Flowers and Castles in central Colorado … or How I learned to distrust Gaia
Aug 9, 2022 at 7:37 pm #3756940
Companion forum thread to: Flowers and Castles in central Colorado … or How I learned to distrust Gaia
This was a great long weekend in an underutilized central Colorado wilderness area, where we circumnavigated one of the most famous geological formations…Aug 9, 2022 at 11:26 pm #3756947d kBPL Member
Interesting! Did you tell the folks at Gaia about this?
Sounds like you managed to have a good time, regardless.Aug 10, 2022 at 6:29 am #3756956
Thanks for your comment. We had a great time, I would do it again. Overall, it was just a minor frustration at the end of the hike, and a little adventure.
Ironically, the night before the hike, I was basically flipping a coin to decide which direction to do the loop, and I ended up choosing clockwise because it looked like I would be able to find a campsite farther up that valley, giving me a shorter hike to the ridge on Day 2. That rationale turned out to be incorrect, but it was really lucky that I chose to go that direction. If I had gone the other direction, I would have been trying to follow that fake trail on Day 2, and wouldn’t have made it to the ridge in time to avoid bad weather. The way it went, the bushwhacking happened on a day where I had the extra time.
I didn’t really consider contacting Gaia. I’m guessing they must have thousands of issues likes this, it actually makes me wonder how they acquire their trail data. I don’t think they have an army of hikers out there checking it. But it will certainly change the way I use their topo maps in the future. I will always cross-reference them against quads, and I’ll be pretty skeptical about trails I don’t find on the quads.Aug 10, 2022 at 9:12 am #3756963HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
Interesting point about the navigation service, but looks like a nice trip was made from it.
Wonder how many digital trails are leftover map remnants of the old CCC trail building days of the 1930s? Even as GIS spawned maps were in their infancy, I knew one hiker who delighted in tackling old neglected trails in southern New Mexico (the trails vegetation probably burnt to a crisp in the decade of wildfires since).Aug 20, 2022 at 2:06 pm #3757744Curtis CarmackBPL Member
I have definitely found old CCC trails marked on Gaia that are long gone in real life. That said, they usually also show up on the USGS quads. This seems to be most common in the more remote, less-used areas. The USFS is a shadow of its former self when it comes to trail maintenance. These days I almost always seek out some local beta before committing to longer routes that are not well known.Aug 20, 2022 at 3:56 pm #3757752
Good point Curtis, and frankly I would have been happy to find an old decommissioned trail, or a well-traveled social route, that was actually my expectation and in a different part of that trip that’s what I used. I’ve noticed those are sometimes marked with a different color on Gaia. As you mentioned, the USFS is having a really hard time keeping up with deadfall from the various beetle infestations and fires in Colorado wilderness areas, so even official trails are pretty bad these days, and I’m not picky; 20 years of deadfall on a previously maintained trail is more than acceptable for me.
I can usually tell an old trail because even if it hasn’t been maintained in decades there are generally remnants of cairns above timberline and/or old signs of trail maintenance (e.g. old saw-cut logs are often still apparent after 50 years in the Colorado mountains). In this case I looked closely, and there was nothing, and at one point it was clear that the marked trail was following a definite non-trail feature from satellite imaging, which was disappointing. I also checked the current and historical USGS quads after the fact, and there was nothing. I’ve only been using Gaia for a few years, so my experience is limited, but this is the first time it let me down so badly. I will be more careful to double-check and cross-reference in the future. I still would have done the hike without a trail, but I would have taken a different route if I had known I was going to be bushwhacking.Aug 20, 2022 at 6:11 pm #3757756jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
skiing in winter on the tahoe rim trail, which was buried in snow obviously, Gaia took me on an old trail that’s no longer the route. It did however have enough indications of being “the” trail (sawed through trees across the trail) that I was sure things were fine. Until I hit a river.
Tahoe rim trail re routed a good amount of old trails into the new system. I was only slightly inconvenienced, and learned to add this variable into my list of things to check when my location isn’t adding up.
Nurses say this too: when things look really odd, check the equipment before assuming the patient is about to crash.Aug 21, 2022 at 5:45 pm #3757809Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
With Gaia or any map program, accuracy depends on map layers. Without knowing precisely which layers were used, its all a wash. I do love historical maps. Think of the survey crews roaming the mountains in the 19th century. Nothing over rides local knowledge. Here in N GA, west NC, E TN, those old logging roads are laurel filled bushwhacks. The old Indian trade routes often became settler routes, hard packed and can be followed. When I lived out west, huge areas of blowdown obscured everything. The Appalachians have those too from hurricanes, but not whole mountainsides. With climate conditions as they are, I think we can expect maps to become obsolete much sooner than later. BTW, I purchased the Gaia package to get recent sat images. Turns out its not of much help.Aug 21, 2022 at 5:53 pm #3757810
Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Bill. The false trail I was referring to was on the Gaia Topo layer, and nowhere else. I don’t know where they get those data, and obviously most of it is good. Maybe my title was too provocative.
When meeting other locals, I love to share information about old trails we have found, and alternate routes to various destinations. Who doesn’t love to talk about stuff like that? The other day I was eavesdropping on my wife talking with our neighbor about some less-traveled routes for peaks in the Maroon Bells Wilderness.
The old rancher I talked to on that trip shared a lot of interesting route information about old forest service trails, maintained cattle trails, informal trails, and bushwhacking landmarks, for the next time I return. None of it would have helped much for the particular route I had planned.Sep 16, 2022 at 6:54 pm #3760145Jeffrey HBPL Member
Hey Curtis and Dan, when you are checking the trails against the USGS quads do you mean against the USGS map layer on Gaia? Or is there some more accurate version I should know aboutt?
ThanksSep 17, 2022 at 6:57 am #3760155
Jeffrey, the Gaia USGS map layer appears to be scans of actual quads, so think they should be accurate, and so far I haven’t noticed any problems with them. They don’t look to be scans of the most up-to-date quads, however, so that could be a minor factor in some cases. If you want to check for yourself (or just have the original files), you can always download high resolution PDF files of quads directly from the USGS for free.
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