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[pct-l] Fw: misc. GPS

I use a GPS quite a bit in the mountains around Seattle.  There have
been a couple times when it came in very handy, but I can't think of a
single time where it was crucial to my survival.  Mostly I carry it as a
toy.  :-)

GPSes have all sorts of fancy functions.  You can connect them to a PC
running topographical software like "Topo!" and download predetermined
waypoints before a hike or upload a trace of your actual traveled route
after a hike.  I use mine to accurately map trails.  Most of the time
the USGS maps are pretty accurate in their trail placement, but
sometimes it's off by a surprising amount.  But like I said, it's mostly
a toy.

In terms of serious navigation, a GPS only needs to do one thing - it
tells you where you are.  That's the big weakness of map-and-compass
navigation; it works fine as long as you keep track of where you are, or
have landmarks available to puzzle it out.  But if you have no idea
where you are, and can't figure it out from surrounding landmarks, a map
and compass won't do a thing to help you.  You're screwed.  A GPS fills
in that gap and will always tell you exactly where you are, and then you
can use a map and compass for the rest of your navigational needs.
(Your map needs to have a grid overlay for UTM or Lat/Long in order for
the GPS information to be useful, by the way!)

A GPS does NOT replace a map and compass!  While a GPS is excellent at
telling you where you are, it sucks at telling you where you need to go.
There are things you can do and features you can use to partially
overcome that limitation, but a map and compass is still necessary and
far more reliable.  I suspect a lot of the people who say, "I tried a
GPS, got confused, didn't like it," tried to make the GPS do too much.
Count on it to tell you where you are, and use the map to figure out
where to go.

I haven't thru-hiked, or even spent much time in the Sierras.  But I'd
speculate that a GPS wouldn't be super important there, even with heavy
snow cover, because there are an abundance of hard-to-obscure landmarks
(lakes, peaks, etc.) that are always available to help you puzzle out
where you are.  Yeah, you might get temporarily lost, but if you've got
a map and brain it would be hard to stay lost for very long.  A GPS
would be much more critical in terrain where there are few or no
distinctive landmarks like in dense, unbroken forest or in fairly flat
or undistinguished geography.

That said, if there's lots of snow in the Sierras, a GPS would probably
save hours of poring over the map, and more hours of trudging up a
valley all stressed out and worried, wondering if you identified your
landmarks correctly.  But that's just a convenience issue, not a
survival issue.


-----Original Message-----
From: JoAnn M Michael [mailto:jomike@snowcrest.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 11:15 AM
To: pct-l@mailman.backcountry.net
Subject: [pct-l] Fw: misc. GPS

----- Original Message ----- 
From: JoAnn M Michael 
To: Joanne Lennox 
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 11:08 AM
Subject: misc.

Good morning Joanne,

It's a cold (34 degrees) and a gloriously sunny day! It got down to 17
last night and the wind is picking up - it'll feel mighty cold out there

Read your post on the PCT-Digest. My husband bought me a Garmin etrex
Summit for my b'day. I am guilty of only having used it a couple of
times, but, I know it will do almost everything other than the dishes!
This one is suppose to be the best for hiking.  You are suppose to be
able to connect it to your computer, also (I think???). Again, I've
barely used it but at least wanted to share the name w/you. I have found
it quite user friendly and accurate.

Sorry I can't be more specific.

Take care,

The Other JoAnn    :)

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