All posts by OutdoorVenturer

This Bushwalking Skills blog is my way of sharing some of the bushwalking skills and knowledge I have learnt over many years and continue to learn. It contains my ideas about bushwalk leadership, trip planning, GPS navigation, first aid, fitness, equipment and food tips for beginners to experienced bushwalkers. Your comments are especially welcome.

Challenging Mountain Day Walks in the UK | Three of the Best

Visiting the United Kingdom (UK) and in particular Wales, England, or Scotland for a holiday? Like to spend a day(s) in the mountains, surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery? Like a challenge? Have some experience walking in alpine terrains, scrambling over rocks and the ability to navigate? ….then look no further!

I’ve just come back from climbing three of the most popular mountains in the United Kingdom (UK) in one of the wettest months (April) on record. These are not huge mountains (950 – 1350m) and on a good day, can be tackled as day walks of 5-8 hours from the nearest car park, following footpads and tracks, but the difficulties should not be underestimated, and it is for good reasons that all of these walks are recommended for experienced walkers.

The level of difficulty is highly weather dependent; on a sunny, clear day, the challenge is mainly fitness, but on a cold, windy, and foggy day with a thick layer of snow over the track, ice on the rocks and rain, sleet or snow falling, the challenges can be life threatening. I had the misfortune to experience all of these on each of my walks: Mt Snowdon 1085m (Snowdonia, Wales), Mt Helvellyn, 949m, (Lake District, England) and Ben Nevis,1343m, (Fort William, Scotland).

As with all walking in mountainous terrain, you need to go prepared for all weathers; sun glasses for bright sunny times, beanie and gloves for cold days, waterproof jacket and over pants for wet times, map,  compass and GPS for foggy weather, poles for snow covered slopes and down jacket and bivy bag in case you have to spend the night out. Forget just one of these and you could be in real trouble.

Normally April /May in the UK would be spring days with just a cap of snow above 700m, but there is no such thing as a normal day in the mountains. I found that strong winds, snow, hail and rain tested my preparedness and fortunately did not show me lacking. Only the week before I arrived, a lone walker had slid off Mt Snowdon, one of the most popular walks in Wales. I could understand how this could happen, as while the terrain is not difficult on a fine day, in adverse weather, the challenges are enormous.

Pyg Track, Causeway, Llyn Llydaw

The key to survival in adverse weather is to make a risk assessment early in the walk and decide whether to turn back or take a lower route before you have committed yourself. On Mt Snowdon, 1085m, I decided to turn back, probably too late, after having completed most of Crib Goch, the most difficult part. This was a difficult decision, as I knew the easy part was not much further on and if only the fog would clear I would be able to see my route. The fog never cleared and my route became deeper and deeper in snow as I progressed. I contemplated dropping off the ridge to find the lower track, but remembered that this was not advised and  a trial descent for a fifty metres only reinforced this. Too slippery, too steep and plunging into the unknown.

Apparently many of those dying on the mountain are actually quite experienced technically but make poor decisions about when to turn back. I was glad I did not become one of those statistics.

Striding Ridge, Lake District, England

Mt Helvellyn, 949m, along with Striding Ridge, in the lake district of England was my second walk a few days later and I could not believe that it was not long before I was again walking in snow, hail and fog. Fortunately the terrain was less demanding and I did not feel the need to turn back. Every so often, a break in the clouds would show the route and the twenty or so walkers I could see ahead and behind, and I was reassured. I was glad I had my walking poles with me, as the snow covered rocks were quite slippery and a fall was quite possible. I knew that the way back along Swirral Edge, was not too difficult when I had lunch with a mountain biker at the top. I can only suppose he carried his bike for much of the way as he was quite exhausted.

Ben Nevis, 1343m, ( The Ben to locals) is the highest mountain in the UK and as such, subject to some of the worst weather. Locals joke that you can expect all four seasons in any one day, and even a blizzard thrown in for good luck. So bad is the weather usually, that the last few hundred metres has cairns every 50 m, so those walking in fog don’t fall off the side. Of course this only works if you can see the next cairn, or follow the track which I couldn’t, due to deep snow and fog. Fortunately the map has a compass bearings to follow in white-out, and while helpful, success depends on being able to estimate distances in fog, a tricky skill at the best of times. I was quite nervous as I approached the top!

