Ultra Runners


Cell phones everywhere? (Read 105 times)

Uh oh... now what?

    A sort of interesting story about the "need" to be connected while "out there"...



    Demon of Bad Decisions

      Interesting.  I have had to deal with both sides of this debate. The shelters on the Appalachian Trail are filled with middle age (and older) men, who's wives only allowed them out to hike if they would check in every day. They subject everyone to a half hour of questions about Junior's soccer practice. A half hour outside of Everest base camp I had to pass a large group of people who were all on their cell phones telling people how great it was (there are no cell towers near there, but the air is thin and you are so high up, that nothing blocks cell signals).  The irony is that the very best part of the experience was listening to the sounds of avalanches and the creeking and groaning made by the shifting ice in the glaciers.


      However, I have been excited about apps that help me identify birds and plants.  Plus my father is happy when I can send him a text when I am away from civilization to let him know that I haven't been kidnapped by hillbillies.


      I found this quote interesting:  Expanding cellular reception may even compromise safety by giving some tourists a false sense of security in the back country, where extremes in weather and terrain test even the most skilled outdoorsman,

      I want to do it because I want to do it.  -Amelia Earhart

      Trail Monster

        My friend/coach is running the Brazil 135 on the 'Path of Faith' right now. Her pacer logged onto Facebook to update us on her progress and read her encouragement from people who were posting on her page. I thought it was pretty awesome that I could send her some love 95 miles in while 1,000 miles away! Smile

        2013 races:

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        4/20 North Coast 24 Hour

        7/27 Burning RIver 100M

        8/24 Baker 50M

        10/5 Oil Creek (distance to be determined)


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        Altra Zero Drop

          Agreed with WrigleyGirl and John. Unfortunately, sometimes 911 is now treated as a taxi service - unfortunately, tying up resources for legitimate safety situations. However, the first responders say they'd rather have a few call-before-it's-life-or-death situation than having the individuals hold off on calling until it does become very dangerous or maybe they are dead.


          Alaska does not allow billboards, so the tall tower regulations - or lack thereof - are creating quite a stir. Alaskans like their scenery unimpeded, but we have lots of newer folks. Cell towers are now in many villages in roadless areas, where communications was probably more prized than one tower in the way. Many of our national parks have no road access to them and even less road access within them. They provide guided bus tours of the front country, backcountry permits for the more remote areas. (I think their staff use radio or satellite phones to check in from remote locations, iirc - or at least 10 yr ago they did.)


          I never ran with a cell phone until last spring. Primarily because I wanted to be away and reception was poor in most places, I think. It did get used for coordinating volunteers at races and maybe an occasional long distance call (I never used all my minutes on a pre-paid plan.), but that's about it.


          About this time last year, I was introduced to QR codes, which I'd never heard of. But the local state parks superintendent was a big fan of and was ok with us putting QR codes on trailhead structures until state parks approved the new trailhead posters for them. They'd never had trailhead maps etc in the past, and a lot of folks got lost on urban spaghetti-loop web of tralis.


          Being a geek, this opened the flood gates of cool things to do with gadgets and the right apps for me. Besides potentially using them for data collection (rather than paper and pencil), we'd like to link the kids into the trails - rather than playing video at home, see if we can do something intriguing with them with trails and smartphones - or even just using our online maps while there (some apps keep the map even if you lose reception). Still in thought process. But trying to avoid "last child in the woods" situation.


          We put out a self-guided tour to the farm, which is one of our trailheads, at an Agriculture Appreciation Day last year - provided the QR code at a table where the main functions were, then they could download either a .pdf map or something from ArcGIS online that has our trails and some key points with the farm. It's still more proof of concept since we need to enhance the information that's there. But the people that recognized a QR code (still new to many), had their phones whipped out and downloading. Not sure if they ever went out with it. We'd like to do something like a virtual nature trail.


          Battery life is a real issue for any intensive use and for any use if you don't keep phone next to your body in cold weather.


