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Gpx Blog #5007
Back To Discussion List Written: 2018.02.15 by: Robin Tivy

This discussion (blog) will be where I post major updates regarding gpx files. The main audience will be people who are interested in the various gpx functions of bivouac. When I make a new posting, subscribers to this discussion will receive an alert. That way you won't miss important changes. I think lots of people miss the postings in "What's New".

As you know, gpx files are the means by which data can be transferred from Bivouac to your GPS, so you can use it offline. In most cases, the gpx files are generated from the bivouac database. There are numerous links that cause gpx files to be downloaded. If you click these links by browsing to Bivouac directly on your phone, you can "open" them directly in your GPS App. Your phone will show whatever apps you have that can open gpx files.

If you click the links on your computer browser, again you may be asked if you want to "open" the file or save it. Typically saved files will go into the downloads folder on your computer. You can then "Import" the files into your Garmin GPS or your smart phone GPS app. I'm assuming that most readers of this discussion already know these things, if not, see the GPS instructions under the Help link on the front page.

Here is a summary of the main Gpx file links:

  1. Trip Page - main Gpx
     This is currently the most heavily used link. It generates a gpx for a single trip report. On the trip report page are two big "GPX" and "KML" links. It will contain both the labelled points plus any "control points" the author has entered. These days, the bivouac waypoints have usually been created by the author by tracing out the route using GMap "Draw and Save". In some reports, the waypoints have been created by tracing the line from a "raw "raw" gpx file (see below). In other cases, the author has simply marked his route on GMap, and saved the points.

  2. Trip Page - Raw Gpx
     This link only appears on certain trip reports where the author has uploaded a raw gpx file. Such a file will have many more points than the finished gpx file.

  3. Road Page
     On every road/trail page are links similar to those on the Trip page. Use these to download a single road or trail onto your GPS. The source of these gpx files are the waypoints in the road record. The source of these points may be from tracing a Gpx file from a GPS, or by digitizing the road by looking at satellite view. The "Waypoint Changes" section of the road page describes the source of the waypoints. See Ashlu

  4. Radius around Point (Mountain page, town page)
     On every mountain page is a link titled "Gpx Form" and Gpx20. These links generate gpx files that contain dozens of separate tracks and waypoints. For example, all the trails within 10 km of Rainbow mountain. This might have contains 20 or 30 trails, 50 peaks, 3 huts, etc. All of these objects then appear on your GPS map. I call this an "overlay". These "overlays" are most useful if you are using a cell phone because the screen is much bigger. Many people don't know about this feature, but I use it on every trip I do. I do the whole thing on my phone: just browse to the peak, then "open" the gpx file in Backcountry Navigator.

  5. Embedded Descriptions
     In the above Gpx Form links, one of the choices is "Descriptions". If you turn this on, it embeds the mountain, road, hut and campground descriptions right into your gpx file. This turns your smartphone into a map driven guidebook. You can click on items on your GPS map and see descriptions of them. Even when you are offline - it is all cached on your phone. This is mainly aimed at smartphone apps like Backcountry Navigator.
  6. Area page overlay
     On every area page is now a new "gpx" link. It starts off with a preview of what would be in the gpx file, then you change the "mode" to "gpx" and it generates the file. It is similar to the above, except rather than the area being bounded by a point and radius, it is bounded by the polygon boundaries. Eg: Everything within Tetrahedron Provincial Park. This gpx link starts out by giving you a "preview" of what information would be in the file. Adjust the form parameters, then switch the mode to "gpx" and have a look on your gps.


#6234 - 2018.04.05 Robin Tivy - Use of Gpx files on California trip
We used the Bivouac gpx overlay files extensively on my recent California road trip. I learned a few things on that trip. Mastering your GPS seems to take numerous trips, and each time you learn something new. Some of the techniques are general GPS tricks, and others specific to gpx overlays. I'm assuming you are generally familiar with the basic concept of downloading background maps and also gpx overlays into a smart phone GPS App.

