Map, Compass & GPS

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

GPS Tune Up

Hunters, this is a great time to tune-up and practice with a GPS receiver.  There are several things the one can do before leaving home.   Here are a few recommendations to consider.

Setup

  • Dump those old AA batteries, put in new ones.  If you leave your GPS on all day in the
    Garmin Image
      field expect to change the batteries nightly.  Consider using lithium AA’s, they last longer and work better in cold temperatures. 

  • “Match the map” with the receiver’s navigation selection options. Specifically, match the coordinate system (e.g., UTM or Latitude/Longitude) and map datum that are found on the map.  Consider shifting the receiver’s compass to degrees true.  Further, let’s have everyone in a hiking or hunting group use the same settings too; let’s all be on the same page.

  •  Keep you navigation simple.  It’s easier to work with a handful of waypoints rather than list of 300.  Dump the Junk - Delete the old waypoints, the ones you will never use again.  Log important waypoints (e.g., that lake side camp site) on your PC or in a notebook.  Visit www.easygps.com or www.garmin.com for a place to store waypoints.

  • Install maps on your GPS receiver.  Maps on the receiver are a natural complement to your paper field map.   Quality maps are available from onxmaps.com and GPSFiledepot.com (free).

  • Adjust your map pages’ zoom setting to see what works best.  For general trail hiking I  keep my zoom setting at 800 feet.  This setting allows me to view trails, water sources, roads and elevation contours.

  • Visit the manufacture’s web site to see if there are any firmware updates.  I do this every couple of months.

  • When batteries are replaced calibrate the electronic compass.

Tune-up

  • Verify that you are receiving enough satellite signals.  Check this on the satellite status screen.  Four satellites are the minimum.  Give older receivers the time to collect satellite data; don’t rush the navigation process.
  • Give key waypoints names.  When marking a waypoint enter names like “camp” and “truck.”  It’s easier and more meaningful to find “truck” in the list of waypoints than is waypoint 542; or was it 245.  

·        After marking a waypoint, verify that it has been saved to the receiver's memory by checking either the map page or in the waypoint file (select “where to” or “find.”)  If the waypoint is on the map or in the list of waypoints, the hiker is ready to go.  If the waypoint is not found, start over.

·      
Outdoor Quest Image
 When it’s time to return to a destination chose “Where To” or “Find” on your keypad or menu.  Select the waypoint from the list provided.  Press the “Page” button and rotate through the many displays to the “Compass” page.  A large red arrow should appear on the face of the compass pointing to the selected waypoint.  When on course to the destination the arrow points to the top center of the receiver.  Practice this specific process at home before heading to the field.

  • Navigation is a perishable skill.  I recommend that two weeks before an outing take the GPS receiver everywhere.  Add waypoints, delete waypoints and find a saved waypoint.  This process develops familiarization with the unit and allows the user to develop confidence with the receiver      and personal ability.


  • Compliment GPS skills with a good review of map and compass fundamentals. Learn to back up electronic position fixing with bearing triangulation.   Worst case, a broken GPS becomes a paperweight for your map while afield.  For more information visit www.outdoorquest.blogspot.com .

·         When on the trail compare GPS position data with a map.  Compare what is presented electronically with what is on the map.

I suggest checking out Lawrence Letham’s book GPS Made Easy from the library.  This book compliments the owner’s manual.  An excellent reference for map and compass use is June Fleming’s Staying Found.

Taking a class can further enhance you GPS knowledge.  Classes are frequently offered through the local community college’s continuing education program or at local retailers such as  REI.

A map and compass always goes with me into the field.  I carry a Silva Ranger compass and get my maps from Caltopo.com  (their maps are free.)

Have fun while building on your fundamental navigation skill sets.  Consider setting up a treasure hunt or a geocach for a family get together.  Make it fun, make it simple and explain that these skills could one day make a huge difference if the ever got lost in the woods. 




Saturday, September 16, 2017

Essential Camping Supplies for Your Outdoors Adventure

Are you new to camping?  If so then Lee has provided some nice recommendations for your considerations.

Camping is the perfect way to rejuvenate yourself by getting in touch with nature.  Before you begin your trip into the bush, you need to pack essential supplies to make the trip safer and more comfortable. This list of basics can help you decide what is a must-have for your vacation.

