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Thread: Bread Crumbs

  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    ...so lost in our thoughts that we can't see the texture of the vegetation? ...so foreign to the forest environment that we can't feel the shape of a clearing, the subtle change in slope, the predominant direction of the breeze?
    Those phrases strike me as poetry. I think you've nailed it.

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I wonder how animals navigate in the woods without getting lost. Many have pretty small territories. For example, I read that chipmunks rarely venture more than 1/3 of a mile from their homes. I imagine a chipmunk would become very familiar with each tree, bush, rock, and log within a certain radius, and maybe somewhat familiar with several paths that venture outside that radius. If a chipmunk were trapped and then released in a new territory, how well would it be able to adapt? Would it exhaust itself in frantic futile attempts to find home? Would it crawl into the first hole it found and establish a new home? What does "lost" mean to a chipmunk?

    I read that deer, on the other hand, have a home territory that may range from 40 acres to 1000 acres depending on season, availability of food, whether it's a buck or a doe with young. A deer wouldn't become familiar with every hole in the ground like a chipmunk would. How does a deer learn the boundaries of its territory and where the trails are in relation to the food sources? What does "lost" mean to a deer?

    If the forest animals are able to navigate in the woods, why is it so easy for us to become disoriented? Are we so lost in our thoughts that we can't see the texture of the vegetation? Are we so so foreign to the forest environment that we can't feel the shape of a clearing, the subtle change in slope, the predominant direction of the breeze?

    In no way am I suggesting that the bread crumb concept (or GPS, or compass, or trekking pole, etc) is inappropriate. I'm just wondering why intelligent creatures like humans have such vulnerability to being lost in the woods when it appears that the lesser creatures handle it just fine.
    Chipmunks are very territorial, they fight. Chipmunks aren't going to go where their butt gets kicked. Trapping and releasing is bad for some species because the animal gets dropped in new territory which may already be claimed and so are at a distinct disadvantage. Different species have various ways of identifying their territory, some examples are scent, scat, sound.

    We're usually top of the food chain and not paying attention. If every day you had to navigate around Andre the giant, you'd start learning where the trail goes and how to tell when Andre was around! Plus that pack of wolves, the coyotes, the occasional hawk, etc. But going to the bathroom as a human? Unless you make a point to pay attention, you aren't going to give it anymore attention than at home, which is basically nil.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I wonder how animals navigate in the woods without getting lost. Many have pretty small territories. For example, I read that chipmunks rarely venture more than 1/3 of a mile from their homes. I imagine a chipmunk would become very familiar with each tree, bush, rock, and log within a certain radius, and maybe somewhat familiar with several paths that venture outside that radius. If a chipmunk were trapped and then released in a new territory, how well would it be able to adapt? Would it exhaust itself in frantic futile attempts to find home? Would it crawl into the first hole it found and establish a new home? What does "lost" mean to a chipmunk?

    I read that deer, on the other hand, have a home territory that may range from 40 acres to 1000 acres depending on season, availability of food, whether it's a buck or a doe with young. A deer wouldn't become familiar with every hole in the ground like a chipmunk would. How does a deer learn the boundaries of its territory and where the trails are in relation to the food sources? What does "lost" mean to a deer?

    If the forest animals are able to navigate in the woods, why is it so easy for us to become disoriented? Are we so lost in our thoughts that we can't see the texture of the vegetation? Are we so so foreign to the forest environment that we can't feel the shape of a clearing, the subtle change in slope, the predominant direction of the breeze?

    In no way am I suggesting that the bread crumb concept (or GPS, or compass, or trekking pole, etc) is inappropriate. I'm just wondering why intelligent creatures like humans have such vulnerability to being lost in the woods when it appears that the lesser creatures handle it just fine.
    Deer have a sense of smell as good as a dog, so they can navigate by smell. I don’t know about chipmunks, but mice leave urine sent markings.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    GPS is not as accurate as you think, particularly in rough terrain which I said.
    ...
    Honestly, I don't know about the maps and trails in the US, esp. not about the AT.

    But when hiking, just out of pure curiosity I always have the map in my mind and on the phone and am looking for upcoming turnoffs, bends or turns to know ahead where to take care (and still some times I take the wrong turn, my bad...)
    So when wandering off the trail by purpose, I know exactly if there is any specific feature of the trail (like a dramatic turn) ahead. This is essentiell for self-protection and modesty anyway, otherwise it could happen (and it did happen to me once - but that was for stealth camping) that while wandering a hundred yards off you again might end up close to the trail after a hairpin turn.

