Back to Work, ISEE-3

Last week something really cool happened in space.  A spacecraft has been flying through space for the last 17 years with no contact from NASA was contacted and is now being used to conduct science.  Originally launched in 1978, the International Cometary Explorer (ISEE-3) has traveled to comets, explored the sun, and more. It carries on-board several different sensors and instruments used to gather observations.

ISEE-3

ISEE-3 artistic rendering (from Wikipedia)

The spacecraft was brought to my attention by xkcd 1337.  I discovered at that time that people were trying to reconnect with the spacecraft, but it seemed pretty helpless.  They didn’t have the equipment or the codes to control the craft, and only a few months to put it together.

I was very wrong to be skeptical.  Through a crowd-funding effort, money was raised to get the code written, and to get time at the Aricebo telescope, which was one of the few places on earth that would be capable of communicating with ISEE-3.

Last week, the team announced that they were successful, and that they were now in command of the spacecraft.

This blows my mind. The spacecraft was launched five years before I was born.  We sent it all over the solar system.  We forgot hot to talk to it, but left it on, and it was still chugging along.  A group of people got together, figured out how to talk about it again, commandeered the largest satellite dish in the world, and is going to send it off again to do more science.

It’s a testament to both the brilliance of the initial engineering and the team behind it now.  Congratulations to them both.

Fort Rock and the Christmas Valley

Sign for Hole-in-the-Ground

Follow the signs

When reading about the Oregon Outback, one place that tends to be mentioned over and over again is Fort Rock. Fort Rock is an extinct volcano whose sides rise nearly vertically out of the flat ground of the Great Basin east of the Cascades. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to explore Fort Rock and the surrounding areas, including “Hole-in-the-Ground”, “Crack-in-the-Ground”, and the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes.

Hole-in-the-Ground

It’s very easy to miss the turn off of highway 31 to this crater.  You might think it’s an impact crater from looking at pictures, but it’s actually formed from magma exploding out of the ground and then collapsing. It’s only about 4 miles from the highway, but be prepared for a bumpy ride.  The road has not been maintained in a long time.  You will need to drive slowly.  A high clearance vehicle is definitely recommended, though I did successfully manage it in my Dart without it completely falling apart.  Take your time. You can hike around the crater rim, and walk down into the crater itself.  Make sure you take lots of water.  I was there early in the morning and saw an abundance of deer.

Hole-in-the-Ground

Hole-in-the-Ground

Fort Rock

I had a lot of fun exploring the areas around Fort-Rock.  There are trails available, but I spent as much time bushwhacking through the sparse brush.  Several types of wildflowers were in bloom, and I was surprised as just how much life was happening in this desert.

Fort Rock

Looking into Fort Rock

Fort Rock is easy to find. As a State Park, it has full facilities available, though no camping in the park itself.  The road is paved all the way to the entrance.  You can see the rock standing out from the ground from several miles away.  I had no problem seeing how it got it’s name.

On the west side of the fort, there is a trail you can take up the side of the wall and walk around on top.  The view is nice, though there isn’t much to see.  I spent some time just sitting up on the basalt, feeling like a king.

Crack-in-the-Ground

Crack-in-the-Ground is about a thirty minute drive from Fort Rock. Follow the signs to the small town of Christmas Valley.  I’m not sure how it got that name.  On the eastern side of town, there is a sign pointing to a northern road to Crack in the Ground.  It’s a gravel road that turns to dirt pretty quickly, but it’s in much better condition than the road to Hole-in-the-Ground.  About seven miles later, you’ll arrive at the trail head.  A short trail will then lead you to exactly what you would expect, a literally crack in the ground.  You can follow along the bottom of the trail for a while, though I turned around at some point.  Some of the turns are quite tight, and you will be scrambling over large boulders in some places.  I had to take my pack off to squeeze through at one point.

Even though it was quite hot at ground level, down in the shade it cooled quickly, and it felt like being in a cave.

Crack-in-the-Ground

It’s exactly what it says it is.

Sand Dunes

The final place I explored in the area was the Sand Dunes.  I had hear of them and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Could it possibly be like the Sahara?  That’s what I was hopeful for, but the reality turned out to be much more like the Oregon Dunes on the coast, though not nearly as large.  The road was not marked at all.  As you’re heading east on the main road, look for “Viewpoint Road” and turn north.  It’s actually a different road name to the north of the highway.  After that turn, you can pretty much navigate by sight.  You’ll be able to see the dunes in the distance.  Just keep heading towards them.

