Map, Compass & GPS

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Navigation Term of the Month: Map Scale.

Topographic Map - Scale

By Blake Miller defines map scale as:

“A ratio which compares a measurement on a map to the actual distance between locations identified on the map.”

A topographic (topo) map’s scale information is located at the bottom center of the map.  Other maps will generally have scale information in the large map key that outlines many of the features and data printed on the map.

The map scale for a United States Geologic Survey (USGS) 7.5 topo minute map is highlighted below.

Think of scale as your “zoom setting” as you would on a camera.  The smaller and tighter the scale the more detail you will find.  The topo above has a scale of 1:24,000.  A map of a national forest may have a scale of 1:126,000.  The forest map will not have the detail but will cover considerably more area.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Is An Azimuth?

An azimuth is the angular direction to an object.  Azimuths are described commonly in degree increments from either true, magnetic or grid north.

In the world of recreational navigation, GPS receiver operations and orienteering the use of the term “bearing” has become synonymous with azimuth.

Azimuth direction is measured from north clockwise in 360° increments. The point from which the azimuth originates is from the center of an imaginary circle.  This imaginary point is the operator.

Azimuth can be measured with a magnetic compass, a map and by rough estimation using the sun and North Star.

Azimuths can be expressed in degrees true and degrees magnetic.  Degrees true uses the north pole as the principle reference while degrees magnetic refers to reference from the magnetic pole.

Outdoor Quest Image
For more information on bearings and azimuth read Making Sense of The Declination Diagram.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Addressing Hearing Loss

Addressing Hearing Loss

Some families play board games; some take an annual trip to the beach. Our family traditions were a
little bit different. I completed my first summit of the 14,411-foot Mount Rainier when I was 12 years old – something normal by my family’s standards. Some of you may know my uncle, Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest. Or my dad, Lou Whittaker, the founder of Rainier Mountaineering.

Along with a love of climbing, I inherited from my family a deep passion for life and adventure. As my father was famed to have said, “When it comes to dying, I want to know what it is like to have really lived.” I have translated that spirit into everything I do in life – from mountaineering, to making music, to filmmaking.

About ten years ago, though, my wife Sarah started to notice that my love of adrenaline may not have been the only thing I’d inherited from my dad – it seemed my hearing, like his, was starting to go.

At the time, I didn’t really notice any of the effects of my declining hearing, so I pretty much waved it off. And, then, it become noticeable. Within a few years, it was more often than not that I had to ask a client in climbing school to repeat a question. It was becoming a bit more difficult to find the exact right sound when I was recording with my band.

Between my dad’s hearing loss and my lifelong love of loud music and power tools – it wasn’t a huge shock I had found myself at this point. But I can’t lie – I was not thrilled at the thought of having to get a hearing aid. My reluctance was not because of any stigma attached to hearing aids, but more so because of the hassle of setting them up. I knew you have to go into the audiologist repeatedly to get them working just right. Even then, with all of the various environments I am in, I knew there was no way that one setting would work across the board. To add to my hesitation, in addressing my dad’s hearing loss, it didn’t seem like his hearing aids had helped him at all. Particularly in crowded environments, his hearing aids just amplified sound, making the environment overwhelming.

I didn’t want that, especially since I was still regularly climbing and guiding climbs up the mountain. If a hearing aid just picked up and amplified the sound of the wind, it wouldn’t do much good for me in that setting – one of the environments where my hearing was the most important to me. So, for that reason, I kept putting off addressing my hearing loss.

That was, until last year, when I was introduced to the ReSound LiNX. I had mentioned the idea to my audiologist before but it wasn’t yet in existence – the idea of being able to easily adjust the audio settings of a hearing aid on my own. The LiNX was the first ever Made for iPhone hearing aid, which meant it communicated directly with your phone and could be adjusted wirelessly through an app.

As an audio engineering geek, I was hooked right away. Through the ReSound Smart app, I could use my iPhone to adjust my hearing aids’ volume, bass and treble, and direction of sound amplification. Calls and music were streamed directly through my phone to the aids. The first day I was fitted with the ReSound LiNX, I remember hearing the sounds of rain squelch under my shoes, and my shoes subsequently squeaking on the tile when I got home – sounds I hadn’t even realized I was missing out on.

Now – wearing ReSound’s latest, the LiNX2 – I can hear a pebble falling on the mountain. My clients tell me my hearing is bionic. Sometimes I think about my decision to address my hearing loss. Like any other challenge in life, I took it head on, now sporting a bright red hearing aid behind my ears. And, as someone who isn’t ready to slow down at all, I sure am happy that I did.