Tag Archives: Bushwalking

Bushwalking Navigation | How to make a customised, calibrated map from an .ecw map file.

Do you have a Mac computer? Want to know how to use a ecw map file to produce a customised, calibrated, topographic map? Don’t know which software to use? Don’t want to use a Windows emulator? Not sure which map datum to use?

UPDATE (Tuesday 3 July): advice on calibrating TOPOMaps version 2 ecw files  modified

The following discussion relates exclusively to two highly regarded Mac applications that I, and millions of other Mac users, have been using for what seems like a lifetime. Both are fully supported with user forums, have a prompt response to enquiries, are low cost for what you are getting, and are actively being updated by developers who have a love for Macs. These applications are

It is of course possible to use OziExplorer on a Windows computer or emulate a Windows machine on your Mac, but these are a poor substitute for powerful, user friendly software, running natively on a Mac.

I assume that you are using the latest version of Graphic Converter (GC) (there is a trial period so you can fully test it before purchasing) and have it running in 32 bit mode. You can do this by control clicking on the GC file icon, selecting the Get Info box and then checking the  “Open in 32 bit mode” check box if this choice is available [ see diagram] NB  ecw files won’t open in 64 bit mode and you will get an error message if you try to do so.

MacGPS Pro doesn’t have a demo version, but it does have a 30 day money-back guarantee.

iOS Applications

MacGPS Pro also has an iPhone/iPad/iTouch version iHikeGPS which is  suitable for New Zealanders and North Americans, due to the availability of free maps. Australians miss out as our maps have to be purchased.

Bit Map (Australian design) allows uploading and viewing of custom maps made using the technique outlined below, using an iPad or iPhone, which is something that few other apps can do. While its plotting features are not as complete as MacGPS Pro, it does allow the plotting of waypoints and routes,  or uploading from an OS X mapping application such as MacGPS Pro via iTunes. Like MacGPS Pro it allows live viewing of your current position using the built in GPS.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with the  developers of the software discussed above.

For my review of Bit Map click this link.

Steps

IMPORTANT: If you have a small (a few map tiles only) .ecw file and the accompanying .map geo-referencing file is in the same  folder, then MacGPS Pro will open and calibrate the ecw file, as soon as your drop it on the MacGPS icon, without any further action on your part. If you don’t have the corresponding .map file then you will need to calibrate the newly imported ecw file as in Step 7.

    1.    Drag  the  ecw file from your CD to the GC icon, and dialogue box below will pop up. Select a slightly bigger area than you want by dragging the square corners of the large box [see diagram below] and then position the box by dragging from the middle of the box. Select Downsample.”None”, then click OK. HINT: It doesn’t need to be accurate at this stage. Just make sure the area of interest is inside the selected area.

  2.    Select the part of the image you want by using the selection tool (the dashed square, second line on the right) [see diagram] from the toolbox (bring to forefront by clicking command-K)  and save as (file/save as) a pict file, which is the native MacGPS Pro format. Make sure you have checked the radio button Save Selection Only.[see diagram below]  [Steps: name file, select file format ie PICT, check save selection only]

 3.    Open Mac GPS Pro, set the units (file/unit choices) to the appropriate datum,
which should correspond to the map datum of the paper maps you have or will be purchasing.

If you intend printing labelled maps directly from MacGPSPro as pdfs, then I would suggest you set to GDA94, as this is most likely to be compatible with the maps of others in your group.

 eg GDA94, UTM, kilometres, metres magnetic, click OK. [see diagram below]

    4.    Drag the cropped pict  file from your Finder onto the MacGPS Pro icon.
    5.    A dialogue box will open and ask you to “Set the map’s Datum  and Projection type”  [see diagram below] Select GDA94 for most discs recent mapping discs and Transverse Mercator. Click OK

    6.    It will then pop up a “Standard Coordinates for the Map” dialogue box. Enter the grid zone (see image)

and check the ‘Store calibration in PICT file” box, then OK [see diagram below]

    7.    You will then have a “Click known Points to Calibrate Map ” dialogue box pop up. Check the map datum is set to the same as your hard copy maps before proceeding. [see diagram below]

Complete this for any four easily recognized features (eg trig point, windmill)  located near the four corners of the map, using a hard copy of the map to provide the 7 digit eastings [eg 0262600] and northings [eg 6553800]. Click DONE.

HINT: Make sure you have zoomed in as far as you can, without the map becoming too pixelated, using the zoom icon top right, to increase your accuracy.
 