The roads out to the dunes are very hazardous for small vehicles.  If it had recently rained, I would not have been able to drive at all. The roads are not marked.  I ended up on roads that were only (apparently) meant for ATVs.  But I managed you navigate it, and got a look at what free-moving dunes on Oregon look like.

Christmas Valley Sand Dunes

Christmas Valley Sand Dunes

Conclusion

This is a great area to visit.  There were several things that I didn’t see, including lava flows, caves, and a lost forest. I could have spent much longer exploring on and around Fort Rock as well.  Once I get a tent, I think I’m going to be headed back.  I highly recommend checking it out!

Desert Explorations

I spent the last three days exploring east of the Cascade Mountains.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills

Desert Explorations
05-26-2014

Sunbeam on a mountain top, a spotlight on my future
The present is in the East, in mountains I do not know
New roads in the South, in the high desert
Old roads shake my bones but drive me on
New experiences expand my mind:

Hill painted red and white, darkened spots run down their side
Meadow bursting with wild colors
Their fragrance pleases my brain and make me sneeze
Yellow flowers bid farewell to a waning storm

Peering into the distant past by reading fossils in shifted rock

Hole-in-the-Ground, don’t fall in
Walk into Crack-in-the-Ground, walk around
I perform a whistled duet with a lonely bird
Sand Dunes gorge on lost trees

Attacking Fort Rock, I claim it as my own
My claim is ignored by the earth,
For I do not know how to steward stone

Klamath marsh exploding with birdsong
Winning a staring contest with Mister Hawk
Officiated by the ghost of Mount Mazama

Finding snow in Newberry Caldera
Volcanic glass shattered the ground itself
Sharp shards threaten my feet

Dusty trail leads to falling water
Cooling my body, cleansing my soul

—–

View the Full Album on Google Plus.

Two Bands to Share

There are two artists that I’ve recently been enjoying so much that I simply have to share with you.

The first is Hozier.  Hozier appeared in my life when their music video for “Take me to Church” was submitted to Reddit.  The video was intense, but the music is what captivated me.  This was a proper love song to me.  I immediately bought the album, and recently discovered a second EP has been released.  The music is wonderful, but Hozier’s greatest gift seems to be as a lyricist.  They’re utterly brilliant in every sense of the word.  I can’t do them justice.  Just find his music and listen.

The second band is The Revere.  They are based out of the East Coast, but appeared on my Radar when I was trolling Amazon for free music.  Their first album (“The Great City”) was released for free for a while, but is now available for just a few dollars.  They since released an EP and just a few weeks ago, their second full album.  Each record has been telling a story of a group of friends on a Grand Adventure, and everything that entails.  The experience is a combination of the music (rock to it’s core), the lyrics, and the story.  The lyrics are full of fantastic turns of phrases like “I, the wind, was wondering…”.  The recently released album seems to have wrapped up the story, but they’re not done yet.  I look forward to hearing much more from them.

Write a Letter Everyday

I am a letter writer.  Expressing myself via written word is very natural to me, and I enjoy sitting down and writing things that I can’t seem to figure out how to say out loud.  I think everyone loves to receive a handwritten missive, and I like being able to bring happiness to other people this way.

Writing Tools and materials

Some of my writing tools and materials

Letter writing takes time.  From the moment I start with “Dear [person]” each sentence takes consideration and care.  I first try to figure out what is the main thing I want to say.  Sometimes I’ll have an idea ahead of time, but usually, I spend a few minutes thinking about the person I’m writing to.  I think about what I feel about them, what I know about their recent activities, and start going from there.  I think it’s incredibly important to spend this time thinking about them, even if the letter ends up being mostly about what I’ve been up to.  By taking that time, my writing ends up being much more personal.  Short cards might take as little as fifteen minutes to write, but I’ve also spend hours on just a few paragraphs.

My major goal for this year is to figure out how to be more social.  My major strategy for that is to focus much more on other people and not so much on myself.  Letter writing has been a great tactic in working towards that goal.  I’ve sent more letters in the past few months than I have in years, reconnecting with old friends, congratulating people on their accomplishments, sending encouraging words to friends who need it.

For the past few months I’ve been writing at least one letter everyday.  I’ve been writing and sending a handmade card to my best friend every day, and I just passed fifty sent messages to her.  This has been a very rewarding activity for me, and I believe she has enjoyed it too.

