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.

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 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.

USGS.gov is shutdown

October 7, 2013 — Leave a comment


We hope you don’t need to download any maps for USGS.gov anytime soon. Nathan, who created the excellent Backcountry Navigator Android app, writes in a recent email about one impact from the recent government shutdown:

“I’ve noticed a pattern in some of the [support] messages where some US map sources were failing.

A few maps will be affected:
USGS Color Aerials
NOAA RNC Charts.

Other map sources will not be affected and are good alternatives:
USTopo Imagery (with or without markup).

These are government data too, they are just privately hosted at our expense.

And as always, the maps you have already downloaded should be there.”