I came back to Australia with a deep respect for these “lowly” mountains which have tested many a walker in the past and found too many of them lacking.

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Challenging Mountain Day Walks in the UK | Three of the Best

Visiting the United Kingdom (UK) and in particular Wales, England, or Scotland for a holiday? Like to spend a day(s) in the mountains, surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery? Like a challenge? Have some experience walking in alpine terrains, scrambling over rocks and the ability to navigate? ….then look no further!

I’ve just come back from climbing three of the most popular mountains in the United Kingdom (UK) in one of the wettest months (April) on record. These are not huge mountains (950 – 1350m) and on a good day, can be tackled as day walks of 5-8 hours from the nearest car park, following footpads and tracks, but the difficulties should not be underestimated, and it is for good reasons that all of these walks are recommended for experienced walkers.

The level of difficulty is highly weather dependent; on a sunny, clear day, the challenge is mainly fitness, but on a cold, windy, and foggy day with a thick layer of snow over the track, ice on the rocks and rain, sleet or snow falling, the challenges can be life threatening. I had the misfortune to experience all of these on each of my walks: Mt Snowdon 1085m (Snowdonia, Wales), Mt Helvellyn, 949m, (Lake District, England) and Ben Nevis,1343m, (Fort William, Scotland).

As with all walking in mountainous terrain, you need to go prepared for all weathers; sun glasses for bright sunny times, beanie and gloves for cold days, waterproof jacket and over pants for wet times, map,  compass and GPS for foggy weather, poles for snow covered slopes and down jacket and bivy bag in case you have to spend the night out. Forget just one of these and you could be in real trouble.

Normally April /May in the UK would be spring days with just a cap of snow above 700m, but there is no such thing as a normal day in the mountains. I found that strong winds, snow, hail and rain tested my preparedness and fortunately did not show me lacking. Only the week before I arrived, a lone walker had slid off Mt Snowdon, one of the most popular walks in Wales. I could understand how this could happen, as while the terrain is not difficult on a fine day, in adverse weather, the challenges are enormous.

Pyg Track, Causeway, Llyn Llydaw

The key to survival in adverse weather is to make a risk assessment early in the walk and decide whether to turn back or take a lower route before you have committed yourself. On Mt Snowdon, 1085m, I decided to turn back, probably too late, after having completed most of Crib Goch, the most difficult part. This was a difficult decision, as I knew the easy part was not much further on and if only the fog would clear I would be able to see my route. The fog never cleared and my route became deeper and deeper in snow as I progressed. I contemplated dropping off the ridge to find the lower track, but remembered that this was not advised and  a trial descent for a fifty metres only reinforced this. Too slippery, too steep and plunging into the unknown.

Apparently many of those dying on the mountain are actually quite experienced technically but make poor decisions about when to turn back. I was glad I did not become one of those statistics.

Striding Ridge, Lake District, England

Mt Helvellyn, 949m, along with Striding Ridge, in the lake district of England was my second walk a few days later and I could not believe that it was not long before I was again walking in snow, hail and fog. Fortunately the terrain was less demanding and I did not feel the need to turn back. Every so often, a break in the clouds would show the route and the twenty or so walkers I could see ahead and behind, and I was reassured. I was glad I had my walking poles with me, as the snow covered rocks were quite slippery and a fall was quite possible. I knew that the way back along Swirral Edge, was not too difficult when I had lunch with a mountain biker at the top. I can only suppose he carried his bike for much of the way as he was quite exhausted.

Ben Nevis, 1343m, ( The Ben to locals) is the highest mountain in the UK and as such, subject to some of the worst weather. Locals joke that you can expect all four seasons in any one day, and even a blizzard thrown in for good luck. So bad is the weather usually, that the last few hundred metres has cairns every 50 m, so those walking in fog don’t fall off the side. Of course this only works if you can see the next cairn, or follow the track which I couldn’t, due to deep snow and fog. Fortunately the map has a compass bearings to follow in white-out, and while helpful, success depends on being able to estimate distances in fog, a tricky skill at the best of times. I was quite nervous as I approached the top!

I came back to Australia with a deep respect for these “lowly” mountains which have tested many a walker in the past and found too many of them lacking.

Creative Commons License
This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Navigation | How far have I walked?

Want to know how far you have walked or how far you still have to go? Which  tools can use to find this info? What pre-walk planning should you have done? What should you be doing while you are walking? Can your GPS be relied upon to give this information?

