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#23223 - 04/24/12 09:26 PM Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map
manson Offline


Registered: 04/23/12
Posts: 6
Loc: ca
Hi,

I am planning to get a hiking GPS with pre-loaded trail map of Mount Whitney trail. Any suggestion? Thanks!

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#23225 - 04/24/12 10:00 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: manson]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 489
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
You can get an app for iPhone that supports downloaded maps for use outside of range of either WiFi or cellular network. One such app is ViewRanger. Many maps available. All free. I use it all the time. Works great. This particular app is also available for android and symbian. Works even better on iPad, but you may not want to schlep your iPad up the hill.

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#23227 - 04/24/12 10:14 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: John Sims]
manson Offline


Registered: 04/23/12
Posts: 6
Loc: ca
Thanks for the advice. I actually prefer having a hiking GPS since I not sure if my smartphone will last through the whole 15 hours of hike time(not likely...).

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#23231 - 04/24/12 11:19 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: manson]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1020
Loc: NorCal
First off, you will not need a GPS on the Whitney trail. It's a nice thing to have anytime you're hiking, but a simple trail map is plenty for this heavily used highway. There will be about 200 other people on the trail with you. The following advice pertains to more challenging terrain, especially off-trail.

My advice as an engineer who reads contour maps professionally - use a paper map with a GPS. Two reasons 1) on-screen maps are too small to give you the big picture and can waste time scrolling around 2) If anything goes wrong with your GPS you are screwed (dead batteries, dropped, lost, soaked etc) if you put all your eggs in that one basket.

Most GPS units now have mapping capability, but I wouldn't pick a model based solely on that one feature, and especially not for one particular trail. I'd pick one that is small and lightweight, is user friendly, has good battery life, and then I'd go for one with a compass built-in. The compass will point you to the next waypoint which is really slick. For me, it's also very important to have the GPS unit integrate with my computer mapping software, but I'm probably a bit more into this than most people.

I upload my own routes to my GPS from my computer. I use Topo! software (National Geographic) to layout my route on a color contour map on my computer screen. I trace the route with my mouse and include waypoints at key locations along the way. I label it all nicely and then upload the route with all the waypoints to my GPS unit. Then I print the exact map or maps that I need with GPS coordinates as a grid on the sides of the map. I can also print a profile showing elevation and distance to gauge how steep the trail is.

At the trailhead, I tell the GPS to follow the route to my destination. It will identify the next waypoint and the compass arrow will point me in the correct direction with a bearing and distance to it (assuming you have a built-in compass feature). When I get to that waypoint, the unit automatically advances to the next waypoint of the route and a new compass bearing will direct me there. It will even calculate how long it will take to get there based on my rate of travel. A preloaded trail in your GPS should be able to do all this, but it's only good for the trails that are preloaded.

Modern technology is great, but there's no substitute for learning map and compass skills as the foundation for all this. The time invested will pay off as you hike further into the wilderness. At the very least, learn one critical skill very well - how to extract your coordinates from the GPS and then located your position on a map using the GPS grid. If you can do this, you'll always know where you are on a map. In reality, this one skill is all you actually need and any tiny GPS unit will do.

One last tip for advanced GPS use - learn how to use the tracking feature. This can be a life saver if you suddenly find yourself stuck in a white out and need to get off the mountain. If you call up the latest track and instruct the GPS to back track it as a route, it will point you right back where you came from, step by step.

All these skills take some time to learn and some practice to get efficient. It's especially fun off-trail and it can give you piece of mind in a bad situation.

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#23233 - 04/24/12 11:26 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: manson]
amg Offline


Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 18
Loc: los angeles
If you mean that you want to buy a GPS that comes with the Whitney trail map preloaded on it from in the store, I'm not sure if that exists. Garmin sells an SD card that has topo maps for the west coast that you can just plug in, but it only works on their more expensive units. Otherwise you will have to load the map from your computer before you go.

