How to use this site to plan your Idaho Boundary Trail Hike:
1) Download the GPX files & the transparencies if you have an older GPS like the Garmin 60Cx
2) Open and unzip the files
3) Read the directions below.
Read about the hike. If you want to try it, read the instructions below.
If you have a Garmin GPS:
1. You need a GPS with a screen that shows a map. Yeti and Mike use 60Cx, which like most Garmin GPS units can only store 20 tracks of 500 points. That isn’t enough to do any kind of long hike. The Idaho Border Trail has 24 main tracks and 28 alternates. The longest track contains 18,203 points. While Garmin has made some newer GPS devices with increased track point limits, we have not heard of any that can handle a track of 18,203 points.* (Don’t worry, there is a workaround.) The newer Garmin’s like the 64S can handle 10.000 points & 200 tracks plus 2000 waypoints. We now split the longer tracks into two tracks so all the tracks will now fit. Use the transparencies for the older units.
2. You will need Mapsource a Garmin mapping program, so you can plan your hike on a computer at home and load maps and the track into your GPS. This program may have come with your GPS. If not, you can purchase the program from Garmin, or download it from various sources.
3. You will also need maps from Garmin (or your own software): You can use the 100K maps, which are OK, or 24K, which are more accurate. (Some GPS units come with 100K maps already installed.) If you choose 24K, you will need three maps, North Central, West, and Southwest to cover the entire IBT hike. Link to Garmin map page
4. Download IBT_GPX_Files.zip Unzip, and you will have all the tracks and waypoints for the IBT.
5. Open the files in Mapsource (OR Topo or other software) and you can see the Idaho Boundary Trail on your computer screen.
6. Transfer the waypoints using the cable that came with your GPS. Open the waypoints file, and connect your GPS to your computer. Click “Transfer,” then “Send to Device,” and check only the waypoints box.
7. If your GPS doesn’t have the ability to store long tracks (and it probably does not), download IBT Transparencies Zip File Unzip, open it, and it will install the transparencies into Mapsource. Your computer and your antivirus program may complain, but the file is safe. This ONLY works on Garmin software & GPS units. Open Mapsource, click on “view” then “show toolbars”, and make sure “view” is checked. A small window will open at the top left of your screen, showing what maps are installed. You can find the transparencies there, because Mapsource recognizes them as maps.
8. Next step is to make a mapset to install in your GPS. In the map window, click on Topo 100K, if that’s what you want to use on the hike. (If you have the 24K maps, it works the same way.) In the map scale window, select “100 miles”. Using the “hand” tool, center the state of Idaho. Go to “tools” and select “map.” The cursor turns into a yellow square. Hold down the left mouse button and select maps that cover the entire state, plus a generous margin around the border, because the Idaho Boundary Trail winds back and forth into all the adjacent states (but not Canada). Go back to the map window and select the main tracks map (IBT_Main) and the alternate tracks map (IBT_Alt) you just installed. (Note that you can’t see the tracks unless your map scale is set to 30 miles or less.) Using the map tool, select both of them. Now your IBT mapset is complete. Go to the map tab at the left side of your screen, and see a list of all the maps you selected. At the bottom, don’t select “Include Route Calculation Data”. Click on “Map Set Name,” then deselect “Auto name the map set”. Highlight the map names in the little window, and rename it to anything you want, like: IBT 100K.
9. Now transfer all those maps to the removable chip in your GPS. Take the GPS micro SD card out, and put it in a memory card reader, plug it into a USB port in your computer. In Mapsource, then click on “transfer” and “send to device”. A window will open, and you can select the port with the memory card reader, and click “send.” It will take a while. You can also do this without taking the micro SD card out of your GPS by using the cable that came with the GPS, but it takes a lot longer to transfer all the maps that way.
10. You are ready to go! Turn on your GPS, and you will have all the maps installed, along with the transparencies that show the IBT. On the map screen, you can push the menu button, then scroll to “setup map”, enter, then scroll to IBT alternate or IBT main, and select or uncheck each one. If it isn’t checked, you won’t see it. I like to see only the main track, then when I get to a waypoint that notifies me of the start of an alternate, I can decide whether I want to continue on the main track or to hike the alternate. If I want to follow the alternate, I just check the alternate and deselect the main, so the map is less cluttered. Yeti never deselects the “Main” track since he likes to see when it re-joins. Yeti does deselect the alternate map when not needed.
*To the best of our knowledge, even the newest Garmin GPS devices do not have the ability to store very long tracks, like te Idaho Boundary Trail, where many tracks are over 10000 points. If you are planning to buy a GPS, don’t be swayed by the ability to store long tracks, because some devices, like Oregon, with a 10000 track point limit, have a touch-screen that can be a problem in the field, hard to see in the sun, prone to accidental commands while in your pocket, and less responsive in the cold and wet. This is one reason Yeti and Mike chose the “old” 60Cx for our long hikes, even though it has a track length limitation. By the way, Garmin terminology is very confusing regarding tracks. When you record a track, it’s limited to 10,000 points. But to install tracks directly into most Garmins you are limited to 20 tracks of 500 points each which is the 10,000 point limit. Why Garmin (and others) are still doing this is beyond me. They could easily re-write there software to use the external card and make it unlimited like smart phones do.
If you have a GPS made by a manufacturer other than Garmin:
1. Download the GPX files, and determine if your device has the capacity to store that amount of track information. If so, you are lucky; just load the tracks and waypoints.
If your device doesn’t have sufficient capacity, you will need to load a transparency, which is a transparent map overlay that allows you to see the map on your GPS and the Idaho Boundary Trail as a red line superimposed on the map. The transparency gets around GPS limitations on track numbers. If you know how to make a transparency and load it into your GPS, go for it. If you don’t know how to make a transparency, contact Yeti at firstname.lastname@example.org for help on making a transparency for your GPS.
If you have a smartphone, and will be using it as a GPS:
If you are using an Android Smart Phone GPS program such as Backcountry Navigator (which Yeti uses as a backup GPS) there is no limitation on track or waypoints, so you can use the GPX files directly. We don’t know if any IPhone GPS software works. The big problem with using a smartphone as a GPS is that it uses batteries like I eat peanuts. Yeti turns GPS tracking on only when there is a question, but otherwise leaves it off, with the phone in airplane mode or entirely off. For some reason, the GPS tracking in a smartphone uses a huge amount of battery power. Not being able to swap batteries seems like a huge issue on a long hike where a GPS is really needed.