Map, Compass & GPS

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Topographic Maps

Here is a fine, free, on line topographic map program!  Check this one out.

I have been following Gmap4 for several years.  Joseph has really done a nice job offering a free on line map source for the backcountry hiker.

The following is copied from Joseph's post on the site (edited slightly.)

"......Gmap4 is a 100% free no-ads no-strings enhanced Google Map viewer. Since it runs online there is nothing to download, nothing to install.

Main features include:

* View detailed topographic maps (USA and Canada).

* Current magnetic declination displayed for map center (world wide, NOAA)

* Print maps. In your browser menu, click File==>Print Preview.

* Powerful search feature. You can search on addresses, names of places or natural features, and any reasonable way to write a latitude/longitude. (world wide)

* Display your GPS data and create a permanent link that will display that same map and your data. You can e-mail that link, post it on a website, include it in an iframe, etc.

The link below will display a world map. To search for something click Menu==>Search. To see the detailed topographic maps (USA & Canada) zoom in and then click Terrain==>MyTopo.,-16.760195&t=t1&z=2

Here is the Gmap4 homepage where you will find examples, links to reviews and sites using Gmap4 to display interactive maps, a detailed Help file and a bit about me."

The clarity of these maps is just outstanding.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Traditional Archery

Archery equipment made by craftsmen and women of Oregon!

Saturday, Jan 28 I had a chance to participate in the Traditional Archers of Oregon's annual conference held at the Eagle Crest resort in Redmond, Oregon.

Though not a practicing archer now, I was really impressed with the quality of the bows offered for sale.

Bows ranged from a single piece of Yew to long and recurve bows with laminated bodies.   All the bows were made by local craftsmen.

Additionally, many other vendors were there that specialized in arrow manufacture, knives napped from obsidian, bow socks (protective covering) and a backcountry magazine  (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.)
Outstanding presentations were offered by the Oregon Dept. of Fishing and wildlife on big horn sheep and moose.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Is In Your First Aid Kit?

Here is what I carry for Search and Rescue.

The following lists the minimum First Aid gear that I am required to keep in my pack.

  • 2 x Triangular Bandage (40 x 40 x 56)
  • 2 x safety pins (packed with triangular bandage)
  • 2 x 4 x 4 gauze pads
  • 4 x Bandaids
  • 1 x Sam Splint
  • 1 x Trauma shears
  • 1 x CPR mask
  • 1 x Roll Gauze (4")
  • 2 x non-latex gloves
  • 1 x medical tape (waterproof)
This accounts for a very basic kit.  Some considerations to keep in mind are that SAR members deploy in groups of two (a minimum) and that a much larger basic life support pack goes on every mission.

My personal hunting First Aid kit follows the recommendations by the American Red Cross and the list from John McCann's book, Build the Perfect Survival Kit.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Communications During Large Scale Disasters

Is there a way to communicate with family and friends during large scale disasters?

The answer is yes.

We often think of the American Red Cross (ARC) as a group of volunteers that coordinates blood drives, hands out blankets and provides meals during an emergency.

But there is a lot more!

Take a look at ARC's web site at  At this site you can donate, get signed up for first aid training, shop and learn how to give blood.

There is another ARC site you should check out and that is

From this site, family and friends can (quoted from the site);

  • "After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. This website is designed to help make that communication easier. 
  • Register Yourself as “Safe and Well”
    Click on the “List Myself as Safe and Well” button to register yourself on the site
  • Search for Loved Ones
    Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking on the “Search Registrants” button. The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message."
Do communicate this information to your families in advance.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Great First Aid App for Smart/iPhone

Izzy forwarded another phone App you might want to check out. 

It's from MedJetAssit.  They comment: " application from, MedjetAssist, a leader in medical evacuation membership programs, is a well-rounded first-aid guide for the savvy traveler. Now you can carry an abbreviated version of Medjet’s medical consultation benefit and mobile medical information storage benefit with you wherever you go."

Find their App at the Apple store: Link 

Visit their blog at: Blog  The blog has links for Anroid phone users.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Family Hiking Tips: Lost Kids and Search Strategies

From Seattle Packpackers Magazine.  A fine article by Rob Bignell.

There perhaps is no greater fear among parents than not knowing where their child is. All of us have experienced moments when our child has wandered off when we had turned away only for a second, leaving us feeling totally helpless as we scanned the busy street or mall but couldn’t locate him or her.

When day hiking with children, the potential for a child to amble off and become lost are high. The wilds are full of intriguing sights that can grab a child’s attention while we’re fiddling with gear, trying to reload our backpack, or find ourselves enamored by some vista. Once lost, we know the child is at the mercy of the elements and faces any number of dangers from drowning in water to suffering an injury in a bad fall.

You can decrease the chances of a child becoming lost by taking some precautionary steps. Before heading onto the trail, discuss with your child the importance of always staying in sight of you and of always remaining on the trail. In addition, go over with them what to do if lost: He should stop walking, remain in that spot, and know that you’re looking for him. Finally, always have your child carry a safety whistle, which he should blow on upon realizing he’s lost.

