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47891Re: GPS Routes

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  • mcooprec
    May 1, 2010
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      Hi, James:

      Using the backtrack function works well, with several caveats. First of all, you must turn on the "track log" function of your GPS at the start of your route. Clear all existing points in the log at the start of your route. You will probably want to turn your GPS off periodically to save batteries if your route is fairly long. Conversely, in order for your GPS track log to be of practical use, you must turn the GPS unit back on often enough that it enters a sufficient number of positions into your track log (when you power up) to guide your return. So, at every possible juncture where you could make a wrong turn, make sure your GPS is turned on and your track log is on and recording your current position. If you don't record enough positions enroute, you'll need to remember how you got to recorded points 1>2, 2>3, 3>4 and so on. On your return route, simply invert the route and follow it backwards.

      All that said, it's very important that you constantly turn around and make mental notes of the way you came, so you'll have it memorized for your return trip (the route will look different to you on the return than it did going out). GPS units can fall and break or run out of batteries, in which case you must rely on your other navigation skills (including making mental notes of your route). Some older GPS units don't perform well in deep canyons, forest or up against very tall mountains; i.e., where there is not a very good "sky view."

      So, yes, a GPS track log works well. But relying solely on GPS, or any other device prone to failure or unexpectedly poor performance, can get you into trouble. This is the reason I like to use several navigation tools and techniques -- when they are _all_ in agreement as to my location, then I know I've got the route dialed in.

      Best wishes,
      Michael

      --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "jamesclark9" <jamesclark9@...> wrote:
      >
      > Michael,
      > I will look into the book. For only $12, it seems to be a wise investment. Those are a lot of skills I need to work on. I don't think I'm going to do any serious technical routes so I hope not to get turned around, but I'm sure no one plans on getting lost.
      >
      > I had a question. I understand where following a GPS route from someone else or using a GPS unit that you don't know how to use can get you into trouble. Is a GPS sufficient to use to backtrack the route that your GPS tracked on the way in? I know that doesn't replace having other survival schools that you menitioned. All these accidents in the park has me scared now.
      >
      > Thank you for the advice
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      > --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "mcooprec" <coopermb@> wrote:
      > >
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      > > James, I highly recommend you buy and read "GPS Made Easy" by Lawrence Letham. That book -- and tons of backcountry experience -- taught me how to use GPS safely.
      > >
      > > Joe is right: depending too heavily or solely on GPS can lead to disaster in places like Zion. You should also be proficient with map and compass (knowing how to read topos and do both field and map bearings, taking declination into account). I also recommend carrying an altimeter. Using all four tools (GPS, map, compass and altimeter) will keep you out of trouble.
      > >
      > > There was a story on this forum about three guys who accidentally ended up in Heaps Canyon when their GPS was off by about 1/10 mile. I suspect what might have happened is they had their reference set to the wrong datum, which can lead to coordinates being off by several hundred feet. Not having a full understanding of how GPS works and simply turning the thing on and following "highway" views to published coordinates can lead to a simple (and potentially fatal) mistake like that.
      > >
      > > Best wishes,
      > > Michael
      > >
      > > --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "jamesclark9" <jamesclark9@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Hello All,
      > > > I just bought a handheld GPS to use during my Zion trip. Now I just need to figure out how to use it. I want to use it to track the places I hiked and to ensure I don't get lost. I was wondering if there were any suggestions about where to download Zion hiking routes?
      > > >
      > > > Thank You,
      > > > James
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