Navigating with the aid of digital topo maps is a game changer for unsupported trekking. However, extreme care must be taken because digital devices often fail in the field. We will be using several backups to mitigate this:
- My iPhone with topo mapping, offline maps and GPX route (see Navigation - Apps article).
- Mathilde’s phone with similar setup.
- Backup iPod touch with similar setup.
- Garmin Fenix 5 GPS watch with waypoints and analogue compass (see Navigation - Emergencies article).
- Backup 13,000mAh battery with 21W solar panel.
- Daily flashcards for the intended route with map snapshots, descriptions and elevation profile (see Navigation - Flashcards article).
- Himalaya Map House paper maps - 1:150k covering a wide area with alternate routes.
We’ll use the paper flashcards to get an overview of the day, and as primary navigation on simple days. As the route gets more tricky we’ll fall back on our phones, running the various topo mapping apps with offline maps. I have an old iPod touch which has also been configured with these apps for another backup. For emergency navigation in bad conditions we’ll use my Garmin Fenix GPS watch with an analogue compass. Finally as a paper backup we’ll be carrying the Himalaya Map House paper maps which cover the entire trekking region with many other alternate trails marked.
We have spent considerable time planning the ideal route along the GHT High Route. This will undoubtedly change as the trek progresses… However the alternate trails will lead south towards lower elevations which usually have more population and services… so the navigation should get easier as we deviate from the High Route.