Trip reports rock! I love experiencing epic conditions, even when I'm sitting in the office. The stories are great and pictures are always gorgeous. Most of the time, however, I have no idea where the TR took place. That's why I love seeing GPS tracking.GPS tracking records your location at a specific time interval. You can then download the recorded points to your computer and open them in a program like Google Earth to see your exact path. GPS tracking is cool, but I don't see it too often unless I'm on Time for Tuckerman. TGR has them sometimes and NS kids want to spend their cash on tall t's instead of a GPS tracker. So for those NS kids with an iPhone, here is a simple, $3.99 solution: Trails.

Trails is a very intuitive, GPS tracking app for the iPhone and iPod Touch with GPS. It is also smart enough to implement some clutch power saving features. Despite those features, if you're operating in the cold keep your iPhone in your jacket near your body to stay warm or get an extra battery. I recommend the Mophie Juice Box Air. It makes your phone twice as thick, but the rugged plastic case and 2x battery life make up for it.Download and Setup TrailsDownload Trails from iTunes here. Once it's installed, click the Trails icon to open the app. Once open, click the settings icon at the bottom of the screen. Trails comes with 4 different preset activities, jogging, hiking, biking, and driving, to help produce a nice report. My tracking is set to jogging when I'm skiing and hiking when I'm not.
Scroll down to to the live map section of settings. Live map enabled and Controls enabled can be shut off when trekking in the woods to conserve battery. I also recommend shutting off wifi. If you do not have cell service where you're going, put your phone in Airplane Mode as well.Now, scroll all the way to the bottom and enter your email address in the Standard email section. Trails sends GPS logs to your email. A picture of the entire preference menu is below.
Starting a GPS LogWith Trails running, select the My Tracks icon at the bottom of the window. Then, select the plus sign in the upper corner to start a new GPS log. Add a name and description for the GPS log and save it. Trails will begin tracking your GPS coordinates and altitude. For specific information on using Trails, check out the Trails manual.
One important thing to note, Trails stops recording GPS points when you receive a call. You can resume the GPS log by restarting trails. If your iPhone is jailbroken, Trails will not record GPS points while run with backgrounder, an app that lets other apps run continuously in the background.Showing the GPS Log in Google EarthEmail the GPS log to yourself when you are back in cell or wifi range. From the My Tracks page, select the log you want to open and click the email icon. Select Email from the Export options, make sure your email is correct, and hit send. Emails are sent through the Trails server, but the author has assured users he does not store the GPS logs. In the future, it would be nice to configure your own method of getting the files.Check your email. It comes from Trails and is titled Your iPhone track. There are two files attached to the email. A GPX and a KML file. Google Earth opens KML files. Below is a GPS log from me playing around on my Katana. Take a screenshot or select File->Email->Email Image and save the image Google Earth creates to do the same thing. Put this in your trip report!
Coming UpIn my next post, I'll talk about the other things in Trails you can use to make a nicer trip report. This includes geotagging photos, displaying your logs statistics, and graphing speed and altitude.


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