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  1. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    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...


    (my message was too short)
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    Ah well, we're now into the realm of 'angels dancing on the head of a pin' so it's moot.


    What shall we say, shall we call it by a name
    As well to count the angels dancing on a pin
    Water bright as the sky from which it came
    And the name is on the earth that takes it in
    We will not speak but stand inside the rain
    And listen to the thunder shout
    I am, I am, I am, I am

  3. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    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...
    I find that people who think they are perfectly attentive all the time are FOS. Nobody is attentive 100% of the time. No need to be derogatory either. Like you couldn't make an error in direction? Yeah ok. People make mistakes, don't think you are going to belittle someone who may have memory issues, ADHD, cognitive problems or simply has a concern about getting lost. There are plenty of accounts here of people getting turned around on trail under ordinary conditions.

    And the rest of you guys. I showed you a point cloud that varied by tens of feet for a stationary phone. It was there around 30 minutes, maybe 15-20 data points. Plus you completely ignored the possibility of errors in the gps base layer. All I had to do was look at yesterday's data. One of the first things taught in geography courses is how the representation of the world is over simplified and full of uncertainty. You're taking a 3 dimensional object and forcing it onto a 2 dimensional space.

    Last, if you are actually 200 ft off the trail for your potty break, that's over 60 yards. I've walked through some laurel thickets that far that would bust you up on a wet day. Forget straight, you take the path of least resistance. Or some young spruce stands where you'd have a hard enough time with a compass keeping a straight line. I have bushwhacked a lot of miles with a new GPS in rugged terrain to predetermined points only to have the gps recalibrate. For instance, the gps unit telling me I was 70 ft away and heading straight in for 40 ft and still be 70 ft away.
    "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..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  4. #84
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    I hope none of my (our) texts here was understood as belittlement or to put somebody down.
    Each of us here has made errors, was turned around or got lost, nobody is perfect.

    My purpose in pointing out the abilities of GPS is, that almost everybody has it, uses it and takes great care of the device (keeps it charged und undamaged) anyway.
    Why not use it for the purpose it was designed for from the beginning? Belive me, it works. And if it doesn't, you know at the very moment you try to set the first waypoint when leaving the trail - and then you may resort to another means to not get lost when doing your business off trail.

    I have one tiny concern when using some small plastic items for this purpose on a regular basis: You may try to do your best, but you sure over time will fail to collect absolutely 100% of all pieces you've used, so a small percentage will get lost and remain in the woods.
    After some years and hundreds or thousands of hikers doing so, the woods (especially the areas that are suitable for getting off trail) will be cluttered by hundreds of tiny plastic items left behind.
    This will just add to the litter thats already there, like toilet paper, wet wipes, and all the litter people leave along the trails anyway.
    Again, I'm not pointing at the original poster here in person. I'm sure she/he, as most of the hikers, takes great care of her/his stuff.
    But still it happens that an item gets lost.
    We are doing dayhikes here almost daily (due to lockdown we are not able to do bigger things, unfortunately), and very many people do the same.
    The edges of the trails are covered with such small litter things like paper handkerchiefs, candy wrappers and such.
    Not that people are specifically careless - its just a matter of sheer numbers.

  5. #85

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    I don't think anyone is beating up on consumer GPS, it has proven to be reasonably accurate when used in macro-navigation applications. Being off by 40-feet is not really a big deal when driving places, in boats, flying in a plane, or hiking a well defined trail. Micro-navigation is where problems can be as accuracy tends to decay inside the 20-meter level, especially in heavy canopy. 40-feet can be a very big deal in dense forest where vision is limited to a few feet. Alligator brings up an excellent point, if that 40-foot error shows you on the opposite side of a trail you just stepped off of, the problems start to magnify quickly.

    GPS works until it doesn't. Some people depend on it exclusively, others carry GPS but also have other navigation tools as back up like maps, compass, and flagging tape (adding bag clips to the list) for off trail route marking along with electronic devices. Some people do not have an innate sense of direction or have tracking skills deep enough to be of use in these situations, having additional means to find their way makes sense.

  6. #86
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    I agree with something you didn't say explicitly, but I'm reading between your (and others) lines here:
    If anybody is aware of navigational issues to a degree that she/he is using flags, clips or whatever to make sure to find the way back to the trail, most likely the person is aware of navigation to an extent that the additional help by those little helpers would not be necessary at all.

