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Thread: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

  1. #61

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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    That was the issue with me, the batteries did not seem to last long enough to make me comfortable using my GPS anymore. Plus I did not like having to carry another item along when trying to save weight. I reverted back to to paper, compass & landmarks etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Klein View Post
    But the damn thing's batteries always had a habit of going dead just when it's starting to rain or getting dark and you don't know which direction gets you out.
    https://www.geocaching.com/play/search

  2. #62

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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    One mourns this runner’s fate in Joshua Tree, and part of me wishes he had pre-scouted his path, marked it with ribbons, and later enjoyed the run, returning without getting lost and killed.

    But one remains curious: How do off-trail runners remove their ribbons? As they return, do they snatch them off branches? Or maybe they run outbound, then walk inbound, carefully collecting ribbons? Perhaps they run a circular path first, then walk the same path again, collecting the trash?

    Any off-trail runners here? ;^)
    As I previously mentioned, I belong to a local trail running group and for permitted organized events, when needed we mark trails with flagging attached to clothespins, and remove it when done. It's easy to remove a clothespin while walking/jogging by, but it is hard for me to imagine an off-trail hiker or runner taking the time to repeatedly tie flagging around each tree. Still, there are a lot of eccentric people out there, so perhaps someone does it.

    I've had the experience in Joshua Tree of walking into a flattish area dotted by large rock outcroppings and then not being entirely clear of my orientation, since all of the rock piles are similar size/shape and you can't see over very long distances. I hesitate to recommend reliance on technology, but think it's a good idea to have a mapping application on your phone and download a map beforehand (I use a free app called "Topo Maps" for iphone). Even if you have absolutely zero cell connectivity, the phone can receive GPS signals when you have a view of the sky, and locate you on the pre-downloaded map, enabling you to navigate back to a trail or landmark. This would save a lot of lost-hiker hassle and maybe some lives. You can leave the phone off until you need it to save battery (unless you want the breadcrumb trail). Search and rescue teams tell us that a cell phone is one of the most powerful tools for finding lost people. Don't rely on it, but be prepared with it.

  3. #63
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Real topo maps and a decent compass are way more reliable; but it's amazing how few younger outdoorsy types these days understand how to read a topo map. I was given a very expensive (around $600) multi-function wristwatch as part of my retirement gifts - GPS, altitude, barometric pressure, compass, all kinds of features, too many in fact - it gets confusing. And if I have it along I mostly just use its stopwatch feature for time exposures. The battery charge only lasts about a week. As far as smartphones go, many of the places I go have no cell phone coverage at all. And on some of the expeditions my nephew has been on, even satellite responsive gear flaked out.

  4. #64

    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    multi-function wristwatch
    Ha, you should trade it in for (another?) Thommen--altimeter plus USGS quad is still about the quickest way to roll in my neck of the woods.

  5. #65
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by reddesert View Post
    It's easy to remove a clothespin while walking/jogging by, but it is hard for me to imagine an off-trail hiker or runner taking the time to repeatedly tie flagging around each tree.
    The clothespin/ribbon is a nice idea for both running groups and solo off-trail runners. Easy to place, easy to remove for those on the run. I’m naturally curious if your group uses plastic clothespins or wooden ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Real topo maps and a decent compass are way more reliable; but it's amazing how few younger outdoorsy types these days understand how to read a topo map.
    That’s the way I was trained as a boy scout. Magnetic compass + paper topo map (usually USGS quad or USFS district brown line). And it's the way I still go. The compass serves as a straight edge for pencil lines. I carry two compasses, one for backup. I’ve never used a battery device for orientation (nor do I carry any, except my Pentax digital), but I do occasionally use ribbons for very short off-trail hikes, not long ones. The ribbons in my backpack are abandoned ones I’ve rescued from the trail over the years. Like my “rescue dog,” they’re my “rescue ribbons.” I never abandon them myself. And I’ve never had to buy any. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

  6. #66
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    I think that’s a good question (and would like to hear your view). If inside a NP or designated Wilderness, I would say trail cameras don't belong, and I’m sure published rules cover this. I’m more agnostic if inside a Nat’l Forest for a night or two, and only after checking with the local district office. Depending on means of support, the camera could pose a risk to the health or long-term appearance of trees.

