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  1. #1
    See you at Springer, Winter 09' Chance09's Avatar
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    Default Yogi's Guide Question

    Yogi's guide doesn't really mention anything about a GPS unit. When everyone there in her guide mentions being lost all the time, i imagine it's because none of them were using a GPS? Is this a right or wrong assumption? I guess my point is wouldn't that make life a fair bit easier on the trail?

    I don't plan on getting anything crazy but i was thinking about getting one of those watch GPSs so that I could get my lat and longitude. Figure that would make map reading pretty damn easy from that point.
    AT - Georgia to Maine '09
    PCT - Mexico to Canada '10
    CDT - Canada to Mexico '11


  2. #2

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    Since the watch GPS units don't have base maps, the usefulness would depend on whether the paper maps have a corresponding GPS grid.
    Backpacking light, feels so right.

  3. #3
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    I have her CDT guide that's copyright March 2010, and found quite a lot of discussion of GPS, and don't recall everyone talking about being "lost all the time". If your version of the guide is similar or the same as mine, look on pages 64 - 72 of the Planning guide (the larger of the two books).

    The watch GPS might be a fine choice, dunno. Seems to me, however, that if you're using Ley maps and that your watch GPS only gives coordinates (and not a map visual), you might be spending a bit of time (each time) fiddling with that compass rose thing. I tried to talk Jonathan into the idea that just a couple of strategically placed UTM coordinates might be a good idea, but he views that aspect of maps differently FWIW.

    For CO and NM you could get the CDTA map books, which do have UTM. Nice maps! The catch here is that they display one and only one (the "official") CDT route, and of course lack Jonathan's notes. I'm tentatively carrying both for those states ...

    I've not worked with the compass rose, maybe it plenty fast enough to use --- in many cases I would hope that the bearing alone will be sufficient, i.e., assuming that you know that you're not that far from the trail (and sometimes perhaps you'll know that you're right on it) then a distance measure won't be necessary to disambiguate.
    Gadget
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

  4. #4
    Garlic
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    I remember reading in one of Yogi's CDT guides that she, at least, spent a notable amount of time being lost. Some do, others do not.

    My part-time hiking partner on the CDT carried a cheap watch-sized GPSs and we played with it with Ley's compass rose thingy. We practiced at it in ideal conditions (lunch time) until we got good at it, in case we needed to do it under adverse conditions. But we never did. Gadget's right that you have to be at least on the right map page for that to work. So we also carried the DeLorme Atlas pages, which do have a coordinate grid, though at a very small scale. We also practiced at using that and were able to get within 0.1 mile a few times, though only in ideal conditions. The DeLorme pages were also good for large deviations in route, like to hike roads around wildland fires.

    If you're a good navigator and don't get lost, you won't need anything. Plenty of hikers make it without, and have been hiking long before there were GPSs. But a very small and simple GPS could give you some valuable backup if you know how to use it with the other tools at your disposal. If you have a hard time staying on any route, a better GPS with mapping software and backups may be better for you.

    Even better, cheaper, and needing fewer batteries, would be learning how to navigate by map and compass. For me, it was as simple as setting my watch to chime every hour, which reminded me to stop, sit down, look around, and plot the best estimate of my position using my map and compass. That let me make sure I was actually on my intended route, as well as check my pace by comparing that point to the last few. It also kept me more aware of critical terrain features and kept me on route nearly all the time. I know at least two hikers who hiked as far as 10 miles off route before they realized they were heading down the wrong canyon. That was a whole day lost for both.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  5. #5

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    While you don't absolutely need a GPS on the CDT, they're kind of fun to carry. I believe you'll need something bigger than a watch GPS (Vista, Legend recommended) to use them but, Yogi's guides have a list of Garmin Mapsource Topo maps you'll need for the entire trail and most, if not all, alternatives. Those, along with the Ley compass rose points, on the maps that have them, should be all you'll need.

    If you check the sticky's in this forum there's lots of compass points for the trail.

  6. #6
    See you at Springer, Winter 09' Chance09's Avatar
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    OK, hadn't printed out my maps yet so, or even taken a look at them for that matter. Didn't realize they didn't have coordinates.

    I'm planning on taking a map and compass course at REI. I'm not horrible as is but hey certainly can't hurt.

    I couldn't agree more about the watch beeping hourly. I did that in the Sierra's on the PCT after I got lost and walked 7 miles down the wrong trail. Set it to beep at 30 min intervals and would check the map and compass then to make sure i was on track.
    AT - Georgia to Maine '09
    PCT - Mexico to Canada '10
    CDT - Canada to Mexico '11


  7. #7

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    Most of the map and compass work you'll do on the CDT is very rudimentary. It's simply a matter of saying, "I'm supposed to be heading SE, is this road the one I'm supposed to take? Oh oh, it's heading due east. Maybe I should wait a few minutes and see if there's another road." Or, "I've lost the trail, but there is a road a little bit west of here that will take me back to the route in a mile or two. Which way is west?" I think we only triangulated once - looking for a windmill that was supposed to be on the road we were following. We thought we had passed it but weren't sure. Turned out it had been torn down. We found the pieces just after we took our bearings.

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