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35186RE: RE: RE: Maps and Apps for the JMT

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  • w5yk
    Sep 27, 2013

      I used the JMT Hiker Appp on a recent thru-hike and really liked it. Yes, the contours are in meters, but my Suunto has that option (don't they all?). I found it very useful to see where I was on the trail relative to the mile-marker points. I also used the water and campsite finder, and found they were pretty accurate and useful. It was much more useful than a traditional GPS like the Garmin 62S I used to bring. The only problem I had with it was sometimes it would not jump to my current location. Don't know if that's an issue with the Apple GPS reporting or if its the App itself. But overall I thought JMT Hiker was excellent. 

      I also had the Eric the Black book, and found it useful for its small size and for the mileages to each point. The coarse elevation profiles are definitely the weak point.

      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      I bought a $15 Concept Green from Amazon. It's a small silver case containing a lithium battery and it weighs 2.6 oz. It's charged by a USB port, like the output port of the iPhone charger. There are a ton of products available on Amazon, and they get better every year.

      I was skeptical about the reliability when I bought it last year, but it's worked several times. It gives me a complete 1.5 times full charge on my iPhone 5. 

      I never turned my iPhone off, since the standby mode in airplane mode uses 4% of battery per day. I played music about 6 hours per day, which used another 8% of battery. I averaged 5 GPS checks per day, which used another 5%. The Spot 30 minute check-in with Bluetooth on used 2%. So total day use averaged: 4 + 8 + 5 + 2 = 19% per day. so 5 days on a full charge. With the Concept Green, I could go 12 days between charges. So I was able to easily get from resupply to resupply with the iPhone.

      The iPhone with apps is now ready for prime time on the trail. Good bye to my Garmin GPS. Also, I use a LifeProof case to protect the iPhone, which worked great when I accidentally dropped it on granite or when it was pouring rain.

      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      Re battery extender: What did you use, how much iphone time did you get with it?  During the trip, how much time per day would the iphone be turned on? Did the battery extender use normal lithium AAs, etc.

      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      I decided to try a variety of maps and apps on my recent JMT trip. I left my Garmin GPS at home and used my iPhone 5 for my GPS. For this trip, I bought and used the following maps: Erik the Black's JMT Atlas, Tom Harrison's JMT Map Pack and Halfmile's free PCT maps. I bought and used the following iPhone apps: Topo Maps, Guthook's JMT app, and Halfmile's free app. I brought a battery extender for my iPhone which worked great. I had plenty of battery for pictures, music, Spot connection and GPS.

      JMT Atlas: this is laid out in a small 5" x 8" book, which I disassembled for the the trip. The maps are hard to read and blurry on regular paper and I just didn't like the format. At the top of the page is a summary of the landmarks covered on the page with elevation, then there is a elevation profile followed by a 1:42,240 scale map that is 4.5" x 5.5". The elevation profile is practically worthless. I still chuckle at the profile for Bear Ridge. It looks nice and easy in the profile! And you can barely make out the contour lines on the map. And his mileage in some cases is off (i.e. VVR is 6.2 miles from the trail, not 5.7 miles). Overall, I stopped using this atlas.

      Tom Harrison's map pack: Many folks had these maps on the JMT. These are high quality maps, but there is no information on the map for campsites or water sources. Also the 1:63,600 scale is pretty large in comparison to Halfmiles, resulting in less detail. I liked the ease of finding mileage between points and found the mileage accurate. The print quality and typeface were fantastic to read. The price of $21 for 13 maps was reasonable.

      Halfmile's PCT maps: These are free PDF's that are downloaded from Halfmile's web-sites. I printed out the pertinent sections on two sides of Nat Geo map paper - total cost about $24 for the paper. You can also download the waypoints for your GPS or iPhone map app, which I did. I love the detail on these maps. Halfmile uses the National Geographic 1:31,680 scale maps, so it has rich detail. But it's the detailed information of campsites, water sources, river fords, resupply points that are most valuable. But since these are designed for PCT thruhikers, the mileage is based on mile 0 at the Mexico border and 2665 at Canada. So you have do the math for calculating interpoint distances. After a hard couple of hours and days of hiking, I found my math skills to start slipping resulting in embarrassing mileage errors ("no, I promise, it's only 2 more miles to Evolution Lake" - actually it was 4 miles). However, Halfmile's iPhone app saved me.

      Topo Maps app: loved, loved, loved this app on the trail. When in doubt, it showed me exactly on the topo map where I was.

      Halfmile's app: Text based to be used in conjunction with his paper maps, and for that purpose it was simple, fast and easy. It shows distance North and South to the next waypoints. You can keep scrolling to anywhere on the PCT. It was nice to scroll to the next resupply point, i.e. real food source. "Look we're only 38 miles to Reds Meadow." Also, at mid-day we could start planning our options for camping. It also helped us with our water planning, since I like to only carry 1 liter of water, which is the case for most of the JMT even during Sept in this low snow year.

      Guthook's JMT Hiker app: A wasted $5.99. The elevations are in meters. The map band is narrow to the JMT, so you can't determine the surrounding area. There were inaccuracies in several locations. And many times it couldn't sync the proper location, starting up in Africa. I emailed Ryan about the elevation in meters and he mentioned he is using the free OpenCycleMaps which is in meters and doesn't have the money to license other topo maps. Sorry, if I'm spending $5.99 on an App, it should include US-based topo data set. After a day or so, I just stopped using it.

      So what did I end up using? Halfmile's maps and app, with occasional use of Harrison's maps and Topo Map app. Also, the iPhone 5 worked great as a GPS. Both Halfmile's and Topo Map Apps show you the accuracy of the GPS. I would normally have the iPhone in Airplane mode for just music and photos. When I needed the GPS, I would turn it off Airplane mode (but had everything else off: Wifi, Bluetooth, Cellular data). It would take about 30 secs to get the accuracy to within 10 feet.

      I also had Halfmile's maps in PDF format on my iPhone. I wanted to see if I could get by with just the phone and no paper maps. However, the small screen of the iPhone made it hard to zoom in and out to get a good sense of the terrain and your surroundings. I preferred to have the folded map in my pocket that I could easily pull out and take a quick look.

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