Join Us! Map & Compass Class this Saturday.

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday?

Wondering how to read a map & use a compass?

Come join us at Curt Gowdy State Park for an Introduction to Map & Compass Class.

Here are the details. You can register here.

introduction to map & compass

 

Introduction To Map & Compass Class

  • Saturday, July 16, 2016
  • 9 am – 1 pm
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Cost: $35.00

Our Introduction to Map & Compass class will begin with an introduction to maps including how to read topography both on the map and matching what you see on the map to the terrain around you.

After this, the course will discuss how to use a compass. Students will learn how to use the different parts of a compass and how to deal with declination.

The last part of the course will teach students how to determine their location using triangulation and basic route planning techniques.

The teaching method is centered on practicing each skill multiple times so that you leave the course comfortable performing each one on your own.

Details:

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We’ll provide the map, you bring your own compass (we have a few you can borrow).

This class will be taught entirely outdoors, so please check the weather and dress accordingly. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to walk outside, up and down hills, and over uneven terrain.

Meet us at the Curt Gowdy State Park Visitor’s Center, no parking pass is required as the class will start from there promptly at 9 am.

The class size is limited to 8 people, ages 14 and older. The class is $35.00 and will be taught entirely by Al. He’ll be sporting a Just Trails t-shirt so you can find him at the Visitor’s Center.

Questions? Let us know.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Date Night Navigation Class

 

What are you doing on Saturday night?

Come hang out with us!

Join us for a Date Night Navigation class.

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Here’s the scoop…

Don’t need the scoop? You can skip reading the blog post and sign up here.

Date Night Navigation

  • Saturday June 18, 2016
  • 5:30- 8 pm
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Cost: $40.00/couple

Looking for a fun date-night activity?

Why not join Al & Rebecca for a date night navigation class? Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be madly in love for this class so grab your neighbor, co-worker, friend or anyone who you’d like to spend a few hours learning with learning to navigate!

This will be a condensed version of our Introduction to Map & Compass Class. We’ll start with an introduction to maps including how to read topography and match it to what you see on the ground.

We will also discuss how to use a compass. Students will learn the different parts of a compass and how to deal with declination.

The class culminates with learning how to use all of your tools, map, compass, and brain, to figure out where you are.

Details:

Bring your own friend, partner, spouse, lover or wannabe lover and a compass for you to share (we have a few that can be borrowed).

This class will be taught entirely outdoors and at dusk, so please check the weather and dress accordingly. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to walk outside, up and down hills, and over uneven terrain.

Meet us at the Curt Gowdy State Park Visitor’s Center, no parking pass is required as the class will start from there promptly at 5:30 pm.

The class size is limited to 10 couples, ages 14 and older. The class is $40.00/couple and will be taught by Al and Rebecca. You can sign up and register right here. Registration closes Friday night at 5 pm.

Questions? Contact Rebecca, rebecca@justtrails.com

GPS Class: This Saturday!

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday?

Wondering how to use that GPS that’s been sitting in your gear pile for years?

We’re here to help! Come join us at Curt Gowdy State Park for a GPS Class.

Details and registration right here.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Saturday June 11, 2016
  • 9 am – 1 pm
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Cost: $35.00

This course will begin with a discussion of DATUM including what it is, why it matters, and how to change it on your GPS.

Next, the course will go over the two major coordinate systems used in recreational navigation: latitude/longitude and UTM. This will include a discussion about when to use each one.

After this, the course will discuss how to set up your GPS prior to getting started.

The bulk of the course will consist of practicing working with waypoints, tracks, and routes.

GPS June 11

Details:

Bring your own GPS, we can teach most Garmin, Magellan, or Delorme models. Al will contact you before the class via email to talk about your GPS model and type.

This class will be taught entirely outdoors, so please check the weather and dress accordingly. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to walk outside, up and down hills, and over uneven terrain.

Meet us at the Curt Gowdy State Park Visitors Center, no parking pass is required as the class will start from there promptly at 9 am.

The class size is limited to 8 people, ages 14 and older. The class is $35.00 and will be taught entirely by Al.

Will we see you there? Don’t forget to click here to sign up!

Questions? Contact us and we’ll get back to you lickety-split.

GPS June 11-FB

Map & Compass Class: This Saturday!

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday?

Wondering how to read a map & use a compass?

Come join us at Curt Gowdy State Park for an Introduction to Map & Compass Class.

Here are the details. You can register here.

MAP & COMPASS MAY 28

Introduction To Map & Compass Class

  • Saturday, May 28, 2016
  • 9 am – 1 pm
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Cost: $35.00

Our Introduction to Map & Compass class will begin with an introduction to maps including how to read topography both on the map and matching what you see on the map to the terrain around you.

After this, the course will discuss how to use a compass. Students will learn how to use the different parts of a compass and how to deal with declination.

The last part of the course will teach students how to determine their location using triangulation and basic route planning techniques.

The teaching method is centered on practicing each skill multiple times so that you leave the course comfortable performing each one on your own.

Details:

We’ll provide the map, you bring your own compass (we have a few you can borrow).

This class will be taught entirely outdoors, so please check the weather and dress accordingly. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to walk outside, up and down hills, and over uneven terrain.

Meet us at the Curt Gowdy State Park Visitors Center, no parking pass is required as the class will start from there promptly at 9 am.

The class size is limited to 8 people, ages 14 and older. The class is $35.00 and will be taught entirely by Al. He’ll be sporting a Just Trails t-shirt so you can find him at the Visitors Center.

Questions? Let us know.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

MAP & COMPASS MAY 28-FB

Smartphone Navigation: Why it’s not crazy!

If you follow us on facebook or twitter you know that last Saturday we taught a class on Smartphone Navigation at the Fort Collins Sierra Trading Post.

It was a risky move, we knew we’d encounter resistance.

A lot of outdoor purists scoff at the notion that a smartphone could even be remotely useful in the wilderness. The manager of the Fort Collins Sierra Trading Post confirmed that with us when he mentioned that his customers were skeptical about the class.

But here’s the deal.

Your smartphone is just another tool in your daypack. It’s nestled between other tools: a knife, a first-aid kit, a fire starting device, a water purifier, a map, a compass, a GPS and so on.

To rely solely upon any one of these tools without a backup or knowing how to properly use them isn’t such a good idea.

A smartphone is the same way.

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Sure there are limitations, it relies on a battery after all and nothing zaps a battery like using the GPS on a mobile device. It’s fragile, it’s expensive, it can be hard to read a cell phone screen in sunlight, you’ll need an app (we recommend Avenza pdf maps) and apps can get buggy, it can be hard to get a GPS signal and so on.

But, smartphones also are lightweight and portable. They take up minimal room in a pack and you can pack a ton of information on your device. Chances are that you’re probably hiking with one anyway.

Maybe you won’t be in a area where your mobile phone can use its internal GPS to track your route but you can still download USGS maps onto your mobile phone using Avenza and then use them as a map.

If we can convince you of one thing it’s to download a map on your cell phone and tuck it away when you’re hiking just in case your paper map gets wet or blows away and the batteries on your GPS unit bite the dust.

And we’d love to show you how!

Join us this Saturday at noon at the Cheyenne Sierra Trading Post for a class on Smartphone Navigation. Bring your full charged mobile phone and be prepared to head outside.

We hope you can make it–even if you think we’re crazy for thinking that mobile phones are useful in the backcountry!

 

A Summer of Backcountry Navigation

It’s time for a big announcement!

We’ve partnered with Sierra Trading Post and we are so excited to announce our backcountry navigation series! We’ll be teaching several in-store classes both in Cheyenne & Fort Collins on topics like how to navigate with a smartphone, use a GPS and basic map and compass skills.

Here is the schedule of classes.

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The best part is that all of the classes are free and open to the public. If you attend Sierra Trading Post might just throw another deal your way for coming.

This leads into another larger project that we’ve been working on all winter. The start of the Just Trails Navigation School! This summer we’re planning to offer full day navigation courses similar to the ones above (only more in-depth). As soon as our permits get approved we’ll launch our new backcountry navigation page and announce times, dates and locations. Stay tuned…it’s going to be a fun summer!

We’ll see you next month for the first class in the series…smartphone navigation.

Coming Soon…Navigation Classes!!!

Have you wanted to learn how to use that GPS that you got for Christmas?

Or what about learn how to use a map and compass to navigate the backcountry terrain?

Are you curious about how you can use your smartphone to help you find your way down the trails?

Last summer Al spent a little bit of time working with the fantastic Poudre Wilderness Volunteers during their Spring Training. He taught a few classes on backcountry navigation and had an awesome time doing it. It got us thinking…what if we were to start our very own backcountry navigation school right here in Southeastern Wyoming?

