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[pct-l] GPS, Walkie-talkie
I agree, a GPS is not needed on the PCT. It's much more useful on the CDT
where you'll find yourself lost a lot more. Yes, lots of people have done
just fine without one. But consider the following situations that I
encountered in '01:
1. You're in a somewhat featureless desert area and you have GPS coordinates
for a spring. The GPS can get you right there with no guesswork. Without
it, you would have to navigate with precision on a map where one inch is
almost two miles.
2. You come to an unmarked trail junction. It may be the one marked on your
map, or it may be one of the many animal trails that cause constant
confusion. You haven't been paying too close attention to your location in
the last couple hours and there are no clear landmarks in the vicinity.
Which way do you go? Get out your GPS and see if you're at the marked
3. You're going cross-country up a canyon and need to take one particular
creek up to a ridge. There are several creeks coming off that ridge. How do
you know you're at the correct one? Your GPS will put you on the map.
4. You're going cross-country in the snow. You've gone from ridge to ridge
in forest for so long you can't be sure where you are anymore. Your GPS can
put you on the map.
5. You've been going cross-country and you come across a road. It might be
windy road A, in which case you want to follow it to the left. It might be
windy road B, in which case you want to follow it to the right. It might
even be an unmarked logging road in which case you don't want to follow it
anywhere. Your GPS can tell you which road it is.
6. This didn't happen to me, but you mention interest in carrying a radio or
phone. Presumably one of the reasons is to call for help if you should
become injured and immobile. How do you tell the rescuers where you are? GPS
coordinates would be useful.
You get the idea. Without the GPS, you'd just guess. With the GPS you guess
But a GPS is not a substitute for map and compass skills. Once you know
where you are on the map, you still have to navigate to where you want to
be. A GPS with a built in map would help, but you'd use up a lot of
batteries on a thru-hike using that map. And what would you do if the GPS
broke during the hike like mine did, or the batteries die? Is the built in
map useful enough to plan an alternate route or does it just show you your
I recommend using a GPS on the CDT. But the only thing I use it for is to
tell me my current coordinates which I then plot on my map using a GPS
waypointer. Any GPS will do that, so buy the cheapest lightest one you can
find. I like the yellow Garmin Etrex. I bought mine on Ebay for about $100.
It weighs 5.2 ounce with standard batteries. It's a bit lighter with Lithium
Flyin' Brian Robinson
Calendar Triple Crown '01
>From: "Joanne Lennox" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>I do not consider a GPS necessary for the PCT. I do not know about the
>CDT. the guides are written in tens of a mile and some waypoints are very
>easy to miss. The talk on the list about GPS units has gone right by me
>because I do not know a thing about them; I have never used one and there
>is nobody around to teach me. Nevertheless, I am thinking about launching
>off into GPS space. So...
>How helpful is a GPS for the CDT?
>What kind of features are necessary and what just make it too complex or
>burdensome for a neophyte to operate?
>What is the weight and expense of these puppies?
>Can somebody recommend a specific brand and an inexpensive place to buy it?
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