I’ve heard this hundreds of times: “I have a Safety GPS but I don’t know how to use it.” If you’re in the same position, perhaps I can help. For running Jeep trails and doing extended trips, GPS navigation can play an integral role to the success and satisfaction of your trip.
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Let’s get this part out of the way: a GPS does far more than show you where you are and where you’ve been. Let’s also get this out of
the way: GPS is short for Global Positioning System. Now on to the good stuff . . .
To a young and spry individual, safety can seem overstated. So I’ll try to emphasize the importance of safety and how a GPS helps.
For instance, with GPS mapping software, you can plot your anticipated route before you go and then give it to a contact at home. Should you not return at a specified time, this person will have a good idea where to look for the body (just kidding . . . sort of). I know it’s not nearly as adventurous as hopping in the Jeep and not looking back – going wherever the wind might take you without a leash. I’m guilty of doing it, and I’m guilty of breaking down alone, miles from help, in the very situation where I didn’t tell anyone where I was going or when I’d return.
It happened to me twice. It sucked…both times.
Here’s another good point about your safety: in the event of a breakdown or medical crisis, you can provide specific coordinates to authorities and emergency teams. Let’s say you and I are on a trail. Let’s also say that we’re both driving brand-spanking new JK Rubicons. You know, since we’re imagining here. Ten miles from the highway on a rocky trail we exit our JKs to hike to an Indian ruin. You slip, damage your spine – you’re in such screaming agony that you simply can’t walk. I know it’s cruel, but I need to leave you behind to get help. I can’t put you on my back and carry you to the brand-spanking new Jeeps because that could be detrimental to your back. Maybe mine too. Even then, with a spine injury, it could be more dangerous to have you bouncing around on the trail for the next 10 miles.
I need to get up, drive out, go to the sheriff’s office and get you a helicopter. So I whip out the GPS unit, make a waypoint, and take off like a hero. With this waypoint the cavalry knows exactly where to find you. Pretty slick, huh?
The point here is not that you and I have new JKs or that you’d get hurt on a trip with me but rather that a GPS offers a certain level of
advantage in a crisis when location is vital.
Now, go back to the route you planned at the beginning. You use this data while on the trip, too. I’ll show you about how to plot a route and get it onto your GPS at the end.