Why you need the inReach Explorer…

July 18, 2014

Chip Noble here, Product Manager for DeLorme. I’m getting ready for the Mt Washington Observatory’s Seek the Peak climb this weekend and I thought I’d share the process with you so that you can see how the Explore website, inReach Explorer, and MapShare page work together to make the inReach system a powerful tool for planning, exploring, and sharing your adventures.

A few of us are going to sneak away from work tomorrow and hike up to the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds hut to test out some new designs and demonstrate the inReach Explorer functionality to people following along on the website. I’m planning out our climb using the Explore site so that I can use my inReach Explorer to navigate to the hut and share the trip with friends and family using my MapShare page.

To get started I went to the explore.delorme.com site where I manage my inReach Explorer account and began planning my trip. With the inReach Explorer’s ability to store Waypoints and Routes I’m now able to plan out where I’m going ahead of time using the Explore website and sync all of those details over to the device for use when I get out on the trail. I started by creating the waypoints for our trip; the trailhead at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, the AMC hut, and the Mt Washington summit. Using the Aerial Imagery I was able to be pretty accurate with my waypoint placement… wow!


After I used the Waypoint tool to mark those locations I was able to use the Route tool to draw in two separate routes for Friday and Saturday. I started by drawing in the rough route between my waypoints and then editing the route to follow the trail data provided by DeLorme’s topographic maps.


For those of you out there that like high detail routes, you can zoom in to see aerial imagery and get a preview of your hike while you fine tune the route line to follow the actual foot trails that are visible in the imagery. Be careful though, it’s easy to get carried away with the detail! The roughed in routes will still guide you to your campsite…


When I finally tore myself away from the aerial imagery and route editing I had the full trip planned out with waypoints and detailed routes, showing my path from the Visitor Center to the Hut to the Summit and back down.


I connected my inReach Explorer and sync’d the data to the device so that I would have it with me during the hike. Forgive the photos, we don’t have a screenshot tool on the inReach and I wanted you to see the real thing. The first picture shows the Home page with the new Map, Routes, Waypoints, Compass, and Trip Info pages.

photo 4

I can use these pages to see the waypoints and routes that I’ve sync’d onto my inReach Explorer. I can get details about these points so that I can select the right information when I’m at the trailhead.

photo 1

photo 2

The next picture shows the Map page with the waypoints and routes for the hike displayed. I use this view to verify that everything I planned is showing on my inReach. I’ll use this page as a reference when navigating to the waypoints tomorrow. The inReach Explorer doesn’t show full topographic data but I will see the detailed route line and know what direction to turn at each intersection.

photo 1a

When I’m at the trailhead I will select the Day 1 hike and choose to Navigate. This will update my Map page to highlight the selected route in orange. It will also start reporting a distance to the Finish of the route at the bottom of the screen. No, I’m not hiking 65 miles tomorrow, that’s the distance from my desk where I took the photo of my device. It will report the correct distance tomorrow morning when I’m at the trailhead.

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I also have the option to view the Compass page and see a Bearing and Distance along with a compass arrow pointing in the direction that I need to travel. In a soon to be released firmware we’ll be updating the inReach to report the distance to the next waypoint that appears on the route. The inReach will report the distance to the summit on Day 2 and then update to tell me the distance to the trailhead finish after I’m on my way back down. Again, the distance in the screenshot is from my desk to the summit of Mt Washington, sorry about that.

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Another very important thing will happen when I choose to Navigate the route that I’ve selected on my inReach Explorer. A navigation message will be sent to my MapShare page, https://share.delorme.com/seekthepeak, updating that site to show friends and followers like you that I am hiking and taking a specific route to a specific destination. The following screenshot shows my location last weekend while we were hiking up Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, ME.


Note that not only could people see where I had been but they could also see where I was planning to go. This route information will update during the Mt Washington climb as I switch from my Day 1 route to my Day 2 route on Saturday morning. If I chose to create a new waypoint while I was on the trip and create a direct route to that location those pieces of information would also appear on my MapShare and Explore websites.

So there it is… planning a hike on the Explore website, navigating with the inReach Explorer, and sharing all of it with the MapShare website… all reasons why I think anyone heading out on an adventure needs to bring an inReach Explorer along with them!

If you have any questions I can be reached by inReach message Friday and Saturday, just go to my MapShare page, https://share.delorme.com/seekthepeak, and send me a message. I’ll be following this blog post up with one answering all of the great questions that have been coming to me from customers so feel free to post your questions here and I’ll include them.

Take care and see you on the trail!

Chip Noble
Team DeLorme

Scientist Dr. John All Survives 70 ft. fall into a Crevasse in Nepal – Rescued with inReach

July 10, 2014

IMG_2728Photo Courtesy of the American Climber Science Program.