Writing every day means that you’re creating something every day.  Writing to someone you love every day means that you are exploring those feelings every day, learning to understand what that really means.  It means exercising empathy, which gets better the more you use it.

Most importantly, it creates a tangible artifact for someone; a keepsake for them to hold on to.  A monument to the connection you share with them.

I really encourage you to spend some time writing to someone you care about.  Start simple.  Get a sheet of paper and just write some words about someone you love.  Write about why you love them.  Write about a moment you’ve shared together or something you think they would like.  Don’t worry about rules.  Just speak from the heart.  Then send it to them.  You will feel good, and they will be thrilled.  I guarantee it.

Falsehoods Programmers Believe

A very informative search to conduct is to start with the phrase “Falsehoods Programmers Believe” and see what Google suggests to finish the phrase.  Here are a few that I’ve gathered over time:

All of these articles are aimed at programmers who have to deal with systematizing life in such a way that can be handled by a computer.  I really appreciate these articles because they highlight the complexities of life that most people have the privilege of ignoring.

Columnar Falls

I have heard of a water fall along the North Fork Umpqua river that exists by itself, without an inlet or an outlet. It comes out of the mountain, falls along a moss wall, and goes back underground. It’s called Columnar Falls, and this last weekend I visited it. It’s in the segment of the North Umqua Trail called “Dread and Terror”.  

 

Columnar Falls
Later that day, I was trying to figure out how to describe my experience here to someone else.  Here is what I came up with:

Standing In Columnar Falls
By Josh Charles May 3rd, 2014

Water flowing, falling, streaming, shooting out of the ground
Over green moss, over polished rock, over my feet
Cool mist mixes with the fragrance of cedar
On my face, in my nose, in my brain
Tumbling water, chirping birds, rustling branches invade my ears
Pushing out worry, pushing out stress, pushing out thought itself

I stand in wilderness, this is my cathedral
I worship with reverence in this place of peace
I stand where my soul has chosen to be

What is work? I don’t know
What is money? I don’t know
What is the past? I don’t know
What is the future? I don’t know

Life is happening here.
Life is happening in this moment.
I am here, in this moment.

Full photo album Columnar Falls

A Seismic Oregon

On a night in January in the year 1700, people living along along the coast in Japan were surprised to find their homes and villages suddenly under water.  Tsunamis were not new to them, but they always came after an earthquake.  This one did not.  What had happened?  It remained a mystery for nearly three hundred years.

Full Rip 9.0

Full Rip 9.0

This mystery is one of several related to our understanding of the seismic history and risks that is presented in the book “Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest” by Seattle Times journalist Sandi Doughton.  The book focuses on our current understanding of the risks posed by earthquakes in the area, and tells the stories of how those risks were discovered.

It is also a warning.

It may seem like Oregon and Washington are much calmer than California when it comes to earthquakes, but it’s an illusion.  The reality is that Oregon and Washington have the greatest risk of a destructive earthquake that could happen at any moment.

The Cascadia Fault runs about thirty miles off the pacific coast from northern California up to Canada.  It is one of the relatively few fault lines in the world capable of the largest earthquakes – magnitude 9 and higher.  It’s caused by the pacific plate subducting , i.e. going under, the North American plate.  This is what enables such large quakes to occur.  Tension builds up along this collision until it suddenly releases, potentially without any warning.

When the Cascadia Fault rips, it will be very similar to the magnitude 9 earthquake that rocked Japan in March 2011.  The quake will last for several minutes, pummeling structures inland as far as Portland.  Seismic preparedness studies have repeatedly shown that the entire Pacific Northwest will not stand up very well to this type of shaking.  Multiple studies have concluding that it is likely that the entire coast will be physically cutoff from the rest of the nation due to damages to bridges and roads.  The only possible transportation may be from air or water for months as this infrastructure is rebuilt.  Electricity will likely be lost for months as transmissions lines will need to be completely re-laid.

But that is not the scariest part of this scenario.  The time immediately following the earthquake is the most dangerous.  Just like the quake in Japan, a massive Tsunami will be generated.  People on the coast will have 15 to 20 minutes to get to a high enough elevation to escape it – at least 150 feet is recommended.  The Tsunami in Japan topped out at 137 ft.  The Oregon coast, with it’s many harbors and inlets, will act as a focus to the giant wave, driving the water higher and faster.  People in this situation will need to make their way through infrastructure damaged by the quake, and make it to higher ground.  In many coastal town, this will be difficult if not impossible.  The town of Seaside is especially vulnerable, given it’s size and (lack of) proximity to safe elevations.  The Tsunami will not stop at the coast, but will travel up the rivers.  Portland could get hit with a wave 20ft high or more.  Coastal river canyons will be scoured many miles inland.

