Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Climb Every Mountain

I love climbing mountains and fording streams. (If you like The Sound of Music, then this reference won't be lost on you.) I love to explore new places with a map and compass and some good friends, and I love reliving the adventure by poring over the log from my GPS.

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded to the latest version of Garmin Basecamp and promptly ignored the new feature they'd added in called Garmin Adventures. Some time later, I paid it some attention. It's fun. You load one or more tracks and waypoints into an Adventure, write a description of the course, and add any photos, videos or annotations that seem appropriate. It's all neatly kept together as a story you can 'play', and it's nicer to view than a simple folder of the relevant files.

Then, if you choose to, you can publish it on Garmin's website for others to view or download. So it's like Garmin Connect but with a focus on exploration instead of training.

Here are three tracks that I've created and shared publicly:

But there's a catch: while anyone can view it online, you need to install Basecamp if you want to download the adventure. I really like Basecamp; it's free and it's a great piece of software for managing all the maps and data associated with a GPS. It even lets you output data to KMZ for use in Google Earth. But I don't want to force everyone else to use it to see my adventure in detail. I also don't expect that everyone who wants to run on a trail has a dedicated GPS, and those that do may use a brand other than Garmin with its own software.

On the other hand, EveryTrail is a free, online community which also makes it really simple to upload adventures with text, photos and videos. The key difference is that any member can download a file in an appropriate format for their GPS. You can save your favourite tracks, and add comments. You can easily share trips on Facebook or Twitter or embed content in your blog. Don't have a dedicated device? It doesn't matter, because can download the free EveryTrail app for iOS or Android, and load up your tracks on your phone. You can also download mobile travel guides.

I've added a widget to the right hand side of this blog, which links to my profile and my recent adventures on EveryTrail. I'd heartily encourage everyone to join up. I've been using EveryTrail to find run routes for ages; but Garmin Adventures prompted me to finally start contributing to the community.

There's one more great GPS site I'd like to share with you: GPS Visualizer. Here you can convert between multiple GPS file types and show tracks using different mapping sources…and it does so much more. But it's also a partner site of EveryTrail, so when you create a file on GPS Visualizer (perhaps to add to a Google Map) you can publish it on EveryTrail just by clicking a link. How easy is that?

So now there's no excuse to not climb every mountain, ford every stream and run EveryTrail :D