A few people have asked me about maps, waypoints, and GPS tracks. Here's what I did last year. It worked well, so I'm doing it again this year.
- I loaded all of the waypoints from Bear Creek Survey (BCS) into Topo! (National Geographic’s mapping software). I also loaded Stefan’s track.
- In Topo!, I deleted BCS waypoints that were irrelevant due to detours, etc. I also added some of my own.
- Then I converted the Topo! file into something that Mapsource (Garmin’s mapping software) understands, using GPSBabel.
- I then used Mapsource to load the tracks and waypoints into my Vista HCx GPS unit.
The net result is that I have an awesome track to follow on my GPS, and all of the waypoints match the Colorado Trail Foundation's Databook. I printed maps out of Topo! at several different levels, so I can also verify waypoints on the maps. I also printed the wilderness bypass instructions directly on the maps.
As an aside, you can probably do the same thing using TopoFusion, but I owned Topo! for about ten years before TopoFusion came out. Maybe someday I’ll buy TopoFusion—it looks like a great program and will obviously save some steps because it seems to have superior GPS connectivity. There’s no doubt that I would have bought TopoFusion, and not Topo!, had it been available!
I rode 95% of the trail using just my GPS and a printed profile. But I figured that the maps might be very helpful if my GPS failed. I did use the maps on the Cataract section, just to find out where I was, and when I was going to get to Silverton (it was night, and raining hard)! I also thought the maps might come in useful if I needed to bail to the nearest highway or hospital, but fortunately I didn't need too.
Here's an example of a printed map (highest detail level). Click to view it larger, and then zoom to see more detail.
Here's another detail level:These maps fit nicely into a handlebar map case, and I threw them out along the way to reduce the weight!