Map, Compass & GPS

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marking a GPS Waypoint

Trust but verify that the GPS waypoints that you have marked are saved.

There is nothing magic here.  Then again, there is nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you are in the backcountry, it's time to return the trailhead, you select "trailhead" and that waypoint isn't listed in the waypoint library.

So here are a few suggestions about marking a waypoint.

  1. While driving to the trail head, place the GPS receiver on the dash and let it begin receiving satellites.
  2. After parking, place the receiver on the hood or in a spot where it will have a good sky view.
  3. Take a look at the satellite information page.  (On some models you may have to go to your "main menu" page to find this display.)  Ideally you will find that the receiver is tracking more that 4 satellites.  There should also be an indication that you have a "3D" position fix; "2D" is not acceptable.
  4. Mark your waypoint as usual.  Perhaps you will give it a name; trailhead.
  5. Now verify that the waypoint has been saved.  This is key.  I find that there are two easy ways to do this.
    • Select the "Find" or "GoTo" button or option.  The waypoint number or name (that you typed in) should be found in your library of saved waypoints.

    • OR, using the page button, go to the map page and you should see the waypoint name visible.  If your receiver zoom setting (as in zoom in or zoom out) is at 20 miles, you may not see the waypoint name.  I keep my zoom setting at 800 feet while hiking and this allows me to clearly see the waypoint name or number (see below, Elk1 is the saved waypoint.)

Another option is to look at your waypoint list.  Select "find," then "waypoints" to take you to the list.  Notice that Elk1 is there too.

If the waypoint isn't there or listed I'll use my track log to help me get back. 

When I am on a hike I will keep my GPS in a case that clips to the shoulder straps of my pack and I leave it on all day.  Batteries are cheap.  At the end of the day I could follow my track history back to the trailhead.

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