Getting Warmer? GPS location app
November 28, 2020 7:10 AM   Subscribe

There is a spot out in the woods near my home where 4 municipalities come together. Because I am bored and taking lots of walks in the woods, I'd like to find this spot in the woods and mark it somehow so that if someone else stumbles upon it there will be a reward.

I know the LAT/LON location of the spot from various maps, but ideally I'd like an app where I can enter the latitude and longitude and have it alert/guide me to the location.

Difficulty Levels: iOS | Work without Internet or cellular?
posted by terrapin to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like a perfect case for a geocache
posted by jazon at 7:14 AM on November 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


This is exactly in every aspect what the geocaching hobby is about. Both locating these spots, finding a creative (sometimes hidden for extra challenge) marker, then sharing it on the website so others are notified of it, have a fun time looking for it, and then scan the marker for a record of their victory in finding it. I should say upfront that the company most prominent in the field makes money selling markers, tags, etc, but you can still get into the hobby for not much if any money at all.
posted by seasparrow at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


ah jinx!
posted by seasparrow at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2020


I've never used the ios version, but Back Country Navigator has served me very well for offline gps mapping in the past.
posted by eotvos at 8:33 AM on November 28, 2020


I included geocaching tag because I assume that is where I would need to go. But the app two of you linked to doesn't allow for searching by longitude and latitude. It allows city names and zip codes. I have tried various methods to enter Lon/Lat with no luck. I have pinged the developers to ask. Hopefully the answer isn't "buy premium."

eotvos, thank you, but they are Android only apparently.

That all said, geochaching may be a good hobby for me right now.
posted by terrapin at 8:36 AM on November 28, 2020


eotvos, thank you, but they are Android only apparently.
Crap. The website mentions ios, but perhaps that's aspirational at the moment. (GPS Status looks like it really does have an ios version. There are no maps, but it does "tell me which direction to walk" well without a network connection.)

On the desktop website version of google maps, entering a lat and long seems to work. (For example: "43.651, -79.347") It doesn't seem to work in my android app for some reason. But, you could probably mark it as a location and then retrieve it on your phone before leaving a networked place and get directions to it. Let us know what you find that works.
posted by eotvos at 8:48 AM on November 28, 2020


Google Maps lets you put in latitude and longitude. Make sure you select 'walking' or it may tell you that it can't find a route there. Using the app you should be able to see yourself moving as you get closer to the spot.

You can download a section of map to use offline.
posted by brook horse at 9:01 AM on November 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


Btw, tested it (iOS) on the random coords in the help article and it didn't work--presumably because the location is somewhere across the country from me. But putting in a random coordinate from the middle of a park near me did work.
posted by brook horse at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2020


Geocaching uses a different latitude/longitude convention than Google maps does, which can cause problems, and I think it will only come up on geocaching.com if there's already a cache there. They use:

N DD MM.MMM, W DD MM.MMM.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2020


How precise do you want to be when you mark the location? In my experience wandering around the woods with my phone, both precision and accuracy suffer when you’re in the woods, although it’s better with fewer leaves on the trees.

You may have better luck checking for survey records with one or more of the municipalities - there may be survey markers already there or nearby you could find instead.

Does the intersection of the municipal boundaries exist on openstreetmap? Perhaps one of the iOS mapping tools supporting OSM like https://www.gaiagps.com/ could work for you.
posted by dttocs at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2020


Thanks for all the suggestions! I have marked dttocs' answer as best, but everyone's answers help!

The issue with Google Maps, Apple Maps, and even OpenStreetMap to some extent is that one can't choose walking directions for a spot in the middle of the Vermont woods.

OpenStreetMap does have one feature though that solves my issue. It has the boundary lines for the towns and counties in Vermont visible on their maps! In fact I started the idea of this project because I was using OSM to look at the boundaries. I hadn't considered there was an app, even though I had apparently downloaded it and subsequently deleted it from my phone.

So I can wander in the woods until my marker is on the convergence point of the town lines!

Thanks again all.

To help satisfy anyone's curiosity this is the point I wish to visit -- and now leave a geocache gift too! (shhh, don't tell anyone.)
posted by terrapin at 11:17 AM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


It's easy to find a slice of hardwood, maybe a foot in diameter, and a foot or so in length, and someone with a woodburning tool to inscribe the lat/long, and maybe some comment, while you doing this project. I think it would be fun to leave it at the location, if it's public-ish land. Carting it to the site is good exercise...
posted by theora55 at 2:16 PM on November 28, 2020


You might also find what3words useful for this. They have a popular iOS app.

It looks like the 3-meter square for your location would be either "singer.spaceships.motives" or maybe "bounced.slot.tools" -- here is singer.spaceships.motives on the web version:
posted by theory at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2020


Google Earth lets you choose your coordinate system, under Tools/ Opions.
You can pick N DD MM.MMM, W DD MM.MMM. as one of 4 options.

I use GPS a lot in the backcountry.
Much easier to use UTM ( Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates.
You can do the calculation in your head.

For example using degrees and decimal minutes
I want to go to point 45 35.236 W, 78 29.995 N
I am at 45 34.981 W, 78 29.983 N
How do I get there?
It 's difficult to visualize

Same points using UTM

I want to go to point 695020 Easting, 5051250 Northing
I am at 694850 Easting, 5050450 Northing

I must go 800 meters North and 170 meters east

It's very easy to visualize
posted by yyz at 3:15 PM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Google Maps lets me choose walking directions for a random spot in the woods--if I click and hold on the spot, or enter the exact coordinates, and then choose walking directions, it'll take me along the closest path and then do a straight line to the bit that's not on any paths. In fact I put in your coordinates and got a path there--it's a 323 hour walk for me, though. :)

Here's the link to the destination in Google Maps. When you put in walking directions, it goes along the path, and then does a straight bit (well, curved) for the remaining part. If you engage the walking directions from your phone, you should be able to see your marker getting closer. In fact, if you open the destination from your phone, you don't necessarily need to engage the directions, it should show you the map and your marker as you move even if you don't get directions.
posted by brook horse at 6:22 PM on November 28, 2020


brook horse: Thanks for the tip, and correcting my comment above. I am marking the answer best for anyone else who may find this question and not know about that useful feature. This does not work on the Google map website. However, I presume your suggestion also works with Google Earth.

The OpenStreetMap option essentially does the same thing, and isn't Google, so I think will stick with it.

Sure I can't interest you in the hike though? 323 hours isn't that long, but maybe you aren't unemployed like I. :)
posted by terrapin at 7:45 PM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


The OpenStreetMap method worked a charm! I was able to easily find the location, which ended up being marked with a granite obelisk. The marker has a B for Bethel on one side and an R for Randolph on the other. As it makes no mention of the other 2 towns (Royalton and Tunbridge) I think it is the county line marker. The marker was practically on its side so I stood it up and added some rocks from the 2 walls that came together to try and keep it upright. I then used OSM to find my way home through the woods. That was fun, and the dog really enjoyed the new smells... and a sample of some bear scat too :(

Here are the photos I took.

Thanks for the help, and the new hobby!
posted by terrapin at 7:55 AM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]


Marked yyz's answer as best as well because it ends up the geocaching app requires one to use Degrees and decimal minutes, while OpenStreetMap kept giving me Decimal Degrees. And the Geocaching app support people just kept telling me "What you are trying to enter aren't coordinates" rather than explaining there are different notations for coordinates.
posted by terrapin at 5:55 AM on December 3, 2020


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