Monday, May 04, 2009

Web, GPS, Weather.

First off, thanks to the many people who emailed to offer their help with my web site. I had no idea I had actual talent reading these rantings, thanks! I've got a solution thanks to you.

I seem to be becoming a sort of technology nerd. I've always liked little black boxes that do cool stuff. Paraglider pilots are the biggest tech nerds on the planet with any claim to also be athletes. They use GPS tech, flight computers, the web, etc., and most seem to spend more time geeking out than actually flying. But I've noticed aerobic athletes are getting into that GPS use, along with guides, geocachers, even climbers. GPS units produce waypoints and tracks; those tracks are useful for everything from scoring paragliding competitions to building waypoint files (nice to have when you're lost inside the ping-pong ball on a ski traverse or descent). I'm working on a project involving popular hikes/scrambles and GPS tracks at the moment, more on that in a month or two, but check this site out, kind of a cool multi-sport track thing. Lots of stuff like this out there now based on both stand-alone GPS units and mobile  phones with GPS units in 'em... The Spot is becoming more popular too, and it's useful because it doesn't rely on a cell signal to call for emergency help. Many older outdoor types are leery of new tech, but if there's one theme I can see in the outdoor world that's changing it very rapidly it's satellite-based technology...

About ten years ago I did a trip into a remote area where one of our group went down hard with an unknown ailment. Luckily he lived, but that was the last big trip I did without a satellite phone--I don't want to ignore technology that could save someone's life, even if that means a less independent trip. I firmly believe in self-rescue, but not to the point where I'll stake a friend's life on that style of outdoor fun. I have mixed feelings about having communications in remote areas; obviously it's a resource that can be abused, but it can also save my life. I now have my own sat phone and also rent it out to friends (people who aren't gear idiots). I'm not sure where all this tech is going, but I am sure that it's going to change our outdoor experience both positively and negatively. I think it can be mainly positive if we embrace it and use it, or mainly negative if we fight it and don't learn to use it well.

Spring is now finally starting, after one of the worst Aprils I can remember here in the Rockies. I had a good ride yesterday with a friend, even though we were pushing through up to two feet of snow on a ride I've done snow-free in March almost every year I've lived here in Canmore. The rock on Saturday was warm even in the shade though, so it's time to get chalky, sweaty, sunburned, and all the other fun stuff that goes with warm temperatures. I am so glad for that!!

Happy Spring. I mean it this time.