  7. #87

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    Leo L. I was speaking directly to lonehiker regarding being derogatory, not you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    I agree with something you didn't say explicitly, but I'm reading between your (and others) lines here:
    If anybody is aware of navigational issues to a degree that she/he is using flags, clips or whatever to make sure to find the way back to the trail, most likely the person is aware of navigation to an extent that the additional help by those little helpers would not be necessary at all.
    Necessary is not the criteria to use in my opinion. Might it have merit or be useful, yes. If I was putting out flagging for navigation, it would be because I felt it was the most expeditious way to get back and forth to where I was going. If I were to use it for this purpose, I would have it as readily accessible as my TP and hand sanitizer and it takes about 10 seconds to tie flagging with only several pieces necessary depending, plus collection time afterwards. Less time than getting a fix with a cold gps unit and more foolproof. Not a good idea to start moving before you have a decent number of satellites fixed either BTW.

    FWIW I recently spent two summers navigating to random points in the forest with a very good consumer grade gps in conditions of full canopy and rugged terrain. That issue of where the GPS would say, and I slightly exaggerate, but it would say point is 82 feet away and after traveling towards the point about 30-40ft it might still say it was 80 ft away. Or I would be almost on top of the point (<10 ft) and it would shift 50-60 ft. Roughly, this would happen about 20-40% of the time. The unit was used for road navigation too, no issues.

    .
    "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..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  8. #88
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    Maybe I'm using GPS different than you do?
    I'd start the GPS (without tracking) the moment I start hiking and am looking on the GPS every now and then, especially when expecting special features of the trail, or like when I'm going to need a break, in order to find a good spot for it, like a lookout point or a clearing or a stream/lake.
    So while it may take 20 seconds to get the first fix in the morning, it most likely will take 5 seconds to get any subsequent fix.

    Maybe the online-maps are less accurate in the US than here around?
    Honestly, I've never encountered such issues with the GPS like you are describing, unless I was trapped in a landscape where GPS will not work good enough, like canyons and aside steep faces.
    I am very sure that the GPS itself works the same in the US than over here in Europe. We have Galileo in addition (which should be more accurate), but I doubt my old device can use it.

    Maybe you have more dense overgrown, tree covered forests?
    I don't know.
    The only time I was in the US, using GPS, was in the NPs of the West. The GPS I had then was actually a very poor one inside a digital camera and it was amazing that the GPS put pretty correct data on the shots I made, even the names of sights I've pointed at.

  9. #89

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    After all this discussion I decided to go weigh my flagging.Four pieces of bright orange flagging weigh in at 7 whole grams! I suppose it's only limitation is line of sight visibility,so as long as you can see it you know which way you're going for the return to the last known position.

    A friend of mine is a dedicated GPS user and we use it quite a bit in a local river horse trail area that has numerous little trails all over the place.We've never had a problem finding our way with it but I personally will always have have a compass and some sort of map or knowledge like "West to the River,East to the Highway" so it's not that big a deal.I do have issues at times following a trail or knowing if I am on the correct one but GPS will save the day most of the time.I always try to have an additional days worth of food or at least some snacks just in case.

  10. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    Maybe I'm using GPS different than you do?
    I'd start the GPS (without tracking) the moment I start hiking and am looking on the GPS every now and then, especially when expecting special features of the trail, or like when I'm going to need a break, in order to find a good spot for it, like a lookout point or a clearing or a stream/lake.
    So while it may take 20 seconds to get the first fix in the morning, it most likely will take 5 seconds to get any subsequent fix.

    Maybe the online-maps are less accurate in the US than here around?
    Honestly, I've never encountered such issues with the GPS like you are describing, unless I was trapped in a landscape where GPS will not work good enough, like canyons and aside steep faces.
    I am very sure that the GPS itself works the same in the US than over here in Europe. We have Galileo in addition (which should be more accurate), but I doubt my old device can use it.

    Maybe you have more dense overgrown, tree covered forests?
    I don't know.
    The only time I was in the US, using GPS, was in the NPs of the West. The GPS I had then was actually a very poor one inside a digital camera and it was amazing that the GPS put pretty correct data on the shots I made, even the names of sights I've pointed at.
    You'll get a fix as soon as you have a minimum number of satellites. As a unit adds more satellites the position will be recalculated. Depends on how fast your unit captures the satellites. Usually a screen where you can watch the unit acquire satellites.

