Happy New Year & Updates to Explor8ion


 

Happy new year 2016 to all my friends and explor8ion.com visitors! Normally I don't give a shout out to the new year, but I am reworking and rejuvenating much of explor8ion and would like to call your attention to all my hard work. So what am I up to? Several initiatives are underway that will be developing over the next few months to possibly a year on this site.

 

GPS Tracks on Explor8ion.com

 

I'm finally announcing that I will start providing GPS tracks for viewing and download on many of my old trip reports and most of my new ones. You probably didn't even realize it, but in the past, I've been against providing GPS tracks in most of my trip reports. I know that many of my good hiking / climbing friends such as Marko Stavrik, So Nakagawa, Sonny Bou and of course, Bob Spirko have been providing you with GPS tracks for years already but I still debate the practice, even though I'm going to follow it going forward.

 

What is my hang-up with freely passing out all my GPS tracks? Well, there's a few reasons;

 

  • There is so much beta available nowadays in the form of multiple online trip reports, route lines on maps / photographs and of course guide books that I wonder what sense of adventure is being lost while scores of people follow a blinking arrow on a screen through rugged terrain and up peak after peak after peak.
  • What impact does providing free GPS tracks have on guide books and the need for them? I've always struggled with how my free beta impacts the good guide book authors, all of whom I greatly respect, including but not limited to Chic Scott, Bill Corbett, David P. Jones, Alan Kane, Tony and Gillean Daffern and Andrew Nugara. I think that freely available GPS tracks can't help but hurt local authors. On the other hand, I recognize that change isn't always bad and usually hurts someone.
  • I am of the humble opinion that I'm already providing an incredible service to the folks who visit explor8ion.com. I have spent countless hours, a lot of hard earned money and countless kilometers of both distance and height gain to provide all of my beta at zero cost to the public. Do I really need to add my very hard-won GPS tracks too? Sometimes I feel like I might as well just sign the damn register for everyone too! (Kidding of course...)

 

I think it's already pretty darn easy for the modern scrambler / climber / hiker given all the freely available beta. Yes, I know that makes me an old curmudgeon, but I don't care because that's how I roll. :) IMHO, there's already too much information, too many worn paths / trails and way too damn much plastic flagging (!) on routes all over the Rockies and Canadian wilderness. Is the only reason to stand on a peak or pass through some remote place, the social media brag, that "I've bagged another one - look at me!"? That thought makes me very sad and I sincerely hope that it's not the motivation for most of you. Exploring (i.e. following a compass and your gut) and route finding used to be a necessary wilderness skill in order to navigate off trail and up remote peaks. I wonder how many people miss all of the excitement and adventure that I've had over the years, struggling to make sense of the damn guidebook or the complex micro-terrain that doesn't show up on the map? It's always surprising how many PITA cliff bands fit between contour lines! ;)

 

Now, after that little rant I have to be 100% fair and honest. I always download and take a GPS track if I have one available to me. Like everyone else, I use all the beta available to me when planning and executing a trip. It would be silly not to. Just because technology makes something easier, doesn't make it necessarily bad. I use an avalanche transceiver and SPOT devices too - both of which make backcountry travel safer and arguably easier. I have a family that I love and that is looking for me to come home safely after each trip. Anything that can make my wilderness outings safer is something I have to seriously consider - and that definitely includes GPS technology. I've been using a GPS with built-in maps for quite a few years already, and on many trips it's come in extremely handy. Try navigating through Canadian Shield country with only a map and compass some time! There are so many little islands and rivers that you can very quickly get lost. A GPS device can literally be a life saver in that terrain.

 

I also recognize that it's way too late to make any sort of meaningful stand on a anti-GPS high horse. There are free GPS tracks for most common hikes, scrambles and climbs already, so I'm not providing you with anything you can't get elsewhere anyway. I might as well make explor8ion more usable and help you avoid having to click on multiple trip reports to get other people's GPS tracks when I have perfectly usable ones myself. If I can assist in getting more people out of the concrete jungles and into real ones, safely, than I've accomplished the goal of my site. If I have a GPS track available for a trip, you'll find the link as follows;

 


[The GPS Track / Route has been added to the Trip Details section and will show with a link to the file. If there's no GPS track available, the link will not show on the trip report.]

 

Updating old Trip Reports

 

Something much more near-and-dear to me than providing GPS beta, is the updating / refreshing / renewing of old trip reports that I've written and published over the many years that I've been tramping around the Rockies and canoeing in Shield country. Basically, any trip report that's more than 2 years old needs to be updated and refreshed;

 

  • More photographs - many more for each trip report now that everyone is on high speed internet.
  • Larger photographs - 665 pixels displayed on the long edge, 600+ pixels on the short edges of panoramas, more panoramas with more peaks identified and linked in the captions.
  • Revamped formatting - includes putting captions under photos in italics, a consistent zoom using the '++' hyperlink, breaking each report into multiple paragraphs, with photos in between (blog style), formatting photos to display nicely on high resolution devices (i.e. Retina displays) and providing more trip information such as total distance, GPS tracks, route map images and more links to other trip reports on both explor8ion and on the web in general.

 

This is a lot of work, as you can imagine. I am going into old photo archives and reprocessing hundreds of images before uploading them into newly formatted trip reports. I find this 'work' to be very satisfying, as it allows me to essentially re-live the trips as I update the reports. Many of my best memories come flooding back as I read my blogs from years ago, which validates why I have my site in the first place - as a diary for myself to remember trips without repeating trips. Some examples of reworked trip reports;

 

 

I will be prioritizing popular trips and trips that I have enjoyed for updating. (You can sort trips by the last updated date in this view). Hopefully you will enjoy old trip reports all over again as I update them and I sincerely hope that by providing as much information as I can, I am assisting you in your adventures, whatever they might be. Here's to an excellent and exciting 2016!

Comments

Hello, Just wanted you to know your hard work on this blog and trip reports is very much appreciated. I must look at your site a few times a week, not just to see what you have been up to but also to get trip ideas. I live in Banff with three kids and have always wondered how you do so much while raising a family. My wife says that your wife must be really understanding of your passion for being in the mountains. Great to see the trip reports with your family. My kids are young right now but it will be awesome when I can get them out there exploring. Talk to you later.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your journeys and excellent photos. As a blogger, I understand how much work goes into it. I also kept a lot of info close to the vest, since I will be writing a book, but ended up sharing a lot anyway, since I realized I was encouraging people to explore.

Thanks again,
Derek
100peaks.com

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