Food and Food Storage
A cooler with ice keeps fresh food safe to eat. Try freezing bottles of water at home, rather than using bagged party ice, to keep good fresher. Bottles won't leak water on your food like bagged ice, and bottles of water stay frozen longer than bagged ice.

You should also bring plenty of water for cleaning, drinking and waking up, a water reusable water bottle for each person in the group, and emergency, non-perishable food supplies like meal bars. Emergency food supplies are particularly important if you are camping in a remote area where medical help isn't readily available.

Lanterns and Personal Lighting
Torches, lanterns and other portable lighting devices are essential when camping. Choose lights that have LED bulbs for optimum brightness and improved efficiency, and bring along extra batteries to keep your campsite well-lit. In addition to lanterns, bring a headlamp for each member of the camping party. Headlamps allow you to easily walk through unfamiliar places and make nighttime chores much easier.

Campfire Alternatives
Along with pots and pans, you should bring asking a backup cooking device to prepare masks. Campfires aren't allowed during early summer, and total fire ban are in effect anytime the risk of fire is high.

To further improve fire safety, avoid throwing lit cigarettes on the ground while camping. Switching to a vape kit is an option that reduces fire risks in dry weather. You can find a vape starter kit page fit everything you need to easily make the switch while camping.

Garbage Bags and Cleanup Supplies
Everything you take into the bush must be carried out, making garbage bags a must-have for canning. Check your campsite thoroughly for even small pieces of garbage to keep the Australian Outback as pristine as it was before your arrival.

To prevent damaging the local environment, consider taking items that are environmentally friendly, such as biodegradable products and organic, biodegradable cleaning supplies. Reusable projects are ideal for both camping and home use.

Personal Supplies
Lip balm, baby wipes and other grooming supplies can make your camping trip more comfortable. Bring sunscreen along in both winter and summer to prevent sunburn, and pack moisturizer and lip balm to soothe your skin while camping during the winter months.

Extra Clothes
Proper attire is more important than you might think, so be prepared to bring the proper thing. Clothes that layer easily allow you to stay comfortable during cool nights ave hot days. Opt for natural materials like cotton or work, and pack a selection of both long and short sleeved t-shirts to comfortably layer.

Other clothes to pack include pants, shorts and a sweater or jacket. Don't forget to bring plenty of socks so you can keep your feet clean and dry throughout the camping trip.

Medical Supplies
A comprehensive first aid kit can be life-saving in an emergency, but also makes camping more comfortable when minor issues arise. Antihistamines, pain and fever reducers, bandages and daily prescription medicines are the foundation of your medical kit.

Add extra supplies based on the season, and take extra supplies if you are camping in a remote area. For instance, space blankets are a good addition when camping in winter, while water purification tablets are recommended when camping in more remote locations.

Customize your medical kit if children or people with health concerns are joining your group. With all the basic supplies on-hand, camping if an adventure that everyone can comfortably enjoy anytime of the year.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Escape or Shelter In Place


A few years ago I wrote a short post about Planing  Your Escape Route.  I recommended that when evaluating an escape route I suggested that the hiker consider several elements. 
First, take a look at your topographic map and tail guides to determine potential escape routes.  Evaluate the terrain.  Are there barriers due to slope and vegetation?  This is especially true should the hiker need to “bush whack” cross country.  A conversation with a ranger can be invaluable.

Right now my home state of Oregon is ablaze with wild fires.  Fires are everywhere.  Here is an overview of all the fires as of 8/30/2017.

Just recently over 100 hikers found them selves stranded as fire closed their trail and were trapped between blazes.  They have been rescued, they survived and they are lucky.






Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Stowing Your Clothes In a Pack

A few weeks ago a family friend asked me to go over what should be in their son's pack and review a few backcountry  techniques.

So, three days later Nick and his buddy Daniel are at my door with a surprise guest, Nick's 
Mom.

We had a great three hour session.  Very straight forward.  Perfect for a summer hike.

Towards the end of our time together, Daniel showed me a novel way to stow ones clothing in a pack.  A day's collection of clothing rolled up into a simple bundle.

Step 1 - Layout the gear.  All the clothing is light weight.



Step 2 - Fold up the gear.  Place clothing so that it can be rolled from bottom to top.  Note that the sock's opening is outward.