Dr. John All, the Director of the American Climber Science Program, was in the Himalayas during May testing ice and snow samples for pollution and rate of melting. All and his team were on Mt. Himlung, however All was a two-day hike from his team at a higher elevation camp when he fell into a 70 ft. crevasse.

All sustained severe injuries, including five broken ribs, a broken arm, dislocated shoulder and internal bleeding, which made it nearly impossible for him to climb out. But by strategically moving sideways and slightly upwards a little bit at a time, All was able to complete the grueling climb out about four or five hours later. Once at the top, he managed to roll back to his tent where he used his inReach satellite messenger to trigger an SOS and then alert his team of his condition. He also posted live updates to Facebook from his device relaying the extent of his injuries.

Due to his remote location and bad weather, a helicopter wasn’t able to reach him until the next morning. Throughout this timeframe his team was able to communicate with him through inReach, sending him words of encouragement and assuring him they’d see each other soon.

All was flown to a hospital in Kathmandu to be treated for his injuries. After a quick recovery, on June 23rd, All traveled to Huascaran National Park in Peru to lead a team of 20 students and scientists studying the changing climate conditions and its impacts on the region.

“Knowing we would consistently be out of cellphone range, we researched all satellite communication options to keep us connected. As satellite phone was more than we really needed, and as a volunteer-driven non-profit program, it wasn’t very cost effective. We need to be able to communicate back and forth in the even of an emergency, but we also wanted to keep everyone updated on the day-to-day status of the mission,” said All. “As most of the channels we use are digital, the ability to text anywhere in the world was perfect. inReach offered us a great cost-benefit ratio – it blew everything else away.”

The American Climber Science Program is a volunteer based organization using science to “improve conservation efforts in the high mountains of the world.” DeLorme is proud to be apart of the team’s essential gear bag as they conduct incredible research all over the world.

Horse and rider rescued following slide down steep canyon on the famed Pacific Crest Trail in California

May 13, 2014

Two-way communications capability of DeLorme inReach assured timely dispatch of appropriate resources and helicopter rescue.

PCT day 7 &8 010[1]Paul and Gail enjoying the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. The horses, Dakota and Aero, are beautiful Tennessee Walkers and specially trained by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to stay calm in noisy and distracting environments.

Paul V. and his wife Gail have dreamed of riding the entire length of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail for several years. They had spent many hours researching all the gear they would need to take on the ride, personally conducting numerous evaluations to determine the perfect combination of the lightest weight, safest and most effective options. Knowing that the trail could be very dangerous in certain areas and that cell coverage would be intermittent, the couple chose to take an inReach with them in case they ran into any trouble.

“We planned for just about everything, but I didn’t realize how valuable my inReach was going to be,” said Paul. “If you’re going to be in a remote wilderness area, it’s wrong not to invest in something that will ensure that you can live to tell about it.”

On the morning of March 14, Paul and Gail were riding on an extremely narrow portion of the trail in the Angeles National Forest. The entire area was recovering from a forest fire, so there was very little foliage and the slopes and cliffs were prone to mudslides. Paul was in the lead and although his horse, Aero, lost its footing briefly, he made it safely through the narrowest part of the trail. When he looked back he realized that Gail and her horse, Dakota, did not. At just eight inches wide, the dangerous trail bordered a steep, 300-foot-deep canyon.

As Gail and Dakota began to slide down, she fell off the horse head-down onto her back. Dakota then fell onto her legs and bounced over her. They both continued to tumble down the embankment. There was nothing to break her fall on the burned out area, but she was finally able to grab hold of a root from a charred bush, about 100 feet below the trail. Dakota continued all the way to the bottom landing upside down, about 300 feet down.

Back up at the trail, Paul could hear Gail moaning, but he knew it was unsafe to go down the same slide area. The fall happened about 10 miles from the nearest road crossing and about one mile from an abandoned ranger station with a corral. “I started calling to Gail immediately but I couldn’t hear her answer. But before I could make my way down the slope to find her, I had to find a way to tie up my horse safely so he didn’t get spooked and go down the slide or wander off. With the forest having so recently burned, it was just about impossible to find anything to tie him up though,” Paul said.

Thinking that the corral at the ranger station may be his only hope, Paul crossed back over the precarious slide area. Thankfully, he found a relatively sturdy manzanita bush just on the other side and secured his horse. After walking about 50 feet further, Paul was eventually able to find a safe place to descend into the canyon to look for Gail.

“My worst fear was that she was under the horse at the bottom, so that’s where I headed first,” he said. The 1,200-pound horse had all kinds of debris under it, making it very difficult for Paul to determine that Gail must have fallen off further up the slope. Without any cell coverage, Paul activated the SOS on his inReach and set out looking for Gail.

