Map, Compass & GPS

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Free Garmin Compatible Maps of Europe

Here is a post from Rich Owings.  Make sure you have his site, book marked.

Free Garmin compatible maps of Europe

Free Garmin maps of Europe
Screenshots of these free Garmin compatible maps of Europe
I’ve posted links to free international maps before, but it’s been awhile. Here’s a new site I came across that offers free European maps, including topo maps, for Garmin devices. The maps are routable and include 25 meter contour intervals.

Surviving a Freezing Night In a Snow Cave

Knowing he was lost, a father makes some good decissions to survive a freezing night in a snow cave.  From the Bend Bulletin.

By Dylan J. Darling / The BulletinPublished: February 26. 2013 4:00AM PST
Lost, tired and cold, Hunter Chase Abney said he kept telling himself to stay calm throughout a chilly night in a snow cave with his dad.

He tried to focus on one thought.

“I just kept thinking about the story I would tell when I got back to school," said Abney, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Sky View Middle School.

Hunter and his father, Eric William Abney, 40, both of Bend, had set out for what they planned to be a two-hour snowmobile ride early Sunday afternoon from Edison Butte Sno-park southwest of town. But they took a wrong turn, became lost and eventually ran out of gas in both of their snowmobiles — first Eric Abney’s and then Hunter’s after he gave his dad a tow.

To read the complete article visit the Bend Bulletin here.

Marking a GPS Waypoint

The solo hiker was ready to return to the car after a long day on the trail. The weather was slowly degrading; it was getting cooler and overcast. It was time to march to the car. He pulled out the GPS, selected the “Find” feature and scanned the waypoint listing. No waypoint. Nothing to identify his car was shown. Now that sinking feeling slowly crept in. It was going to be a longer afternoon.

Marking a waypoint takes just a few button pushes. The process ends with the saving of coordinates, elevation, date, time of entry and a name into the memory of a GPS.

My recommendations to mark a waypoint include the following steps.

Start with a quick look at the “satellite view” page (below). Ensure the GPS is tracking four or more satellite signals.

To read the rest of the post go here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Check out the announcement from NASA regarding a large sunspot.

Read the article here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stove Reviews

Take a look at Hikn' Jim's latest reviews on backpacking camp sites. 

This is a site to bookmark.

He has ton's of reviews.

Go here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gluten Free Backpacking Food on a Budget writer Isaac Tait provides some thoughts about gluten free backpacking.

Five days. Fifty miles. Two 14,000+ foot peaks. Solitude. Rain. It was going to be the quintessential backpacking trip deep into the High Sierra. It was my first trip in a long time that was longer than a weekend and I was looking forward to it. Besides the obvious preparations for a long backpacking trip, I had three obstacles to overcome before I would be ready to depart: The first was that I did not have a bear canister; the second is that I recently discovered that I am gluten-intolerant and would need to concoct a new gluten free backpacking food menu; the last problem was that…well, I was broke.

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

Compass Navigation - Baseline

Baseline navigation is a simple technique that requires little practise. Break out your map and compass and give this a try on your next outing.
Early in the morning the hunter hiked north from camp to Mahogany Butte.With an hour of light left it was time to return.He had his day pack with map and compass and he knew how to use them.But he didn’t have a GPS. The wooded terrain around him didn’t lend itself to triangulation with a compass.So what was he to do?If he was paying attention to his navigation before leaving camp at dawn he was all set. All he needed to do was to return to the base line.
Returning to a baseline is a pretty straight forward concept.The idea is that you leave camp from a known location and strike out in a specific direction such as North, or 000°.When it is time to return aim to the left or right of camp (like 165°T), hit the logging road camp is on and turn right.That is the concept but there is a bit more to it.
Let’s go over the tools you need and the process of how it works in more detail.
To learn more about baseline navigation go here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

GPS Accuracy

When you hear that your GPS is accurate to 15 meters, just what does that mean to you in the backcountry?

 This is a frequent topic in my GPS land navigation class.

Today, a GPS receiver is accurate to the design specifications of the model. Generally, a GPS is accurate to plus or minus 15 meters (a circle with a15 meter radius or 30 meters in diameter.) Many models offer more accuracy through the technology of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS); 3 meters is possible. (Note that to take advantage of WAAS that option must be "enabled" in the setup function of the main menu.)

 There are several factors that contribute to the accuracy of the signal data received and geographic coordinates displayed. Some of these factors include:

  • Number of satellites signals being received
  • Multi-path interference (signals reflected off a surface yet being received)
  • The age of the unit and antenna model/type
  • Receiver sensitivity
  • Atmospherics (such as solar flares and sun spot activity)

To counter the factors listed above the wilderness traveler has only a few options and these include:

  • Buying a new unit
  • Relocate to an area with a clear sky view (get away from trees)
  • Give the receiver more time to capture and process the satellite signal

Giving a receiver the time to capture and process data received is especially true with the older models. For example, I have students attending my classes bringing in the older Garmin 12, Garmin Etrek Summit, Magellan 315 and Magellan Sport Track. These are old but functional, usable and models that will definitely get one back to the truck or trail head. My recommendation is to give the receiver the time to do the job; this could be five minutes. (If it takes longer than 5 minutes you may have a problem with the receiver.) Remember, with the older models, if your travel over 50 miles from the location where the unit was last used, it will take more than 5 minutes to "re-initialize;" check the owner's manual.

