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.
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;
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.]
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;
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!