Meanwhile, Gail had stopped moaning and began to call for Paul, but he couldn’t hear her. She had a whistle on her backpack and blew it, but Paul thought it was his inReach notifying him of an incoming message. So, she began to throw rocks into the air, hoping he would see them. Finally he found her, laying face down, holding onto the roots of the bush. She had suffered a broken leg, various bruises and lacerations, but she seemed to be unhurt otherwise. Unable to move her without causing her to slide further down, Paul found a rock that seemed sturdy about eight feet away and convinced her to let him move her to a safer place. Using his inReach, Paul began texting back and forth about Gail and Dakota’s conditions with GEOS personnel, DeLorme’s search and rescue monitoring partner. Once they both knew help was on the way, Paul headed back down the embankment to reach Dakota and attempt to assess his injuries.

While Gail was sitting there, in pain, she knew she had the means to do something for herself. She pulled the first aid kit from her backpack and hooked the various contents onto her body to keep them from falling. From her precarious position she was able to clean and bandageher abrasions. Within the hour, the rescue helicopter arrived and a fireman descended on a cable to retrieve her. Too slippery for him to even get a foothold, he secured a strap behind her back and asked her to hold on to him as they ascended the cable to the waiting aircraft. She was in the hospital about 90 minutes after the fall.

Surprisingly, the horse suffered only a fractured skull and was on its feet about three hours later, when a vet arrived to anesthetize it for the flight and determined that the injuries would heal. A second vet was waiting at the landing site to pull the horse out of anesthesia so he could stand and then be trailered to a local animal shelter, where it received the necessary stitches. The horse was released the next day to recuperate in familiar surroundings.

“inReach made all the difference in how quickly we got help,” Gail said.

Paul added, “We were in a very remote area and certainly had no cell phone coverage. We would have been missed when we didn’t arrive at our destination, but they probably would have waited a few extra hours before calling for help. By that time, it would have been dark and likely too late to dispatch a rescue crew. Gail might have survived on the side of the mountain — unless she gave up from sheer exhaustion trying to hang onto a bush. Dakota would never have made it. The outcome would certainly be very different, even having to wait overnight. inReach came through when we needed it.”

Paul says they plan to get back out on the trail in about six weeks when Gail has healed and feels ready. “We started this journey in January about 250 miles ago and are determined to finish it.” Paul said. “I’ve realized that the inReach is a lot like insurance — you put money into the system, but you don’t realize the value until you put in a claim. I know the full value of my inReach now and won’t be in the wilderness without it.”

Sailing Adventure Ends in Rescue off the Coast of Nicaragua

April 8, 2014

Rebel Yell

For Gulfport, Mississippi native Zach Morrison, adventure has always come calling. A former golf pro, avid traveller and sailing enthusiast, Zach says that he’s known among his friends for attempting crazy things. So when he announced that he was planning to purchase and restore a 1937 55-foot schooner and sail it from Los Angeles to Gulfport through the Panama Canal his friends weren’t surprised, but they were worried for him nonetheless.

Zach named the restored schooner Rebel Yell as a tribute to his alma mater Ole Miss and because it was so symbolic of his passion for adventure and the freedom to explore. Once he finished the schooner’s restoration, he asked a friend and his father if they wanted to join him on the trip of a lifetime. They said yes, and the group began making preparations to leave, including the evaluation of what gear to take.

“inReach was my first experience with any kind of satellite tracking device. I selected it because its messaging capabilities were head and shoulders above the competition,” Zach said. “I used it so much during the sail for everyday communication with friends and family, I had already felt that I had gotten my money’s worth. But then when the rescue happened, it was invaluable to have all the firsthand information it transmits. I had all kinds of tools with me from a sat phone to an EPIRB, but we were so far out that even the sat phone wasn’t working that well. inReach was the only tool I had that provided instant feedback during the rescue. Getting messages back during the rescue kept our situation from being a guessing game.”

They set out in late December, 2013, and the trip was going as planned until one night in early February when they encountered 15-foot waves and high winds at about 10 o’clock while they were sailing through the 400-mile passage of Golfo de Papagayo. The Rebel Yell had about 100 miles left to clear the passage when Zach and his friends discovered she was taking on water rapidly from a leak in the rudder. After trying to repair it and bailing out water, Zach made the difficult decision to abandon ship and trigger an SOS from his inReach and the EPIRB.

The Coast Guard received the SOS alert from GEOS, DeLorme’s partner for 24/7, global search and rescue monitoring. Seeing how close the Rebel Yell was to Nicaragua, the Coast Guard called the country’s navy, which then contacted an Indian oil tanker that was just 20 miles away from the schooner. “The Nicaraguans wanted the tanker to take us to Managua, but the Captain told them that we were Americans and that’s where the tanker was headed anyway, so we could stay aboard and return home with them,” Zach said. “We had 53 awesome days at sea and it took us nine to get back.”

Far from discouraged about the end of the Rebel Yell, Zach says he’ll be setting out on a new adventure as soon as he’s able. “I’ll probably find another boat and sail somewhere beautiful. I am sure DeLorme will be with me wherever it is.”


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