Step 3 - Begin rolling.  Keep it tight.



Step 4 - With the bundle tightly rolled, roll the sock backward over the clothes.



That's it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nine Navigation Steps to Take At the Trail Head

The following are nine quick navigation steps to take to ensure one’s navigation kit is set up to best support a hike.
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image

1.     GPS Batteries – load fresh batteries and carry extra for both the GPS and flashlight.

2.     Calibrate the GPS receiver’s compass after every battery change.

3.     Magnetic Compass adjusted for declination – Visit www.magnetic-declination.com for the most current declination value.  Declination changes over time (how old is that map?) and location.

4.     Dump the junk – How many waypoints are stored in the waypoint manager file.  Dump the old waypoints to the absolute minimum; this helps to keep navigation simple.

5.     Match the GPS receiver’s compass to the magnetic compass and the map.   .  Maps are usually set to degrees true.  Have the GPS and Magnetic compass match the topo map.

6.     Erase old track data – clean up the old the track (bread crumb trail) information.  Get rid of
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image
the clutter.

7.     Remember to stow the maps.  I use maps from www.caltopo.com and will occasionally carry maps from a hiking guides.  Maps are stowed in a zip lock gallon bag or rugged water proof map case.

8.     Mark a waypoint – Give key waypoints a name like “trl hed” or “camp.”  Select waypoint manager to verify that the information has been saved to memory.  If “trl hed” can be viewed on the waypoint manager file or viewed from the map page the hiker is all set.

9.    
Blake Miller/outdoor quest image
Orient the map at the trail head.


Everyone in the hiking group should be on the same page in regard to navigation settings.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

5 Things to Look for When Backpacking the Appalachian Trail


The low cost of backpacking travel makes it possible to visit most places of the world in an economical and more personable manner. The Appalachian mountains are one beautiful travel location for people to backpack. The mountainous region is made up of thirteen various divisions. The Appalachians are 1,500 miles in length and a little over 2 miles in height. The mighty Appalachians mountain range makes for a breathtaking hike for backpackers. Here are the things to look for as you backpack the wild Appalachian trail.

Enjoy all the Scenic Sights
The fact is the entire range is beautiful and breathtaking. Keep your eyes open and take in all of the sights. Admire the wildlife too. There is plenty of animals and plant life to look at while hiking. Be careful though of wild animals that may pose a harm. You should additionally be wary of certain bugs, such as ticks. Ticks can give you some diseases, like the dreaded and harmful Lyme's disease. Bring along a camera in case of the chance you may want to snap photographs of some of the things you will see on the Appalachian trail.

Don't Over Plan
The fact is you don't know what the weather will be and what kind of a pace you will have while hiking the Appalachian trail. Avoid over planning for your backpacking excursion. This will allow you to enjoy the sightseeing along the way and not focus too much on the plan you made. You also don't want to hike too quickly from having to stick to a too intense plan, because you will burn yourself out far too quickly. You should savor the Appalachian trail's sights.

Stops to Pack Your Backpack Comfortably and Effectively
Pay attention to where you can stop to pack your backpack comfortably and effectively. There are numerous little towns along the Appalachian mountains. These little towns have plenty of suppliers for backpackers to shop at when restocking their supplies. Remember to never over pack your backpack. Only pack comfortably and effectively to make your backpacking experience the best it can be. Pack the right amount of food, camping supplies, water canteens, and clothing at each stop you have in the small towns along the trail. You can add a few lightweight items to make the backpacking experience more comfortable for yourself. Perhaps you can pack a camera. If you are a fan of vaping, you should bring along a light weight vape pen and a vape pen charger. You can charge it up at various stops along the trail.

Look for Appalachian Trail Markers
The markers for the Appalachian trail are white markers on trees, handrails, rocks, and posts. These markers allow you to know you are following the right trail. One white mark means you are following the trail. Two white marks means there is a change in the trail or two different directions you can take. You will need a map or a compass for these parts of the trail. Piles of rocks may also be used as markers in a few parts of the trails. There are some segments of the Appalachian trail that are not marked very much due to conservation efforts to keep certain areas of the trail as natural as possible. If you backpack those parts of the trail, you ought to bring a compass and a map for certain.

