GPS HIKES & MAPS: Trip Search Products Using GPS

Monday, April 2, 2007

The End Product

A fine question that has popped up more than once is, simply: what are we doing? More specifically, what kind of data will be collected out on the trail, and how will it be used? This project is being handled in the same way we would a Waypoint card (those handy tear-out hikes in the back pages of BACKPACKER magazine). Of course, we don't plan on laying out 3,000 miles of trail on a pocket-sized card. Hikes also appear online, at -- this is where the data collected for the CDT project will really come to life.

With that in mind, volunteers will be asked to collect a GPS track and waypoints corresponding to trail junctions, points of interest, potential water sources or campsites, and so on. They'll also take a boatload of photos and shoot short segments of video to pair with certain waypoints. Detailed notes are also par for the course, and many land managers are asking that management specifics like trail conditions be included in these.

The finished product will be an online, interactive map of the CDT, which can be tweaked throughout the years as the trail itself changes and grows. Once our New Mexico teams begin collecting data, we'll post examples online. In the meantime, you can get a feel for what's in store by checking out our online PCT map (you can find it here). The sample screen grab shown above is from a Colorado stretch of the CDT in the Neversummer Wilderness, also available online.

The CDT does run through some sensitive areas, which we'll have to be mindful of in collecting data. For example, posting specific GPS coordinates for a sweet campsite in a wilderness area may not be the best idea. Furthermore, legislation was passed in 2000 restricting video shot on public lands. Although it won't apply to our short snippets, it is the kind of thing we have to be mindful of in tackling a project such as this. For you detail-oriented types, you can view the act online here.


Ranger Doug said...

Thanks for the posting Scott. That certainly gives us a visual idea to shoot for. ANy ideas of how you want the final data formatted?

Kris Wagner said...

Doug: We'll provide everyone with a quicksheet on what data we want to collect, how to collect it with the GPS you're using, and instructions on what to do with it after the trip. More to come on those details.

-Kris Wagner