 Part 1 of this article was published separately but has now been merged with Part 2

Knowing how far you have walked can determine whether you have a safe trip. Without knowing the distance you have walked, and the time it has taken, you can’t estimate how long it will take you to get to your camp site and whether you will make it before nightfall.

The best way is to “thumb” your map as you walk along, so you know where you are at all times and use this information, along with your route plan, your average speed and time since starting, to work out how far you have walked. Your GPS can give you a good guide too, but over long distances your GPS can be significantly inaccurate and should not be relied upon as your sole source of this information, especially if you are moving slowly in difficult terrain.

Before you can work out how far you have walked, either you or your GPS need two bits of essential information

  1. where you started
  2. where you are now

The first should be easy, but the second can be much more difficult. You can make it easier for yourself by doing some preparation before you leave home and again at the start point (trailhead for those from NA).

Silva Map Measurer Plus

Before you leave home

  • purchase or download (lucky NZanders!) a map and guidebook if available.
  • use navigation software (smartphone or PC*) to explore your digital map, measure distances, select routes and waypoints
  • view the terrain in Google Earth or Google maps, select your waypoints, route and measure distances
  • enter way points into your GPS and link them as a route, using the software or just manually
  • measure distances using a map measurer or piece of cotton or a ruler, depending on whether the track is straight or windy
  • prepare a route plan
  • mark your map with your route and waypoints

* I have used MacGPS Pro for the last 10-15 years on my Mac.

    At the beginning of your walk
    • locate yourself on the map
    • check the time and start you stopwatch/timer
    • mark the start waypoint on your GPS and set it to navigate to your  next planned stop
    • reset the Trip Odometer on your GPS
    • reset your pedometer if you are carrying one

    PS don’t forget to adjust the time and date on your camera as well, as it is good to be able to match photos with your GPS location when you get back home.

    While you are walking

    • “thumb” your map, reading map-to-ground as you walk along, “ticking off” prominent features as you walk along
    • use your GPS, and known features, to work out your average speed and use your stopwatch, which you started at the beginning of the leg, to estimate how far you have walked, based on the average speed
    • continually check that the terrain matches where you should be on the map based on your average speed and time you have been walking, less breaks. This is a very difficult skill to learn and needs continual practice as it is very easy to miss a creek junction or mistake a knoll. Carry a map even on an easy day walk and practise.

    When you reach your objective

    • your objective should be a prominent feature which is on your map and your route plan. Use navigation techniques such as aiming off, handrails, catching features and attack points to help you locate the feature.
    • use your GPS to check your location, making sure you are using the correct map datum
    • use your route plan to look-up the distance, which you hopefully measured using one of the devices listed above before you set off
    • use your GPS’s Trip Odometer to tell you how far you have walked (subject to inaccuracies: read below)

    Why my GPS can’t measure distance travelled accurately.

    Your GPS trip odometer should only be used as a backup in determining distance, not as your primary device, as it is unable to accurately determine distance travelled in typical off track walking terrain, as occurs when you are walking along a windy creek track with tree cover, overhanging cliffs and the odd waterfall to climb. For most use on open tracks the accuracy will be adequate but for a 10 km walk leg through difficult terrain, the inaccuracy could be as much as 10-25% of  the true distance.(Source: Garmin Forums)

    One of the reasons for this is that the GPS adds the distances, as the “crow flys”, between the points it has saved, to the trip odometer and these will usually be slightly shorter that the actual distance you walked, especially if you have changed the data logging from the default which is usually once per second (1hz) to something less frequent. The only exception to this will be if you are walking in a straight line when it should be able to measure with 100% accuracy. The inaccuracy will be further increased if you make frequent stops, turn frequently or walk slowly, say less than 3.5 km/hr, so that the GPS doesn’t know you are walking. Walking up a steep incline can also produce inaccuracies, as the GPS only measures horizontal distances.

    The accuracy will be increased by increasing the data logging rate  eg 1Hz (once a second) to 5Hz. The problem with this is that your battery may not last as long and when you reach the internal memory limit it may start deleting the oldest.

    From the Garmin Forums: Distance of Trip odometer not the same than distance of Track

    When you walk (or drive), the GPS is constantly doing calculations based on where you are this instant compared to where you were on the previous location reading so it “knows” which direction you are traveling and how fast you are traveling.