    The other thing is, up to my experience modern GPS sensors are very accurate, down to single meter, and good apps do indicate the accuracy of the fix. In any case its accurate enough to give you the idea whether you are veering away from the trail or closing up.
    The only time GPS is inaccurate is when hiking inside a canyon, or very close to the bottom of a sheer rock face.
    In both cases the geography doesnt leave you many choices, usually its only "up/alongside" or "down/alongside", and while both landscapes are not the ideal place for a bathroom break anyway, its very hard to get lost in both cases.

    The only downside of GPS is, if you dont have any, or if defect or out of battery, its useless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justhike View Post
    Those phrases strike me as poetry. I think you've nailed it.

    Not so poetic as the leaves and breeze themselves!

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    GPS is not as accurate as you think, particularly in rough terrain which I said...
    We'll just have to disagree on the GPS accuracy thing, I've never had any of those issues with the apps I use, sorry. Guthook and Backcountry navigator have never failed to dial me in to within a dozen yards or so of any trail/track, and I do a whole lot of "bushwhacking" all over. Google Maps maybe not, though I haven't done that test. Maybe I will, just for fun.

    Yeah, some GPS tracks of a given trail can be off by quite a bit, but that won't prevent me from getting back to a good spot using my phone. But all of the Guthook tracks I've used to date have been pretty spot-on (including the AT, PCT, CT, CDT, LT). No wifi/cell service involved, phone always on airplane mode.

    I'm just amazed at the GPS accuracy on plain old cellphones these days; A couple years ago, I experimented with laying down a track using a couple year old Garmin 30CX dedicated GPS unit and my cellphone in my pocket. the cellphone track was much smoother, no drop outs or weird jig-jags. The Garmin had some of those, as I had noticed in the past.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    ...I'm just amazed at the GPS accuracy on plain old cellphones these days...
    Similar story here.
    We were hiking in the desert, my friend was tracking with his Garmin, I did the same using my then-new Sony smartphone.
    He lost his Garmin, and we decided to go search for it the following day when we would be in the area again.
    During the search, while following the track on my phone I had the impression the blue dot was a tiny bit off from the recorded track to one side, so I took a few small steps in the opposite direction, to get track and dot aligned perfectly.
    When done I looked down to the ground - and my feet were standing exactly on the my own footprints from the hike up the other day.

    OK, open desert sky is the perfect condition for GPS reception. But still, amazing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    ...We're usually top of the food chain and not paying attention. If every day you had to navigate around Andre the giant, you'd start learning where the trail goes and how to tell when Andre was around! Plus that pack of wolves, the coyotes, the occasional hawk, etc. But going to the bathroom as a human? Unless you make a point to pay attention, you aren't going to give it anymore attention than at home, which is basically nil.
    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    Deer have a sense of smell as good as a dog, so they can navigate by smell. I don’t know about chipmunks, but mice leave urine sent markings.

    Andre the Giant??? LOL

    If I'm walking off-trail to use the bathroom, I guess I'd better be paying attention!

    And that's kinda what my question is about. When I intentionally leave the trail, it seems like I should be able to absorb information (because I'm paying attention) about where the vegetation is thicker or more green or taller, about which way the shadows fall, about the way the terrain dips or rises over here or there, about the nature of the ground surface (rocky, leafy, damp), about a singular notable object (the only tuft of grass, a large pile of bark at the base of a tree, a cluster of deadfalls). And if I'm paying attention, it "should" be easy for me to return. Even if I fail to pay attention, once I finish, why can't I at least read the tracks of my path to the cathole for at least 10-12 feet to know the direction back? Did I not step on something? Did I not turn to avoid or lift my feet to cross an obstacle? Did I not leave a trace? And yet, despite the signs that logic says must exist, am I either too blind or too ignorant or too arrogant to look for them?

  9. #69

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    Same here. Usually I find phone, handheld and watch GPS accurate to within what I call "pissing distance" ... which seems appropriate for this thread.

    Screen shot of GPS/satellite for a recent hike. The "Begin" marker is within a couple of feet — if not inches — of where my car was parked. Track is from Suunto Ambit3 wrist unit.

    GPS_Pawling.jpg
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I wonder how animals navigate in the woods without getting lost. ..... In no way am I suggesting that the bread crumb concept (or GPS, or compass, or trekking pole, etc) is inappropriate. I'm just wondering why intelligent creatures like humans have such vulnerability to being lost in the woods when it appears that the lesser creatures handle it just fine.
    I imagine instinct and an acute sense of smell play into this. Like taking a dog for a walk and they stop and pee every 50 yards....they'll never get lost or not be able to find their way home.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  11. #71

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    About electronic navigation....I'm a big fan. I have Guthooks, and All Trails Pro, and have myself a fine time bushwhacking and navigating in my local forests with these....I am fearless and confident. HOWEVER, if the stakes of getting lost are higher, I will not bushwhack and will pay greater respect to the forest...even if just wandering 200 feet. (Consider trying to walk 200 ft in a straight line in GSMNP, or attempting to recreate your path back....not easy.)

