Sunday, November 4, 2018

Post Hike Thoughts and Review: Part V

Moving on to the next chapter in the series, I am going to discuss phones, e-readers, sat-phones, GoPros, and emergency beacons. This, too, is a recent change in hiking culture. In 2005 I had a prepaid phone card. When I hiked through a town, I would find a pay phone and call home to say I was okay and when I thought I might next call.

Now, nearly everyone is carrying a phone. Wi-Fi is in every store and shop. Cell coverage improves every month. There are still places where you have no signal but its shrinking. Battery life is the main limitation. I had my phone in my pack, used it to call and check in every evening when I had a signal. I had to make a conscious choice not to look at news or websites.

I did stop in a town, charge the phone, and look at the weather forecast before hiking into a stretch where I knew I had no easy outs for several days. I used it to find an outfitter when my pack broke. I called a number I found for a shuttle ride. Having it made life easier.

The battery life issue has given rise to solar panels, wind turbines, water turbines, and even hand crank chargers.

Since there no longer any payphones, having at least a simple phone, turned off and stowed, has become a regular piece of hiking equipment. I carry a digital camera too, my choice, but I like taking photos, and that runs on batteries that can be USB charged, too. I may get a small solar panel, I don't know. The last five years I have gotten by with a phone and a portable battery.

This is a controversial topic. To what extent does having what is essentially a mini-computer with you intrude on the experience of being in the wilderness? To what extent is it a convenience or even a safety device making it worth carrying the extra weight?

You also see people carrying satellite emergency beacons. Open a cover, press and hold the button, and you have called the cavalry.

I usually carry a paperback of short stories, read a bit before I fall asleep. I have seen a few people carrying Kindle e-readers for the same purpose.

GoPro wearable cameras are very popular. They are used by vbloggers and videographers to document everything from high adventure to gear reviews.

All of this is new changes to trail culture and what the etiquette will turn out to be is still in flux. I met a vblogger named Triple Nickel Outdoors the last night on the trail. At 5:40 in this video you can see me, the fire I built, and the start of my effort to dry my boots.


Old NFO said...

Interesting country! And wet boots suck! Hopefully there were dry socks!

ASM826 said...

There were dry socks. I kept one pair of wool blend socks aside to sleep in. I kept them on when I hiked out on the last day of the trip.

This was the first time these boots had be overwhelmed by mud and rain. I ordered new boots last week, Gore-Tex lined, supposedly waterproof. We'll see.

Glen Filthie said...

Hiking has always been about gizmos and gadgets. Wonder fabrics, ultra light equipment, expensive name brands - it can degenerate into the same old rat race and competition like anything else. Mind you - as a younger man I’ve been caught in adverse weather in remote places with inferior equipment. I paid through the nose for my cold weather kit and didn’t think twice about it. I’ll do it again too.

Of course you have a cell! When you use it as a tool as it’s intended, it will make the experience better for you. It’s when you let the phone control you is when you’re in trouble. You were right to leave the news and email and every day crap behind.

I’ve enjoyed your post-hike debriefs.

LSP said...

Nice one. Of course we didn't have any of this years ago and seemed to get by quite well. Saying that, why say no to something helpful?

I remember a Sergeant saying "any idiot can get wet." He had a point!

Borepatch said...

Hey, you're famous on the Internet!