    At each of these calculations, it also calculates the distance traveled and adds that to the Trip Odometer.

    Most GPS units do these calculations approximately once each second. You do not travel very far in one second, even in a motor vehicle traveling at the speed limit, so each of these calculated distances will be fairly accurate. That means when you add them all up, as the Trip Odometer is doing, the total distance in the Trip Odometer at the end of the trip will be fairly accurate.

    One thing that will affect the accuracy of the Trip Odometer when you are hiking is if you are not moving fast enough for the GPS to detect that you are moving. That could cause little pieces of travel to not get added into the Trip Odometer and the distance it reports to be shorter than reality.

    Track files are different. If you save the track log to a file, it always prunes the log to 500 track points, regardless how many points there are in the raw log file. If your driving or hiking was not in a long straight line, you will “lose” distance when pruning the points. That is, if you walked in a curve that originally had 20 points marked and the curve gets pruned to, say, 3 or 8 points to describe it in the track file, you will not get the full distance of the curve calculated in the track.

    That is because the calculations of distance in the track file all assume that the distance between each recorded point is a straight line. If you describe a curve with fewer points it will always look like the curve covers less distance.

    If you transfer the raw track log file to Mapsource or Basecamp, you should get all of the track points and that should cause less of a difference between the track and the related Trip Odometer reading.

    Further reading:

    Bushwalking Navigation | Using Topo50 Maps (LINZ) for Tramping in New Zealand
    Bushwalking Navigation | How to Choose the Best iPhone GPS App
    Bushwalking Navigation: The Importance of Using the Correct Geodetic Map Datum.
    Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow
    Silva Map Measurer Plus
    Bushwalking Photography Workflow | Share the Best of a Group’s Photos Using iPhoto

    Read more Navigation posts

      Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking Equipment | Keep Your Camera Working in the Cold and Wet

    Ever tried to take photos in the rain on a cold day or come inside from the cold to a nice warm hut/car/tent and wondered why you couldn’t see through the lens? Worried about what will happen when you go outside into the cold and wet?

    These are universal problems for outdoors photographers and can be incredibly frustrating, as I recently experienced on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

    Fortunately the cold itself is not usually a problem for a warm camera ( NB the same applies to your smart phone’s inbuilt camera), as condensation does not form on warm objects and cold air is usually relatively dry. There are of course the dual problems of the rain or snow falling on the lens or getting into the camera electronics and then there are the  batteries, which often fail when cold. No batteries, no photos!

    Solving the battery problem is relatively easy. Just keep the camera warm, next to your body, along with a spare set of batteries which you can use to replace the non-functioning cold batteries if needed. Swap them back with the newly warmed batteries, if you need to repeat the process. While they are much more expensive, Lithium batteries last longer and perform better in the cold than NiCad.

    The difficulty of shooting photos in the cold and wet is that you often get water on the lens or viewfinder, which either makes it difficult to compose the shot or ruins it completely. Pull your rain jacket hood over your head and use a  peaked cap to keep the water off the lens and camera. Keep the camera inside your jacket near your body, where it’s easy to find, not inside your cold backpack, where both the camera and the pack contents will get wet every time you want to take a photo.

    The alternative of course, is not to take the camera out of you pack during rain, but then why bring your camera at all, if you’re not going to use it. Wet weather photos are unique and mountain scenery with rain and snow falling, cascading waterfalls, racing creeks and swirling fog is magical.

    If it’s particularly cold and you are wearing gloves, then you have another problem. Take your gloves off and freeze while you operate the buttons or use a camera that is fully automatic. Even better, buy a waterproof fully automatic camera or a single use waterproof camera.

    Coming inside after a long day in the cold is the most problematic. The greater the temperature difference between your camera and the warm moist air produced by all those wet clothes drying in front of the fire, the greater will be the condensation on your lens and electronics. The solution of course is to minimise the temperature difference by either pre-warming your camera or slowly letting it warm in the coldest place you can find inside.

    Placing your camera in a waterproof bag before you come inside, will make sure that any condensation is on the outside of the bag not on your camera. Then its just a matter of waiting until your camera warms up before you take it out of its bag.

    The same applies to your camera card and batteries, let them warm up next to your body before changing them in your camera.

    Acknowlegement

    Thanks to Bill S from Trailspace and the New York Institute of Photography for the inspiration to write this article. I needed reminding that condensation only occurs on cold surfaces.

