Introduction to GPS Navigation, Trip Planning, and  Workflow - 2020

Navigation Course

Introduction to GPS and Trip Planning

This online class plus a one-evening workshop is an introduction to GPS Navigation, Trip Planning, Online Map Making, and Navigation Workflow. The curriculum will focus on using GPS in Trip Planning and in Navigation Workflow.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

This is an entry-level class that introduces GPS and how the Trip Planning Workflow makes use of GPS. The class consists of two parts:

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1. An online presentation with exercises that you must view and complete at home (approx 4-5 hours to complete) - 2 weeks prior to the In-Person Workshop.

2. An in-person workshop that will focus on planning a short trip, uploading this data to your device, and then using the data to navigate around the Program Center (approx 2.5 hours).

The applications used in this class are Gaia GPS on a cell phone (for both Android and IOS devices), and Caltopo for the online trip planning segment.

Students will need to register and pay for this main class, then select one of the in-person workshops to attend.  The online content will be sent to the student 2 weeks prior to the start of the in-person workshop that you signed up for. This online content MUST be completed prior to attending the workshop. Once both parts are completed, you will earn a GPS navigation badge.

The learning goals for this class:

  • Understand that a GPS device is one of the five tools of modern wilderness navigation.
  • Understand how GPS works, its history, and the various networks available.
  • Understand how to recognize common accuracy and technology issues when using a GPS device, and various solutions available.
  • Understand what options are available for emergency communications:
    • One- and two-way satellite communicators and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)
    • How they are used in a rescue scenario
    • Why all parties traveling in the wilderness should strongly consider carrying a satellite communicator or PLB.
  • Understand what options are available and the tradeoff between cell phone GPS applications and dedicated GPS devices.
  • Understand how the Trip Planning Workflow makes use of GPS.
  • Obtain a basic level of understanding of Gaia GPS and Caltopo to be able to plan a trip and navigate short routes in the field following a course/bearing, track, route, and waypoints.


Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Introduction to GPS and Trip Planning Workshop
Seattle Program Center
Tue, Sep 22, 2020
Registration closes Sep 21
8 participants
2 instructors
Required Equipment

A GPS enabled cell phone  with the new Gaia GPS App installed. This can either be the IOS or Android version depending on which type of cell phone you have.  The Gaia application is free to download, and the Mountaineers will give you a free premium subscription for a year provided you are a member. 

A laptop computer (or tablet) with internet connectivity.  You will need to connect to the internet and view the online presentation while at home.  Also, you will need to bring this computer to the in-person workshop and be able to connect to the Mountaineers public Wi-Fi.  You should also be able to receive and send email from this laptop. 

Digital map of the program center area pre-loaded into your cell phone device prior to class.

Headlamp for the outdoor exercises.

Appropriate clothing for the weather. The in-person workshops have an outdoor section.

The following computer skills are required: The ability to download and upload files to your computer/cell phone via the internet, the ability to send email, and the ability to install applications on your cell phone device. 

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.