking a friend  hunting, neither would he insult that friend by refusing a gift. Buddy loves the knife!
To read Leon's complete post go here!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shouldn't Be Alive

Carrying the right gear and being prepared is essential to backcountry survival.

I just found this article in the Boulder Weekly  newspaper about backcountry survival.  The article offers several cases studies of hikers becoming trapped by weather and stranded.  Not all had the right equipment, food and shelter with them.

As Americans, we love stories about surviving against the odds and the elements.

By R. Scott Rappold

Flip through the channels of cable television on any given night, and you’ll probably find a survival-themed reality TV show. I Shouldn’t Be Alive features dramatizations of people who survived injuries or other mishaps in the wilderness. Survivorman follows the travels of a lone outdoorsman living off the land. In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls conducts a frontal assault on nature, eating insects and climbing down waterfalls with a camera crew in tow.
The trend is even at the movies. The film 127 Hours, about self-amputating Colorado climber Aron Ralston, was nominated for several Academy Awards.

To read the complete post go here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reverse 911

Emergency communications to you from your 911 Call Center.

While at the county SAR headquarters the other day I had a chance to visit with the Emergency Management coordinator about Reverse 911.

Reverse 911 is a relatively new concept to me.

The principal software developer of this system states on their web site that "....REVERSE 911® emergency notification system facilitates fast and effective communication within the public sector. This nationally acclaimed software application seamlessly combines mapping and database technologies, enabling law enforcement, fire/EMS, emergency management and military operations to visually identify, then automatically alert, people inside certain geographic locations. It also provides simple, yet highly efficient, notification of personnel, volunteers and others, quickly mobilizing them for emergency response." 

To read more hit google or visit their site here.

In Oregon, Reverse 911 plays a huge role in emergency management preparation, especially during Tsunami alerts.

What Don our Emergency Management Coordinator told me was quite interesting; specific to my county:

  1. It is designed for use with a traditional land line. 
  2. Not designed to interface with cell phones.
  3. It can be targeted geographically to a certain locale like a neighborhood or small community.
  4. Should you loose electrical power it won't work with a home's portable telephone system.  A traditional plug-in phone will work because of the small voltage that comes in through the phone system.
  5. I am researching the issue of having phone service provided by a cable Internet provider.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are You Afraid of the Dark

Past articles have defined the word survival and have discussed the importance of being prepared.   Now, let’s  look at some of the situations where  knowledge of  how to survive, combined with a basic survival kit and good clothing brings a positive ending to this experience. Or, the lack of knowledge, equipment and clothing could result in tragedy! (For more info, see “Preparing to Survive” at the bottom of this page.)

by Peter Kummerfeldt

As I see it, there are five broad categories that capture most situations where a person may have to “survive” until rescued or until the weather conditions improve and the individual can rescue themselves. To read the complete post go here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gas Stoves in Cold Weather

Stove operation in cold weather. 

Hikin_Jim has another excellent post about stoves in the backcountry.  This post is about cold weather operation.  He as some great suggestions.

"Here’s a common question:  “It’s cold; will my gas stove work OK?”  Well, it depends.  The most common gas stove out there is the “upright” canister stove.  This is the type of gas stove that screws directly into the top of a standard threaded gas canister.  Common examples of upright canister stoves would include the MSR Pocket Rocket, the Optimus Crux, and the Jetboil PCS."
Jim's MSR Pocket Rocket sitting in a pan of warm water on closed cell foam

To read his complete post go here.

He must have a ton of stoves.  His posts are very informative. To visit Hikin_Jim's blog go here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


What to do about Hypothermia!!

This is a great post found in the "Seattle Backpacker;" an online magazine.  I'd recommend you put Seattle Backpacker in your list of favorite sites.

As we enter the spring in the Northwest, getting out in the longer light and warming temps is a natural draw. We still have several months of precipitation ahead though, and wetness and wind combine to cause heat loss which makes hypothermia a common concern for outdoors people this time of year.

Hypothermia can be a fairly common condition for back country travelers. Mild hypothermia is a discomfort, but is dangerous because it can progress rapidly. Left untreated it can lead to shock, becoming fatal. It’s important to know how to prevent hypothermia, how to identify when someone is hypothermic, and how to treat them.