    Read more
    Related posts
    How to Use Your Camera in Cold Weather (RitzCamera.com)
    Cold Weather Photography (Trailspace)

      Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking Equipment | Keep Your Camera Working in the Cold and Wet

    Ever tried to take photos in the rain on a cold day or come inside from the cold to a nice warm hut/car/tent and wondered why you couldn’t see through the lens? Worried about what will happen when you go outside into the cold and wet?

    These are universal problems for outdoors photographers and can be incredibly frustrating, as I recently experienced on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

    Fortunately the cold itself is not usually a problem for a warm camera ( NB the same applies to your smart phone’s inbuilt camera), as condensation does not form on warm objects and cold air is usually relatively dry. There are of course the dual problems of the rain or snow falling on the lens or getting into the camera electronics and then there are the  batteries, which often fail when cold. No batteries, no photos!

    Solving the battery problem is relatively easy. Just keep the camera warm, next to your body, along with a spare set of batteries which you can use to replace the non-functioning cold batteries if needed. Swap them back with the newly warmed batteries, if you need to repeat the process. While they are much more expensive, Lithium batteries last longer and perform better in the cold than NiCad.

    The difficulty of shooting photos in the cold and wet is that you often get water on the lens or viewfinder, which either makes it difficult to compose the shot or ruins it completely. Pull your rain jacket hood over your head and use a  peaked cap to keep the water off the lens and camera. Keep the camera inside your jacket near your body, where it’s easy to find, not inside your cold backpack, where both the camera and the pack contents will get wet every time you want to take a photo.

    The alternative of course, is not to take the camera out of you pack during rain, but then why bring your camera at all, if you’re not going to use it. Wet weather photos are unique and mountain scenery with rain and snow falling, cascading waterfalls, racing creeks and swirling fog is magical.

    If it’s particularly cold and you are wearing gloves, then you have another problem. Take your gloves off and freeze while you operate the buttons or use a camera that is fully automatic. Even better, buy a waterproof fully automatic camera or a single use waterproof camera.

    Coming inside after a long day in the cold is the most problematic. The greater the temperature difference between your camera and the warm moist air produced by all those wet clothes drying in front of the fire, the greater will be the condensation on your lens and electronics. The solution of course is to minimise the temperature difference by either pre-warming your camera or slowly letting it warm in the coldest place you can find inside.

    Placing your camera in a waterproof bag before you come inside, will make sure that any condensation is on the outside of the bag not on your camera. Then its just a matter of waiting until your camera warms up before you take it out of its bag.

    The same applies to your camera card and batteries, let them warm up next to your body before changing them in your camera.

    Acknowlegement

    Thanks to Bill S from Trailspace and the New York Institute of Photography for the inspiration to write this article. I needed reminding that condensation only occurs on cold surfaces.

    Read more

    Related posts

    How to Use Your Camera in Cold Weather (RitzCamera.com)

    Cold Weather Photography (Trailspace)
    Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    iPhone App Review | Tide Prediction

    Have you ever wanted to a walk safely along a beach, across a tidal estuary or around a rocky headland? Well of course you could check the BOM website from home before you left, but what if you had forgotten and only had your iPhone with you?

    Sometimes knowing when high tide is going to be can be critical to planning a safe bushwalk. There are many locations where part of the walk will be along a beach, around a headland or across a tidal estuary. Often the guide book will warn that if the tide is high you must take and alternative inland route or even camp and wait for the next low tide. Being caught on an exposed headland as the tide advances is not much fun.

    In Australia, I have used this information to safely plan walks along the Great Ocean Walk in South West Victoria and along the South Coast Track in Tasmania.

    The following list of iPhone apps includes one that is actually a weather app which includes tides as one of its features.

    AU Tides Pro

    AU Tides Pro Screenshot

    Contains downloaded database for 2010-2012, which means you don’t need to be connected to the internet

    World Tides 2012

    Contain downloaded database for 2012 only, which means you will need to buy a new version at the end of 2012. This app only allows access to tide predictions 6 days ahead. World Tides uses the Simply Harmonic Formula and harmonic constants provided by the UKHO to give 7 day tide predictions without the need for an internet connection. Features: Moon/Sun Rise/Set times, large slidable tide graph, recent locations, built in zoomable map, gps sensor, search, and details page. 