Food and Beer Locations to Stop at from Georgia to Maine
On the Appalachian trail you will eat healthy and get a pretty intense workout for your body. You'll enjoy the physical fitness you will achieve. However, you will likely crave drinks and greasy food whenever you stop in the small towns along the way. You will come across plenty of small towns with beer and food venues to die for during your backpacking. The top seven stops for beer and food from the Appalachian range all the way from Georgia to Maine for thru backpackers are: Spring Creek Tavern and Inn, Damascus Brewery, Devil's Backbone Brewery, Doyle, Woodstock Inn, The Gypsy Joynt, and Sarge's Sports Bar and Grill.
5 Things to Look for When Backpacking the Appalachian
The low cost of backpacking travel makes it possible to visit most places of the world in an economical and more personable manner. The Appalachian mountains are one beautiful travel location for people to backpack. The mountainous region is made up of thirteen various divisions. The Appalachians are 1,500 miles in length and a little over 2 miles in height. The mighty Appalachians mountain range makes for a breathtaking hike for backpackers. Here are the things to look for as you backpack the wild Appalachian trail.

Enjoy all the Scenic Sights
The fact is the entire range is beautiful and breathtaking. Keep your eyes open and take in all of the sights. Admire the wildlife too. There is plenty of animals and plant life to look at while hiking. Be careful though of wild animals that may pose a harm. You should additionally be wary of certain bugs, such as ticks. Ticks can give you some diseases, like the dreaded and harmful Lyme's disease. Bring along a camera in case of the chance you may want to snap photographs of some of the things you will see on the Appalachian trail.

Don't Over Plan
The fact is you don't know what the weather will be and what kind of a pace you will have while hiking the Appalachian trail. Avoid over planning for your backpacking excursion. This will allow you to enjoy the sightseeing along the way and not focus too much on the plan you made. You also don't want to hike too quickly from having to stick to a too intense plan, because you will burn yourself out far too quickly. You should savor the Appalachian trail's sights.

Stops to Pack Your Backpack Comfortably and Effectively
Pay attention to where you can stop to pack your backpack comfortably and effectively. There are numerous little towns along the Appalachian mountains. These little towns have plenty of suppliers for backpackers to shop at when restocking their supplies. Remember to never over pack your backpack. Only pack comfortably and effectively to make your backpacking experience the best it can be. Pack the right amount of food, camping supplies, water canteens, and clothing at each stop you have in the small towns along the trail. You can add a few lightweight items to make the backpacking experience more comfortable for yourself. Perhaps you can pack a camera. If you are a fan of vaping, you should bring along a light weight vape pen and a vape pen charger. You can charge it up at various stops along the trail.

Look for Appalachian Trail Markers
The markers for the Appalachian trail are white markers on trees, handrails, rocks, and posts. These markers allow you to know you are following the right trail. One white mark means you are following the trail. Two white marks means there is a change in the trail or two different directions you can take. You will need a map or a compass for these parts of the trail. Piles of rocks may also be used as markers in a few parts of the trails. There are some segments of the Appalachian trail that are not marked very much due to conservation efforts to keep certain areas of the trail as natural as possible. If you backpack those parts of the trail, you ought to bring a compass and a map for certain.

Food and Beer Locations to Stop at from Georgia to Maine

On the Appalachian trail you will eat healthy and get a pretty intense workout for your body. You'll enjoy the physical fitness you will achieve. However, you will likely crave drinks and greasy food whenever you stop in the small towns along the way. You will come across plenty of small towns with beer and food venues to die for during your backpacking. The top seven stops for beer and food from the Appalachian range all the way from Georgia to Maine for thru backpackers are: Spring Creek Tavern and Inn, Damascus Brewery, Devil's Backbone Brewery, Doyle, Woodstock Inn, The Gypsy Joynt, and Sarge's Sports Bar and Grill.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Knots In the Backcountry



Several years ago I had the opportunity to take an abbreviated wilderness survival course conducted by Emergency Response International (visit www.eri-online.com).  One component of their presentation was emergency shelters.  Key to emergency shelter building is the ability to tie a reliable knot.

First, the hunter needs to carry shelter material.  This can range from a poly tarp (with numerous grommets) or one of the many nylon tarps sold through high end retailers such as REI.  A tarp of 8’ by 10’ is adequate.   Secondly, 50 feet good quality parachute cord is needed to tie the shelter to a tree or pole.  Quality parachute cord has a breaking strength of 500 pounds and can be found at a surplus store or on-online.  (There is some junk para cord out there so be careful with your selection.)


