I spent most of the last week backpacking in a very remote wilderness area where the only access is by hiking or horseback. While on this backpacking trip it was very interesting to see how we used mobile technology and what kinds of devices the other hikers in my group had. Knowing that weight was critical to accomplishing this hike what each person decided to carry along showed its value.
As you would expect, we had several GPS systems and used them to track our progress. We also had maps as backup because you really do need to know how to get there and back safely. The GPS systems were fun when comparing how far from home, the trailhead, base camp etc we were on summit hikes. Only the newer generation of GPS systems were able to maintain consistent locks due to the rugged terrain, deep canyons and dense trees in places.
I brought along my iPhone wondering if I could use it from some peaks and perhaps hit a distant cell. We were 25 miles from the nearest paved road at the trailhead and camped 4 miles in as a base for our daily hikes and explorations. Here’s a pic with GPS info of myself and my dog at basecamp.
One of the kids got altitude sickness on our adventure and his father opted to hike them out. Subsequently the father was also injured in a fall so it was determined my son and I would hike them both out. Since they had no transportation at the trailhead I used my phone to check for any type of connection. At our base camp we were totally amazed to find that I could both send and receive text messages 10,000’ in the mountains when we were 30 miles from the nearest town and cell system. It was marginal at best but by leaving the phone in a tree and telling it to retry it would eventually get through and we were able to setup a pickup for the injured party.
We could not make a call, but it was possible to get an “Edge” connection for short periods of time. This also improved in the evening hours due to atmospheric conditions.
Using mobile technology in this case enabled me and my son to safely deliver the injured in a timely fashion and helped us to return and enjoy our time in the wilderness. Mobile devices enable so many more things than initially conceived when they are designed. I can see many more wonderful uses for a MID in just such an environment.
One last thought… I considered updating Facebook with pictures during the hike but I opted to spend the time with my son instead. I think there is a balance in life between technology and relationships; we can’t let the technology drive us apart.