GPS for the Backpacking Angler

8/10/08

If you travel off the beaten paths very far fly fishing Great Smoky Mountains
National Park it is a good idea to carry a GPS receiver along with you. They are
small, portable devices that can help save your life in case of an emergency.
The first and probably the most important benefit of the receiver is that is allows
you to store the exact position of any place, such as your vehicle, and return to
it from anywhere else in the park or world for that matter. In other words you
should never get lost with a GPS receiver. Just for disclaimer purposes;
however, I should mention that you should always carry a paper may along with
you. Although it would be very unusual, GPS receivers can fail, batteries can go
dead or the equipment can fail to operate properly. They are tiny computers and
they can freeze and fail. Failures are rare this day and time and I certainly don't
want to imply that they are very subject to failure - they are not.
Another features and benefits of the portable GPS receiver is that they are
capable of storing tracks. They can store your position as often as you want
them to using time or distance - every minute, every ten feet, etc. This will form a
bread-crumb route where ever you want too that can be followed in reverse
order or used later to follow in the same direction.
Most all of today's GPS navigators have some type of build-in maps. Some of
these are basemaps only and others have detailed maps installed in memory.
The best ones for this particular use would be highly detailed topo maps.  You
can even store your routes on your computer directly from your GPS navigator
or plan your backpacking adventure on your computer and download the details
into your GPS receiver.
If you purchase one for this use I recommend that you obtain one that has
WASS capability. To make it short, WASS makes the receiver much more
accurate. In general a receiver with WASS should be able to compute your
position to within ten feet versus fifty feet. It also makes the computation of
elevation much more accurate.
I also recommend that you get one that has a high sensitive type receiver.
These are fairly new. Most of them have been on the market for about two
years. They will be able to obtain your position much faster and more accurately
under heavy tree cover. Some of the older models have trouble receiving data
from the satellites in the woods.
Tomorrow I will go into more detail on the subject of GPS receivers.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh