Adeventure Scott - I love reading your TR's, sucks me in from the first paragraph. The radio collar is perhaps from an animal that either perished or shook loose the collar?
what happened to the creature. And even more, that you apparently don't use GPS despite a tricky routefinding challenge and a looming possibility of having to find your way at night. Lastly, what about navigating by stars? Would it help you catch the fact that you were heading NE rather than NW?
A few radio collars are put on some sheep and they are programed to fall off after so long. In this case though, it seems no one could retrieve it. They knew where it was by flying over it and provided the coordinates, but they couldn't get up to it.
I've always been a map and compass guy, but a GPS would have helped (did you read the part that we were getting GPS's for Christmas? It's written in the TR not far above the google map photo).
Navigating by stars sounds easy enough and may have been possible to get bearings on occasion, but still is hard because you have to keep a close eye on your feet and immediately surroundings as well. I used to be OK at star navigation but haven't used it in a long time. Since we thought we were following the correct rim of the correct canyon and had themind set that we were on the right track it was probably too late by the time we found out we were of track for star navigation (though we could have used it from the beginning). At the time we were paying close attention to the drainage rim rather than stars and we didn't think we were off track until seeing the cliff on our left. By then it was past 10 pm, we had been going hard for many hours (we met at 5 am, but had to get up earlier than that to drive to our meeting spot and pack up the car) and Justin had a sprained ankle.
Having a GPS (although that could have been broken instead of the compass) or being better at star navigation would have helped and so would having a spare compass (I've always taken one compass, but will now bring a spare), but hind sight is always 20/20.
the main objective risk of a GPS is that it may make you less cognizant of the landmarks - and then the batteries die or you drop it :) My cameras use AA batteries though, and even when they are spent in a camera, they still do good in a GPS.
I thought I always navigate by Sun, Moon, stars, and landmarks rather than by compass - at least I never take compass to o-running competitions - and it was an interesting surprise to scan the old Arctics slides and to re-discover that I always carried a compass back then. But of course, the skies are so often cloudy there, and there is no landmarks in the endless hilly tundra!
You can get a passable GPS for $100 these days. If you plan on using it in the mediocre reception areas in the canyon country though, it makes sense to buy something with a more modern SIRF III chip.
I see it this way: Compass/GPS is part of emergency kit (unless fog is what you expect throghout); map's a must; GPS is for fun - call it conservative if you like
I guess I am from the new school - I prefer GPS in front and a compass in the rear pocket just in case the GPS fails. However I have learned how to navigate with both just in case one of them fails. P.S. I can't wait until I have the chance to head up to this area, just amazing stuff!!
No wonder, given the differences in age and exposure to modern technology:) Anyway, I'd advise you to take some refreshment breaks from the new school gear as you - being an American - must know better that hands-on is necessary to put things into efficient use.
Yes - I do agree in the logic that doing something hands on i.e. using compass vs. GPS is a great way to learn something, and I also agree that the more you apply something the better you become. I often leave the GPS at home for short local hikes that I know like the back of my hand, and rely simply on compass to deviate to new areas.
Great report, Scott. Kept me on the edge of my seat with each new thing that went wrong. Very good reminder about the emergency kit, I too often forget to take one on day hikes. Glad it turned out OK for you.
What a great adventure - I'm glad it all turned out OK. Thanks for the fun read and great pictures!
Very exciting story. A lesson for everyone there.
Thanks for contributing this one to SummitPost. You didn't say where the place was, but I spied the coordinates on your GoogleEarth picture and Googled in myself.
I wondered why you didn't go by the stars too... but then I see... you didn't think you were lost at first.
Even with a working compass or stars... it's highly unlikely anyone could have "re-contructed" their location after wandering a ways in such "mixed" terrain.