An excellent resource for knot tying is an online web site animatedknots.com.  This site offers downloadable apps for the smart phone and categorizes knots by topic (such as scouting, boating and fishing.  The instructions are concise and easy to understand.

There are hundreds of knots that the hunter can choose from.  I recommend learning just a few knots that expand beyond tying your boots or the square knot.

A great knot to start with is the timber hitch.  Wikipedia claims that the timber hitch was first mentioned in a nautical source around 1620. 

“The timber hitch is a used to attach a single length of rope a cylindrical object. Secure while tension is maintained, it is easily untied even after heavy loading.”

Wikipedia

 The timber hitch is a friction knot.  The many wraps of rope or parachute cord hold firmly under tension.  It’s simple and easy to use and can be the anchor of a tarp.  Best of all, after being placed under tension it won’t become next to impossible to untie; we have all been there.



For complete instructions watch the video at animated knots:

www.animatedknots.com/timber









Monday, June 19, 2017

6 Must Haves for your Next Mountain Backpacking Adventure


Backpacking can be a real high when you are prepared for the trip. However, being halfway up a mountain is not a good time to wish you had packed a certain item. Being in the fresh open air of nature can raise your awareness level ten-fold. This is when you consider all of those items that you wish you had brought along. Here are some great ideas for staying well, comfortable and able to enjoy the trail even more.

Improving the Sights - Green Binoculars

Binoculars are a given on any backpacking adventure, but if you are practicing all the benefits of nature, why not choose a pair that cares about the environment? You can find sturdy binoculars that are free of lead and arsenic in the optical glass. Other items to look for are a non-chloride rubber body that is free of inks and dyes, a compact size, waterproof with fog-free lenses.

Preventing Altitude Sickness

While climbing up a mountain can sound awesome, the change in altitude can cause illness known as altitude sickness. Being in the fresh air does nothing to help when the inspiratory oxygen pressure diminishes. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, fever, dehydration and shortness of breath. Always pack ibuprofen and ask your family physician for recommended medications for high altitude backpacking.

E-Cigs & Vapes

Taking a break while on a trail calls for water, but what about a few of life's other joys? Some cheap vape mods can satisfy that nicotine craving without causing you to become winded. The different flavors can also make that water taste great. There will also be no cigarette butts polluting Mother Nature and e-cigs and vape tips can easily be stored in a pocket.

Healthy Snacks

It is also hard to know what type of treats should be taken. Never pack sweets as they can make you tired. It is best to select snacks that do not have preservatives, additives or dyes. Homemade jerky, sunflower seeds or hemp hearts are full of protein and will give you that extra burst of energy needed.

How to Avoid Sore Feet

Blisters are a problem for most hikers. Understanding what causes blisters can help you to prevent a flare-up on your journey. The two largest contributors of blisters are heat and moisture. Always take a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and some cotton swabs with you. Before putting on your socks and boots, dab the alcohol between your toes, on heels and the soles of your feet. Rubbing alcohol keeps feet dry and prevents moisture from gathering. Also, give your feet a rest at least once a day, maybe on the lunch break. Remove your boots and socks and shake out any loose pebbles or dirt that has built up inside.

It is Going to Rain

Trying to plan your backpacking adventure around the weather is an impossible feat. If you are out for any length of time you are going to encounter some rain. Packing rain gear can get quite bulky and cumbersome. You always want to travel as light as possible. So is all of that rain gear really worth the bother? Fold up 4 or 5 large leaf trash bags and place inside of your jacket pocket. They will be close enough to access should a downpour occur, and the light weight will make them unnoticeable while hiking.

