traviblog

just some sort of lame blog

Fun With A Foretrex

Durand-Eastman XC Loop GPS

I got a Garmin Foretrex 101 for xmas this year, and I finally had the chance to do something cool with it the other day. Now that we've gotten some snow, we can actually use our XC skis that were used much more frequently in years past when winters would start in November (ah, the good old days). The trail above was from when we went skiing in Durand-Eastman Park on Sunday. We went on Saturday too, but I forgot my GPS.

The Foretrex is my first GPS. For my hiking/biking/kayaking/skiing adventures, it's pretty much perfect. It's about the size of a very small cellphone and comes with a velcro strap that fits fine around my arm on the outside of my jacket. One of its quirks is the fact that you download the data through a serial cable. By serial I don't mean universal serial bus, I mean those good ol' 9-pin-Atari-joystick-looking ports that you forgot your PC had. Or that your Mac probably doesn't have, legacy-shmegacy ;-) - all kidding aside though who still uses serial? I think the last serial device that I had was an old UPS that died several years ago.

Connecting the GPS via serial was very easy. No drivers were needed and the freeware app GPS Utility works great for connecting and pulling down data in all kinds of different formats, including Google Earth (KML).

Since the XC ski trails aren't groomed or even marked, the GPS lets me see how far we skied (including detours and getting lost), and keeps me on track should we want to take that route again. For a better detail of the route than the screenshot above, here's a Google Earth version.

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