Your phone should last if you leave it turned off when you aren't using it. (And if it's on, have it in airplane mode unless you actually need signal) I'm planning on taking my GPS to Whitney because I have it and it doesn't weigh much, but if we need a map we'll look at the paper one or the topo map app on someone's phone because it has much better resolution than my low end GPS unit.

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#23234 - 04/24/12 11:42 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: amg]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 232
Loc: SoCal
There are free map sites everywhere, and there are also free gpx files with the MMWT and MR loaded so that you literally have step by step directions. They're not really necessary, but if it helps you, then I say do it.

Having used both my iPhone and my Garmin Oregon on many a trail now, I can honestly say that while the iPhone is convenient and nice, it's just not as good a GPS as an actual dedicated GPS unit. They don't track as well, the battery life is always suspect, and they're usually not as durable for hiking and climbing.

I like having my iPhone with me, and carry it with a Bad Elf for just in case purposes, but it does not replace my Oregon for GPS purposes.

Here's a site with the gpx files for the MMWT and MR, as well as quite a few others in the area:

Whitney Trail Tracks and More
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One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#23237 - 04/25/12 04:25 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: manson]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Originally Posted By: manson
Hi,

I am planning to get a hiking GPS with pre-loaded trail map of Mount Whitney trail. Any suggestion? Thanks!

Not needed.

Suggest you watch these for a good idea of what the trail is actually like. They are hikealongpete's video of the entire trail, sped up to 6-7 mph, and then broken into sections for convenience. The entire original video (not sped up, not broken into sections) is 6 hours long. This sped up version, if you watch all the sections, is only 100 minutes.

CaT
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If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#23239 - 04/25/12 05:34 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: CaT]
Yury Offline


Registered: 06/11/11
Posts: 57
Loc: T.O.
Originally Posted By: CaT
Originally Posted By: manson
I am planning to get a hiking GPS with pre-loaded trail map of Mount Whitney trail. Any suggestion? Thanks!

Not needed.
Although I agree with the above speakers, I want to point to the fact that navigation with GPS takes less time than navigation with a map and a compass.
Yes, the batteries of your GPS can die. And my first GPS itself has actually died on the summit of Mt. Marcy in a fog. On the other hand you can lose a map and a compass (I actually have managed to lose a map once but never lost a compass so far).

So I typically carry a GPS and a map and a compass and an altimeter and sometimes a description/photos of a trail.

Actually GPS is useful to keep track of your progress and also can bring you back to trail when you lost a trail. People (especially first timers) do lose this trail.

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#23241 - 04/25/12 06:21 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: Yury]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: Yury
Although I agree with the above speakers, I want to point to the fact that navigation with GPS takes less time than navigation with a map and a compass.


Disagree. Unless you know how to read a topo map, and you've taken the time to actually learn how to *use* the GPS, it's just another worthless toy. It's akin to the thought that "if I carry a SPOT, I can hit a button and help will arrive within in minutes."

Originally Posted By: Yury
Yes, the batteries of your GPS can die. And my first GPS itself has actually died on the summit of Mt. Marcy in a fog. On the other hand you can lose a map and a compass (I actually has managed to lose a map once but never lost a compass so far).


Not only can the batteries die, but in the deeper canyons of the eastern Sierra (Taboose Pass comes to mind, but I've gotten the warning beeps on the lower sections of both the north fork and main trail), the GPS may not get an accurate signal with the satellite. That, and malfunctions occur. I loved where my GPS thought I was this past weekend:



(PS: I was in the very north section of the White Mountains, at the NV border)

Originally Posted By: Yury
So I typically carry a GPS and a map and a compass and an altimeter and sometimes a description/photos of a trail.


Do you carry a camera? Taking a picture of all those pages can reduce the amount you are carrying.

I would instead recommend a trail map of the Whitney Zone by Tom Harrison . They are available at REI and pretty much all outdoor stores.

-L
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#23243 - 04/25/12 06:59 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: MooseTracks]
Yury Offline


Registered: 06/11/11
Posts: 57
Loc: T.O.
Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
I would instead recommend a trail map of the Whitney Zone by Tom Harrison . They are available at REI and pretty much all outdoor stores.
Hi MooseTracks,

I own "Mt. Whitney Adventure Map" " 2006 Sierra Maps".
It's way too dark and almost useless in low light conditions.
Do you believe that Tom Harrison map is better?


Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
... I've gotten the warning beeps on the lower sections of both the north fork and main trail
Are you sure that you GPS is not broken? Have you tried updating firmware?

I recorded "good enough" tracks with my own Garmin 60CSx up to Whitney Crest and LBL.

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#23244 - 04/25/12 07:41 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: Yury]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: Yury

I own "Mt. Whitney Adventure Map" " 2006 Sierra Maps".
It's way too dark and almost useless in low light conditions.
Do you believe that Tom Harrison map is better?


I don't know which that one is, but from what I can garner on the interwebs, your map uses increased/darker coloration to perhaps denote more depth and dimension. The TH maps are quite simple in this respect, using lighter colors similar to a traditional topo. But, no matter what map you have, it's worthless unless you know how to read it.


Originally Posted By: Yury
Are you sure that you GPS is not broken? Have you tried updating firmware?

I recorded "good enough" tracks with my own Garmin 60CSx up to Whitney Crest and LBL.


Sorry you're not understanding my point, so I'll try to rephrase. GPS are not as simple to use as people think. They are not full (or fool) proof. The batteries can die at odd times. You need to be able to set the unit up to be tracking your movements if you want to use it to maintain a heading. In answer to the OP question, your phone's battery may not last the whole day (especially if it is searching for a signal, maybe try the "airplane mode" to stop the search?).

As for my own GPS functioning, this is the first time it's given me a wacky location, so I found it funny. It's recently been updated, so I just have to tinker with it.

To the OP: getting a map is step one. Do you know how to read a topo?

Personally, I don't think a topo is necessary on the main trail: going slowly, paying attention to your surroundings and the trail/boot track and those around you are more important skills. At the end of the day, many are just in a hurry to get down, and stop paying attention to what they are doing. Don't fall into this trap.

-L
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#23252 - 04/25/12 09:06 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: manson]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Leave the GPS home. There really isn't a need for it. However, if you want to use for distance, etc., bring it. There will be so many folks about going up and well worn trail making the unit just a few extra ounces to carry.

I carry mine much of the time to d/l the distance and gain into Garmin Connect.

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#23254 - 04/25/12 09:11 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: MooseTracks]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Laura,

I whole hardly agree.

A GPS is great tool but my experience shows most don't know what they have. I don't know how many times I have asked "experienced hikers" to show me where they are on their map. Most times they don't have a map but if they do they can't.

For trail use, I find an altimeter adjusted to knowns every bit as useful.


Edited by wbtravis (04/25/12 09:11 AM)

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#23264 - 04/25/12 09:54 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: MooseTracks]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1020
Loc: NorCal
Laura, I have a similar problem if I travel a long distance, a few hundred miles or so, and then turn on my Garmin. It gets confused when my last position was really far away, but it eventually figures things out in a few minutes. It took about 20 minutes to realize it was in Hawaii.

Regardless of how much we warn people, many will just not put in the effort to learn the basic skills or carry a real map. They can get away with that on the Whitney main trail, but...

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#23271 - 04/25/12 11:01 AM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: SierraNevada]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
I agree with everyone on the map thing -- though for the JMT it can be a large scale one for the whole trail or the PCT one.

A GPS is useful on snow when it's not clear where the trail/route is. Also they're kinda fun. The Garmin 60CSX is a pretty good and inexpensive GPS with a long battery life but, like everything else, you've definitely got to learn to use it. The Garmin maps are expensive. As a test, I've used the free maps from www.gpsfiledepot.com/, then search for California. The set I used is California Topo 2011. They're not quite as good as the Garmin ones, but definitely useful as well as free. So whatever GPS you get, make sure it has an SD card slot.

Also, I'm not a phone geek. Does the iPhone GPS work without being connected to either WiFi or a phone network? I was told it doesn't, yet I've been sent very accurate position fixes via google mobile maps from a wifi-only iPhone 4. They are not the location of the wifi, but almost certainly of the phone.

g.