Mountain backpacking can be great fun, but the little annoyances can pile up in a hurry. Sore feet, a rainy day, and altitude sickness can ruin that great adventure. It only takes a little planning to head off these problems. And of course, making it to the top is only as worthy as your ability to sit, gaze and relax with a great pair of binoculars, a tasty treat and your favorite vape mod.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Topo Map Selection and Care


When preparing for a backcountry trip take into account what maps selections the hiker will need to take. Order maps early.
It is rare to find USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles ("the backpacker’s maps") in stores. The map table tucked  away in some corner of the store is becoming a thing of the past.
REI offers quality maps and trail guides printed on waterproof paper.
Free map software is a great option available to replace what was commercially available.  I use a combination of mapping software products to make my maps.  I use Terrain Navigator and the web product by Caltopo.com and Google.
Care of your map starts with the selection of the paper to be used.  For short, simple treks during periods of fair weather I’ll use computer paper.  For longer trips and trips where the weather maybe an issue I’ll use waterproof paper.  Rrite-In-The-Rain makes a very good product.  I frequently use National Geopgraphic"s Paper too.  These products are rugged and when soaked retain their shape are are color fast.
Commercially made cases are available and I recommend  doing a product review on line first.  I have tested a few and have found some to be bulky, too big or are not truly waterproof.  Differentiate between car camping and the backpacker's needs where weight is an issue.  Most of the time I keep my map set in a gallon zip lock bag.  It's simple, low cost and reliable.  My hiking companion also carries a set too.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Your Personal Outdoor Plan

There are lots of articles and posts about letting the responsible person know about your travel plans.  Should you not return home on time they are the trigger to begin the search process.



This may be the most comprehensive plan made yet!!!



After the loss of James Kim in the Oregon back country in 2006 I wrote a hiker's trip plan and posted it on my web site.  I had input from several valued sources.  I wanted something better for the wilderness traveler than a note to a neighbor.  My intent was to provide the search responders something valuable to go by.



In far too many SAR missions, the reporting party has little information for the searchers to go on to begin their search.

My plan can be found here.  It is a basic .pdf form.

Suggestions are certainly welcome.



Today, while reading a Linkedin email, I received a tip on what might be the most complete plan yet.  It's from Paul Kirtley's blog.  He is an  experienced bush craft author in the UK.  This plan is much like the hiker's flight plan.  It includes a place for a picture of the hiker, data for one's route and much more.



Check out Paul Kirtley's plan here.



911 Call center
Still, that responsible person plays a huge role in contacting authorities to begin a search.  My recommendation would be to pick a person that will make the 911 phone call without hesitation.



Travel safely.

Topographic Maps



Reviewing a topographic map is usually the starting point for the planning of any back country trip.  A topographic map is your road map to the outdoors.  It provides you information at a scale that is meaningful and detailed.  

For years, the US Geologic Survey (USGS) has been the principal publisher of accurate maps.  Within the last decade we have seen many innovations in mapping products that include new mapping companies and publishers, software, maps for the GPS, and “Apps” for the smart phone.


Still, the USGS map remains the standard for back country navigation (visit the USGS’s site at www.topomaps.usgs.gov.)   I’d also recommend looking at June Fleming’s “Staying Found” or Bjorn Kjellstrom’s “Be Expert With Map & Compass.”  Once you develop a map foundation you will easily shift to many of the other products on the market today. 

Many publications, videos, and web sites will give you a complete rundown on the features, symbols and components to a map.  The key features that you should be aware of are:


·         Contour Lines These are the thin brown lines that snake across the map.  Contour
lines connect equal points of elevation such that every point on a specific line will be at that elevation above sea level.  Visually, the contour lines give you a mental three dimensional view of the terrain.  These lines provide shape and a sense of texture.  Contour lines provide a view of slope and pitch, depressions, ridge lines and level ground; the highs and lows of the earth’s surface.  There are two primary types of lines, index and intermediate lines.  Index lines stand out as they are a touch wider, a darker shade of brown and indicate the elevation with numbers such as 4500; the elevation is in feet.  Between the index lines are the thin intermediate line that are spaced uniformly and further define the elevation, slope and contour.  The distance intervals between the intermediate lines are specified at the bottom of the map adjacent to the scale data.



·         Scale Consider scale as your view of the map; it is like your “overhead zoom” setting.  To cut to the chase, a 7.5 minute map or quadrangle has a scale that is referred to as 1:24,000; where one inch is equal to 2000 feet.  It is your best source of information of the back country.  At this scale, the map has much more validity and provides more usable information for your backcountry planning.  You can view important landmarks, streams and geographic features.  To complete the navigation picture I always refer a second map, such as a map of the national forest (e.g., the Deschutes National Forest.)  Commonly, such a map will be “zoomed” way out and have a scale of 1:100,000 or 1:250,000.  Imagine that such a map would be made up of many 7.5 minute quadrangles.


