Today was so darn sunny and beautiful that we just had to go for a hike. We went to nearby Lacamas Park and hiked to Lower Falls. We’ve done it a million times, but it’s always nice. The kids love finding the little sign posts with numbers of them that mark points of interest, it’s like a scavenger hunt for them.

I’ve been intrigued by this new website called ActiveTrails, so we brought our GPS along and recorded our track. After finding some free software that talks to my gps on Linux it was pretty easy to save the track data and upload it to ActiveTrails (you have to register with the site before you can upload). They let you do some simple editing of the trail, since sometimes the GPS loses signal and puts seemingly random, way out there points on the map, and then you save it. Then you can see it on the map! Pretty cool. Even cooler, for the true map lover in us all, it will generate a topographic map of the area with the trail drawn on it, just click on the left where it says, “Print Trail Map.” How cool is that?

OK, I just uploaded our Ponytail Falls hike too.


Nols October 23, 2006 at 7:47 a.m.

Good to see you posting again Bryan! (though you are posting more often than I am!)

I like the active maps hikes, I really need to get that going for my hikes here in Colorado. Now if only I had a GPS.... I guess Christmas is coming... Its either that or a table saw!

Bryan October 23, 2006 at 11:29 a.m.

Table saw or GPS...that's a tough call. I don't know if it would be for me, but for most people the table saw would be the more practical choice. The GPS is really fun though, as you can see. It encourages exercise because you have to move for it to do anything interesting. Exercise is a good thing. Nobody ever lost a finger to a GPS either.

Nols October 24, 2006 at 12:47 p.m.

You make a good point about the finger, I still remember what happened on UHF... But a great point about the exercise too, and I could definitely use more of that! Maybe I can get some relatives to go in on a GPS for me!

Do you know of a good site that reviews GPS's? I don't even know how much I should spend... Also what features do you like/use and are there any you wish you had, or any that don't really make a difference?

Bryan October 24, 2006 at 1:54 p.m.

Good questions. Since my GPS was a lucky win at a conference prize-drawing, I haven't ever shopped for one myself. I've compared mine with my dad's a little, and they have pretty much the same basic features, all you need to use ActiveTrails, go geocaching, interface with MapPoint or GoogleEarth, etc. One thing my dad's does that mine doesn't is remember your top speed, which is really cool for biking and stuff. Not necessary, but cool to see how fast you went when you bombed down that hill and couldn't look down at the speedometer.

Here's some references I got from

Of the features on the first list, mine doesn't have the external antenna (which, now that I've seen that, sounds really nice), and I don't have an external power supply (I'm pretty sure I could add one). I don't know about the channels or how much memory it has either.

I would suggest you go pretty basic. Mine is definitely not top-of-the-line and it works fine. I wish the reception was better in the big trees, I'm guessing the external antenna would help with that. Hiking up at 14,000' like you are doing that probably won't be a problem :-)