A few weeks ago, I bought a Garmin GPSmap 62s handheld unit to take along on my hikes.

Among other things, once I turn tracking on, this unit will track my hike route by automatically creating waypoints as I hike. A waypoint consists of the date, time, elevation, latitude, and longitude of wherever I am at the moment the waypoint is created. At the end of the hike, I save the track.

Once I get back to my PC, I use Garmin’s software called Basecamp to download the track file and usually two waypoint files, one for the trail head and one for the end of the hike. These files are in Garmin’s .gpx file format. Then I convert the .gpx files to Google’s .kmz file format. Google Maps used to accept .gpx files, but I haven’t been able to get that to work lately, so I import the .gpx files into Google Earth, and then save them right back out as .kmz files.

Then I go to Google Maps and, after logging into my account, I import the .kmz files from my PC and switch Google Maps to Terrain View. I now have my hiking route overlaid on a nice, 3D-looking map of the terrain, which gives a pretty good perspective of the elevation differences (if any) of the area hiked.

Along with the track, I can also tell how many miles the hike covered, how long it took, elevation at the beginning and end of the hike, elevation gain, etc.

I started doing this on the Pino Trail hike. If you look at the maps associated with my last three hikes and contrast them with the maps on hikes prior to the Pino Trail, you will see the difference.

Garmin GPSmap 62s

Garmin GPSmap 62s