VERY IMPORTANT: If you are using an ecw file from a TOPOMaps version 2 disc (South Australian), then be aware that the grid lines on the ecw file are those of the AGD84 datum, as the file has been scanned from pre-94 maps. If however, you open these maps in OziExplorer you will find that the associated .map file (found on the disc) has calibrated the maps as GDA94 hence the disc markings.

The Instructions file on the disc ( who reads the instructions?!) say

The map image displayed (in OziExplorer) has been recalibrated to the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994 (GDA94). The Easting and Northing readouts for any point at the cursor position will in GDA (94) coordinates.

Please Note:
The map images were scanned from AMG 84 based maps. Therefore, if the cursor is placed at the intersection of two grid lines, the coordinate readout will not correspond to the values of those grid lines. Future map editions will display a grid pattern based on the GDA94 datum and therefore the readout will then correspond to the grid values. See also p25

The warning above is very important, if you normally use grid line intersections as your calibration points, as this will result in inaccurate calibration, with the whole map displaced 100-200m. If you use recognized topographic features this problem doesn’t exist.

HINT: To speed up the process in case you need to start over again, keep a record by printing a copy of the map and annotating it with the four corner grid references which you previously entered. If MacGPS Pro won’t let you click the DONE button it is probably because you made a mistake entering the GR and will need to start again, or perhaps you have failed to select a point on the map, to register the grid reference.

The Ultimate Goal

Remember that the goal of calibrating a map, plotting waypoints and joining them to form a route using MacGPS Pro is so that you can transfer them to your GPS and use your GPS to find your location relative to these waypoints, on either a purchased map or one printed using the software. For this reason, the map datum set in your GPS MUST match the paper map you are carrying.

My next few posts will explain how to export your data from MacGPS Pro to your GPS, overlay the calibrated map you have produced on Google Earth to help you visualize the terrain and get the UTM coordinates from Google Earth by overlaying with UTM grid.

Visit some of my other related navigation posts

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

Bushwalking Navigation | Documenting Your Route Plan

How do you document a route plan? How can you use Google Earth to check the route and save pics of critical navigational decision points? How do you use mapping software to plot and export the waypoints to your GPS, print the route and elevation graph? How can you annotate your map pdfs? How do you protect your maps from the weather?

This post is part 2 of  Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow

Getting the “big picture”

The first step in planning any trip is to read guide books, talk to other bushwalkers and search  bushwalking forums, websites and blogs to discover which routes are popular. 

Once you have decided on your intended route you will need to check water availability, weather conditions, locate existing tracks, property boundaries and permitted camping spots.  Don’t forget to check photographic websites such as Flickr, which give a good idea of popular sites and the scenery to be expected.

Next study the terrain to work out your likely speed, keeping in mind height gains and losses, the density of vegetation, the amount and difficulty of any off-track walking, and the presence of waterfalls in creek lines, which may need to be bypassed.  Once you know these you will be able decide how far apart your camping spots can be and determine each day’s starting and finishing times.

I have discussed many of these navigation techniques and route plan design in previous posts (21) and won’t go further into detail now.

Finding a Map

You should never rely solely upon a GPS for critical navigational decisions and for this reason bushwalkers should always carry topographic maps covering the route, and the surrounding countryside just in case you get off track. These can be purchased from a local map or outdoors shop, and are usually available at 1:50,000 scale but sometimes at 1:25,000, which provide more detail, for popular areas.

If you are walking the Heysen Trail in South Australia, there are two excellent guide books (Northern and Southern), with log books readily available available which include maps that are adequate for most walkers. The CFS also publishes (Mapland) excellent map books, and these too are available from map and outdoor shops. Many downloadable walking brochures for our parks are available from the Department of Environment’s Parks SA website.

With digital maps readily available, many people are using mapping software to select just the relevant parts of maps and to enlarge these beyond the 1:50K scale than is usually available in printed maps, making it easier to see the contour and creek lines. If you are lucky enough to live in NZ, you can download 1:50,000 maps free of charge and even Australia has 1:250,000 maps for free download from Geoscience which are useful for getting the big picture and planning access roads.

Using Mapping Software

My apologies to Windows users for the following Mac centric discussion. 

As a MacBook Pro user I have used MacGPS Pro mapping software for many years to import my scanned maps, plot my routes and export the waypoints to my GPS. A print out of the waypoints file is an essential record of each waypoint’s  name, grid reference, comments, and elevation

One big advantage of mapping software is that it is possible to enlarge the map on screen to locate the exact position of known waypoints  or to determine the grid reference to 7 figure accuracy of any point you can see. Once you have decided on your waypoints you can rapidly link these to form a route, calculating distances and bearings automatically by dragging from point to point, and plotting a route elevation graph by selecting the route single click. The elevation graph is useful for estimating time to be taken.