    GPS? Heading southbound on the AT just before Quinn Mtn, turn left onto what you believe is Chateauguay Rd because your Guthooks is confused and tells you it is. In 100 yards you are completely unlocatable by your own devices and by all those of the local police, 911, and S&R. They cannot tell you where you are reliably within 10 miles. GPS IS NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE (try using it in Boston or NYC, or follow it in Providence and you end up in the bay).

    Anyway, my point is, I don't want to have to worry. I use this little trick because I won't have to pay attention (important if I'm tired) but can just follow my breadcrumbs back to my starting point on the trail. It's not for everyone, but from what I gather it works for quite a few.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    And that's kinda what my question is about. When I intentionally leave the trail, it seems like I should be able to absorb information (because I'm paying attention) about where the vegetation is thicker or more green or taller, about which way the shadows fall, about the way the terrain dips or rises over here or there, about the nature of the ground surface (rocky, leafy, damp), about a singular notable object (the only tuft of grass, a large pile of bark at the base of a tree, a cluster of deadfalls). And if I'm paying attention, it "should" be easy for me to return. Even if I fail to pay attention, once I finish, why can't I at least read the tracks of my path to the cathole for at least 10-12 feet to know the direction back? Did I not step on something? Did I not turn to avoid or lift my feet to cross an obstacle? Did I not leave a trace? And yet, despite the signs that logic says must exist, am I either too blind or too ignorant or too arrogant to look for them?
    Tracking is a perishable skill and not everyone can capture the micro-cues necessary to "read the ground".
    In dense brush like laurel, sub-alpine terrain, and krummholtz for example one can easily get turned around given the density of the brush that won't necessarily provide an indication of the direction of arrival into a specific spot. I have gotten turned around in that stuff and was surprised how easily it happened. A lot of lost hiker searches begin with, "Hey, I gotta find a place to go" (akin to the curse of "hold my beer and watch this").

    While GPS is a handy tool that never fails or run out of battery when most needed , there are times when something "old school" simple like the bread bag clip idea are all that's needed to help find the way back to the trail in unfamiliar places. Already I'm thinking how to orient the clip opening so it points at the next clip on the way out much as the knot in surveyors tape points to the next flag.

  13. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    Same here. Usually I find phone, handheld and watch GPS accurate to within what I call "pissing distance" ... which seems appropriate for this thread.

    Screen shot of GPS/satellite for a recent hike. The "Begin" marker is within a couple of feet — if not inches — of where my car was parked. Track is from Suunto Ambit3 wrist unit.

    GPS_Pawling.jpg
    Nearly the whole bottom portion of the track you are off the green path. Then heading north it zigzags until you cross the road, and that section is in open conditions.

    Yesterdays google location track for me shows three points hundreds of feet off the highway I was on. Brand new Galaxy S20 Note.

    Here's some test data. https://medium.com/@importanttech/we...s-b9ec35873e2e
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    Call for his whisky
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  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    Nearly the whole bottom portion of the track you are off the green path. Then heading north it zigzags until you cross the road, and that section is in open conditions.

    Yesterdays google location track for me shows three points hundreds of feet off the highway I was on. Brand new Galaxy S20 Note.

    Here's some test data. https://medium.com/@importanttech/we...s-b9ec35873e2e
    Cool article, and it supports the point that GPS's are plenty accurate for not getting lost. What's a dozen meters?

    One little tidbit: GPS accuracy does tend to be slightly worse the further north one goes (or south in the southern hemishpere, I would suppose). My Garmin had more scatter in my Alaska hiking/climbing than in the lower 48. More atmosphere to look through to the satellites, and probably fewer satellites above the horizon at any given time. That test was done in Montreal, though that's probably not far north enough to matter.

    And who cares that cmoulder's yellow line is what, 2 meters off the actual road?

    Interesting that Iphones are less accurate though.

    One key point is that mention that "moving accuracy" is better than static accuracy, something folks should try to remember. Unless you're in a tunnel or something, your GPS coverage will vary quite a bit in the trees and a good App should collect the data and sort through what's correct or not given a few minutes.

    And yeah, google ain't good enough for this, certainly, I've seen that as well.

    There is of course always user error, like not taking an extra battery pack when relying on electronics.

    I won't say anything more except that I don't think we should be leaving anything in the forest, like flags or even bread-ties. I know you all say you'll collect them, but surely if this is common practice, some will be left behind. Just my opinion, of course.