To read the rest of the post go here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disaster Preparedness Phone Apps.

Phone Apps from Department of Health and Human Services

I found this site while visiting  This link provides about two pages of App listings. 

For example one App provides the following info:

Pocket First Aid & CPR
Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association provides quick, concise and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s smartphone. This app costs $3.99.

Some very good info.

Visit the link here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Star To Guide Us

The North Star is a beacon that we can use to guide us in the backcountry.

Few hikers use the celestial bodies in the night sky to navigate by.  But on a clear night, the night sky provides a feature that is an excellent source of direction.  It doesn’t matter if it is June or November, if you are in Wyoming or Oregon.

The North Star or Polaris is the principle star that I will focus on. 

For the backcountry hiker consider that Polaris is fixed in position over the northern pole.  Unique from other celestial stars and planets, Polaris is very closely aligned to the earth’s axis.  Stars and planets rotate around Polaris.  And like the sun, this rotation is from east to west through the sky.  Polaris will be found approximately half way between the northern horizon and straight overhead.  In the northern hemisphere, Polaris can found in our northern sky and is never more 1° from true north – the North Pole. 

Constellations help locate Polaris.  Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper point to Polaris.  Uniquely, Cassiopeia, the Big Dipper and Little Dipper can be seen in relation to Polaris year round.  In winter, the constellation of Orion will also help locate Polaris.
To read the complete post go here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Magnetic Declination

Declination: A Noun. The horizontal angle between the true geographic North Pole and the magnetic North Pole, as figured from a specific point on the Earth.”

Declination is a term that causes “brain cramps” for many of my students in my map and compass classes. When I mention Magnetic Declination eyes roll.

The web site has an excellent discussion of what declination is and what causes it:

“Magnetic declination varies both from place to place, and with the passage of time. As a traveler cruises the east coast of the United States, for example, the declination varies from 20 degrees west (in Maine) to zero (in Florida), to 10 degrees east (in Texas), meaning a compass adjusted at the beginning of the journey would have a true north error of over 30 degrees if not adjusted for the changing declination. The magnetic declination in a given area will change slowly over time, possibly as much as 2-25 degrees every hundred years or so, depending upon how far from the magnetic poles it is. Complex fluid motion in the outer core of the Earth (the molten metallic region that lies from 2800 to 5000 km below the Earth's surface) causes the magnetic field to change slowly with time. This change is known as secular variation. Because of secular variation, declination values shown on old topographic, marine and aeronautical charts need to be updated if they are to be used without large errors. Unfortunately, the annual change corrections given on most of these maps cannot be applied reliably if the maps are more than a few years old since the secular variation also changes with time in an unpredictable manner.”

Much of land navigation is based on the relationship to the North Pole; also known as “true north. The measure of degrees of direction in relation to true north is called “degrees true.” Maps are laid out in degrees true. Land features (buttes, mountains, streams) on a topographic map are in reference to degrees true. By that I mean the bearing from one mountain peak to another will be referenced in degrees true. The map below illustrates that point.

To read the rest of the post go here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Signal Mirror

A good signal mirror should be an essential part of any survival kit.  It's old technology but it works.  How does 20 plus miles sound?

A small 3" x 5" is a wonderful addition to any day pack.  It needs no batteries, is compact and is simple to use.

Care should be taken in the purchase of a mirror.  Sadly, most of the sales associates behind the counter at the major box stores (sporting goods section) don't have a clue.  Thankfully Doug Ritter at knows.  He has a fine post that reviews signal mirror essentials here.  He identifies what to look for in a quality mirror and further points out those that are fake (above, mirror to the right.)  He also mentions that quality mirrors are sold by Coghlan and can be found at REI and Walmart.

I've found several fine videos on YouTube that show you how to use a mirror.  Here is an example:

Here is an example of a mirror flash seen from 22 miles:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Magellan GPS

The following is a press release from Magellan. 

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – January 9th, 2012 – Magellan, a pioneering GPS brand, today announced the introduction of the Magellan eXplorist 110 GPS receiver, a waterproof and rugged handheld GPS with core outdoor navigation features. Powerful yet light and portable, the eXplorist 110 demonstrates Magellan’s continued commitment to outdoor navigation.