Edit: This link is a little more direct to the California Topo maps:
www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/view/28

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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.

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#23275 - 04/25/12 12:01 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: George]
CMC2 Offline


Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 160
Loc: CO
Other than the Tom Harrison maps I have NO idea what any of you are talking about. This is why I refused my daughter's offer to get me a GPS unit for Christmas because I would never know how to use it or be able to learn how to use it and if I did I would quickly forget how to use it. DISCLOSURE: I actually have a learning disability and have trouble reading and disgesting info.

But I can read a contour map & use a compass after 65 years of hiking Mt trails and off trail traveling so I will gladly stick with that. Please don't take me to task or say you feel sorry for me as I am almost 75 and feel I have lived a very full exciting life.

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#23277 - 04/25/12 12:33 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: SierraNevada]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1244
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
. . . many will just not put in the effort to learn the basic skills or carry a real map. They can get away with that on the Whitney main trail, but...


Amen. I once had a where-the-hell-am-I? discussion with a guy I ran across on-trail, and we were using his map for me to show him where we were standing and where he was going. He had his handy-dandy compass as well. What he didn't have was a clue what "declination" meant (this was in Washington state, where it means a helluva lot). I don't think he was ever completely convinced about the concept. Reading contour lines was not a particular strength of his either. By the time we parted I wondered why he even bothered carrying a map and compass - it was just so much dead weight in this case.

For Whitney in summer, though, it's follow the herd. Very straightforward trail, with only a small slabby section above Mirror Lake to potentially confuse people. I did this trail the first time solo, with raging AMS on the descent. I had a lot of concerns on my mind at the time, but following the trail wasn't one of them. This is a very difficult trail to go off track for any significant distance.


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#23278 - 04/25/12 12:55 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: Bulldog34]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2174
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
This is a very difficult trail to go off track for any significant distance.

Except for the "I'm going downhill" syndrome which has led exhausted hikers approaching Trail Crest on the return leg to head for Guitar Lake.
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#23280 - 04/25/12 01:41 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: wagga]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1244
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: wagga
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
This is a very difficult trail to go off track for any significant distance.

Except for the "I'm going downhill" syndrome which has led exhausted hikers approaching Trail Crest on the return leg to head for Guitar Lake.


Yeah, there is that. Good point, wagga.

Manson, after you summit and are returning to the trailhead, do NOT take the John Muir Trail fork to the right. This junction is well-marked and is about 2 miles down from the summit, but a number of exhausted or altitude-addled hikers have made a wrong turn on this trail over the years, and wound up deeper in the Sierra and often in trouble by the time they realize their error.

This happens because continuing on the MMWT requires you to go up for a few hundred yards while continuing directly ahead, while the JMT continues downward toward the Sierra interior. Exhausted or AMS-stricken folks want to go down, and seem to forget there's some uphill to deal with on the descent. Darkness can play a factor as well.

Just remember - you have to go up to get back to Trail Crest and continue down Whitney. If you find yourself heading down towards some pretty lakes in a wide basin, you're day's about to take a turn for the worse.

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#23281 - 04/25/12 01:49 PM Re: Hiking GPS with Preloaded Trail Map [Re: CMC2]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: CMC2
Other than the Tom Harrison maps I have NO idea what any of you are talking about. This is why I refused my daughter's offer to get me a GPS unit for Christmas because I would never know how to use it or be able to learn how to use it and if I did I would quickly forget how to use it. DISCLOSURE: I actually have a learning disability and have trouble reading and disgesting info.

But I can read a contour map & use a compass after 65 years of hiking Mt trails and off trail traveling so I will gladly stick with that. Please don't take me to task or say you feel sorry for me as I am almost 75 and feel I have lived a very full exciting life.


I feel very sorry for you AND I'll take you to task because not only do you not use a GPS, I've heard you are not, nor were you ever very good at running.

A man cannot claim to have a worthwhile existence until he has seen at least 3 to 4 of the satellite bars fill in on a Garmin.

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