trail guides

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Partial Data for the middle states. That will change.

Partial Data for the middle states. That will change.

This summer is going to be a busy one, starting in just a few weeks. At the top of my priority list for the year has been to finish mapping the Appalachian Trail from Damascus, VA to Delaware Water Gap, PA. That’s about 900 miles of trail, which is currently included in the AT Hiker app in a less complete form than the rest of the trail sections.

The reason those sections aren’t mapped as completely as others is because I never expected the apps to be as well-received as they have been, so when I initially released the apps last summer, I had only mapped the first 450 miles of the AT at that point. By the end of the summer, I’d added about 850 miles of trail from Delaware Water Gap to Katahdin, but those middle states had to be rushed out with old trail data gathered from Forest Service and USGS data.

From May 13 through the end of June, I’ll be hiking the AT as fast as I can to update the trail data for those middle states, and then I’ll try to get that data into the apps as quickly as possible. But it’s going to be tight. I’ll also be working for NOLS through all of July and much of August, which means I won’t be able to spend much time working on the computer after the AT hike.

For those of you who are using the Virginia and Pennsylvania sections of the apps now, I can’t promise that the updates will arrive in the apps before September, but I’ll try to be as efficient as possible with my data collection so that I can transfer it over to the apps quickly. Last year, transferring 350 miles of trail data from GPS and trail notes into the app took about two weeks. This time it will be 900 miles, and I’ll have three or four days. Luckily, I’ve made some progress in efficiency since last year, so maybe I’ll be a little speedier. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In May, I’ll join fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Joe Jacaruso for a speedy hike of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. I had planned on hiking the 600 miles of the state in order to bring the mid-states data set in my AT Hiker app up to par with the northern and southern states, but when I learned that Joe was also planning to hike through Virginia, we decided to join forces.

My last trip to Virginia-- A younger, hairier me on McAfee Knob.

My last trip to Virginia– A younger, hairier me on McAfee Knob.

Joe has thirty days to hike, which means an average of twenty miles per day from the get go. I’ve never quite accomplished that pace in an early-season hike, even on the flatter grades of the Pacific Crest. But we might as well add some more insanity to the plan. Since I like to add side trails into my app data sets, I’ve found approximately 100 extra miles of side trails for us to hike as well, bringing the average up to 24 miles per day for thirty days.

To add to the discomfort, we’ll be starting with a visit to the Trail Days Festival in Damascus. I’m no fan of big crowds, and Trail Days is the epitome of big crowds in the hiking world. It’s going to be an interesting start to the trip.

But I wouldn’t do any of this if I wasn’t really excited about it. The challenge of hiking as hard as I can for a month or more (I’ll actually continue through Pennsylvania if all goes according to plan) and dealing with the huge crowds on the trail may be uncomfortable and in some ways unpleasant, but those are the kinds of challenges that make life interesting. Not to mention the gorgeous Virginia mountains. I think it’s going to be an exciting hike.

Big news! High Sierra Attitude and Guthook Hikes have teamed up with Trailblazer Guides of England to bring our iPhone and Android apps to the United Kingdom. Behold– the Trailblazer Guides: South Downs Way app! Check it out here– iPhone versionAndroid version.

SouthDownsScreens

We’ve been working on converting Trailblazer’s guidebook to South Downs Way since last summer, and we’re all very excited to see the program that we’ve used on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail now used for trails so far from home. And we’re especially happy to be working with Bryn Thomas of Trailblazer Guide Books, who has done the hardest work of all in mapping the trail and writing such a wonderful guide in the first place.

Many people who have used our apps in the past have told us that being able to explore the trail from home makes them more excited to get there in person. Before putting this app together, I hadn’t felt that excitement in quite the same way, since I’d been converting my memories from the trail into an app for other people. Now, though, I feel some of that excitement myself. Having never hiked in England, I find myself browsing around the map and elevation profile of South Downs Way to see what the walks over there look like. I’m beginning to think I may have to make a trip over the pond sooner or later.

Check it out, let us know what you think, and happy hiking!

The next generation of Guthook’s Hiking Guide apps is in the App Store. This is one I’m especially excited about, since it has brought me to some places in Maine and New Hampshire where I might not have spent much time otherwise. Behold, Guthook’s New England Hiker app!

Choose a guide from the overview map on the left, then explore trails and waypoints in the detailed guide.

Choose a guide from the overview map on the left, then explore trails and waypoints in the detailed guide.

Most of my previous apps are focused on a single long-distance backpacking trail, which is actually much simpler to turn into an app– no need to worry about naming the trail on the map, or deciding which waypoints to show in which order. So for much of the last two years, I’ve let my two New England hiking apps languish on the back burner. I’ve decided to change that by creating an app to show off some of the best hiking New England has to offer.

Tumbledown and Little Jackson Mountains in Maine. The waypoints list view in the middle sorts waypoints by distance from you when the GPS is turned on.

Tumbledown and Little Jackson Mountains in Maine. The waypoints list view in the middle sorts waypoints by distance from you when the GPS is turned on.

The app is a free download, with several trail networks available for purchase within, ranging from free to a few dollars. As of this writing, there are three free sections (Monadnock State Park, Pillsbury State Park, and the Willey Range, all in New Hampshire), and thirteen paid sections ranging from Camel’s Hump to the Camden Hills. Over the next few years, I’ll work on adding many more of the paid and free sections. The Monadnock and Camden Hills apps that I created a few years ago will eventually be discontinued and combined into the New England Hiker app.

The Camden Hills show off some of the best Maine has to offer-- Mountains right on the ocean, with gorgeous trails all around.

The Camden Hills show off some of the best Maine has to offer– Mountains right on the ocean, with gorgeous trails all around.

The functions of the app at this point are similar to the AT Hiker and Pacific Crest Trail apps. You can see information about waypoints on the trails, write in the trail registers to share info with other hikers, and browse trails on the map. New to this app is the ability to tap on any trail and see the name of the trail with the mileage of the point you clicked.

The Monadnock Sunapee Greenway guide shows all of the legal campsites and reliable water sources on the trail, making for some classic southern-New-England backpacking.

The Monadnock Sunapee Greenway guide shows all of the legal campsites and reliable water sources on the trail, making for some classic southern-New-England backpacking.

There is no elevation profile for trails in the New England Hiker app yet, but later this year I’ll be working on the ability to create your own custom hiking trips by combining trails and create elevation profiles for them. That will bring thousands of combinations of trails on mountains like Monadnock or Mansfield or Bigelow to your repertoire.

For a little more rugged backpacking trip, check out the Grafton Loop Trail in Maine. There are also four or five nice day hikes in this guide.

For a little more rugged backpacking trip, check out the Grafton Loop Trail in Maine. There are also four or five nice day hikes in this guide.

As of the initial release, the guides available include:
-Camel’s Hump, Mansfield, Killington, Stratton, and the Worcester Range in Vermont.
-Grafton Loop Trail, Bigelow Preserve, Tumbledown & Jackson Mountain, and the Camden Hills in Maine.
-Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, Moat Mountain, Willey Range, and Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire.

If you’re wondering what’s the big deal with the Guthook’s Guides iPhone apps, and want an idea of what they look like before buying, I recorded a few videos of the apps in use so you can see what uses there are. These demos were recorded on a iPhone simulator on my computer, but using the apps on your iPhone or iPad looks essentially the same.

Enjoy! And feel free to ask any other questions that haven’t been answered yet.