  15. #75
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    Regarding accuracy of GPS, as far as I know once you get a fix and move off away and get the next fix a few minutes later, the location between the two fixes relative to each other is very precise, even if the fixes are off in absolute measures.
    So if you pin a waypoint right when you head to the bushes, your GPS will find the waypoint again with very high precision.
    Of course assumed that the Selective Availability stays switched off, as it is since over 20 years now.

    This is due to the fact that within some short time (say, 10 or 20 minutes) and within short range many of the bad influences to the GPS system and reception of the signals will not change, like weather, atmospheric influences, general geography, time drift, drift of other sensors, using the same satellites.

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    Sorry, forgot to add:
    The only time when GPS failed me was in a heavy snowstorm in the desert.

  17. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    Nearly the whole bottom portion of the track you are off the green path. Then heading north it zigzags until you cross the road, and that section is in open conditions.

    Yesterdays google location track for me shows three points hundreds of feet off the highway I was on. Brand new Galaxy S20 Note.

    Here's some test data. https://medium.com/@importanttech/we...s-b9ec35873e2e
    Actually we were walking on snow and following some other tracks and couldn't really see the road, so the track might have as little as 0 or maybe 2-3 feet of error.

    Does anyone require more accuracy than that for hiking?

    Yes, we all know that when a GPS unit is stationary that it will get some weird spikes, and occasionally (sometimes frequently) crazy spikes while moving. I once walked under a large steel tower that suspended high-voltage electric wires and got a spike that registered a waypoint something like 2 miles away, with an indicated speed of something like 587 mph. I know that dense tree cover (especially when wet) and obstructing landforms can cause signal reflections that distort the track. But overall it's still pretty darn good.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  18. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Cool article, and it supports the point that GPS's are plenty accurate for not getting lost. What's a dozen meters?

    One little tidbit: GPS accuracy does tend to be slightly worse the further north one goes (or south in the southern hemishpere, I would suppose). My Garmin had more scatter in my Alaska hiking/climbing than in the lower 48. More atmosphere to look through to the satellites, and probably fewer satellites above the horizon at any given time. That test was done in Montreal, though that's probably not far north enough to matter.

    And who cares that cmoulder's yellow line is what, 2 meters off the actual road?

    Interesting that Iphones are less accurate though.

    One key point is that mention that "moving accuracy" is better than static accuracy, something folks should try to remember. Unless you're in a tunnel or something, your GPS coverage will vary quite a bit in the trees and a good App should collect the data and sort through what's correct or not given a few minutes.

    And yeah, google ain't good enough for this, certainly, I've seen that as well.

    There is of course always user error, like not taking an extra battery pack when relying on electronics.

    I won't say anything more except that I don't think we should be leaving anything in the forest, like flags or even bread-ties. I know you all say you'll collect them, but surely if this is common practice, some will be left behind. Just my opinion, of course.
    A dozen meters is almost 40 feet. It could be telling you are on the wrong side of trail for instance. Could put you past a switch back. Suppose you weren't paying attention but rely on your blue dot. I randomly drop you 40 feet from your location. You just walked about 200 ft in. Now find the trail. Plus what do people say, "I need to find some bushes"?

    Cmoulders line is about 2 meters off in open terrain practically, while he was claiming potentially inches. I don't know what side he may have been walking on, I just assumed he was on the green pathway/road.

    This is my phone hanging on a hook in my coat pocket, top floor but inside the building, while I had PT yesterday.
    The far point is after the appt.
    Hospital.JPG
    Honestly, my drive track is very off from Google IMO but there are multiple points it wasn't, even on the way home in the same area. Very interesting was that when I zoomed in and out the satellite photos changed and my location changed as pictured on the map. That's a georeferencing issue. Not sure what your "base map" image is in whatever apps you use, but how well it is georeferenced is important as well. We have national map standards, I don't know whether there are any common standards for aerial and satellite imagery.

    I don't use any markers myself to go to the bathroom. I do sometimes end up in a different spot. I go pretty far out when I am camped because I know others don't always do that and I don't like surprises. I don't think everyone needs this method but it may be useful to some who find themselves far from where they left the trail more frequently than they would like.

    I did lose my car at a big airport once, flying can be stressful. Take a good picture of the lot!
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  19. #79
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    I've always found that if you just "pay attention" when leaving the trail it is easy to get back to it. But, life is just harder for some people than it is for others...
    Lonehiker

  20. #80

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    Cmoulders line is about 2 meters off in open terrain practically, while he was claiming potentially inches.


    What I mentioned specifically was my parked vehicle's location: "
    The 'Begin' marker is within a couple of feet — if not inches — of where my car was parked."

    Ah well, we're now into the realm of 'angels dancing on the head of a pin' so it's moot.

    All I can say is that if it ever reaches the point that I need more accuracy than that to hike, it's time to hang up my Altras.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

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