Tsunami Sign

Tsunami Sign

If you experience an earthquake along the coast, you’re not supposed to wait for an official warning.  It is unlikely to be issued in time.  You should immediately head to higher ground.  It is not recommended that you take a car, as the quake is likely to have damaged bridges and other infrastructure, and you do not want to get caught in a traffic jam.  Be aware that there is likely to be multiple large waves, lasting for hours, and that the first wave might not be the largest.  Once you get to a safe place, stay there, and stay aware of your surroundings. There will be signs along the road directing you to a safe location.  You will eventually get to a sign that tells you that you are leaving the hazard area.  It is not recommended that you stop here, but continue heading up as far as you can go.

There is no predicting when the Cascadia Fault will rip again.  It’s been ripping pretty steadily every few hundred years, and with the last one clocking in at 300 years ago, it’s overdue.  Tension has been building up and can be demonstrated through studies of the see floor, and micro-quakes measured further in land.  The plates involved slide past each other at the rate of a few inches a year, and in the time since the last quake, that adds up to about 25 feet of locked rock.  For comparison, the the Japanese quake released about 20 feet of tension.  Japan was much better prepared for an earthquake like this, and it still devastated their country.  We lack the building and zoning codes, early warning systems, and disaster planning the Japanese used to save thousands of lives.

In other words, we are extremely vulnerable.  This fault is a Sword of Damocles over all of us. We need to invest the resources required to improve our odds when the big one comes.

These topics are covered very well in “Full Rip.”  The book contains much more information can be presented here, including discussions of other seismic risks in the area.  I highly recommend picking up and reading it!

How to Explore Oregon: Roads

If you’re going to be exploring Oregon, eventually you’re going to end up spending a lot of time in your car travelling.  While there are usually many very nice things to see close by, to really get a taste of Oregon, you need to expand.  Oregon is made up of several very distinct areas, and each of them has wonderful things to offer.  From the Pacific coast, with it’s dramatic ocean bluffs and lighthouses, to the rain forests of the coastal mountain range, the temperate forests of the west cascades and the high desert on the east of the Cascades, there’s definitely not a shortage of things to see.  Within a few hours driving you can have a taste of it all.  But you need to know some things about the roads you’re going to be traveling on.

To get up to the date information about the conditions of major roads, it’s best to always start with tripcheck.  Tripcheck is run by the Oregon department of transportation and will contain any road closures, construction, and conditions that might be important to you, including many webcams so you can check out the roads for yourself.  Some of the roads in Oregon, like the McKenzie Pass, or the Cascade Lakes scenic byway, are only open when snow-free, so it’s important to start checking those in November.  These closures can provide an interesting opportunity for some, because they are only closed to vehicles.  Hikers, Bikers, and Cross Country Skiers are welcome on them when they’re closed.  Last may, I walked along about ten miles of the McKenzie pass the weekend before it was supposed to open to vehicles, and it was a great experience.

It is important to be cognizant of road conditions in Oregon, because unlike other states, Oregon does not salt it’s roads.  This can be especially hazardous when entering from another state, whose roads are fine, only to find Oregon roads slick and dangerous.  This is especially true if you’re going to be traveling through the Siskiyou Pass on I-5 south of Ashland.

You should also be aware of elevation differences.  If you’re in Eugene, at elevation 450ft, it might be clear, or perhaps drizzling.  At at the Willamette pass at over 5000ft, this can mean snow and ice.  The weather forecast will usually include a snow line if there is snow predicted in the area.  This will be the elevation where they predict rain will turn into snow.  It can be a useful guideline.

Since Oregon does not salt it’s roads, it has something called the Chain Law.  The chain law states that you should always carry tire chains or traction tires on highways.  The chains are cheap.  I think I paid about $30 for them for my vehicle.  I’ve thrown them in my trunk and just leave them there.  You’ll see signs like this:

snowcarry

The message on the chain law signs change when you are required to actually equip them:

Chains Required

You need to chain up if you see this.