    Galileo is a newer system with higher accuracy. I was using a Garmin Oregon 650 which I don't think uses Galileo. US GPS under good conditions is accurate to 5m, Galileo to 1m. I do believe it was more of a terrain and vegetation issue. I was working in mountainous terrain full overhead canopy varying slopes. New phones may have access to Galileo but they may not.

    When you are talking about your points of interest you are mentioning places that may be off by small amounts that you really don't notice, lake a stream or a lake. Also, what units are you using for position degrees? Degrees minutes seconds? What's the scale of your screen set at? There are only so many pixels to work with, a pixel may be a lot or a little on a small screen. Unless you have an actual monumented point for ground truth, you won't know how much you are off from it. Walking a straight line isn't always possible because there are trees and bushes in the way. A few twists and turns, digging a hole, squatting down, covering it back up and you might be turned around and not know it. If you happen to have had a poor fix with your gps unit, there's potential to be a little lost for a little bit.

    You know "online maps" can be created from paper map data. It takes a lot of money to ground truth points, depending on what you think the satellite is recording. For a long time a lot of the data was old in the US, having been created before satellites during times when there were more people working for the government at the agencies responsible. Geographic information though has uncertainty to it, it's a model of the real world, it's not perfect and can be off in ways that people aren't even aware. You've never cursed at your map for being off? "Stupid map, that was not 6 miles!"
    "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..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  11. #91
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    The smartphone I'm using since many years is a Sony Z3 compact. Tiny screen, but high resolution.
    The maps I'm using vary, here in Austria I'm using the official highly detailed map of Austria (original scale is 1:50.000).
    Yes, in some places the map is wrong, missing roads that got built recently, trails that got rerouted, etc.
    But thats more fun than issue, at least to me.
    Right now I'm sitting in my office, ground floor NE corner room, walls have cooper tubing for heating which usually makes signals poor, and the blue dot indicates that the device sits outside the house snuggled to the NE-corner of the building.
    So the fix is off by a few meters - inside the building, which usually is no good for GPS.

    In the Middle East desert I'm running Backcountry Navigator using various online maps based on satellite images.
    There are no marked and defined trails, but tracks of local Bedouins and navigation is a whole different beast there.
    On the one side, GPS has optimum reception conditions due to no canopy, clear sky, wide open horizon.
    On the other hand, navigation is, aside of finding water, the most important task of the whole trip, so I'm fully alert at all times and highly concentrated on not getting lost.
    We did a lot of comparison between handheld GPS and my smartphone, and found a good Garmin to be a tiny bit more accurate and more quick with new fixes, but overall the Smartphone does the job better for me.
    The smartphone failed to get a fix in a snowstorm once, that was the only time it let me down.

    All together, I'm not seeing any technical issue that would forbid using GPS.
    On the contrary, there are lots and lots of features that makes it convenient and perfectly suited for hiking.
    Guess its down to a matter of personal preference to use it, or not.

  12. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    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...
    Iíve found some people lack empathy and sensitivity and learn to appreciate their solitude.

  13. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    The smartphone I'm using since many years is a Sony Z3 compact. Tiny screen, but high resolution.
    The maps I'm using vary, here in Austria I'm using the official highly detailed map of Austria (original scale is 1:50.000).
    Yes, in some places the map is wrong, missing roads that got built recently, trails that got rerouted, etc.
    But thats more fun than issue, at least to me.
    Right now I'm sitting in my office, ground floor NE corner room, walls have cooper tubing for heating which usually makes signals poor, and the blue dot indicates that the device sits outside the house snuggled to the NE-corner of the building.
    So the fix is off by a few meters - inside the building, which usually is no good for GPS.

    In the Middle East desert I'm running Backcountry Navigator using various online maps based on satellite images.
    There are no marked and defined trails, but tracks of local Bedouins and navigation is a whole different beast there.
    On the one side, GPS has optimum reception conditions due to no canopy, clear sky, wide open horizon.
    On the other hand, navigation is, aside of finding water, the most important task of the whole trip, so I'm fully alert at all times and highly concentrated on not getting lost.
    We did a lot of comparison between handheld GPS and my smartphone, and found a good Garmin to be a tiny bit more accurate and more quick with new fixes, but overall the Smartphone does the job better for me.
    The smartphone failed to get a fix in a snowstorm once, that was the only time it let me down.

