The Everett Herald: Part 2 — Halfmile PCT app good for planning — or appeasing whiny kids

Everett Herald Features Editor Aaron Swaney gives the Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail app a test with his 7-year-old son:

“I wanted to try it out so I took my son and a friend and his son and we hit the PCT near Stevens Pass.

We used the app to plan our trip, find our location and update our kids on the distance and elevation gain to our destination: Nason Creek, 3.5 miles from the Stevens Pass trailhead. So when Charlie asked his question, all I had to do was take my phone out and open the app. It gave us the exact distance (to within a meter) to points north and south of our location on the trail.”


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The Everett Herald: Part 1 — Logging the PCT

David Lippke and Lon Cooper were interviewed by Everett Herald Features Editor Aaron Swaney about the Halfmile Project recently. The Herald published two articles including this one about GPS logging of the Pacific Crest Trail. Swaney’s articles were picked up by the Associated Press and we were amazed by how many other publications ran the article, including the The Washington Times, Eugene Register Guard, and many others.


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Pacific Crest Trail Association: Ultra-high tech mapping the PCT

The Pacific Crest Trail Association featured the Halfmile Project in a blog post earlier this year:

“Well below our community’s radar, a team of volunteers have been working to build a custom GPS, and the software to power it, in order to make a highly accurate map of the Pacific Crest Trail. Here’s a glimpse into what they’ve been working on for the past year and a half. The team, made up of retired technology professionals, has built these custom Geo Loggers as a gift to the trail. The data is being fed into the Halfmile Project and the maps at pctmap.net.”


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Hiker Robin Grapa on the Halfmile App

Hiker Robin Grapa has a great blog about her 2013 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. In her most recent post, she answered reader questions about her hike. We especially liked this part:

During the hike, I used Halfmile’s maps, which I printed all of before leaving and had them organized into sections recommended in Yogi’s handbook. I also used Halfmile’s app, which was great for always knowing what mile I was at on the PCT, and it tells you if you’re off the trail. If I was ever unsure whether I was on the trail or not, I’d just pop up the app and it would tell me. A lot of people used Guthook’s app, too. I thought that was more helpful in Oregon and Washington, but to be fair, we didn’t open it much south of there because Halfmile worked fine. The PCTHYOH app was great for the water report, fire report and detour information.

Halfmile PCT Map updates for 2014

Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail

Once again, the Halfmile Project is preparing to update the Pacific Crest Trail Maps, Trail Notes, Android, and iPhone Apps for the 2014 hiking season. This is something we do every fall, based on new GPS data we collect, hiker comments, and changes to the trail. The 2014 updates will be ready in January.

If you noticed anything on the Halfmile PCT Maps, Trail Notes, or Smartphone Apps that you think we should know about, send us an email at halfmile@pctmap.net. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny typo, information about water sources, or a change to the Pacific Crest Trail — we want to hear from you.

2014 hikers should hold off printing maps until the final updates are ready in January. If you are using the Smartphone Apps, GPS data files, and Google Earth files, make sure you have the latest updates before you hit the trail.

We will publish a complete list of the changes we make for 2014, here at Halfmileproject.org.

Tracking hikers with Google Earth

Tracking your hiker with Google Earth
Entering the latitude and longitude from a Delorme inReach satellite message in Google Earth with Halfmile data.

Many Pacific Crest Trail hikers are using satellite messaging devices like the Delorme inReach or SPOT Messenger to communicate with friends and family. Halfmile Project data from PCTMap.net and Google Earth can make these messages easier to understand for your followers back home.

Halfmile data is available in several different forms — and the data matches exactly, no matter which form you are using. The data is available as follows:

  • Printable PCT maps
  • Android or iPhone Apps
  • Google Earth KML files
  • GPX files for loading into a GPS or third party Smartphone GPS app
  • Trail Notes

A Halfmile point on the printable maps is the same in Google Earth or the Halfmile smartphone apps. If a satellite messenger sends latitude and longitude coordinates, these can easily be viewed by friends back home in Google Earth or simulated in the Halfmile smartphone app.

Here are the steps to follow a hiker using a satellite message and Google Earth with Halfmile data:

  1. Download and install Google Earth.
  2. Download the Halfmile Google Earth KMZ file.
  3. Open the Halfmile KMZ file in Google Earth and save it to “My Places.”
  4. Expand the satellite message and note the latitude and longitude [see screen capture above].
  5. Enter the latitude and longitude in the Google Earth Search field [see screen capture above] and select the “Search” button.
  6. Google Earth will zoom to the location and show a marker [usually a pushpin] at your hiker’s location.
  7. If you have followed the steps correctly, the path of the Pacific Crest Trail and Halfmile waypoints will also be shown in Google Earth. It will be easy to see the location of your hiker in relation to these landmarks. In the screen capture above, the hiker is at a waypoint named WA2658, between PCT miles 2658 and 2658.5. You may need to expand the Google Earth “Time Sliders” to see all of the Halfmile waypoints.


  8. If you are using other PCT information sources, the mileages may not exactly match. Yogi’s PCT Handbook now uses Halfmile mileages so Yogi and Halfmile are the same. Guthook and the Wilderness Press Data Book mileages are similar, but not exactly the same [usually differences are not more than 1/2 or one mile]. Postholer mileages can be significantly different — sometimes up to 15 miles!

    Note that Halfmile data is updated each year, usually in January. For constancy, use the latest data. If you are using 2014 Halfmile maps, be sure to use the 2014 Google Earth or 2014 GPX files.