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Experimentation is the key

Posted by joeabbott on August 13, 2017

DSCF1114While I’ve complained about my SPOT device the past few weeks, I’ve also continued taking it on every hike; learning what works and what doesn’t. This past weekend, I learned in explicit terms what doesn’t work. My most recent attempt was to put the SPOT on a lanyard and wear it around my neck. Yup, it bounced against my sternum as I gasped breaths, the cord chafed at my neck in the heat and sweat of the day (although, there wasn’t that much heat), and it was a general nuisance, but to get better performance from my SPOT, I’d give anything a try.

imageAnd it failed. Big time.

Aspiring to the best qualities of Thomas Edison, I know what doesn’t work. And, I’ll keep trying to figure out what does, but to the left is my 17 mile hiking profile from my trip along Rattlesnake Ridge and back from Snoqualmie Point.

While you can’t see it from the picture, there are actually four points showing and, yes, the checkmark means those are the places I checked in. And, yes again, I did have the Track setting enabled. Which means that I didn’t capture a single location from the tracking software. Not a single one.

The way across the ridge is pretty straightforward on good trails with, admittedly, a bit of tree cover. However, across the entire back of the mountain we were on gravel roads walking through clear cuts. Not only weren’t we under trees, there were no trees!

And yet it’s very sad that the only times I was able to get a signal through was when we’d stop, position the SPOT to lay back down on the ground (face up to the sky) and let it sit like that for 10 minutes or so.

DSCF1019The antenna in the SPOT is located in the front, so that’s the desired positioning of it to give it the best chance at sending and receiving signals, but I was very surprised that not a single event was captured while worn as a necklace. Maybe it was the positional aspect or maybe the bouncing about, but it didn’t register a single location when worn as a necklace.

As I continue to find out what doesn’t work with this device, my next effort will be to find a way to position it on the top of my pack facing the sky. That should be my last, best chance to get this thing working reliably. And, I suppose, find hikes that are less tree-covered.

Here are a few pics from the trail:


The trail is just over 10 miles from Snoqualmie Point to Rattlesnake Lake; we planned to stop at Rattlesnake Ledge and head back the way we came … making it about an 18 mile day. Heath’s GPS said we made it just under 17 miles as we stopped at an upper ledge\viewpoint and didn’t head to the Ledge proper. That was fine by me. As you can see in the final picture, the trail was under maintenance in one section so it was detoured to the back of the mountain … right through a clear cut. Not the sort of scenery you want when making a little hike.

We had full trail packs on as we are training for a stint along the Pacific Crest Trail, planning to travel roughly 75 miles from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. We’ll average 15 miles days and this was our trek to see how we felt after a single day with 35# packs. My feet were killing me! The trip will be a real test of endurance, strength and pain avoidance. Anyone out there interested in a similar challenge: don’t wait until you’re over 50 year old (like I am) before trying this!! It may not be “fun” but it will be rewarding.

Well, thanks for dropping in; may your trails be maintenance free and, if they aren’t, I hope you can avoid the clear cuts.


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