As a mountain guide, I focused most of my efforts attacking hypothermia in the preventative stage. Like dehydration, it’s much easier to not allow hypothermia to happen, or to catch it early. If someone in your group has serious hypothermia, it’s a true “stop and fix” situation.

To read the complete article go here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Building Your Survival Kit

What should you put in your day pack?

In past posts I've talked about the ten essentials and have casually referenced a book by  John D. McCann.

This book is a fine read for the novice and expert.

McCann's book gives an impressive review of equipment and gear that you might consider carrying in the backcountry.

Better yet, in Part 3 he brakes down the components of a day pack in terms of function and size.

Weather you are a day hiker, hunter, or deep woods trekker you will find an itemized list that will match your needs.

For more info, go here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

SPOT Recall notice

Spot Recalls SPOT Satellite Communicator

SPOT Satellite Communicator and Delorme PN-60wSpot LLC has issued a product recall on the SPOT Satellite Communicator which is bundled and sold exclusively with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w. This comes just over a year after Spot had to recall its then recently introduced second generation SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, or what is now known as SPOT 2. And, as was the case then, it appears the contract manufacturer in China installed a part that was not up to spec.
According to Spot, “in certain incidents, intended messages may not be transmitted, including requests for help or emergency assistance, when the SPOT Satellite Communicator is used at temperatures below 40 degrees Farhrenheit/4.44 degrees Celsius.”
It is important to note that this recall DOES NOT impact the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w handheld device itself or any other DeLorme product. Spot also says that this out of spec part does not impact any other products in Spot’s line-up.
Click here for details on the recall and how to get your SPOT Satellite Communicator replaced if you have one.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Air Force General Worried about LightSquared Effect on GPS

Commercial Internet service may interfere with GPS operability!

The following article is from "GPS World Magazine:"

Lt Gen Michael Basla, Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command, gave public voice to U.S. Air Force concerns that the commercial broadband Internet system proposed by LightSquared could disable current GPS receivers across the country — many of them used by the military and public security forces.
"Can you imagine if we have to change a half billion receivers?" Basla asked at a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, two days after his promotion to lieutenant general, the second highest rank attainable in the U.S. military, was announced.

Basla compared the relatively weak GPS signals from space to a 15-watt lightbulb seen from a distance of 3,000 miles. The LightSquared transmissions would be far, far louder than the GPS signals. Basla said if the interference is widespread it would cause "significant consequences to our nation."

The U.S. government has of course spent billions to date on the satellite system, and the Pentagon is in the midst of a $5.8 billion modernization plan involving the new IIF and III blocks of satellites, and the OCX ground control system.

LightSquared meanwhile has spent $1 billion on its satellite system and has plans to spend another $14 billion on ground-based transmitters, according to spokesperson Jeffrey Carlisle. LightSquared sent a team, including VP Carlisle, to Peterson Air Force base this month to meet with Space Command GPS experts about their concerns. Basla said a testing program set to begin in April will test whether the company's Internet transmissions cause interference.

GPS World Editor Alan Cameron addresses this issue in his Out In Front editorial column in the April issue of the magazine, just sent to press. (You can preview this column here.)
Basla was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in a ceremony Monday at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The ceremony was conducted by Gen William L. Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). Basla assists the commander in providing military-focused space and cyberspace capabilities to warfighting components of the U.S Armed Forces. Lt. Gen. Basla was was commissioned and entered the Air Force in 1979 as a distinguished graduate of the Officer Training School. Prior to assuming his current position, he was vice director for C4 Systems, Joint Staff, at the Pentagon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Avoid Becoming an “Altitude” Casualty

Just what is altitude sickness and how can you avoid it?

It creeps in when you least expect it and are not prepared for it.  Yet altitude sickness hits travelers hard each year.  Can it be prevented...well partially.  Still, recreating at high altitude should be considered in your travel planning.

This post is written by Peter Kummerfeldt.

Definition of Altitude Illness: A variety of illnesses experienced by poorly acclimated individuals, usually occurring within the first several days of ascending too quickly to altitudes greater than 8,000 feet. Cause of Altitude Illness: Low atmospheric pressure, exacerbated by high activity levels dehydration, excessive consumption of alcohol, poor diet,.....

Rea his complete post here.