With a vibrant, sunlight readable color display plus a highly sensitive GPS chipset providing 3-5 meters of accuracy, and the ability to record hundreds of waypoints, tracks, and routes, the eXplorist 110 GPS receiver is an amazing value for any beginning outdoor enthusiast. It comes pre-loaded with Magellan’s World Edition map, which includes a road network of more than 200 countries. Users can start each adventure with a single click, record every step, and monitor their distance travelled, average speed, elevation gain and descent by viewing the track summary statistics. It will even navigate users back at the end of the day.
The newest addition to the eXplorist family of dedicated outdoor GPS receivers, the eXplorist 110 provides the fundamentals for basic outdoor navigation. Ready to use right out of the box, the 5.2-ounce GPS device can be hung around a users’ neck or attached to a pack for easy reference. Both beginners just starting to explore the outdoors and more experienced outdoorsman will find the simple main menu, intuitive contextual menus and vibrant graphics easy-to-use. The eXplorist 110 is the perfect companion for precise GPS signals and tracking while fishing, hiking, hunting, camping and many other outdoor activities.
“As the only device in the market in this price range with a color display and packed with features for the outdoorsman, the eXplorist 110 is an outstanding value,” said Sam Muscariello, director of product marketing, for Magellan GPS.

With the eXplorist 110, users can overlay a series of different transparent compass styles on top of the pre-loaded World Map that shows roads, water features, parks, and city centers. The dashboard screen shows a mini-compass for quick reference and customizable navigation data fields such as latitude, longitude, heading, bearing, distance to end, trip odometer, and much more. The eXplorist 110 also supports paperless geocaching with a variety of unique characteristics and attributes of each cache available for download and view. Two AA batteries provide up to 18 hours of continual outdoor use to guide you to and from your next adventure, wherever in the world that may be.

The eXplorist 110 is available at an MSRP of USD $129.99.

The eXplorist 110 is the newest member of the eXplorist outdoor family. The line, first introduced in 2010, begins with the eXplorist GC and continues with the eXplorist 310 and the high-end eXplorist 510, 610, and 710 GPS receivers. The high-end eXplorist models each feature a 3.0-inch color touch screen and are equipped with a 3.2 mega-pixel camera, microphone, and speaker to enable users to record and share their adventures with friends. The eXplorist 310 provides many of the features found in higher-end devices at a lower price point for essential outdoor navigation, while the eXplorist GC is the only color handheld GPS receiver exclusively dedicated to geocaching.
For optional accessories, visit

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The North Star

I wanted to share a nice site (here) about locating the North Star.   I am working up a post on Polaris and it's utility to the back packer/hiker/hunter.  Fascinating stuff.

I have a thread working at on this topic. Go to forums, select "around the campfire" and look for night navigation.  Getting some great feedback and links to look at.

Kummerfeldt's Top 20 Favorite Survival Books

Winter is a good time to do some reading and if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of survival and surviving here's a list of some of my favorite books. These are books that I go back to time and time again. They are my references for much of what I teach in my seminars. Some are of the "been there, done that" variety. Some are of the "here's what you need to be able to do in a survival situation" genre and others are scientific studies of the physiology of humans in extreme conditions - survival conditions.

To read Peters complete post go here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cooking Wild Game

The hunting season is over.   I bet you have some small packages of game meat that your not sure what to do with.  Here is the answer....a game pie. 

I made several yesterday and "re-learned" a few lessons. 
  • It takes time to put this together, several hours.
  • You have to use current jelly, no kidding, and it's sometimes hard to find at the grocery store.  Don't over do it with the jelly.
  • Yep, you can use several meats in one pie.  Yesterday I combined duck, chucker, chicken and lamb.
  • I used a better quality pastry shell and it is worth the expense.  The cheaper pie shells were OK but that is about it.
  • Corning Ware single serving/individual Casserole dishes (about six inches in diameter) worked nicely.
  • If you are going to take the time to cook one batch, you might as well cook three, or four or're in the kitchen, make the most of your time.
 So here is the rest of the story:

            This truly outstanding recipe came from the November 1996, Food and Drink section from Sports Afield.  I paraphrase the following from the article:  “Back in the Elizabethan era meat pies were created to be the most impressive and lavish of all dishes...Game pies were a way to celebrate the extraordinary variety of birds and animals...The best pies always have more than one kind of game bird or animal baked in them.  This recipe is adapted from one served at the Kings Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.”  When without game, use chicken, turkey or tender beef cuts.

            Salt and pepper 1/2 pound (each of cubed venison, duck breast, wild boar or rabbit loin.

            Dust with flower then brown in a skillet over medium-high heat in 4 Tbsp of vegetable oil.  Remove from skillet.

            Saute two slices bacon that have been cut into 1 inch pieces.  Remove them           from the pan. 

           Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in the skillet and add 2 diced carrots, 1 diced celery, 10 diced mushrooms and 1/2 cup of blanched pearl onions.  Saute for 3 minutes then remove from the skillet.

          Lower the heat, stir in 4 Tbsp of flour and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.  Raise      the heat to medium and add 2 cups of game stock or beef stock....bring to a boil then simmer for 2 minutes.

         Return the meats and vegetables to the skillet; add 1 bay leaf and 2 Tbsp of   currant jelly (don’t scrimp here).  Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

         Add the mixture to a large casserole dish and top with pastry dough, brush with a wash of 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp of water, cut several vents in the top to allow steam to escape.  Place on a pan/sheet and cook at 400 for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is brown.  Or, freeze the oven ready pie for serving later.