Monday, October 31, 2016

Adding in, Adding on - GPS Notes on Frontenac Challenge

I wasn't aware when planning my Frontenac Challenge that there was a new option this year of swapping a non-official park loop called Moulton Gorge with the standard Little Salmon Loop. I thought of this when, late last week, zooming into my GPS tracks from the confusing second day of Trail Trek for Judy where Carolyn and I did 5 loops, I realized there was a 500m section of Tetsmine loop along the top of Lynch Lake that I somehow missed! I couldn't believe it, and was bummed and mad at myself. What we did was actually longer, but still, that piece got missed. But then I realized I still had an open window until Oct 31 to get out and do that little strip of trail, so Carolyn and I teamed up again and ran a route yesterday that gave us that missing link, plus Moutlon Loop, plus the three remaining loops that she needed to do the challenge, Arkon, Arab and Doe. Without that missing piece I never would have been motivated to do this additional 4.5 hours of running this weekend in the park, so it all worked out just great. I'd been feeling some post-goal blues all week, and this run helped shake that feeling off, so it was especially helpful. Derrick did a big run of his own while we were there, so we had fun afterwards comparing our outings. Between us we covered 8 loops that day!

Here's a link to the run. The short out-and-back at the top is the missing section of Testsmine Loop. The straight line is where I paused the watch while we drove between trailheads. 

Without having a GPS track to come back to, I never would have noticed this and would have happily continued assuming it was covered. Admittedly that would have been an easier way to go, but I'm glad to have a backup and know for sure that I did the entire challenge. I did this challenge in honour of my mom, and I needed it to be done right. (Fittingly, the yellow challenge sign for this loop referred to GPS use in the park. We had a good laugh about that.)

Speaking of GPS, I did a post a few years ago on GPS tracks being able to be modified, but never really addressed the accuracy of the tracks to begin with. It is always interesting to see the differences in our stats when Derrick and I run the exact same route. He has a newer model of Suunto Ambit, presumably with a more sensitive receiver, and he routinely gets distances that are longer than mine, especially on single-track trails that typically wind around a lot. 

Derrick's tracks versus mine for days 1 and 3, where we ran every single step the same. Very different stats for both distance and altitude. (Click images to enlarge.)

Derrick: Day 1

Sara: Day 1

Derrick: Day 3

Sara: Day 3

For comparison, here is the SPOT track for Day 3. Not very useful under such a thick tree cover and only trying to get a read every 10 minutes!

Birch Lake Trail