Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Garmin GPSMAP 62st

I've been using a Garmin fenix GPS watch for a few years and it has been great.  I like the immediate access to information that you get from a watch.  Prior to that I used a Magellan SporTrak.  The Magellan had two great features: pre-loaded topo maps and breadcrumbs (that was a big deal way back then).

My fenix has been showing its age lately.  The battery life has dropped significantly.  It used to have a battery life of 12 to 15 hours.  A few months ago the batteries would last for about 5 hours.  On a recent hike it dropped from 100% to 37% in less than 2 hours, with the same settings.  This is no longer useful to me, since some of my hikes are over 8 hours long, and when I visit Zion or Yosemite I often make two 3+ hour hikes each day.

I decided to try the Garmin GPSMAP 62st.  It has pre-loaded topo maps, so that will be nice.  I'm not a fan of models that are overloaded with gobs of features and capability.  I'm happy with a topo map, waypoints, breadcrumb display, easy download of my tracks, traversed distance, elapsed time, altitude, and elevation profiles.  That's about it.  The 62st does much more, but not as much as other models Garmin offers.

I also got myself the Garmin carry case, so the thing might last longer while exposed to the elements on my hikes (trees, brush, rocks, rain, sand, sweat, etc.).  It slid on snugly and I think it'll do fine.  

The 62st came with a carabiner clip.  I've already tried that and it worked well.  I clipped it to a strap on the side of my backpack.  That way I can reach it without removing the pack, and it doesn't swing around much while I walk.

The GPS tracks are as easy to download as they are on the fenix.  My mac mounts the device via USB and it's drag-n-drop from there.  I'll continue to use the GPS Visualizer site for converting the GPX files to KMZ files.  I welcome any tips about alternate sites.  

I'll need to remember to bring spare AA batteries on my adventures.  That's something I was able to avoid with the fenix.


The 62st isn't the same as the fenix, but I think I'll end up liking it a bit more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

PCT South of Walker Pass

Here's a walk I took this summer to escape the heat of the city.  This is a section of the PCT south of Walker Pass.  My hike coincided with the northbound passage of many PCT hikers.  Here's my track in GE, looking south.  


I'm posting this for readers who might be interested in an easy hike in the southern Sierra mountains where the air is fresh and you can't get lost.  The PCT crosses Highway 178 at Walker Pass where there's a large pullout for hikers to park.  Just start walking north or south and turn around wherever you like.  It's nicer than the crowds and smog of the city.

When I did this hike, the cicadas were out bringing the forest to life with their eerie buzzing.  The trail was littered with their emergence holes.  Several of them startled from nearby bushes and flew right into me.




I spent 4.5 hours on this pleasant 12 mile hike.  I didn't quite make it to McIvers cabin.  The weather was great.  No flies.  No rattlesnakes.  A nice way to spend the morning.