Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 10 Guests and 82 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3214 Members
13 Forums
5289 Topics
49318 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Topic Options
#10514 - 01/31/11 05:43 PM Death By GPS.
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
A more accurate title would substitute "Stupidity" or "Blind faith in technology" for "GPS" in this story.

"These are not just stories of unimaginable suffering. They are reminders that even with a growing suite of digital devices at our side, technology cannot guarantee survival in the wild. Worse, it is giving many a false sense of security and luring some into danger and death."

Brain/Experience/Map/Compass/GPS. In that order.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

Top
#10516 - 01/31/11 06:50 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: wagga]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 79
Loc: East Coast Florida
The GPS is accurate to at least 20 feet with a clear view of the sky. The problem is the underlying maps. The woman who lost her son in Death Valley was led astray by a poor choice of maps in her GPS. Maps of remote areas may be from government sources like the 7.5' USGS topos. These maps show century old mining trails as dirt roads. Naturally, her vehicle became stuck on one of these "roads". Also, there have been two cases of people being guided onto unmaintained, dirt, logging roads in winter in Oregon.

Top
#10525 - 02/01/11 07:13 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: wagga]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Better yet, "Death by Ignorance of Technology"

I go out in the winter with folks who have blind faith in their GPS. I don't know how many times I have ask, "Show me where you are on my map", and they can't. People get away with this type mistake thus think of their actions as being knowledgeable and wise.

Technology is wonderful but you have to learn how to use it properly and know it limitations.


Top
#10531 - 02/01/11 08:52 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: wbtravis]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
Better yet, "Death by Ignorance of Technology"

I go out in the winter with folks who have blind faith in their GPS. I don't know how many times I have ask, "Show me where you are on my map", and they can't. People get away with this type mistake thus think of their actions as being knowledgeable and wise.


To view this another way - many of the GPS units today are "mapping GPS's", so whether someone points out their location a paper map, or the same map located within their GPS ... is there really such a difference?

I've carried a GPS for years, and also have a compass in my pack. Am quite familiar with the compass, as I used to teach map and compass courses. But, if I wanted to increase my navigation "security", would I carry a second compass? No, I'd carry a second GPS. And yes, I've pulled a compass out of my pack only to find the bezel cracked and now inoperable.

And no, I don't think that this emphasis places us at any greater risk than many other uses of technology. For example - because of Goretex jackets we put ourselves in positions of greater risk than when we just had oiled cotton. Headlamps allow us to extend the hours we can hike and climb with some margin of safety. Water filters and purification methods allow us to go into places with much less risk. Aluminum snowshoes allows us the climb mountains rather than just navigate the flats that the wooden ones give us access to. The list goes on

I think we have an obligation to view each new technological tool with some degree of caution until it's proven and tested, in much the same way we did with cell phones and now with PLB's. But at some point people will adopt that new technology and place some degree of personal safety upon that device.

To me, it's more about managing risk rather avoiding it. And yes, feel free to borrow that line. wink

Top
#10532 - 02/01/11 12:20 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: KevinR]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: KevinR
...
To view this another way - many of the GPS units today are "mapping GPS's", so whether someone points out their location a paper map, or the same map located within their GPS ... is there really such a difference?

Yes, for the tech-trusters, the ability to find their place on the map disappears when the batteries die or the LCD breaks.

Originally Posted By: KevinR
...
I've carried a GPS for years, and also have a compass in my pack. Am quite familiar with the compass, as I used to teach map and compass courses. ...

So you have learned to travel responsibly. Some of the tech-trusters don't think they need to learn any skills as long as they have the technology.

Originally Posted By: KevinR
...
I think we have an obligation to view each new technological tool with some degree of caution until it's proven and tested, in much the same way we did with cell phones and now with PLB's.

I like the way you think about obligation, but there may be better examples to give than the way some people believe they should use their cells and PLB's.

In fact, if you carry a GPS, a compass, a map, and know how to use them, I don't think you qualify as a technology-truster. Congratulations!