    Ben Horne is a forum member who places trail cameras in Zion NP as shown on his Youtube videos. The cameras are left for a night, sometimes several. He seems conscientious, so I imagine he’s checked with Zion NP officials. He also films himself picking-up mylar balloons (thank you), and kicking over cairns. It would be interesting to hear his views about ribbons, cairns, and trail cameras in the woods.

    My view is it would be OK to set one up where you're camping then take it when you leave. For longer term, that would be OK for me. But you should leave your name and phone number waterproof tag on it. It should be listed with the park management with a GPS location. In case you die and they have to remove it.

  7. #67
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    We don't just have woods, but many deep canyons, high peaks and divides ... Even the rescue copter pilots are expected to be able to navigate by visible topographic clues.

  8. #68
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Serge S View Post
    That was the issue with me, the batteries did not seem to last long enough to make me comfortable using my GPS anymore. Plus I did not like having to carry another item along when trying to save weight. I reverted back to to paper, compass & landmarks etc.
    Lithium batteries, more expensive, but they last about 6x longer than regular bats. Also, they work well in cold weather and don't fade from the cold.

    A unit like this one runs for 25 hours and weighs only 5 ounces, I think without the batteries.
    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/669244#specs

  9. #69
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by reddesert View Post
    As I previously mentioned, I belong to a local trail running group and for permitted organized events, when needed we mark trails with flagging attached to clothespins, and remove it when done. It's easy to remove a clothespin while walking/jogging by, but it is hard for me to imagine an off-trail hiker or runner taking the time to repeatedly tie flagging around each tree. Still, there are a lot of eccentric people out there, so perhaps someone does it.

    I've had the experience in Joshua Tree of walking into a flattish area dotted by large rock outcroppings and then not being entirely clear of my orientation, since all of the rock piles are similar size/shape and you can't see over very long distances. I hesitate to recommend reliance on technology, but think it's a good idea to have a mapping application on your phone and download a map beforehand (I use a free app called "Topo Maps" for iphone). Even if you have absolutely zero cell connectivity, the phone can receive GPS signals when you have a view of the sky, and locate you on the pre-downloaded map, enabling you to navigate back to a trail or landmark. This would save a lot of lost-hiker hassle and maybe some lives. You can leave the phone off until you need it to save battery (unless you want the breadcrumb trail). Search and rescue teams tell us that a cell phone is one of the most powerful tools for finding lost people. Don't rely on it, but be prepared with it.
    GPS's show location only not direction you're facing if you're not moving. That's where magnetic compasses come in. If you get a Garmin hand-held GPS, get one with built in 3-axis compass. Just easier to use. The other without it will work. But you have to move for it to determine which way you're going. That can be an issue with using GpS in a phone. Also, good to download a compass app before leaving as well as a GPS app. I would not rely on Google maps.

    Here's another point,. If you'll be in an area with no cellphone service., Google maps allows you to download the maps for the area to store in your cellphone. That way you can navigate without the need to be on-line. You just can't get traffic reports or satellite, just roads and highways on the download. But it will show you where you are as well as navigate the roads. You better take backup bats.

  10. #70
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Cellphone maps are abbreviated and don't show anywhere near the detail necessary to safely avoid serious topographic obstacles. They're also battery dependent. As far as roads go, phone maps contain many errors, and don't give current road condition information. Numerous times people have opted for some phone navigation shortcut in the mountains or desert where they ran into a dead end or ran out of gas, or died stranded in a blizzard, because the alleged road being traced had fallen out of maintained usage a couple decades before; or they even got caught behind a gate locked for winter after they already entered. There is simply no substitute for inquiring locally before heading down side roads. Horror stories like that happen every year in the West, sometimes multiple times the same season.

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