Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

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Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby Mudduck » Dec 17, 2011 9:07 pm

I write this little story so that new folks who come through here won't share a similar disappointment. More experienced folks will certainly at least get a smile from this as I'm sure I'm not the only one(I hope) that this has ever happened to. Two weeks ago my daughter and I went ridgewalking in a favorite area in hopes of finding a third entrance to a breakdown blocked cave, on the other side of the breakdown of course. I started at the main entrance and traced the route of the cave on the surface. This area is a low plain riddled with small sinks with no obvious drainage at the bottoms. We soon started noticing a series of depressions and sinks along the general known route of the passages and located the second entrance which is near the breakdown blockage in the cave. Continuing on the surface we kept following the depressions and sinks as they became shallower but more numerous until we found one that had the look of a toilet drain. The hole was approxiamtely two feet in diameter inside of a sink that was 5 feet deep and 8 feet in wide. The "drain" portion of the hole went straight down about 4 feet and appeared to have the start of horizontal passage that was 2 feet wide and 2 feet high with a very clean bottom. I became excited. Continuing on the surface, the chain of sinks kept going towards a 100 foot sandstone bluff. As we made our way we came upon a very small sink in what had become a valley. This sink had a hole around 10 inches in diameter at the bottom and oddly had the look of fresh dirt around it. It did not appear to be animal dug but had an erroded look to it. Most people would've blown it off but I said what the hey and bent down to take a look. I saw no bottom. Now unfortunately caves weren't moving any noticeable air that day so I figured I'd whip out my light and illuminate just a very shallow washed out dirt hole. I turned on the light and saw no bottom. I moved my head a little closer to allow my eyes to adjust and my jaw dropped. The little 10 inch dirt hole belled out to around 4 to 6 feet wide with limestone walls and was 8 to 10 feet deep. It had apparent horizontal passage with a pebblely bottom that was creekbed in appearance. I became ectastic and scared at the same time as I was in the bottom of a sink that had only inches of dirt between my feet and a decent drop should it decide to give way. So I immediately climbed out.
Now I must give a little background before continuing. The cave we were searching for an entrance for is a few thousand feet in length with walking and a little swimming passage. It moves a LOT of water for this area as well as a lot of air through the breakdown at the end. While I'm sure its no Tumbling Rock or even Limrock, the little hole I found surely revealed virgin passage and we were quite a ways from the known stop but still along a series of sinks and depressions that connected where we were with the known plugged passage.
Back to the story. I eased out of the small sink and took my gps from my daughter to record the spot. I hit "mark" and got the message that my waypoints were full. I had no pen and paper and for a moment was disappointed but I looked down and said "its ok, we're loggin the track and all we have to do when we come back is follow our footsteps". I looked at my topo in hand, looked at a couple of landmarks and grinning from ear to ear told my girl "lets go and see what else we can find". We hiked to around 6 more entrances to other caves, found a freshly dropped Mossy Oak cap then hiked another 3 miles meandering back to our vehicle to hastily drive home and plan our return. Upon return to the vehicle I went to turn off the GPS and noticed it had powered down already. I assumed it was the batteries so I swapped them and powered back up to make some notes on our track on the topo map. Bad news, apparently either something malfunctioned or I hit the power button unknowingly because the track information was not there. My little Magellan does not save info unless it gos though its power down sequence so the location info I thought I had was lost. Still, I thought I'd remember where we were by the land marks. Well, I found out today, 2 weeks later, that neither I nor my daughter took good enough notice to our surroundings. 4 miles and 3 and a half hours of hiking and we still did not find our little hole. I'm upset to say the least but will continue the search next weekend.
I've always used an inexpensive GPS which has served me well for a number of years. Today I learned many things about ridgewalking. Carry a camera, always have pen and paper and don't skimp on a gps as you can never have enough space for waypoints. :tonguecheek:
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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby David Grimes » Dec 17, 2011 9:24 pm

I am surprised by your post, I have used one of the cheapest magellan hand held GPS's on the market in the past and while the memory does fill up I have never lost a track due to improper shutdown. I would say something had to malfunction. My old GPS has been through about every scenario you can think of and every time I turned it back on the path I had been walking was always right there.

Good story though I have had similar things happen to me but they were not caused by a GPS but rather a lack of one and/or anything to write on.
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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby trogman » Dec 18, 2011 9:59 am

Interesting story. I have never had my GPS fill up with waypoints; I have a Garmin with a capacity of 1000 waypoints. If it ever did fill up, I would likely just find one or two points that were not as important to keep and delete them, thus creating room for the record of the hot new lead.
Do you carry a cell phone with you? If so, most cells have a voice recorder that you can use to record info about your find. I use mine all the time, since it is much handier than writing it down. And with the cell phone cam to take a couple of photos, I have a complete record of the lead.
I hope you find it again- I know how difficult it can be in karst terrain without a coordinate. All of those rocks start looking alike!

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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby Cody JW » Dec 18, 2011 1:32 pm

For ridge walking I use an old hydration pack ( like a camel back) without the bladder. It is small and holds what I need. In the accessory pocket I always carry a small note pad with two pens. I check the pens before each trip . I also always mark my parking spot and put it in as a way point and also write that location down. Same with any locations I mark along the way. When I get home I put it all in my google earth. Modern electronics are nice but I always back things up with good ole fashioned pen and paper. I do not care if I am using a 100 dollar GPS or a 800 dollar GPS or anything in between. If it is electronic, wired things can happen and stuff can get erased.
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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby tncaver » Dec 18, 2011 8:54 pm

These are reasons that support using topo maps along with GPS. Topos show the terrain and you can follow that terrain and know where you
are going and often where you are located without even using a GPS. Topos were the choice for ridge walkers long before GPS was invented.
Today, topos still work great with or without a GPS. I use both. Anyone who doesn't is going to eventually get lost.
Last edited by tncaver on Dec 19, 2011 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby trogman » Dec 19, 2011 8:35 am

tncaver wrote:These are reasons that support using topo maps along with GPS. Topos show the terrain and you can follow that terrain and know where you
are going and often where you are located without even using a GPS. Topos were the choice for ridge walkers long before GPS was invented.
Today, topos still work great with or without a GPS. I still use both. Anyone who doesn't is going to eventually get lost.


Agreed. I use both paper topos, and topos loaded to my GPS. There are many free topo downloads available at http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/; I have used them often as have other friends of mine.

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Re: Woes of stupidity and an inexpensive GPS

Postby Mudduck » Dec 19, 2011 3:22 pm

Like I said, I had every available item EXCEPT pen and paper as my topo is laminated for wet weather. I made a massive mistake in trusting what I thought I knew along with hiking for hours after which going back I found my self looking for a hole in the middle of 30 acres of holes. O well live and learn. :wink: Regardless, day after Christmas that hole will be mine :banana_yay:
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