Dale B. Dalrymple
http://dbdimages.com

Top
#10535 - 02/01/11 02:07 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: dbd]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

Top
#10544 - 02/01/11 06:23 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: KevinR]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
I've considered purchasing a GPS tool of one kind or another several times over the past five years or so, but never have pulled the trigger. Ninety-plus percent of my hikes are on blazed trails here in the south, and I rarely ever pull the map, let alone compass, from my pack. The other ten percent of my hiking is typically on western trails during each year, and most of those have been pretty straightforward (seriously, how can you deviate from the MMWT in reasonably good summer conditions?). In fact, the only time I've been at all uncertain about my location in quite a while was in North Cascades NP a few years ago, and that lasted maybe an hour.

But then again, I'm the anal kind of guy who studies the map of an upcoming hike till it screams for mercy. Being an old schooler (not that old, but old enough at 53), regardless of what technology I may jump on in the future, I'll probably always have a compass and map in my pack. For work I use a laptop and a BlackBerry incessantly - but I also use a Daytimer, which drives my tech-worshiping boss nuts.

I read the many, many posts that regularly pop up on the boards regarding SPOT, GPS, etc., and wonder what it is that I'm missing. I understand the benefit of a SPOT, both for the user and the observer of the user, but I'm not "that guy" that disappears into the Sierra for a two week romp on the SHR or JMT (I'm admittedly quite prejudiced against having more than 25 pounds on my back at any given time, and I absolutely rebel when it approaches 35). I'm an avid dayhiker and occasional backpacker (2 nights on average), so I just haven't seen the benefit of investing a few hundred bucks in a GPS-based system. I'm not averse to it, it's just that the spirit hasn't moved me to that point yet.

That said, whether it's a paper map or GPS display, the ability to read the landscape around you and interpret those same topo features on a map will always be critical to finding your way around in the backcountry when it's necessary. I believe there is a danger for some in putting too much faith in technology, particularly in the wilderness, without adequately understanding the basic principles that technology is based on. The upside is that (I presume) with a GPS system you don't have to deal with the damn declination adjustments! In Georgia, it's minimal since magnetic north and true north vary by only about 4 degrees. When I'm out west, it's a different story - and direction.


Top
#10548 - 02/01/11 08:50 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Bulldog34]
SoCalGirl Offline


Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Spring Valley, CA
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
That said, whether it's a paper map or GPS display, the ability to read the landscape around you and interpret those same topo features on a map will always be critical to finding your way around in the backcountry when it's necessary.


If I hike with a GPS it's to track milage or altitude. I've never hiked with a GPS to show me the "way". I use a map, landmarks, and compass if necessary. That being said I have a story to share from this last weekend.

I had my Boy Scouts out on a camping trip in an area that I'm -very- familiar with. However, I still carry a map with me (and reference it) when I'm hiking with the Scouts. I like to gather them around so they're looking at the map with me so they can show me where our next move should be to reach whatever the goal is that we've set.

We got to a particular point in our hike where the trail we were hiking on intersects a freeway, another trail (that we were to transfer onto) and a campground on the other side of the freeway. Some of the boys and leaders went to the campground across the freeway to refill water bladders and use the restrooms. While over there, one of the leaders was approached by a couple on horseback who were having trouble finding their way back to the staging area that they began at earlier in the day. The other leader called me over and told the horse couple that I could probably help them. The lady had a map that she was trying to read, and I had my map out as well. She kept asking about a particular trail that she saw on her map that would lead back to the staging area.

At this point we were less then an hour to sundown and, by trail, about 3-4 miles from the staging area (and from the Scouts campsite down another set of trails). Anyways... I cross referenced her map with mine because I just couldn't think of what trail she was talking about out of the campground. Finally she traced it with her finger and showed me exactly what she was talking about....

I looked at her and said, "I'm sorry Ma'am... but thats not a trail, it's a stream"...

Top
#10552 - 02/02/11 03:23 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: SoCalGirl]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
So Chris, those thin blue lines aren't trails? Damn! No wonder I've gone through so many pairs of water shoes!

Top
#10555 - 02/02/11 06:34 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: KevinR]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Quote:
To view this another way - many of the GPS units today are "mapping GPS's", so whether someone points out their location a paper map, or the same map located within their GPS ... is there really such a difference?

I've carried a GPS for years, and also have a compass in my pack. Am quite familiar with the compass, as I used to teach map and compass courses. But, if I wanted to increase my navigation "security", would I carry a second compass? No, I'd carry a second GPS. And yes, I've pulled a compass out of my pack only to find the bezel cracked and now inoperable.

