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Keys to Navigation

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Another scenario: It’s getting dark, you’re hungry, your team of six brand-spanking new JK Rubicons is only four miles from the highway after a long day on the trail, and you’re not going out the same way you came. So on the way to the highway you find that the forest service closed the final road that gets you out as it was damaged in a severe storm. You need to navigate your way to another trail.

Question: Would you like to undertake this task halfcocked, without a map, without a real clue, but armed with just your manly sense of direction? Well, I do admit that has a certain element of challenge of its own . . .

But it’s almost dark and you’re hungry, so think about your answer. In this circumstance, I’d want to form a solid plan: whip out the maps, verify a route on the GPS, and execute the plan.

Things can be different out there after you’ve plotted your course – the trails can change, or they may not exist at all even though the map says they do. It happens. WARN has a clever ad slogan: Go Prepared. They mean, “Buy one of our winches,” but in this situation (remember – it’s getting dark and you’re hungry) a winch won’t help. Go prepared to navigate. You’ve been “warned.”

Some trips, though, are all about navigation particularly expedition-style routes. Let’s say you’ve decided you want to travel along the Continental Divide from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Canadian border. To maintain this route, you’re going to need to know
something about mapping and route planning. You’ll want to sit down to plot a course, inspect the terrain, plan camps and fuel stops, and that sort of thing. If you have a GPS unit to upload this information into, you can have a live tracking system at an arm’s reach during the trip. You’ll know when you’re approaching a crucial fork in the road, or how far your anticipated campsite is, or perhaps the distance to your next reliable gas station.

USING MAPPING SOFTWARE AND YOUR GPS

Understand that GPS usage doesn’t start or end in the Jeep. It starts at home with a map or two, and you’re not done navigating until you get back home or to your neighborhood bar to tell the stories of the day’s adventure.

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