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Navigating Using Paces

Pacing and Estimating Distance by Blake Miller

Many outdoors men and women measure distance in the backcountry by using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. GPS receivers are reasonably accurate, real time, and provide distance traveled and distance to a destination. But what does the hiker do if they don’t have a receiver, the GPS fails or batteries die? A proven method […]

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Wolf and Wolfcub

AMC Compass Skills and Off Trail Navigation Practice Hike: Spaces Available

I still have a couple of spaces open for an Appalachian Mountain Club Compass Skills and Off Trail Navigation Hike that I am leading in the White Mountains on Saturday, April 26, 2014. You don’t have to be an AMC member to come and there is no fee to join this hike. Spaces are limited, […]

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Sherpa and Wysteria (top) of Mt Jefferson in New Hampshire, several years later

Trip Planning Mistakes

When Wysteria, Sherpa, and I arrived at the trail head we found 4 foot snow drifts covering the trail. It was late March, and we’d planned to backpack north over Mt Greylock past the Massachusetts/Vermont border. We knew that there might be some lingering snow in the early spring, but we had no idea winter would […]

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Tuckerman Ravine Trail Closure (2012)

Hiking Route Planning and Local Knowledge

You should never underestimate the importance of local knowledge when planning a backpacking route or day hike. Trail conditions tend to change far more quickly than the reference information coded in maps or guidebooks and the only way to factor in that information is to refer to local sources. Here are a few examples of […]

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Guidebook and Paper Map Mileages

Distance Discrepancies Between Digital Mapping Tools, Paper Maps, and Guidebooks

Have you ever noticed that the distances computed by digital mapping tools are substantially different from paper maps and guidebooks of the same area? I’ve been planning a 200 mile backpacking trip and the digital mapping tools I’ve been using, Caltopo and TOPO!, underestimate the mileage by 15% or nearly 30 miles over the course […]

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Cartesion grid

The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid System by Blake Miller

Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) is a grid system that describes a person’s location in the backcountry.  It is wonderfully simple to understand and use because: It is intuitive -  it’s concepts can be understood quickly It can be easily self-taught Young hikers grasp this system easily A location on a map can be quickly determined.  […]

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