And no, I don't think that this emphasis places us at any greater risk than many other uses of technology. For example - because of Goretex jackets we put ourselves in positions of greater risk than when we just had oiled cotton. Headlamps allow us to extend the hours we can hike and climb with some margin of safety. Water filters and purification methods allow us to go into places with much less risk. Aluminum snowshoes allows us the climb mountains rather than just navigate the flats that the wooden ones give us access to. The list goes on

I think we have an obligation to view each new technological tool with some degree of caution until it's proven and tested, in much the same way we did with cell phones and now with PLB's. But at some point people will adopt that new technology and place some degree of personal safety upon that device.

To me, it's more about managing risk rather avoiding it. And yes, feel free to borrow that line. wink


As pointed out in the post immediately below, batteries die. Last weekend, my batteries died and I had forgotten to replace the spares. If it were critical, I would have been screwed if did not have a map, compass and altimeter.

I have the native mapping software on my GPS but it is more for feel than anything else. The unit is way too small to get an accurate view of the terrain you are traveling. I have found most of the folks who don't take the time to learn about GPS, never took the time to learn map and compass skills, which is semi-ok, if your idea of hiking is on trails in optimum conditions.

You are right, it is about managing risk. After seeing a climbing accident where 4 people ended up in Arrowhead Medical Center via helicopter, I reassessed the risks I was willing to take. I upgraded gear and started carrying enough clothing to make it through the night on all day trips...in all seasons because you never know when you are going to bust up an ankle collapsing a snow bridge well off the trail grid.




Top
#10562 - 02/02/11 08:00 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: wbtravis]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
GPS technology properly understood can be very useful and its utility exceeds the utility of the map and compass in blinding conditions. I carry a GPS and a topo map and compass wherever I hike. I have learned to use my GPS well enough that I have come to rely heavily on it. I have a model with extremely good reception and it gives very reliable directions. In fact, I primarily use the GPS. As a fail safe, I use and carry a map and compass. I understand that the following scenario is not likely, but it happens: If one were in blinding conditions and because of an emergency (let's say someone back on the trail needs acute care quickly) one needs to navigate through the blinding storm, the compass will function but without being able to sight landmarks, the map will be of no use making the compass of very little use. A good GPS in the hands of someone who has spent the time to understand how it works, on the other hand, could guide the traveler to where they needed to go.

Brent N

Top
#10628 - 02/04/11 09:31 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Brent N]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
I'm sure there were Polynesians who scoffed at the young navigators who borrowed European paper maps, rather than the lattice stick charts they used. All this tech has a place, of course but there seem to be two sets of problems:

People who trust it to the exclusion of other resources and their own senses.

The underlying map data is flawed -- the GPS itself is rarely at fault in the sense of not showing the correct location, but roads, trails etc. are often badly flawed, sometimes not even there, or inappropriately marked as to type (4WD, surfaced etc.)

My favorite is some guys a few years ago who decided the best route back to their car was following the GPS arrow pointing to their car: 3.5 miles! vs. about 12 trail miles. Of course, it took them down a gnarly canyon to a waterfall where they were stuck for the next 4 days. I asked them if, as the terrain got worse and worse, they considered turning back. "No, because the car showed as getting closer and closer."

Map est non tractus: The map is not the territory (Wagga, is that right??)

Moments ago I wrote ESRI and asked if there was an error reporting protocol. I noticed on the World Topo Basemap they use as an online resource, that Harrison Pass is marked as a regular trail. Not a great idea. It had showed up in the first USGS 7.5 minute drafts in the 80s, but we zapped it then. I see it reappear occasionally on guidebooks and now an ESRI map.

Their Commmunity Basemaps (World Topography layer) have very accurate, locally generated data for an increasing number of areas, but only when zoomed way in (1:12,000 or so). Yosemite and Sequoia are both providing data and error correction is in progress. Obviously all these map services need a clear error reporting protocol tied to regular updates.

g.

PS: Brent, yes. The best use I have for the GPS is in whiteouts, navigating back to a known point. I've tested this a few times (use Lithium batteries -- NiCads go bloop < 25 F or so) and they work really well for that.


Edited by George (02/04/11 09:34 AM)
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

Top
#10630 - 02/04/11 10:06 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
> My favorite is some guys a few years ago who decided the best route back to their car was following the GPS arrow...