From MacGPS Pro

The disadvantage of using a Macintosh is that without a Windows emulator, such as Bootcamp, and an installed version of Windows, OziExplorer software doesn’t work.

For older Macs (not using intel cpu) use Virtual PC or for new OS X Macs with the Intel CPU use either Bootcamp or emulation software called VirtualBox or ParallelsVirtualBox (Sun Microsystems Inc.) is free for personal use. It works in OS X on Intel Macs. (OziExplorer – Running OziExplorer on a MAC or Linux Computer )

There is a way to overcome this and that is to import the maps from the disc in .ecw format into a graphics program such as Graphic Converter, select the relevant part and then save as a PICT or TIFF file.  Some of the .ecw image files are small enough to import directly into a mapping program such as MacGPS Pro.

Often the .ecw image file will be accompanied by a matching .map calibration file and providing you keep it in the same folder as the ecw file, you can then import into MacGPS Pro and automatically calibrate the map. You could of course still do it the old way which was to scan and process a hard copy of the map.

Assuming there is no matching .map file available, calibrating a digital map using MacGPS Pro requires that you first rotate the map (using GraphicConverter) so the northing gridlines are horizontal and then enter the full 7 figure grid references of four widely spread points, usually near the corners of your map.

Top Left:  Easting 0263000 Northing 6540000, Grid Zone 54J, AGD94

From MacGPS Pro

You must also enter the UTM grid zone and know the projection and map datum eg I am using a portion of the Oraparinna map for a forthcoming trip

From MacGPS Pro

NB UTM Grid Zones is SA are either 52 (far west), 53 (west) or 54 (central and east)

Annotating your pdfs

Annotated portion of Oraparinna map

There are several programs (I use Skim) that allow you to annotate a pdf. This is particularly useful as it allows you to add grid references to the margins of your map (NB MacGPS Pro has a menu item “View/Gridlines” which does this automatically for you) and add notes about the route. Most programs allow you to add arrows showing routes and highlights. Once you have done this, you can export as a pdf and if you have the full version of Acrobat take advantage of its ability to reduce the file size significantly, to as much as a tenth.

Using Google Earth to Plan a Route

Google Earth can be used to visualize the route, finding 4WD tracks, checking whether creek lines are heavily vegetated and to see if ridges would be easier going. Cattle, goat and sheep tracks converging on a creek line probably indicates a waterhole, spring or a shallow crossing. Rainwater tanks, galvanised iron shelters, windmills and bores can sometimes be seen in Google Earth, even if they are not marked on the map.

Flinders Ranges: Google Earth screen capture

Simply import your .kml file showing your waypoints and then zoom in and tilt to see your route in 3D. Use a screen capture program, such as  Snapz Pro X, to capture pics of significant parts of the route, with your waypoints shown. Save these to your iPhone, camera or print, for later reference while on the walk.

NB I can never get my GPS waypoints to exactly match those in Google Earth, as I assume it uses a different map datum

Protecting your maps

One of the advantages of printing your maps from pdfs is that you can print them in A4 format which means they can either be laminated back-to-back or placed in a map case without the need for folding.

Other relevant posts

The Bushwalking Navigation series

Other Resources

Geoscience
Department of Environment’s Parks SA website
Bushwalk Australia Forum
Friends of the Heysen Trail

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

Bushwalking Photography Workflow Pt 2 | Using iPhoto to Select, Rank and Sort

Ever come back from a bushwalk with a huge number of photos to select, rank, sort and show? The traditional way is to set up a series of folders to which you then drag those you like, to produce a slideshow. Not any more…….there are much more efficient workflows and great software such as iPhoto to help.

The first task with any collection of digital photos is to delete those that are out-of-focus, taken by error or poorly centered on the subject. Next you will want to select the best of the multiple shots you have taken of each scene and decide which you are going to incorporate into your slideshow. You will probably want to remove any movies you have made as they can make the production of the slideshow more difficult. Finally you will want to crop some and perhaps change contrast, exposure, sharpness.

Traditionally this has been done by deleting unusable photos and then dragging the images you want to keep into folders. There are more efficient workflows today that use readily available photo software to allow easier sorting and ranking and which make any changes instantly reversible. The key to an efficient workflow is to assign “keywords” to groups of photos and then rank each using a “star” system or some equivalent. The final step is to establish “smart” albums, which automatically group your selections by searching according to set criteria, rather than requiring that you drag and drop photos, which can easily lead to errors.