    All together, I'm not seeing any technical issue that would forbid using GPS.
    On the contrary, there are lots and lots of features that makes it convenient and perfectly suited for hiking.
    Guess its down to a matter of personal preference to use it, or not.
    So while I was pointed out some of the uncertainty involved with GPS and GIS, it's this small scale situation I am referring to. The development of GPS and its evolution and use over the past 25 years has been pretty fantastic in general. Smartphones too, phenomenal how many items are condensed into a phone including now a decent gps unit. Problem is, people start to take for granted all the features and don't realize that even the original devices have their limitations, imperfections, and idiosyncrasies. It's just a black box.

    Neither Teacher nor I have stated this is something everybody should do. I didn't because I do think there's the potential to loose clips (they're small) and you would have to do it every time you lose site of the trail and that's not going to be needed for everyone. But I never begrudge somebody for using a reasonable accommodation for a disability, cognitive impairment, age, or even not talented directionally. Now having not used the exact method, I proposed an easy way to keep track of the clips. If you find you are losing them, adjust placement or go with flagging. On that short a run and time period, as long as you tie it tight, there's no reason whatsover anybody should lose flagging. The flagging you may see in the woods is meant to either be there or they were too lazy to go back and get it, if it's tied that is. Loose,torn flagging is different as it's not meant to be long term, that's what paint is for. The greater the amount of time the flagging is out the more risk of it coming untied or breaking. Twenty minutes shouldn't be an issue.
    "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..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  14. #94

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    Most of the time here in the SouthEast I can pretty well see a likely spot 200 feet distance and usually just stake a hiking pole in the ground upon departing the trail but I make a point to note my magnetic heading just in case a reciprocal heading might be in order.Flags are for more serious situations.And most of the time my phone battery is charged anyway and it has GPS which has always been adequate so far..........

  15. #95

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    You can use this website to see if your phone uses Galileo. Most newer phones do.

    https://www.usegalileo.eu/EN/inner.html#data=smartphone

  16. #96

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    I like it. Nice lightweight idea for those who want the extra information.

    Based on what I read regarding Geraldine Laragy, may have been helpful.
    The older I get, the faster I hiked.

  17. #97

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    I was following tracks in the snow up a local 52WAV trail recently and at some point realized the tracks were no longer following the trail. Had only gone about 100, maybe 150 feet before I had the "this doesn't seem right" feeling. Looked like a backcountry skier started blazing their own trail through the hardwoods. A quick look at the GPS showed that, yes we were off trail. With the GPS we were quickly able to locate the actual trail, which was untracked and despite the lack of blazes.

    Even if your not getting pin point accuracy for some reason, even an app like Guthook will point you in the right direction and once going the correct direction the AT is easy to find. Yea, I know, electronics can fail, so carry a big ball of string as a back up
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  18. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I was following tracks in the snow up a local 52WAV trail recently and at some point realized the tracks were no longer following the trail. Had only gone about 100, maybe 150 feet before I had the "this doesn't seem right" feeling. Looked like a backcountry skier started blazing their own trail through the hardwoods. A quick look at the GPS showed that, yes we were off trail. With the GPS we were quickly able to locate the actual trail, which was untracked and despite the lack of blazes.

    Even if your not getting pin point accuracy for some reason, even an app like Guthook will point you in the right direction and once going the correct direction the AT is easy to find. Yea, I know, electronics can fail, so carry a big ball of string as a back up
    You had your own ball of string, your footprints/track in the snow. Plus you were following a ski track, which doesn't typically wind its way through heavy bushes. With all the leaves off the trees and less vegetation too. It's not surprising that at 100-150ft off the trail you were able to determine you weren't on the trail according to the GPS. But yeah, tracks in the snow are about as good as a ball of string.

    People seem to be thinking the map layer they are using is going to be correct. Besides what I mentioned about national map standards, trails data is often not up to date. Big trail like the AT, the centerline yes, but national forest and wilderness trails not so much. On a national forest, you could get swapped onto a logging road that's not on the map layer your gps is using or even a deer track. Trails often follow old logging roads until they don't, even the AT will do that on you. The AT will be blazed but a more local trail probably not so much.
    "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..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  19. #99

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    I am SO OLD that I remember an black and white era television program,SEA HUNT,starring Lloyd Bridges (father of Jeff Bridges).One takeaway I got from the show was that Old Lloyd NEVER went scuba diving in a cave without his ball-o-string....so there's no reason that wouldn't work....

  20. #100

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    hose your hiking partners carefuy
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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