I was in a gas station in Big Pine once and a guy was looking to drive up somewhere in the Sierra. He showed me his map, and asked how to get to the place he was pointing at.

I told him that dotted line he was looking at was a hiking trail, and there were no roads where he wanted to go.

Top
#10723 - 02/09/11 04:57 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Steve C]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
A summary of some stupid GPS tricks in the LA Times.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

Top
#10935 - 02/17/11 10:53 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: wagga]
SoCalGirl Offline


Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Spring Valley, CA
http://www.10news.com/news/26899033/detail.html

I just had to throw this article in... don't you think a person would notice that they were driving on the train tracks and not on the road anymore?? Just sayin'....

Top
#10942 - 02/17/11 03:10 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: SoCalGirl]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Something that is usually not touched upon in these discussion:

The concept of self-reliance.

I know many mountaineers, that make it a point of pride that they have navigation skills that will work when they need them.
It often seems like people want to tackle things which requires skill, but they don't want to pay the price of time to learn. I've never understood that.

Down in LA, I teach sailing sometimes, and one of my instructor certifications is in navigation. It drives me batty when people want to be totally tech driven. There is such a thing as seamanship, which includes nav skills. Yeah, we have GPS, and we use them. But I'd rarely use one to navigate, except when out of sight of land, for convenience.

We had a guy out on a cruise to Catalina, returning, when his boat sprung a leak. Panic ensued. He gets on the radio and describes where he is several times. Each time is different, as far apart as 10 miles.

So he gets the long/lat from the GPS, which puts him somewhere in Arizona........fortunately, the Coast Guard can triangulate your position from your radio broadcast.

Top
#10948 - 02/17/11 05:55 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Ken]
Mike Condron Offline


Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 215
Loc: Now Manteca, CA
Ive done a little sailing along the California coast from SF to LA and it's really a neat experience to be using an RDF, a Fathometer, and dead-reckoning to run smack into (but not hit) the targeted marker buoy in the middle of the night.
_________________________
Mike

Top
#10950 - 02/18/11 06:17 AM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Mike Condron]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 310
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I had to do a bit of dead reckoning once. My partner and I proudly stood on the summit of Mt. Williamson at 4:30 PM, exactly 15 years ago today. It began to snow as we started down. We had no GPS, no compass (or at least we never used it), no moon, and minimal starlight making it through the clouds. We did have headlamps, but we didn't use them much, since they keep your eyes from fully adjusting to the dark. By 8:00 PM, it had snowed 6" and it had been dark for hours. We had been "feeling" out way towards Anvil Camp with the headlamps off for the last 20 minutes. I thought we were close to camp and turned on my headlamp. Camp was thirty feet away.


Edited by bobpickering (02/18/11 06:18 AM)

Top
#10961 - 02/18/11 03:10 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: Ken]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: Ken
Something that is usually not touched upon in these discussion:

The concept of self-reliance.


And with good reason - a GPS is a tool, not a life-style choice. Just like a watch, a sextant, shoes, etc. Even trekking poles.

To use your line of reasoning using anything more than the stars, sun and moon to navigate suggests lack of self-reliance.

To be critical of others who use a GPS is as silly as being critical of a carpenter using a nail gun instead of a stone axe. Use the best tool at hand, and use it to help accomplish the goal.

Top
#10975 - 02/19/11 07:13 PM Re: Death By GPS. [Re: KevinR]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: KevinR
Originally Posted By: Ken
Something that is usually not touched upon in these discussion:

The concept of self-reliance.


And with good reason - a GPS is a tool, not a life-style choice. Just like a watch, a sextant, shoes, etc. Even trekking poles.

To use your line of reasoning using anything more than the stars, sun and moon to navigate suggests lack of self-reliance.

To be critical of others who use a GPS is as silly as being critical of a carpenter using a nail gun instead of a stone axe. Use the best tool at hand, and use it to help accomplish the goal.


Kevin, was I being critical of using technology? Read again. I am critical of witless sole reliance upon technology, ESPECIALLY when a person has not mastered the technology when one's life may depend upon it.

A carpenter who is expert with her tools is a craftsperson to be respected. One who is not does not deserve the title.

I always liked this variation of the classic:

" This is my ice axe. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My ice axe is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My ice axe, without me, is useless. Without my ice axe, I am useless."

Top