fly fishing apocalypse,    Underground Entertainment

Hiking Tech (or, Why The Zombie Apocalypse Suddenly Seems Kinda Mild)

Posted by Tom Chandler 7/11/2013

Older Bro is on a hundred-and-something mile backpack trip along the Muir Trail, and I think it's a real sign of his growth as a fly fishermen that before he left, he agonized over whether he should take the 3wt or the 6wt (because he's averaging 15 miles a day and is a backpacking weight weenie, he would never take both).

Gear dysfunction is a sign you've truly arrived.

I told him take the 3wt; if it was windy enough that I had to fish a 6wt I'd probably just want to hike anyway. Naturally, because we're brothers, he did the opposite.

This hike is a low-tech endeavor, except that in the old days, you'd get that last call before he hit the trailhead and then not hear from him for a long time.

Now he owns one of those SPOT satellite thingees.

hiking map He's here. Well, he was a couple days ago...

It gives him the option of pushing the "I'm in deep shit, send help" button that's abused by so many others, but it also sends regular updates about his location.

He put me on his email notification list, so a half-dozen times a day I get a "I'm here" email with a link to a map.

It's a fun little toy and it's a nice way to keep the relatives updated when you're backpacking, though I think emailing your position to your friends (or posting photographs with GPS coordinates in the metadata) would be the last thing a hardocre blueliner would want to do.

In fact, I'm sure you've all wondered -- just like I have -- how much fly fishing metadata is currently being "utilized" by a secret cabal of fly fishing fanatics within the NSA.

After all, you'd be foolish to ignore a group of fishermen with the ability to track the location of John Gierach's smartphone on an hourly basis (for the record, I assume Gierach doesn't have a smartphone, but we're working one step below the Bourne Identity here, so play along).

Even worse, once drone technology becomes affordable and human recognition software becomes more effective, we'll all suddenly have the ability to put a tail on the local blueline hotshot in the form of a stealth drone -- one that provides a video feed and GPS coordinates for any stop longer than a minute.

Hell, you could spend the day at work and come home to a detailed map of the area's best small streams.

(It's the kind of thing that makes me want to explore the legality of shooting things out of the sky while over public lands.)

Either way, one day you're happily fishing vast stretches of water unpopulated by anyone. The next, men in dark suits (or your local nemesis) are casting to your favorite plunge pools.

And to think people waste time worrying about the zombie apocalypse.

This, I think, would be worse. After all, zombies don't fly fish.

See you turning off that GPS, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