    Pocket Weather AU

    Pocket Weather screen shot

    I have used this as my weather app for over a year and don’t see the need for an additional tide app. It does need internet access which makes it useless in remote areas, unlike the other three which actually download the tide database. Weather is sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) – an Australian Source for Australian Weather! #1 Weather Application in Australia, Best Australian App winner, Staff Pick in iTunes Store many times –

    Shralp Tide (FREE)

    Shralp Tide Screenshot

    No network connection is required, so you can check anytime, anywhere. ShralpTide displays the current tide along with the high and low tides for the current day and the next 4 days. Includes an INTERACTIVE FULLSCREEN TIDE GRAPH in landscape mode. Turn the device on its side then touch the screen to see the tide at any time in the 24 hour window. Shralp Tide does not include all of the tide stations in the world. It has good coverage of the US and Canadian coasts as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Beyond that there is spotty coverage of international locations.

    The benefit of an iPhone tide app is that the calculations are done automatically for you if you select one of the non-standard ports. Of course, your iPhone probably has a GPS, in which case the app will work out what is the appropriate location on which to predict your tides.

    You can of course use the Bureau of Meteorology’s tide predictions available on their website, which are based on a series of “standard ports” around Australia. In Tasmania, Hobart is one of the five standard and one secondary ports with calculated tide predictions available. Time differences for a limited number of other secondary ports are provided so you can work approximate tide times yourself by adding or subtracting the time difference.( see map below)

    From BOM

    I don’t know the technical side but my iPhone app Shralp Tide gives the following for Wednesday 28 December for the first high tide.

    • Maatsuyker Island (south of the bottom of Tasmania) high tide at 1.31 am as 0.69m
    • Hobart: high tide at 12.34 am of 1.05m
    • Bramble Cove : HIgh 3.17 am 0.78m

    Bathurst Harbour is not listed nor Port Davey; you must use Bramble Cove.

    BOM Tasmania gives Hobart as the nearest standard port and lists tides at secondary “ports” as a time difference from Hobart

    Hobart HIGH at 1:02 AM 1:07m

    • Maatsuyker Island +0:25 H:M
    • Bramble Cove, near Port Davey is -0:48 H:M
    • Hobart 0:0

    Using these differences the iPhone app gives a pretty close estimate except for Bramble Cove which seems to be way out!

    PS Don’t forget to allow for daylight saving if not done automatically by the app.

      Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking 2.0 | Some Social Media Websites to Grow your Club

    Once you have a social media plan to grow your bushwalking Club membership you may be wanting some ideas to help you implement it. Here are a few social media websites to help you get your message out to prospective members.

     Twitter

    This website allows you to send short text messages (tweets) to other users. As mentioned in an earlier post,  it is a good idea to monitor what others are saying about you and other local bushwalking clubs so you can modify your focus if needed. Including the ability to “tweet” directly from your website allows visitors to tell others about your website and creates a snow ball effect. Tweets can attract traffic to your website and may appear in search engines.

    Facebook

     A club Facebook page is a great way to promote your “brand” and allow “friends” to send messages and post news to your “wall”. Many bushwalking Clubs already have a FB presence and if you were really keen you could place an advert. You can add share buttons to your website to allow visitors to promote your web page via FB

    Flickr

    This is an ideal place to post photos and video from Club walks, which can then be used to promote your website, via links. They can be made publicly available or if you want kept private for only Club members. Flickr has limited value as a direct promotional tool but does help your Google ranking.

    PS You could use the comments and ranking facility built into the site to administer your Club photo competitions.

    YouTube

    YouTube is a video sharing website to which you can upload small video clips taken by your member’s smartphones or cameras. What better way is there to show what a fun Club you have than to post clips from bushwalks and other activities? Links in the video description can very effectively link back to your website. Videos rank highly in search engines.

    digg

    digg is a social news site where you can place items, of news value to the bushwalking community, which can then be linked by other bushwalking sites and blogs. News items rate highly in search engines and can lift your prominence quickly if widely distributed.

    StumbleUpon and Reddit

    These are social news sites where web pages can be  shared and found by potential new members.

    Del.icio.us

    This is a social bookmarking site where you can share your bookmarks which might be of interest to other bushwalkers, instead of hiding them away in your website. If your bookmark list is comprehensive and has lots of keywords to help searching, you may attract lots of visitors. Have a link from your home page to your Club’s bookmarks on delicious.

