cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


398 GPS Routes 2011-05-17

GPS in truck

A middle aged Canadian couple left home two months ago heading for southern Nevada. In the rugged mountains of northern Nevada their van got stuck. They tried for a couple of days to free the vehicle; but with no luck. The remote area naturally did not have phone coverage and as a last resort effort the couple split up. The man left, hiking to a town about ten miles away.

The woman faithfully stayed with the van, surviving by eating the food they had in the van and drinking melted snow and water from a creek. Hunters finally found her. She had been stuck for seven weeks! Sadly, her husband is still missing.

When this story first surfaced a couple of weeks ago the details were sketchy; but it seemed to me like yet another GPS story. A few days later follow up stories said that yes, the couple was using a new GPS. They were following the shortest route to their destination.

Over the last couple of years there have been several GPS error - missing persons. In all of these cases the user was blindly following the receiver and became stuck, ran out of gas, or damaged their vehicle on a rougher than expected road. The Canadian couple was the first incident that I recall with tragic results.

To use a GPS, you should do more than follow the arrows on the screen. Personally, after using a GPS for many years, I have found many errors with map features and errors caused mainly from poor coverage. Here are a few GPS travel tips that might help keep you on route ...

The GPS is sometimes wrong. Never blindly follow the screen.

A GPS is only an aid to navigation. Suggested routes should always be checked. If possible find local information.

Always carry a map or atlas. I know that the GPS has a map; but that is the same map that is routing you when you use the GPS. It is important to have another source.

It is okay to pull off to the side of the road and verify the GPS information.

Shortcuts should always be suspect.

Remote areas generally have remote roads. I have been routed over mountain passes that were definitely not passable by our little Element. After this latest GPS incident, there have been warnings posted on the reliability of the GPS routing in the western mountains.

Keep the software updated. Yes, it costs money; but your GPS is only as good as the software. Also keep the maps updated.

Fiddling with the GPS while driving is just another distraction. A GPS is smaller that a map, though!

The vehicle should match the road. Don't think a low riding car can travel on back country roads.

If the road or route is not what was expected, it is best to turn around, it probably will not get any better.

Drive cautiously and safely.

Happy to check the GPS route trails.


A recent story about the Canadian Couple

The GPS Made Me Do It, Honest! - a GPS entry from January 2010.


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: