Here is my traveling GPS set-up: I use the Garmin Nuvi for ‘heads-up’ navigation, but hold the PN-40 closeby in order to see the surrounding areas, check out terrain and natural features, and do POI searches.
Sunday, however, was my first time actually using the PN40 for it’s intended outdoors/hiking/geocaching type activities. I was so pleased with how well the interface and functions were designed for outdoors use- everything was just perfectly organized for my needs once we were out there. (I swear, these are sincere, un-solicited statements- though I do get free PN40s and data of course:)
Outdoors activities haven’t really been my ‘thing’ for the past ten years or so, but this trip is going to include quite a bit of camping and hiking.
It turns out finding available campsites on the weekend in a popular place like Sedona is much harder than finding, say, a hotel. I had no idea it would be like that, so didn’t plan accordingly. (I’ve since started making reservations at the www.recreation.gov site)
We drove around for a while Saturday looking for the campgrounds, and I used the ‘search near location’ feature of the PN-40 to add markers to the map for just campgrounds that I was interested in checking out. If I’d been efficient, and knew more about the lack of availability, I would have called rather than driving, but at least we got to see the grand tour of the surrounding areas (which are some of the most amazing physical scenery I’ve ever experienced.)
Saturday night we spent some time talking with a late-night tour-guide, who was expansive with the local info and recommendations. He first questioned our fitness levels, then suggested a 5 mile round-trip hike called Settler’s Pass, with a stated elevation gain of 1200 feet. The elevation here is 5000 feet at the town, and coming from sea-level in Maine we did feel a bit out of breath the first day scrambling around the rocks in Las Vegas.
Settler’s Pass proved to be a hike over a ridge, so the hike was up 900 feet, down 800 feet, then the same in reverse. I added waypoints with the PN-40 every quarter mile or so, turning the GPS off in-between (both internet access and battery charging tools are something I’ve had too little of so far. I drained both my PN-40 batteries earlier by leaving them on all the time while driving. I’ve also been doing without imagery on the GPS because of the lack of internet access.)
The PN-40 topo data had the intermittent stream (which was in a dry phase right now) we kept weaving around. It also listed a point named “Vultee’s Arch”, that, had it not been on the map, we wouldn’t have walked the extra thirty yards to see: an amazing natural arch formation out of the red rocks, just right in the middle of the forest.
I had a great time checking the distance and elevation gain between waypoints, and using that information to estimate how far we had to go. We both carried far more water than necessary (3 liters for a 3 hour hike, though that was the recommendation from a couple folks familiar with the desert- a liter for every hour out there.)
When Young climbed to the top of Bell’s Rock (something I didn’t dare to do, because it’s not hiking, it’s more like a 5.8 or 5.9 solo climb interspersed with scrambling, based on his description) he found a metal box affixed to the top, filled with notebooks and some junk. We suspect it’s a geocache, but plan to find out for sure when we have some more internet.