·         North  Features on a map such as trails, roads, mountain peaks and streams are all laid out in relation to true North; the North Pole.  The north-south borders of the map and the small declination diagram are your best references for true North.  Other grid lines (such as the red Township, Section and Range lines) may not be aligned to true north at all.  Be careful of these lines should you need to triangulate your position on a map.


·         Declination This is the angular difference between true North and Magnetic North.  The red needle on your magnetic compass points to Magnetic North.  The accuracy of the information found in the Declination Diagram is dependent on the age of the map.  To get the latest declination for any area visit www.magnetic-declination.com.

Personally I use a magnetic compass that I can adjust for declination; it just makes my navigation easier.  When adjusted, my compass provides bearing information in degrees true as does my map and my adjusted GPS.


·         Coordinates Latitude and Longitude (Lat/Long) are the familiar coordinate system to most outdoorsmen and women.  Coordinate data is found at the top and bottom corners of each map.  Lat/Long coordinate increments are also found every 2’ (minutes) and 30” (seconds) on the sides of the Map.  A scaling device is necessary to pull complete coordinates off a map; this is a pain.

In the 1940’s a coordinate system known as Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) was developed.  To keep a very long story short, your 7.5 minute map has a new grid laid over it, the grid dimensions are 1000 meters by 1000 meters.  For more complete information on UTM grid visit the USGS’s web site UTM or Letham’s “GPS Made Easy” (which is probably at your local library.)


Simplicity is the essence of UTM.  Scouts, hunters and hikers have joined Search and Rescue (SAR) teams around the country in using this system. 

Your GPS receiver can easily be switched to UTM from the set-up menu.


·         Bar Scales   Notice the bar scales at the bottom of the 7.5 minute map.  The scales provide measuring data in miles, feet and meters.   On the far left side of the meter scale, the scale is broken down into units of 100 meters, this applies directly to UTM.

Notice on the scale bar (feet) that 1 inch equals 2000 feet.


 Map Datum Information about map datum is found in the lower left corner of a 7.5 minute map.  I have found that the simplest definition from GPS maker Garmin is:

“A math model which depicts a part of the surface of the earth. Latitude and longitude lines on a paper map are referenced to a specific map datum. The map datum selected on a GPS receiver needs to match the datum listed on the corresponding paper map in order for position readings to match.”



The bottom line: most 7.5 minute maps are made to the North American datum of 1927 (NAD27 or NAD27 CONUS on your GPS).  New GPS receivers are set to datum WGS84.  The difference between the datum could be over 100 meters/yards.  The solution: When pulling points off a map shift your GPS’s datum to match the map. 



If precision is not an issue for your outing don’t worry about datum.



Visit www.worldofteaching.com/powerpoints/geography/Mapping.pptThis power point presentation offers a fine overview of topographic mapping.  It’s free.




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is Your GPS Receiver Set-up Correctly?


Setting up the GPS receiver is key to accurate navigation.  The phrase "match the map" is a big first step. 


Therefore, ensure that the GPS receiver's default settings correspond with key factors on the map.

  
A selection of such factors includes:
  • Set the compass page to working in degrees true rather than magnetic.
  • Position format/cordinate Systems (e.g., UTM Grid or Latitude and Longitude.)
  • Use the correct map datum.

 Note that every time the GPS receiver’s batteries are replaced, the electronic compass needs to be calibrated.  It’s a simple process that requires a quick check of the owner’s manual.

Both the compass and GPS receiver must be set to complement each other.  For example, if the hiker has a basic base plate compass (one that cannot be adjusted for declination) then the GPS receiver’s “north reference” must be set to magnetic.  If the hiker has a compass adjusted for declination then the receiver should be set to true north.  If compass and GPS receiver don’t match then the bearing information may be as much as 10° to 20° off.  That is not good.

I carry a Sylva Ranger style compass that can be adjusted for declination.  Before leaving home I visit www.magnetic-declination.com to verify the correct declination for my planned hunt location.  With that information I adjust the compass.  Yes, the magnetic needle still points to magnetic north but the rotating dial provides degree/azimuth information in degrees true.  
Now my GPS and compass settings match my topographic map.