I’ve only been through this requirement once, and for my vehicle, chaining up was not required.  I had noticed that the message on the sign had changed, but I didn’t catch the entire message.   When I saw trucks that were towing trailers sliding around, I knew something might be up.  I had a very harrowing journey over the Santiam Pass, but in the end, didn’t experience any personal difficulty in my small car.

Foul weather is not the only thing you need to be considerate of when travelling.  With all the rain that falls in Western Oregon, landslides are a problem. Some of them can be quite large.  On more than one occasion, I’ve driven through a small path made through a landslide, and have been diverted from roads completely closed due to a landslide.  They are something to be aware of, especially if you’re traveling on roads that do not see much traffic.

There are several different types of roads in Oregon.  There are the usual roads you get everywhere: Freeways, Highways, and the like.  When you’re out exploring, though, you’re likely to travel off the beaten path a little bit.  In Oregon, this means traveling on National Forest Roads, or Bureau of Land Management roads.  Some of these may be paved, but to get to some places, you’ll be traveling on gravel or dirt.  These require special considerations.

First, the condition of the road if it is unpaved should be suspect until you actually lay eyes on it.  Just because it’s on the map doesn’t mean it’s been maintained this century, or that it even is still a road.  You might find that it’s been completely blocked off and abandoned.  You might find that it is full of potholes and driving a car with low clearance on it is impossible.  Or you might find it in fine shape and able to continue on.  National Forest roads seem to usually be in better quality than BLM roads, but I don’t think there is a large difference.

If you’re going to be traveling on gravel, plan on it taking much longer to complete your trip.  Even on good unpaved roads in Oregon, unless you’re in an off road vehicle, it’s going to slow you down.  Incorporate this into your planning. Be aware that these roads are highly unlikely to have certain safety features, like guard rails.  You will need to be more cautious, especially along ravines and ridges.

And clear cuts.  At some point, you’re going to travel through an area of the forest that has been wiped of all vegetation for logging purposes.  These are especially dangerous, because they can leave the road unstable.  Studies have shown that land that has been clear-cut is more susceptible to land slides, especially large ones.  So be careful. The only nice thing about clear cuts is that they can open up views that you might not have had otherwise.  Usually, it doesn’t feel like it was worth the trade.

One Lane Road - With Turn Outs

One Lane Road – With Turn Outs

If you get off the beaten path a little bit, you’re likely to run into a sign much like the one on the right.  The road you are on will narrow, and every little ways, you’ll find that it widens for 20 to 30 feet.  If you see a car coming, pull off to the side and let them by.  I haven’t figured out any etiquette for these encounters except  whoever pulls over first lets the other one past.  Of course, on these roads you want to travel more slowly in case you meet oncoming traffic.  If you’re headed around a sharp curve, you might want to honk your horn and alert anyone around to your presence.  Most of these roads are going to be gravel, but don’t assume that just because a road a paved, that it will be two lane.  I went over a paved road in the Umpqua National forest that was paved, but down to one lane.  It was also one of the roads that had been hit by a landslide.  So it always pays to be careful!

On one road, I came up to a fork that wasn’t on the map.  I was headed to the town of Steamboat, and looking at the map, I really wasn’t sure which fork to take.  Luckily, someone had left this very helpful sign:

Steamboat this way

Steamboat this way

Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was right.  I’ve seen signs that were knocked down and broken.  It you’re at an intersection and not sure where to go, look for a sign that may have been knocked over.  You might find something helpful!

When travelling over the large mountain passes, they require that you gain a few thousand feet in elevation, sometimes over a very short distance.  When climbing the pass, you will eventually find yourself behind a very slow semi-truck.  Be patient.  There’s going to be a passing lane within a few miles, and you’ll be able to safely pass them and continue on your journey.  When you’re coming down the pass, keep an eye on your speed. It’s very easy to build up speed and not even realize it.  Coming down Mt. Saint Helens, I was enjoying the drive until I realized that I had hit 80mph coasting down the hill.  This is a situation to be avoided.

Sunken Grade

Sunken Grade

Finally, you might see signs that indicate the road has a “Sunken Grade.”  They can be easy to ignore, but you should pay attention.  These signs indicate that the ground has shifted in that area, possibly due to a landslide.  Likely, the should is unsafe to pull onto, or there could be unexpected dips in the road.  The road may bank in an expected direction, especially around a curve.  Luckily, these areas are usually not very large.

That’s all for now!  Next time, I’m going to be taking a look at Oregon weather.