          I now have a gadget that I'd rather leave in the car. But if I take it with me, I have a decent snapshot camera which crudely geotags photos, a somewhat decent gps (not as good as real one), a notepad to write down - or dictate - notes, etc - AND it's smaller than either my camera or handheld gps - although it doesn't do either as well as a device intended for that purpose. It's useful for reporting trail conditions or downed trees. Does it stay or does it go?  (On longer trails, it stays in the car because the battery won't last, and cell reception is poor for 911 situations.)

          "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

            Agreed with WrigleyGirl and John. Unfortunately, sometimes 911 is now treated as a taxi service - unfortunately, tying up resources for legitimate safety situations. However, the first responders say they'd rather have a few call-before-it's-life-or-death situation than having the individuals hold off on calling until it does become very dangerous or maybe they are dead.



            That was my understanding as well.  Before it's a life-or-death situation, there's sometimes a window where some troubleshooting can be done, in a way that keeps first responders safe as well.


            I know of an incident during a snowstorm where rescue workers were able to determine (by cell phone) that several stranded parties were "completely, totally fine", and it allowed them to attend to the parties that WERE in danger.  That's a compelling reason why I take a cell phone even when I'm prepared.  I don't want a search-and-rescue bill when I can walk out on my own.

            Best Present Ever

              I take my cell phone to the back country (which is mostly in Shenandoah, so not very back-country).  I keep it off most of the time because I'd have no battery left if I didn't.  I use it to text my husband that I've not been eaten by bears if I'm out for more than a day or two, or to text my ETA if we're coordinating him picking me up.  In many places I have no reception, but I usually do on ridges and I'm usually not all that far from reception if something happened and I really needed to call for help.   I also use it to take photos sometimes.  I learned to use the airplane mode though.  Once I turned my phone on to take a photo on a mountain top.  The damn phone rang and it was a work-related call, which I ended up taking.  Problem-solving work issues in the middle of a backpacking trip wasn't what I wanted to do.

              Feeling the growl again

                Most of the past 5-6 years, I've spent ~10 days in areas where cell phones are more or less useless on the network, but dangers (debilitating injury, predation by cougars/grizzlies/wolves) are relatively high.


                We carried cell phones as in higher elevations you could usually get a signal and it may help you...and away from cell towers, we could also use Gaia GPS app as a GPS to help us determine position.  On rare occasions I would use the opportunistic signal to make a call to my wife, but seriously it makes me sad that people can't go into such areas and disconnect themselves.  I've gone a week+ without making a call or text.


                What we did do, one of my friends sprung for a Spot locator unit.  You assign cell numbers/email addresses, and a couple times a day we "check in" via satellite to send an "OK" message.  No grizzly has eaten us today.  If a full 24 hours has gone by with no "OK", they know to call rescue services.  If we have a true emergency, we can immediately send a "911" via satellite, and with the unit on rescue services can zero in on our position.  We have never had to use it but what I have heard from first-responders is that these units are God-sends as they know exactly where to look for the survivors underneath an unending landscape of pines.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


                I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


                  Cellphones, lol :-)  Remembering my first days at RWOL forums and asked if there was anything wrong with running with a cellphone...  (I used to call my wife when I was 2 miles from the end of a half or full at crowded races to let her know I was coming through the finish soon).  Man, got my britches blown off on RWOL for daring to talk about using a cellphone mid-race! Approve 

                  I don't have a need for it, and I probably average a call a day on my cell (if that),  but find it convenient for that one-time call at a crowded race.  


                  But you get the mix of responses:


                  1)  (Jokingly)  "Hey guys, quiet down the cowbells, this fella has an important call to make!!"


                  2) (Not so jokingly)  "Who is a F___ Idiot enough to make a call on a cell mid-race?!"


                  ---Whatever..... Big grin

                  The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞


                    There is a difference between discussing chatting on your cell phone mid race (especially a road race) and dealing with issues during an ultra or while running out on trails in the middle of BFE.  Relax, Kris.