Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 21: How We Stay Found on the PCT

As we are enjoying a zero (or rest) day in Big Bear City, I thought I would take a moment to explain what we are using to navigate our way across the PCT.

Maps: We are using the ten map series available at the PCTA store: We are also using Halfmile's GPS waypoints, created by PCT hiker Lon Cooper aka Halfmile. Many hikers also print the free maps available at his site.

Guidebooks: The most useful sources of information are the PCT Data Book and Yogi's PCT Handbook. The PCT Data Book had mileage and elevation data points for every trail junction, road crossing, water source, and other important landmarks along the way. We also use Yogi's PCT Handbook for important information about water sources, navigational challenges, and resupply locations. We also carry the relevant pages of the PCT guidebooks, although we use them more to learn about natural history, rather than for navigation.

GPS: While not necessary, we find GPS useful to periodically check our position on the trail. I use the Gaia GPS application on my phone, with the necessary maps and Halfmile's GPS waypoints loaded in advance. If there is significant snow in the mountains (unlikely this year), we may use a dedicated GPS unit for that section due to the limited battery life of my phone, especially in GPS mode.

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