The workflow that follows applies to iPhoto, which is available at low cost for iPhone, iPad and Apple computers but there are many alternatives both for Apple computers and those running Windows. The workflow is easily adaptable to any software, including online storage.

WORKFLOW

STEP 1 IMPORT

Import your photos from your camera card into a single album which you have named by location, and date. The fastest way is to use a card reader connected or inserted into you computer.

STEP 2 INITIAL RANKING

Add rankings

Give each photo a single star (*) ranking by selecting all, and then pressing cmd-1  [Photo on left]. Your software may require a different key action.

STEP 3 ASSIGN KEYWORDS

Select groups of photos and assign keywords according to topic or location. iPhoto allows you to manage your keywords so the a single key press will allocate a keyword(s) to the photo or group you have selected.

Suitable keywords might be the location, birds, flowers, people, photographer, camera, date, person’s name etc.

You can assign keywords to indicate the type of editing that needs to be done eg crop, enhance, sharpen.  I crop all my photos to the 16:9 format for showing on a HD digital TV, but you can save some effort  and card space by doing this automatically in advance using your camera settings.

Once you have assigned keywords you can then create a smart album to dynamically group all photos with a particular keyword.

STEP 4 ESTABLISH SMART ALBUMS

Set up “smart albums” which will automatically group your photos according to multiple keyword(s) and  star ranking.

STEP 4 DELETE UNWANTED FROM ALBUM

Remove photos and movies from the smart albums by removing the single star ranking (cmd-0) but they will still remain in your original album even when they have no star. (See above diagram)

STEP 5 SELECT SLIDESHOW PHOTOS

Go back to your first album and assign ** to each of the photos you wish to include in your slideshow. Set up a “Best of…” album which includes all your two star or higher photos.

Set up smart album

The advantage of smart albums is that they are dynamic with a simple change to a keyword or rating automatically and instantly reflected in the smart album.

NB I have chosen iPhoto as my software of preference; not too expensive, not too complex and usable cross platform (iOS 5, OS X) with both Apple computers, iPhones and iPads.

See also:

Bushwalking Photography Workflow Pt 1| Share the Best of a Group’s Photos Using iPhoto

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

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.

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.

    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.

    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…..

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    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.

    Bushwalking Equipment | The Ideal Camp / Hut Shoes

    There is nothing like stepping out of you hiking boots at the end of a long day into something more comfortable. Need to go outside in the middle of the night? What are the alternatives?

    I’ve just come back from a few weeks in NZ, and during this time decided that, despite what others might think of me, the time was right to buy a pair of  Crocs.

    Crocs Yukon Sport

    NZ huts require that you remove your boots before entry and either leave them at the entrance or in the drying area. In the middle of the night, “the call of nature” may require a 25m walk through the bush; hardly something you can do in your socks, and without waking the whole hut, putting on your heavy wet boots is not an option.

    What should you look for in the ideal hut/camp shoe?

    • comfortable
    • lightweight
    • compact
    • non-slip sole
    • adaptable for emergency use
    • waterproof
    • drain easily
    • quick drying
    • reasonably thick sole
    • long wearing
    • stop on your feet

    I want to be able to wear my camp shoes on the trail,  cross rocky creeks in them if needed, AND use them in the hut or around my tent.

    What are the options?  

    Thongs/flip-flops, Crocs, neoprene or fleece booties, thick socks, Dunlop Volleys, Vibram FiveFingers shoes…. I’ve seen them all and each has their supporters. Unfortunately, none of these will satisfy all your needs and so each becomes a compromise, decided by personal preference and your environment.

    Dunlop OC Volleys

    I have used neoprene boots in the past. These are lightweight, compact but have thin soles which make them unsuitable for rocky ground and they don’t dry or drain easily.

    Fleece boots are great in a hut; warm, lightweight, reasonably compact, but unsuitable for outside use.

    Thongs are compact, lightweight, cheap but lack grip and slip easily off your feet.

    Volleys have their ardent supporters and meet most of the criteria, but are reasonably heavy, get dirty easily and don’t dry quickly; not really what you want in a hut.

    Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) are new on the scene, lack a thick sole or heel and imitate barefoot walking, which is something that most of us don’t often do. Take care, they use muscles and parts of your foot that you have probably neglected. They are not the sort of shoes you can put on and walk for kilometres without previous experience.

    Crocs meet almost all criteria, except they are a little bulky!

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