alpenflo
authenticity through outdoor Experience
alpenflo_logo2.jpg

journal

I love the feeling of going to the mountains. The static of life in the city fades away. The challenge of moving through rugged landscapes brings me out of my head and into my body. I love long days on the trail where time slows down and the Experience lives in my memory for years. I created the alpenflo project to share my passion for seeking an authentic life through outdoor Experience.

how-to: backcountry route planning - part II, during and after the trip

Welcome to the second part of my series on backcountry route planning, where we’re learning tools to plan our own backcountry trips. In the first part of this series, we reviewed how to use Caltopo to plan your trip and how to download your notes and maps to Gaia GPS for use in the field.

In this week’s installment, we’ll cover the in-field and post-trip aspects of backcountry trip planning, including:

  • taking notes in the field

  • transferring paper notes to Caltopo after your trip

  • transferring notes from Gaia GPS to Caltopo using the Gaia GPS web app

Note: screenshots and pricing information are current May 2019

taking notes in the field

 
Andrew Skurka’s guide-maps on the Wind River high-route. the author does an excellent job of noting critical navigation features and calling out hazards

Andrew Skurka’s guide-maps on the Wind River high-route. the author does an excellent job of noting critical navigation features and calling out hazards

 

As I travel through the backcountry I’ll often take notes on the terrain I’m passing through to reference later in the trip, when planning future trips, or when sharing the route with friends.

some examples of noteworthy information

  • specific, accurate information to use when reversing the route (location of snow-bridges or an easy downclimb)

  • navigable passes to be used when connecting basins

  • great campsites you’ll want to reference later

  • an especially sweet skinny dipping spot

On a recent hut skiing trip to the Wallowa Mountains of NE Oregon, I took note of the location of the camp and the fun ski lines surrounding it:

notes taken on a recent hut-skiing trip

notes taken on a recent hut-skiing trip

transferring paper notes to Caltopo

In Part I we covered reasons for using Caltopo as your main trip planning tool. Those same reasons make it a great place to save all your trip notes. The following shows a selection of my past and future trips, saved in Caltopo for easy access:

 
trip history and plans in Caltopo - this makes for easy future reference and sharing

trip history and plans in Caltopo - this makes for easy future reference and sharing

 

Once back at home, I opened the map I’d used to plan the Wallowa trip by clicking it in the trip history shown above. Then, I added the notes I’d taken to it using markers and lines:

hut-skiing trip notes added to Caltopo, click the map to view an interactive version

hut-skiing trip notes added to Caltopo, click the map to view an interactive version

transfer notes from Gaia GPS to Caltopo using the Gaia GPS Web App

In addition to my paper notes, I dropped pins in Gaia to record noteworthy features when I didn’t have a pen handy or didn’t feel like pulling out a map. To get those notes into Caltopo I used the following process.

  1. navigate to the Gaia GPS website and login using your account

  2. navigate to your saved waypoints

 
GaiaGPS_View_Waypoints.png
 

3. file your waypoints in a folder

  • select waypoints

  • click ‘File to Folder’

  • select folder or create a new one

  • once filed, click the folder name to open it

 
GaiaGPS_File_Waypoints_to_Folder.png
 

4. export the folder as GPX file for use in other apps or devices (GPS for example)

GaiaGPS_Export_GPX.png

5. import your GPX file to Caltopo

NOTE: Due to a bug, Safari sometimes adds the extension ‘.xml’ to GPX files. If this happens delete the ‘.xml’ your file should end in ‘.gpx’

Caltopo_Import_GPX.png

6. Select markers for import

Once you click ‘Import’ the notes you’ve created in Gaia will be visible in Caltopo, and you can save them to your map for future use.

If you’ve been keeping up with the series so far, you’re now ready to create your own maps (see part I), record notes in the field, and transfer trip notes back to your trip history in Caltopo. If you have any questions or additions, shoot me a note using the contact page or add a comment below.

In the last installment of this series, I’ll post a summary of some favorite backcountry planning and navigation tools, including some tools we haven’t seen yet. See you next week!