How do you mark the trail so you don't get lost?

I have been searching out some new trails lately, and have found myself trying very hard not to get lost. These have been “in and out” trails. When other trails come in to the trail I am on, it’s okay at first, but when you go several miles in, and a few other trails meet. It can be interesting.

Last time, I resorted to following back on my GAzz footprint, figuring that most other MTB riders wouldn’t have such a distinctive footprint.

Isn’t there something with stacking rocks, or leaving a piece of florescent ribbon at a junction, but removing it on the return trip?

Can anyone clarify this for me or suggest other alternative ways.

Thanks

i like to carry a little note pad and make a map like scenario as i go…every fork in the road gets writen down with a land mark noted for verification…

in the real uncut Brothers Grimm story Hanzel dropped stones the 1st time and used them to find thier way home…the step mother was furious and figured it out then didnt let Hanzel take any stones the next time so he then used bread crumbs.

I take a compass and know how to use it. Pay attention to the general direction you’re going and then head on trails going the opposite direction when you’re coming back.

The important thing to know is where there is some kind of boundary, usually a road, because they are really easy to hit, you’ve just got to head in the general direction until you get there.

Also, I don’t know how mapped your trails are, but being really good at reading a map is useful.

The alternative is to use the technological solution and get a gps, then you can just record your track and do a track-back to get yourself home. Don’t forget spare batteries though.

Joe

I think we are a bit spoilt over here with good quality maps. I’ve never been anywhere else and been able to get maps that mark every trail and every bend with such accuracy. If you have an OS 1:25000 map then it pretty hard to ge totally lost.

Nick

France has very good maps too nowadays, they’re really super-good.

Most of the time though, you don’t need the map to find the trail, it’s more to find useful landmarks to get yourself to, like wherever you parked your car, or the road to the nearest train station. Even the OS maps don’t have most good trails marked on them.

The very very best thing to do is just to get lost in an area a lot. If you ride there ten times or so, you’ll learn the way out and get to know the trails well enough not to have to bother with a map or compass any more.

Joe

Know the big picture. Look at any map that is available to see how your riding area is related to rivers, major, minor roads. If you broke your arm adn were bleeding, maybe the best way out is due north for 500 yards to the highway, rather than the 6 miles back up the trail. I carry a little compass when I’m deep in unfamiliar territory.

The only time I need said compass is when I’m somewhere I’ve never been before and the sun is not obvious. I (from Memphis, TN) went down to Ole Miss (Oxford, MS) on business just yesterday. I asked around for some MB trails and did some late afternoon solo MUni. Things are twisty down there so I did take a look at my compass just to settle things in my mind.

A Duck Hunting trick: Some of the best places to hunt are deep in the middle of flooded woods. Water maybe 1 to 4 feet deep. Trees everywhere. Cloudy often. It all looks the same. No visible trails (they’d be underwater). Sometimes, when things got slow, we’d leave the “honey hole” to explore. On the way out I’d tear off squares of toilet paper (when deeeep in the woods, one must be prepared) and hang it from protruding branches. On the way back I’d pick them all back up, but if I missed any, they’re biodegradable.

As a Boy Scouts (and my daughters’ Girl Scouts troops) we learned Indian marking systems. I won’t describe them, search the www or library. But unless you’re signalling someone behind you to turn left at a fork, you just need to remind yourself. Just use some sticks and make an arrow pointing. We have lots of sticks in this area. In Moab you’d be using rocks.

A fun thing we’ve done with the Girl Scouts to learn the Indian systems is a “Fox and Hounds” race. Make a page of drawings and explanations for the chasers (hounds) to carry. Mark a complex trail and see if the “pack” can get to the finish. There should be questions on the sheet that the participants should answer whenever they arrived at (say) an X inside a circle. (i.e. “How many holes in the big tree?” or “How many boards in the Bench?”)

Thanks for bringing this up. Now that you mention it, this will make a great MUC event.

habits are important: I was brought up in Morocco where my father (a geologist) taught me how to remember every trail, every rock when there was no trail… So I never get lost in the open
but I can get lost in the woods with hundreds of trails that just resemble each other : I’ve go to train to recognise trees:)

bear

I’m a big fan of GPS. I bought an inexpensive Garmin GPS that’s very basic but it has a trackback feature that shows me exactly the path that I took getting into a place. I love technology. The only potential downside is if you don’t remember to bring a spare set of batteries.

topographic maps are good.

-grant

A GPS will let you explore trails and get back to the car without getting lost.