It led is to this point…

We’re so excited to announce that this summer we’re going to be offering our very own backcountry navigation classes!

We’ve formed a partnership with a cool agency, found some land to hone our navigation skills and a classroom to use. We can’t give you too many details until everything is formalized but we can give you a little sneak peak and tell you where we are in terms of developing these classes.

navigation school

Right now we are working through instructor qualifications (there’s a reason we keep that WFR certification…), liability issues, fee structures, registration processes and curriculum development.

But as we’re putting our plan together we thought we’d ask you, our awesome readers a few questions so we can design the kind of classes that YOU would want to participate in. So if you could, leave a comment below or chime up on our social media pages and let us know what you think or what you’d like to see.

1. Would you be interested in taking any of the following courses:

  • Basic Map & Compass
  • Basic GPS
  • Basic Smartphone Navigation
  • Private Coaching
  • Group Coaching (Boy Scouts, Hiking Groups, Search & Rescue, etc…)

2. What would you be willing to pay for 4 hours of class?

  • $25.00/4 hours
  • $50.00/4 hours

3. What day/time of day would you prefer for classes?

  • Weekday Evenings (6-8 pm)
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

4. Would you be interested in a ‘women-only’ class?

We’d also appreciate any other thoughts you have. We’re really looking forward to these classes!

Thanks for your feedback.

 

 

Back Country Navigation with Trimble Outdoors Navigator Smart Phone App – I – Maps

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are many, many navigation apps available for smart phones; far too many to test and evaluate.

My own choice is Trimble Outdoors Navigator, with the “Elite” package option. I’ve worked with products from the Trimble / MapTech / Terrain Navigator / MyTopo family tree for many years, and I trust them. You can check it out at

www.trimbleoutdoors.com/Products/TrimbleOutdoorsNavigator/

The basic version of Outdoors Navigator is free. The “Pro” version, which offers additional features, runs $4.99. The “Elite” package subscription costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, and offers Outdoors Navigator’s complete range of features and resources, including overlays for forest roads (for U.S. Forest Service roads and many BLM roads) and private land (in 11 western states) as well as weather maps. Trimble offers an excellent trial plan for the Elite package; you can try it out at no cost for 14 days.

The topographic map is the most important factor in back country navigation, (followed by compass and GPS, in that order), and we’ll cover Outdoor Navigator’s map features first.

First and foremost, if a back country navigation app does not possess the resources to download topographic maps and access them later without Internet access or cell phone signal, it should not be considered (nor should any app that does not feature GPS capability (in other words, one that works solely on signals from cell phone towers.)

Map Types (Map Options)

Trimble Outdoors - Map Type

ON’s map options, as shown above, are Aerial, Hybrid, Streets, Streets-OSM, Terrain-OCM, and Topo – MyTopo. The three I find most useful for the back country navigator are Aerial, Terrain-OCM, and Topo-MyTopo, with Topo-MyTopo at the top of the list.

Topo-MyTopo provides actual USGS topographic maps in the 1:24,000, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000 scales, depending on how far in or out you zoom. For my eyes, anyway, the 1:24,000 scale maps are the only real practical ones; zooming out any distance more than roughly 1.5 miles x 1.5 miles results in an unacceptable loss of detail and the maps are difficult to read. (This is due not to quality, but to screen size – smart phone screens are small and run from about 4.8″ x 2.3″ to 5.6″ x 2.8.”)

Below is Battle Mountain in Wyoming’s Hoback Canyon, as depicted by Topo-MyTopo.

Trimble Outdoors - MyTopo - Battle Mountain

Next up is Battle Mountain as shown by Terrain-OCM. Note the reduction in detail; timbered areas marked on the USGS map are not identified here on the Terrain-OCM map.

Trimble Outdoors  - Terrain OCM - Battle Mountain

“OCM” stands for “Open Cycle Maps,” a global map system for cyclists. And while it does feature less in topographic detail, it does depict more in the way of bicycle trails (or what might be utilized as bicycle trails), which can be useful to anyone working with lung-and-leg power.

Below is Battle Mountain in the Aerial mode.