24 comments
[...] miles-per-day average’ backpacking trip along the John Muir trail, the post for which generated some discussion about the uses of modern technology in the [...]
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Older and Smarter Brother: I’m back. I learned a couple of things on my trip. 1. If you’re going to be ambitious and try to hike 15 miles a day, it’s best to simply leave the fly rod at home — it saves you a pound in weight. Over 111 miles that adds up. 2. I made the right choice in taking the 6wt. Winds in the canyons and lakes require that extra horsepower. I ended up walking so much ... more that little time was left for any serious fishing. A couple of Brookies were quickly caught in Bear Creek while cooling my feet, and I educated some Golden Trout in Evolution Valley on the dangers of artificial flies, but the crazy fish are at Rae Lakes. Rae Lakes ended up being at the end of “only” a nine mile day, so I had time to set up camp, relax and figure out the game plan. The wind was blowing pretty good so I had to wait until late evening for it to die down enough to fish. I found a sheltered portion of the lake and cast out. The crazy fish there come clear out of the water on nearly anything you cast, so it was open season on fun. Unfortunately I only had about 45 minutes until my bedtime (8:15) so I only caught 45 trout. Next trip will have a much lower daily mileage setting, so more time can be spent fishing instead of crawling into the sleeping bag, exhausted. Sounds like a great, but taxing, trip. I've had some fishing like you describe. in the Sierra... every cast gets multiple hits until one stays on. In Billy Van Loek's book "High Sierra Fly Fishing" he describes a major part of the fish diet being terrestrial bugs blown up from the San Joaquin Valley and dropped into otherwise mostly barren lakes. I imagine that anything remotely buggy-looking would truly be manna from heaven to a hungry fish...
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I'm back. I learned a couple of things on my trip. 1. If you're going to be ambitious and try to hike 15 miles a day, it's best to simply leave the fly rod at home -- it saves you a pound in weight. Over 111 miles that adds up. 2. I made the right choice in taking the 6wt. Winds in the canyons and lakes require that extra horsepower. I ended up walking so much that little time was left for any serious ... more fishing. A couple of Brookies were quickly caught in Bear Creek while cooling my feet, and I educated some Golden Trout in Evolution Valley on the dangers of artificial flies, but the crazy fish are at Rae Lakes. Rae Lakes ended up being at the end of "only" a nine mile day, so I had time to set up camp, relax and figure out the game plan. The wind was blowing pretty good so I had to wait until late evening for it to die down enough to fish. I found a sheltered portion of the lake and cast out. The crazy fish there come clear out of the water on nearly anything you cast, so it was open season on fun. Unfortunately I only had about 45 minutes until my bedtime (8:15) so I only caught 45 trout. Next trip will have a much lower daily mileage setting, so more time can be spent fishing instead of crawling into the sleeping bag, exhausted.
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jp2: “Galaxy Quest”???You are a sci-fi geek,aint ya??Sigorney was a riot in that film…well have to go clean the coffee off of the table now…at least I missed the laptop And for the record, my attraction for Galaxy Quest has nothing to do with Sigourney Weaver's obvious love of all things Victoria's Secret. Not at all.
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Mark: bla bla bla SPOT bla bla bla SPOT bla bla bla Why isn’t anyone talking about the trip?Your bro is an inspiration to aging backpackers like myself.I grew up fishing lakes on the east side of the Sierra.I am envious.The further you get from the trailheads, the better the fishing.I would have taken the bigger rod too, not for monster fish, but for the long lake casts you sometimes need to make ... more to get the flies out to the edges of the dropoffs where the fish are usually cruising… Well, we're not talking about the trip much because we're not on it, and I don't know how the fishing is. Older Bro is hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest trail and is making miles, not bushwacking into the backcountry, so I'm not sure what the fishing really looks like (though it's clear he erred in not listening to his smarter, younger brother about his fly rod choice). I believe he has finished and should be home soon for a report. We'll carry it live. Also, keep in mind he believes the ultralight backpacking movement has made it possible for him to continue backpacking; if backpacking still meant staggering off into the brush with a 48 pound pack, he wouldn't be doing it.
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"Galaxy Quest"??? You are a sci-fi geek,aint ya?? Sigorney was a riot in that film...well have to go clean the coffee off of the table now...at least I missed the laptop
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bla bla bla SPOT bla bla bla SPOT bla bla bla Why isn't anyone talking about the trip? Your bro is an inspiration to aging backpackers like myself. I grew up fishing lakes on the east side of the Sierra. I am envious. The further you get from the trailheads, the better the fishing. I would have taken the bigger rod too, not for monster fish, but for the long lake casts you sometimes need to make to ... more get the flies out to the edges of the dropoffs where the fish are usually cruising...
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Wife of older and smarter bro: I’m now awaiting the final Spot that he’s back at the car. Highly recommend. They need to add a "Final Spot" feature -- something like a checkered flag or an "I cheated death again!" marker. Just common sense.
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Steve: if you haven’t heard anything for three days, avenge my death.By Grabthar's Hammer...
