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GAIA Routes are wildly inaccurate regarding ascent and descent


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Home Forums Campfire Trip Planning GAIA Routes are wildly inaccurate regarding ascent and descent

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  • #3770651
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    I am finishing the master course on route planning and hitting a weird obstacle with route planning via Gaia GPS. My routes are showing up to 100% more ascent than is accurate.

    I have had this issue dating back to spring 2022 across multiple devices (PC and Android). I have been ignoring this data but now that I am planning on incorporating the energy mile calculations discussed in the master class it is vitally important. This error occurs when creating routes in all area’s but seems much worse (example below) when routes are created in mountainous areas.

    You can see by starting and stopping elevation the total ascent cannot be correct as listed.

    Route as planned in GAIA

    GAIA ROUTE

    GPX file exported from GAIA and imported to Fatmap

    I have reached out to GAIA GPS support and they have no advice other than to “clear cache” and re-install the app. I have done both and it changes nothing. I could ditch GAIA but I really like the NATGEO map layers for national park camp site and it seems like I cannot be the only one with this problem.

    Any advice is greatly appreciate.

     

    Here is the GPX file.

    Grand Canyon Day 6

     

    #3770666
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    looking at the elevation profile on your first picture, I can see you start at 4200 or so, and goes up to about 8300 – 4100 feet elevation gain

    I can see lots of little ups and downs.  I wonder if that adds up to the extra 5000 feet?

    Not that that helps you.  If those little ups and downs are just measurement error, the software should average it out, but not if there were real ups and downs.

    I don’t look at that elevation gain number because of that, but it’s usually just a small error.  I just look at the max and min elevation and subtract.  Add in other major, real ups and downs.

    Maybe there was more elevation measurement error in your data for some reason.

    #3770670
    Arthur
    BPL Member

    @art-r

    Caltopo has always served me much better than Gaia.  Here is a track created by Caltopo of your route with its profile.  Its quality speaks for itself.

    #3770674
    Mike J
    BPL Member

    @mikejones3-2

    Locale: SoCal

    +1 for Caltopo as well, I think they are best in the business.

    #3770679
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    Does elevation gain/loss show in GAIA when .gpx file is imported from Caltopo.

     

    Surprised the master class makes no mention of this bug. It’s a 100% variance, makes calculations for energy miles impossible.

    #3770682
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    Interesting….my route is over 12 miles, the caltopo shows six if I am reading it correctly.

    #3770732
    Lee W
    BPL Member

    @ltw

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Looks like your Gaia is round trip. The CalTopo that Authur posted is one way, so double it and it matches.

    Like Jerry pointed out, you can see the problem with the Gaia elevation profile. Instead of being a smooth line, like that trail would be for the most part, it shows a sawtooth pattern with a bunch of small ups and downs all the way through. This is probably what’s causing the problem. My guess would be that it has something to do with how it snaps to the trail. In that terrain, if it’s off just a little bit, it will cause a pretty big difference.

    I’ve tried to like Gaia but always go back to CalTopo.

    #3770735
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    Yeah I can believe what you’re saying. I just am shocked that these up and downs lead to 100% more elevation gain or loss.

    I’m also really surprised that I don’t see a lot of posts about it and Ryan is including it in the master class as a tool for trek planning. I’ll start playing around with Cal topo tomorrow and see if I can get the elevation to pass from caltopo over to Gaia. I’m a heavy user of Gaia based on national park layers from NatGeo

    #3770749
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I have the exact same problem. Mileage in GAIA is spot-on but it grossly overstates elevation gain. I cannot figure out why.

    #3770774
    DWR D
    BPL Member

    @dwr-2

    lol…. I still count the contour lines  :)))

    #3770775
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Mileage in GAIA is spot-on but it grossly overstates elevation gain. I cannot figure out why.

    Solution offered from someone who uses neither – but who has spent a lifetime writing software.
    Simply: software bug.

    Cheers

    #3770800
    Ben H.
    BPL Member

    @bzhayes

    Locale: No. Alabama

    I think this is a variation on the coastline problem: the higher the resolution you measure, the longer the length. Gaia is trying to measure too fine of detail. It is odd that they don’t appear to have that problem when measuring distance travelled. Their smoothing function must not be implemented properly for net elevation.