Trimble Outdoors Aerial - Battle Mountain

Map Layers (Layer Options)

Outdoors Navigator offers a number of useful map layer options – Forest Roads, Public Lands, and several weather options. (The weather options are only available where there us cell coverage.) Of use when a cell signal is not available – and the appropriate maps have been downloaded – is “Forest Roads” and “Public Lands,” as shown below.

Trimble Outdoors - Layers - Overlays

The “Forest Roads” feature is an excellent utility. From the name, it might be construed that only U.S. Forest Service roads are shown once this layer is selected, but such is not the case; many county roads and a good number of two-tracks and trails that do not appear on “store-bought” USGS maps are marked as well.

Below, for example, is an area east of White Mountain in Sweetwater County, Wyoming; note that very few trails or two-tracks are marked.Trimble Outdoors  - Forest Roads - No Forest Roads

With the Forest Roads overlay selected, however, note the trails and roads that now appear:

Trimble Outdoors  - Forest Roads - No Legend

Tapping the button on the screen’s lower right-hand corner produces a legend, as shown below:Trimble Outdoors  - Forest Roads - With Legend

The “Public Lands” overlay is often very useful. Selecting it produces an image such as the one below, which identifies land ownership type by color. (While using the Public Lands overlay, tapping the button in the lower right-hand corner produces a legend identifying the land ownership types depicted, as also shown below.)

Trimble Outdoors  - Public Lands - No LegendTrimble Outdoors  - Public Lands - With Legend

I will be wrapping every installment of “Back Country Navigation with Trimble Outdoors Navigator for Smart Phone App” the same way: Remember that navigating in the back country with a smart phone has limitations, not the least of which is battery life, and should not be considered as a replacement for using map, compass, and GPS in a consolidated strategy. I will never advocate anything other than carrying a map and compass – and the thorough knowledge of how to use them and, ideally, a conventional GPS as well – as backups should you choose to employ smart phone navigation.

When working with maps on smart phones, the major limitation is, of course, screen size; your map is only as large as your smart phone’s screen. Bright sunlight can make your screen difficult to see; moving into some shade (or creating some with a jacket or a hat, for instance,) solves the problem.

Fortunately, you can experiment with and evaluate Outdoors Navigator at little or no cost.

The basic version of Trimble Outdoors Navigator is free. The “Pro” version, which offers additional features, runs $4.99. The “Elite” package subscription costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, and offers Outdoors Navigator’s complete range of features and resources, which includes all its map overlays. Trimble offers an excellent trial plan for the Elite package; you can try it out at no cost for 14 days.

Next installment: Trimble Outdoors Navigator settings.

 

Back Country Navigation with Smart Phones (iPhone and Android) – Introduction

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve had so many inquiries about the viability of back country navigation with a smart phone I thought I’d better look into it.

This isn’t a simple proposition. First of all, there are many, many back country navigation apps for smart phones. Some have a price tag; others are free. Some are excellent, and others a joke. Some have actual GPS resources, and others triangulate with cell phone towers. There are those who use actual USGS topographic maps, and those that use their own.

In addition, regardless of what app and/or related navigation resources are involved, it’s important to recognize an extremely important fundamental: navigating in the back country with a smart phone has limitations, and should not be considered as a replacement for using map, compass, and GPS in a consolidated strategy. I will never advocate anything other than carrying a map and compass – and the thorough knowledge of how to use them and, ideally, a conventional GPS as well – as backups should you choose to employ smart phone navigation.

By my count, there are nearly two dozen navigation apps available. It isn’t practical to test and evaluate all of them, so Al and I have come up what we think will be a practical, useful approach – each of us will cover the navigation app / resource package we’re confident in.

My choice is Trimble Outdoors Navigator, with the “Elite” package option. I’ve worked with products from the Trimble / MapTech / Terrain Navigator / MyTopo family tree for many years, and I trust them. (You can check it out at

www.trimbleoutdoors.com/Products/TrimbleOutdoorsNavigator/

The basic version of Outdoors Navigator is free. The “Pro” version, which offers additional features, runs $4.99. The “Elite” package subscriptionj costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, and offers Outdoors Navigator’s complete range of features and resources, including overlays for forest roads (for U.S. Forest Service roads and many BLM roads) and private land (in 11 western states) as well as weather maps. Trimble offers an excellent trial plan for the Elite package; you can try it out at no cost for 14 days.

The topographic map is the most important factor in back country navigation, (followed by compass and GPS, in that order), and next week I’ll begin covering Outdoors Navigator’s map features.