    For example: oz.bushwalkingskills bookmarks

    Links

    Twitter
    Facebook
    Flickr
    YouTube
    digg
    StumbleUpon 
    Reddit
    Delicious

    Acknowledgement: Some of the descriptions were developed from The CMO’s Guide to the Social Landscape (2011) pdf

      Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking 2.0 | A Social Media Plan to Grow your Club.

    Social media are familiar to everyone and can help your Club collaborate, share, welcome, energise, update, compete, promote, plan, collate, produce, discuss, record, and present, using well known web 2.0 interactive tools such as Twitter, blogs, Skype, IM, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, wikis and forums.

    Web 2.0 tools can help you collaborate with other Club members to develop new resources, share the work load, make new members feel welcome, update guides and policies, run competitions, promote your Club to the public, plan events, collate, edit and distribute digital newsletters, promote discussion, and record events, skills and presentations.

    Your members are probably already talking about your Club using social media. There are tools available to check what your target audience are saying about you: Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Technorati are but a few.

    What are they saying? Is it positive or negative or simply non-existent? Do they have misconceptions? Do you want to capitalise on the opportunities available to promote your Club to new members?

    The first step to grow your Club is to devise a social media plan, keeping in mind your goals and probably limited resources.

    Some questions to be answered:

    • What are you trying to achieve?
    • What do you want to change?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • What sort of relationships would you like to form?
    • How would you like to change your relationship with your target audience?
    • What resources (time, people, money) are available to implement your plan and maintain it?
    • What have you already tried and how successful was it?
    • How do you intend to promote the changes?
    • How will you know if it is working?

    NB It is critical that everyone in your Club hierarchy is supportive and part of the development of this plan. 

    Read more about using social media and web 2.0 tools

    Acknowledgement
    Some of the ideas here have been adapted from the Museum 2.0 How to develop a small scale social media plan and the Museum Social Media Strategic Planning Worksheet

      Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    iPhone Apps for Bushwalkers Revisited

    It’s over a year since I began reviewing iPhone apps for bushwalkers. During this time I have tried hundreds and found that I only use a few regularly.

    While there are hundreds of iPhone apps useful to bushwalkers and growing every day, what you personally find useful is determined by your past experience, the type of walking you do, your interests,  and your willingness to be dependent on high tech devices.

    After trying most, I regulary use only a few of these. On bushwalks, my choice will vary as it is dependent upon on the duration of my walk, and hence how important it is to save battery power,  and upon how much non-walking time I will have available.

    My iPhone Apps

    Navigation: Bit Map, Declination, Maps, Google Earth, Compass
    Field Guides: Good Reader, BooksApp, Kindle, Aus. Birds (Morecomb), Field Guide Fauna Museum Victoria, Bird in Hand, WhatBirdNZ, Wikipanion, MyEnviro, FrogLog
    Bushcraft / Survival : KnotsGuide, SASSurvival, Knots, GoneTrekking
    Camp Food: Jamie Oliver’s Recipes, Poh’s Kitchen, Nigella Quick (….LOL)
    Fitness: Walkmeter, Beat Monitor, Cadence, iHandy Level
    Weather: Pkt Weather, Rainspotting, Clouds, iBarometer, ShralpTide, Clouds,WeatherNZ
    Travel: Frequent Flyer, Webjet, Plane Finder, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor
    Astronomy: Star walk, Star Guide
    NZ: WeatherNZ, WhatBirdNZ, SnowReports
    Photography: Flickr
    Medical: Elastoplast, MediProfiles, St John NZ

    Disclaimer: Navigation using your iPhone always needs to be backed up with a compass, map and a dedicated GPS. 

    I have written reviews of many of these iPhone apps previously in this blog, several articles about how to use iPhone apps in general while bushwalking, and detailed articles which focus upon iPhone apps for navigation, fitness and NZ.

    Read more…..

      Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 4 Motivate Yourself to Train by Monitoring Fitness Levels

    How do you motivate yourself to do daily exercise and maintain the fitness levels so necessary for multi-day bushwalks in mountainous terrain? How can you monitor your fitness and see the improvement?

     I have just come back from two weeks in NZ, one week of which included carrying a 25-30kg pack with all my mountaineering gear, in addition to my normal bushwalking gear and food up and down 2400m high mountains. I am glad I spent almost a year getting fit, because with early starts (4.30 am) and long days (11 hours) pushing knee deep through soft snow, not only was strength needed, but also endurance.