    #3770802
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    Sounds right, I am surprised that it is this egregious (100% more than actual) and that it is not widely discussed. GAIA support doesn’t acknowledge the issue is this severe.

     

    #3770803
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I figured its a bug or something wrong with the algorithm. If I use the GAIA app on my phone to record a track, it’s pretty accurate. But if I use the computer to plan a route, elevation is wildly off…often by 1000+ feet for every 4000-5000 actual.

    #3770804
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    That’s the impression I am getting as well. My only use for GAIA is as a planning tool for multi-day backcountry trips. Elevation information directly informs my planning of route and camping spots.

    GAIA is even included as the preferred planning tool in the route planning master class. Anyone know how to @RyanJordan to see if he is aware?

     

    #3770807
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I’m fairly proficient with it…Searched high and low to see if it was something I’m doing wrong in my settings, but I can’t get beyond it. Maybe I’m still missing something quite simple?

    Not great given I’m paying for this app. Everything else about it I like. But if this can’t get resolved I’ll likely move to another platform. Would also love to hear if Ryan is aware of this given he’s teaching it.

    Maybe it’s a bug inherent in certain versions so not everyone sees it?

     

    #3770902
    Adrian Griffin
    BPL Member

    @desolationman

    Locale: Sacramento

    Take a look at the thread Elevation Profile Sampling Intervals and the notes on gpsvisualizer.com that explain how sampling intervals and signal wandering affect the reported elevation gain of a track. Your issue is with a route, rather than a track, so it’s not signal wandering. But the way that your route waypoints hit the DEM may be giving you spurious ups and downs that increase the calculated net elevation gain. BTW, contour counting will usually underestimate the real net elevation gain, because it misses ups and downs that are smaller than the contour interval.

    #3770909
    Bill in Roswell
    BPL Member

    @roadscrape88-2

    Locale: Roswell, GA, USA

    Does the DEM info show up in a route file exported from Caltopo to Gaia GPS? I use Caltopo for route planning, Gaia for real time trail tracking.

    #3770968
    Breau
    BPL Member

    @breau

    As far as I can tell DEM data is not included in gpx files exported from Caltopo. Caltopo elevation data

    In the last module of the Gaia GPS Master Class, Module 19: Live Q&A with Gaia GPS, I think they talk about how elevation data can be buggy with the Gaia dev. The example they show might even be from the Grand Canyon.

    #3770971
    Breau
    BPL Member

    @breau

    I added a feature request to get elevation data included in the gpx export in Caltopo. I imagine the more people upvote it, the better the chance it will get implemented.

    Add your vote: https://help.caltopo.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/12231482991771-Include-Elevation-Data-When-Exporting-a-GPX-File

    #3770974
    Bill in Roswell
    BPL Member

    @roadscrape88-2

    Locale: Roswell, GA, USA

    Thanks Breau. I will vote that link! We might need a separate post for it.

    #3770994
    Breau
    BPL Member

    @breau

    SDVanman, you may want to specifically ask Gaia support to forward/escalate your issue to the devs as a bug/something that needs to be addressed. Asking for that probably won’t get things sorted out quickly, but it could help for future trips. Support may also decline to escalate, but it can’t hurt.

    Typically, the more people make a fuss and ask to get it escalated, the higher the odds something gets fixed.

    #3771023
    Arthur
    BPL Member

    @art-r

    “I added a feature request to get elevation data included in the gpx export in Caltopo. I imagine the more people upvote it, the better the chance it will get implemented.”

    Why should a company who does is right, Caltopo, support a company that doesn’t do it right?

    #3771031
    Breau
    BPL Member

    @breau

    Elevation data isn’t just to import in Gaia. Lots of devices and software use gpx files.

    #3771286
    SDVanman
    BPL Member

    @sdvanman

    I have contacted GAIA support twice in an attempt to escalate with no response.

    Appreciate the Caltopo suggestion as it seems to be MUCH more accurate regarding elevation change in plotting routes. I love the GAIA NatGeo map layers but this is a deal breaker for me, I will not be renewing my subscription.

    I am really surprised that this elevation gain/loss data is functionally useless and that GAIA continues to be included in the master class series without a follow-up/update post from someone at BPL warning users of potential 100% inaccuracies.

     

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