A Pyrenees Trip, part 3.
But then we went onto my next map for the holiday “Rando mapa excursionista sheet 23, aneto-posets 1:50,000”, further confirming my belief in the approach taken by OSi, OSGB etc, because this map while it correctly used UTM 31 only showed grid lines every 10km. Something not seen on Irish maps since the ½ inch to a mile nearly 20 years ago. So quite simply it is very difficult to go from GPS to map or vice-versa. (Perhaps it would be possible to construct a suitable roamer to do it.)
I tried a few other experiments. I had ViewRanger, a free walkers app on a Samsung Galaxy S2 phone. You can buy maps for this or you can use the free OSM (Open Street Map) maps that the application will give you by default. Provided you are in range of a cell tower and have a data package for your phone, and that data package is enabled for overseas. Fortunately I had the package and as so often there was surprisingly good 3G reception in the mountains. It was here I got another set of nasty future shocks. Firstly, the GPS on the phone took ages to find where it was even with the various aids it has. Up to 15 minutes. And when you are not using the app you have to redo this every time you turn it on again. This is quite different from the dedicated Garmin GPS which you just leave on all day. Secondly when ViewRanger worked it was really neat for a free package, giving a handy map with my position, direction of travel and track all superimposed on the OSM map plus many other options. But can you sense there’s coming frustrations? First OSM is a fantastic cooperative effort, very possibly the future of mapping, but at present it is not totally consistent. Important tracks shown on the 1:25,000 paper map or even the 1:50,000 just weren’t there. And then periodically, the phone just hung. And I mean really crashed, three times in an afternoon, so badly that I had to force a reboot by taking the battery out and putting it back. My suspicion would be that this is caused by ViewRanger or that ViewRanger is revealing a fault in Android. I don’t know. But it failed. Another difficulty with using phones for navigation is the rate they exhaust the battery. I doubt you could safely use the app for more than 3 hours before compromising your other uses for the phone.
Mundane high tech.
The tablet also has rudimentary internet connectivity. This was useful for avoiding the usual post-holiday problem of several hundred emails piling up some benefitting from prompt answers. And the browser more or less could handle MountainViews which meant that periodically I could upload the GPS tracks, also avoiding a backlog and providing an interesting reference as we were travelling. For example we could review exactly where we had gone just a few hours after actually doing it. All this was much better where there was WiFi and as in Ireland and everywhere else, WiFi is pretty hit and miss. In a few places I resorted to using the phone as a portable WiFi hotspot. This is a bit pricey, but almost always worked.