    My strongest motivator was to monitor my weight and fitness levels on a daily basis and seek inspiration from the long term trends, using a combination of my smartphone training app (iPhone Walkmeter), body composition monitor (Tanita InnerScan), and Polar wristwatch fitness test. In addition, I joined my local gym, when they had a special discounted rate, and they monitored my attendance, sending me an email or phoning when I missed too many sessions. I was able to see progress during these sessions too.

    My Walkmeter iPhone app has been used by me on almost every training walk I have done over the last year. It has enabled me to set up training routes and see the improvement in my times over the year. I love the way it speaks to  me during the session and tells me how I am going compared to my best, median and worst efforts on the route, or if I wished, other “competitors” at regular intervals along the walk. My competitive spirit soon had me trying to beat my best! When I repeated the route, it enabled me to compare lap times or perhaps just record times at intermediate stages eg my turn around point. If I wanted to share my progress on Google Maps with others I could have used email, Facebook or Twitter to update them every few minutes and receive feedback.

    Walkmeter iPhone app main screen

    The main screen can be customised. Mine currently shows

    • Route name
    • Activity: walk, cycle, run etc
    • Walk Time
    • Distance
    • Speed
    • Time remaining
    • From best
    • Remaining distance

    At the bottom of the screen, there are buttons for

    • Stopwatch: the start up screen
    • Map: uses Google maps and your inbuilt GPS
    • Calendar: with icons showing whether it was your best, median or worst time. This shows summaries* on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
    • Routes: shows history of time and speed and a leaderboard
    • Graphs: speed and elevation
    • Zones: monitor heart rate, bike speed and cadence with sensors
    • Remote control: using your audio cord buttons
    • Competitors: import your competitors or training partners data
    • Twitter, Facebook and email updates

    * Summaries show: Count, Total distance, Total walk time, Total ascent and descent, Total calories, Average walk time, Average walk distance, Average speed, Fastest speed, Average calories, etc

    Tanita Innerscan Body Monitor

    My Tanita Innerscan has enabled me to monitor my weight on a daily basis and at the same time using the electrodes built into the base plate to measure Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Daily Caloric Intake, Metabolic Age, Bone Mass, Muscle Mass, Physique Rating, and Visceral Fat Rating.  I have found the Metabolic Age to be the most useful, as this measurement has  correlated well with my fitness level measured using my Polar wristwatch. You must measure at the same time each day to achieve comparable results.

    During the year, my metabolic age went from 44 years to 35 years, my weight from 82 kg to 77 kg, and  my body fat % from 21.6  to 18.2. I found these results a pleasing confirmation that my training sessions were achieving what I had hoped.

    My Polar wristwatch was used initially to monitor my heart rate to make sure that I was exerting myself enough to improve my fitness. It soon revealed that walking on the flat, even at my maximum speed, was not going to improve my fitness much, so I was soon climbing the hills nearby. Without realising the inadequacies of training on the flat, I would  never have achieved my goals.

    Initially I set up the in-built programs to decide my training program and monitor my fitness, but soon found that I could not customise the programs sufficiently to match my training sessions, which were largely determined by my immediate environment ie steep roads, hills climbs with steep descents, and flat walking tracks.

    Its most valuable feature was its ability to detemine aerobic fitness (VO2) levels to a high degree of accuracy, but simply attaching the heart rate monitor and resting for 5 mins, while it did some sophisticated analysis. Reading the literature shows that the readings it provided closely correlated with those measured by highly sophisticated laboratory testing equipment.

    Over the year, my fitness level, as measured by my Polar watch, went from 46 to 52 (VO2 ml/kg/min) which meant that I had improved  from that of an elite 50-59 year old to that of an elite 20-29 year old. Great positive reinforcement!

    The training sessions and the pain had all been worthwhile!

    WARNING:  Try to make the speed at which you are walking as realistic as possible (3-5 kph) by gradually increasing the weight you are carrying as you get fitter. Walking at too high a speed produces unnnatural leg and arm actions which can lead to soreness and don’t really help your fitness. I monitored my speed using Walkmeter and whenever it got too high or plateaued I added some more weight.

    Eight additional  fitness posts available in this blog

      Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.