GPS tracks are the electronic equivalent of leaving a trail of bread crumbs. You can then follow the track back to backtrack the way you came.

GPS waypoints are the electronic equivalent of leaving trail markers like ribbon, rock piles, stick arrows, drawings in the dirt, etc. Setting a waypoint at the car will allow you to find the car at the end of the ride. You can also set waypoints at trail intersections and other trail features.

A basic GPS like the Garmin Geko 201 will do what you need. It has a $150 MSRP but is available for under $120. Add in about $25 for rechargeable AAA NiMH batteries and a charger.

The TrackBack allows you to retrace your track in reverse. Perfect for an out and back ride.

Waypoints let you set electronic markers and then have the GPS tell you what direction and how far to get back to any waypoint.

But relying on only the GPS to get you back can be risky. There are times when the GPS will not have signal which will mean that it won’t be making a track. Batteries can go dead on you at unexpected times. The GPS can loose signal when under tree cover. If you happen to be relying on the automatic tracklog to get you back and the GPS is loosing signal a lot then you may end up in trouble. It’s better to supplement the tracklog by taking periodic manual waypoints along the way.

And always bring extra batteries.

Are GPS’s able to add the distance due to the angle of your climb?

2 points may be 1000 meters apart, but 50 meters diff in elevation

will your distance between way points be 1000m or something a little more

Most GPSs will record vertical as well as horizontal data in the track logs (which can be uploaded to computers for further analysis and viewing - though software choice is sometimes limited). Curious, I don’t know if trip distance measured (on typical units) is purely horizontal, or 3 dimensional distance. Note: there is rarely much difference i.e. even with a 20% slope there is <2% difference between the horizontal and the diagonal. This is probably less than the error in the measurements to start with - I think most GPSs sample position approximately once per second, and the distance calculation is then straight line between those samples.

It is my understanding that consumer GPS units use only the 2D latitude and longitude to figure out distance between points. The elevation is not considered. But as Duaner pointed out, even with a 20% slope the error is not going to make a difference especially considering that there are already errors present in your 2D latitude and longitude positions.

In the event your GPSs batteries go out, use the device to scrape out arrows on the ground.

Does anyone with a GPS go climbing? :slight_smile:

Phil

Re: How do you mark the trail so you don’t get lost?

I usually just follow the trail of blood back.

Mentally. The handy thing about muni is that we notice the little finer details of trails much more than mountain bikers because we have to.

Andrew

Re: How do you mark the trail so you don’t get lost?

“john_childs” <john_childs@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote
in message
news:john_childs.19r965@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com
>
>
> A basic GPS like the ‘Garmin Geko 201’
> (http://www.garmin.com/products/geko201/) will do what you need. It has
> a $150 MSRP but is available for under $120. Add in about $25 for
> rechargeable AAA NiMH batteries and a charger.
>

I have found that the rechargeables seem a little dodgy in my Garmin GPS.
Others have said the same. Their voltage is slightly lower than standard
batteries, and it seems to affect reliable use. So I stick to standard
batteries if it matters and only switch on when needed. They do seem to
eat batteries fairly quickly.

Naomi.

Re: How do you mark the trail so you don’t get lost?

“Sofa” <Sofa@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote in message
news:Sofa.19rabt@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com
>
> Are GPS’s able to add the distance due to the angle of your climb?
>
> 2 points may be 1000 meters apart, but 50 meters diff in elevation
>
> will your distance between way points be 1000m or something a little
> more

Basic trig shows that the hypotenuse of that triangle will not be measurably
longer than the flat distance. You will add rather lass than half a metre
to your trip. Not measurable by your GPS no matter how many satellites it
can see.

Naomi

Re: How do you mark the trail so you don’t get lost?

I’ve just returned from holiday in Austria where I did a lot of MUni
using a GPS. It’s fun and you always know where (temporary) home is.
Following your trail back is easy but imho more fun is had when doing
a roundtrip. A good map and compass would suffice for that, but the
GPS makes it easier.

On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 06:39:07 GMT, “Naomi” wrote:

>> 2 points may be 1000 meters apart, but 50 meters diff in elevation

>Basic trig shows that the hypotenuse of that triangle will not be measurably
>longer than the flat distance. You will add rather lass than half a metre
>to your trip. Not measurable by your GPS no matter how many satellites it
>can see.

Naomi, by my calculation the elevation adds about 1.25 metre in Sofa’s
example. Otherwise, your argument remains valid though.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

I like the idea of not having to balance when out on a ride - joe