How to Explore Oregon: Maps

This is the first article in a series I’ve been working on discussing some of the lessons I’ve learned exploring Oregon over the last year.  Oregon is a beautiful place, full of amazing sites and getting out to explore it has been a tremendous pleasure.  I’ve learned quite a few things in my adventures, and they might be valuable to other people

Maps are vital.  Being from Missouri, I’m used to google maps being pretty much all I need.  In Oregon, this is not the case.  I discovered this the first time I tried visiting Crater Lake.  I had pulled up Google Maps, and plotted out a course that took me through the Umqua National Forest.  I figured it was going to be a beautiful drive.  About an hour into the trip, I discovered a problem:

Google maps does not tell you if a road is paved.

At that time, I did not have a GPS device other than my phone.  Instead of visiting Crater Lake, I ended up driving around on National Forest roads for several hours and ended up about 30 miles from where I started.  Lesson #1: Do not depend on Google maps.

You need to get a paper map.  As soon as I got back to civilization, I purchased one of

Oregon Road & Recreational Atlas

Oregon Road & Recreational Atlas

these, and it always stays in my car.  It shows the information you need, for the most part.  You can tell whether or not a road is paved, which is major.  I’ll talk more about roads in my next post, but for now, knowing whether or not a road is paved is very important information.

Google maps has a different kind of value.  When looking for places to explore, one thing that I spend a lot of time doing it looking at the terrain version of google maps.  I like to look at how elevation changes and the possibility for great views.  One very recent example of this is my discovery of Mt. Hebo.

I was looking for things to see along the coast in the Tillamook area, using my paper atlas.  I was suspicious when I saw a paved road that was named ‘Mt. Hebo Road.’  Road names can jump out out you after a while.  This sounded like a promising name to me.  Was there a mountain there that could provide some excellent views?  I pulled up google maps and saw this:

The default view of Mt. Hebo Road

The default view of Mt. Hebo Road

Not too much exciting going on here.  But let me turn on terrain mode:

Mt. Hebo Road - Terrain

Turn on Terrain

Okay, now that looks much more promising.  This is a pave road that goes nearly to the top of a 3000 ft mountain, less than 10 miles from the coast, and was the highest in the area.  All that adds up to some very nice views. So my parents and I headed up to check it out.  The road was indeed paved.  We started out at about 100ft elevation, and over the course of about 7 miles, we climbed up to 3000ft.  At the bottom, we were socked in with fog, and could hardly see a half mile.  By about the 800ft mark, we were up above the fog and had blue skies and bright sun.  At 3000ft, the temperature had climed to nearly 80°F and it was beautiful.  The road didn’t go all the way to the top of the mountain.  My dad set out cross country for the last quarter of a mile or so to get to the true summit.  I was a little more cautious and found a trail – of course there would be a trail.  The view was completely worth it:

View from Summit of Mt Hebo

View from Summit of Mt Hebo (Click for larger view)

That was just looking in one direction.  Looking to the north and westeast, we were able to see Mt. St. Helens, Mt Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson – four of the large volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain range.

We would have missed it all, if it wasn’t for the terrain map.

Another type of map that is very important for hiking especially is the National Forest maps. These maps cost around $10 and can be found online or at stores specializing in the Outdoors, like REI.  They contain high resolution topological maps of the forest, along with roads, trails, and landmarks.  They don’t always come from the National Forest Service.  For example, for the Redwood National and State Parks the best maps come from Redwood Hikes Press.

Sample from the Redwood National and State Parks map

Sample from the Redwood National and State Parks map

Wherever you’re hiking, definitely find a map ahead of time and take it with you.  Before you go, familiarize yourself with it.  Study your route and its’ landmarks.  You might be surprised at how much it helps you enjoy your hike that much more.

Do not depend on GPS to get around.  Sometimes the maps in your GPS system are not up to date with the latest roads.  Sometimes, especially in deep mountain canyons, and thick forests, you will not be able to get a GPS signal.  Carry a compass and map at all times, and learn how to use them ahead of time.

Preparation is key.  If the first time you look at a map is when you’re lost, it’s not going to be nearly as helpful.  You have to learn the map before orienting yourself, locating your current position, and figuring out where to go.  This is not something to do while under the stress of feeling lost.  Familiarize yourself with the map ahead of time, and you’ll have a much better time.

If you expand beyond google maps, use a map that shows the types of roads and not just their mere presence, and look at them ahead of time, you’re off to a very good start in your exploration of Oregon.  Good Luck!