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25656Re: [John Muir Trail] Conventional Wisdom Regarding GPS on JMT

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  • Shawn Peterson
    Nov 4, 2012
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      I teach land nav to law enforcement and military....when combining courses of gps and map reading the gps gets people in trouble every time....the gps is good to get a reference but there is nothing like a map to tell you right where you are.  The gps on the jmt is really only good for telling you how far as the crow flies points might be...true distance, elevation, etc.  one of the biggest mistakes people make with a garmin is when looking at the compass feature at a dead stop they follow the direction of the arrow....not realizing you need to be traveling to get a more accurate heading....learn to familiarize yourself with terrain, estimate distances, and read a map and you will find a gps to be a good tool to help but NEVER the instrument you should soley rely on.  


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      On Nov 4, 2012, at 7:55 AM, Ray Rippel <ray.rippel@...> wrote:


      Good day, Darryl,
      I'm sure  you will get lots of opinions, but here's mine.
      I think carrying a GPS is worth the trouble, for two reasons:
      1. The most difficult part of just about any navigation problem is not where to go or how to get there, but where you are. Often ascertaining that with accuracy, using just map, compass and terrain association, is tough. A GPS (which is working) will solve that problem quickly, easily and reliably.
      That said, there really aren't that many navigation problems on the trail. If you decide to get off the trail for a side trip, it's usefulness increases.
      2. The real reason I like to have my GPS with me is so that I can quickly (as in without even stopping) determine where I am in regards to waypoints I have already entered into the machine. I planned my hike out with some detail, so I could track my progress during each day by quickly referring to the map on the GPS. "I see I'm between waypoint 103 & 104, and I'm camping at waypoint 112. That means I have about 4 miles to go, all downhill."
      I used National Geographic TOPO to pick and enter waypoints into the Garmin. It's a great program (although a bit clunky to learn).
      I will be the first to admit that a lot comes down to whether or not you get any enjoyment out of the "gadget" aspect of all this. Clearly, a GPS isn't a requirement. But if you get a kick out of using it in the way I describe above, it's worth the extra weight.

      Good hiking, Ray


      Ray Rippel

      Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail


      Follow me at: www.twitter.com/JMTBook

      On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 5:41 AM, jmt_2013 <dabrahms@...> wrote:

      I feel privileged to be a member of this group as there are so many knowledgeable and experienced people here that I can learn from.
      I plan on solo thru-hiking the JMT next summer.
      I have a Garmin eTrex 20 GPS which I took with me while hiking a portion of the PCT in Washington a couple of months ago. I found that I hardly used the GPS because:
      1) I have limited skills with GPS. For example I was unable to find the distance between my current location and the next way-point without having to scroll through some screens and toggle my cursor around. When I did get a reading, I had to fiddle around to determine whether it was a line-of-sight or trail distance. It was quite a cumbersome and convoluted process.
      2) there didn't seem to be a big need as the trails were fairly well signposted and I had a map.
      My question is whether the benefits of a GPS are worth the extra weight when hiking the JMT, and if so, in practical terms what are they?

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