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Mike Sepelak: Thank you for this. I’m convinced. Will ask one for my upcoming birthday… if I make it that far. You know, all it takes is a bad hair day at this age.:-) Your best hope for making it is this: Brylcreem
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Adrian: Tom, I know the area a bit.Believe me he’s cursing himself right now for not listening to his brother and bringing the 3wt.I actually bring my 2wt when i go. Thank you for confirming my omnipotence.
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He has a stereo with a pit bull attached. That kind...
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Good lord, most of the pleasure of fly fishing is knowing that nobody knows where the hell I am. There's a standing rule at our house: if you haven't heard anything for three days, avenge my death.
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Thank you for this. I'm convinced. Will ask one for my upcoming birthday... if I make it that far. You know, all it takes is a bad hair day at this age. :-)
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As a recipient of the Spots (42 so far) on this 9th day of the trek, I gotta say it gives me great peace of mind and something to do as I mark his progress on the giant map on the wall. Older Bro is a meticulous planner to the anal degree and I have the code of what's going on if he sends multiple Spots from the same location, why he might be lingering when he should be moving and of course I know ... more when to call the Rangers in. I'm now awaiting the final Spot that he's back at the car. Highly recommend.
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Tom, I know the area a bit. Believe me he's cursing himself right now for not listening to his brother and bringing the 3wt. I actually bring my 2wt when i go.
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"After all, zombies don’t fly fish." Yet....
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Thanks Tom! Now I know EXACTLY how far away he is from the car. (BTW: what kind of stereo does he have?)
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I've been using a SPOT for about two years now. I usually fish alone but sometimes I'm accompanied by someone that I wouldn't be able to pull out of a tight spot on my own. The SPOT isn't perfect but it's another layer of safety that adds a little peace of mind about being in the near-backwoods. In my life I have been, well, irresponsible in keeping people who might need to find/rescue me informed ... more about where I'm fishing. I typically identify a pretty broad area and move about a lot which is all bad form when planning a trip to a zone where there are no phones of any kind and often no roads. The SPOT has solved that because I just check in when I arrive at a place and even if I'm disabled there's a record somewhere of where I was recently and that makes SAR guys a tad happier. Now, there's interesting psychological side-channel that the use of the device has created. Occasionally I go to exactly where I said I was going and it's right next to the road and I'll "forget" to check in. When I get home I get chastised. Not because someone was worried but because I left them out of the trip. It turns out the folks I send the messages to actually like checking out the area on the maps and vicariously exploring the places I go. Huh. Go figure. SPOT now has a full satellite phone available as part of their service. The plans and hardware are still a little pricey for what I need but it's actually approaching affordable to have a personal satellite phone. Also, Delorme and SPOT both have a device that anchors itself to a smartphone and allows custom text messages. The Delorme version is actually two-way so that it's possible to hold a text conversation with someone (although a really slow one: about 10 to 20 minutes round trip time).
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Ouch. Ancient, you say? But might I suggest that you need to have hair to have a bad hair day. Whippersnapper.
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Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that somebody might not be out to get you. NSA metadata on my spots aaaaaagggghhhhh Guess I'll have to move up high and like Col Kurtz and defend my Brookies I fish alone a lot and haven't felt the need for a beacon thingie yet. I take the smartphone but turn it off till I get back to the jeep
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My wife insisted on having one after hearing about being injured during a solo fishing trip and taking hours to climb out of a canyon in the middle of nowhere...her reason was "...at least we can find your body quickly...." Seriously, it has been great insurance when traveling in areas without cell phone or fishing with partners who might need emergency medical evacuation. Dropped my unit in a CA ... more steelhead river and had another fly fisher recover it miles downstream several days later in perfect shape.
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Older Bro is almost frighteningly old. Like mid 50s or something. Like anyone that ancient, he's basically one step away from something fatal. At that age, a bad hair day can do you in. The beauty of his SPOT is that it doesn't function as a smartphone or send texts. Think his is limited to an "I'm OK" message and a "Send lawyers, guns & money." So we know he's not wandering down the trail texting ... more from his smartphone or watching or something (not that there's anything wrong with that).
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I've been eyeing those SPOTS for a while now, thinking it might make Mary feel more comfortable when I'm off. But then I consider the whole "connectedness" issue and I balk. Define "out there" these days... Then again, what better way to torture your working friends? Zog like.
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