No matter what the age of the GPS receiver is, my recommendation is to consider that the traveler is moving down a lane in the backcountry. See below:

In the example above, the hiker will be somewhere in the lane traveling from "start" to "elk camp." At one moment in time the hiker may very well be in the center of the lane but a short time later his actual position will shift ahead, to the side and so on.

 I understand that this may not be as "spot on" as some would like but overall the GPS will provide adequate information to reach the destination.

 Depending on the model, I've found GPS compass information to be variable. Rather than use the GPS compass/electronic compass information exclusively I'll use my magnetic compass too.

Don't rush navigation. Navigation deserves the time, patience and attention to detail as does any other skill of the backcountry.




Friday, February 8, 2013

Observations from a Disaster Survivor

 The following post is from James Roddey's site ReadySetPrepareBlog.
After Superstorm Sandy - Observations from a disaster survivor who thought he was prepared.
Frantz Ostmann, who posted these observations on November 17, 2012, is a regular guy, a dad with kids and pets, that thought he was pretty well prepared for a disaster. This was posted online three weeks after Superstorm Sandy left his community struggling to recover and his home without power.

The downloadable lessons were prepared, abridged and amended by James Roddey of ReadySetPrepare!, first posted by Eric Holderman on on January 4, 2013.

“There are many lessons here. These observations really sum up
what it’s like for a family coping with the aftermath of a disaster.
I've offered some suggestions for some of the problems (in blue);
others are thoughts that really hit home. The bottom line–quit
thinking it won't happen. That's the mistake millions of people in
the Northeast made. But we in the Northwest are a lot smarter
than those unprepared folks back east…aren’t we?” (James Roddey)

Observations and tips

1. The excitement, coolness and camaraderie wears off around day three.

2. You are never prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water, etc. Never!
To read the rest of the post go here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Line of Bearing

How can a line of bearing, a compass and a map help the hiker in the backcountry?

This post reviews how a line of bearing and a map can help the hiker determine location.  Ideally, a GPS receiver or multiple lines of compass bearings are used to determine and mark a position on a map.  There may be an occasion when there is no GPS data or only one distant object is available for navigation due to terrain or poor visibility.

An on-line dictionary defines the word bearing as:

“….horizontal direction of one point with respect to another or to the compass.”

Using a compass to take or shoot a bearing is a fundamental step in compass navigation.  It is the process of sighting on a distant object with a compass and then plotting the bearing on a map.

In the image below, the woman is sighting her compass (a Silva Ranger) on a peak in the distance.

To read the complete post go here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Survival Truths

Check out Peter Kummerfeldt's blog about the Survival Truths.  Read about why people become lost and how to persevere and survive.

Number One. You have to accept the fact that, as good an outdoors-man or women as you may be, sometimes things happen that precipitate you into a crisis when you least expect it and you’d better be ready to cope with, what will be one of the most difficult challenges to your life that you have ever faced.

Number Four. Prepare for the five scenarios that commonly result in a person having to spend a night out:
1. Becoming lost
2. Not making it back to camp or vehicle before the sun sets.
3. Becoming stranded when the vehicle that took you into the back country malfunctions.
4. Becoming ill or injured to the point that you are unable to make your own way out.
5. When weather makes it dangerous to continue traveling.

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Technology in the Backcountry

When I head for the backcountry the last thing I want to do is to bring the "front country" with me.  Section hiker has a short post about "How Much is Too much."

By Philip Werner

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of Technology in the Backcountry – you know like cell phones, satellite phones, GPS, personal locator beacons, Go-Pro movie cameras, digital cameras, headlamps, iPods, iPads, etc. There sure seems to be a lot of it these days. Throw in rechargeable headlamps, battery packs, recharging cords, solar panels: it really adds up and I find myself carrying more and more of it with each passing year, especially on overnight trips.
To read the rest of his post go here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Journey of a Lifetime

Backpacking the Muir Trail at 70.  This story appeared in the Bend Bulletin on 2/1/2013. 

By Fred Swegles / The Orange County Register

To celebrate his 70th birthday, all Steve Netherby, of San Clemente, Calif., did was hike California’s fabled John Muir Trail.

A former camping editor of Field & Stream magazine, he trekked 29 days — all solo except for the last six days, when Kathleen “Kat" Cobb, a San Clemente resident and fellow board member with the San Onofre Foundation, joined him for the final rugged 50 miles.

In all, Netherby covered about 250 miles, lugging a pack that weighed 44 to 50 pounds. He took on the 211-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to the peak of Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the lower 48 states, at 14,505 feet. It was his seventh ascent to Whitney’s summit.

To read the rest of the post go here.