Both Betsy and I had Samsung Galaxy S4 phones on the trip. These are android phones. The two GPS apps we most heavily used were Backcountry Navigator (BCN), and OSMAnd. "OSMAnd" stands for "Open Street Map - Android). Both apps allow you to see your position on topo maps while you are offline, either driving or in the backcountry. OSMAnd is a vector format data, and BCN is a raster format. Vector is much more compact, but lacks the color and artwork of the scanned raster maps. With Osmand, we could download the entire state of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. This was our main navigation tool when driving. There is both a free version of OSMAnd and a paid version. I was just running the free version, but Betsy paid $12 for the "Pro" version. The pro version has faint contour lines, and allows more than 7 countries or states. She had already used up her free choices in Europe.

With BCN, it is only practical to download the maps for specific trip areas such as 50 km radius. The maps I cached were the CalTopo maps, identical to Bivouac GMap. The contour lines on these maps are much easier to see than the faint lines on OSMAnd Pro. For most areas, I also downloaded the "Open Cycle Map" tiles, so I could see the trails and small roads. (Don't confuse these tiles with the OSMAnd application itself, which I also had. The reason for OSMAnd tiles in BCN was so I could see the OSM trail data while flip back and forth between the two sets of tiles.

I downloaded the tiles for 50 km radius around each area we intended to hike. This tended to be done via Wi-Fi at coffee shops or people's houses, since we never really knew in advance where we were going to hike.

I soon discovered that when downloading, it pays to download in several smaller pieces. I found the ideal size to be 5000 tiles which is 52 Megabytes. It gives you an estimate before you start the download, and if the estimate was some huge number, I would just cancel and respecify a smaller area.

This was also the first trip I used separate Backcountry Navigator "Trip Databases" for each hike. These allowed me to load a separate little gpx overlay from Bivouac for each hike. It also allowed me to have small manageable gpx overlays for each hike. For example, to prepare for the ski tour we did near Bend, Oregon, I created a separate Trip Database. Then I browsed the Bivouac website on my phone and looked up "Bend". Then I used the GpxForm link and selected all the mountains, roads and so on within 50 km radius.

Lost Coast Area
  Before we left Vancouver, I used Bivouac GMap to find all the relevant campsites in Northwestern California along the roads we might use. They appear on the google maps if you zoom in far enough. Once I had them in Bivouac, I could upload a gpx file from Bivouac to my phone with 200 km radius, which showed all the campgrounds and key roads. This really saved us the night we were retreating from King Peak (Saddle mountain). It was getting dark, and we didn't know what route we were going to take on the backroads, or where the campsites were located. So I pulled out my phone, and zoomed way out, and all the choices were clearly visible. This validated all the effort I had been putting into these gpx overlays for the past year.

I also discovered the usefulness of displaying the "town" names, since this was the means of discussing it with others. Every little junction down there has a "town" name, even though many of the towns are only 1 house.

Driving to Donner Pass: Throughout the drive we used the altimeter feature of OSMAnd. This is an option you can turn on, such that the elevation shows up continuously in the upper left corner. It can sometimes be out by up to 200 feet. We had both phones going simultaneously.

Mount Tumalo: (Near Bend, Oregon)
 While in a motel in Bend, I downloaded all the background tiles and also gpx files for our excursion to Tumalo. First I downloaded the 1:24K map for a 25 km radius around Mount Bachelor and Tumalo. I then did the same for OSMAnd tiles. I put all the background maps into the main tile cache. I suppose I could have used a separate map package so I could delete the whole package when I got home. (See Standard GPS for discussion of this).

All the background maps are in the same map cache. On this trip, we were not on any trail, and thus used backcountry navigator to plan our route so as to avoid the cliffs.

We found that the OSMAnd contours were useless because you couldn't see them, but could clearly see the contours on the USGS 1:24K maps in Backcountry Navigator.

#6223 - 2018.02.22 Robin Tivy - New Discussion about Custom Gpx Files
Today, I created a separate discussion specifically about creating custom Gpx Files. What I mean by "custom gpx files" are files that you create or edit using a text editor. I wanted to keep this discussion separate from the current more general Gpx Blog. Here is a link to the new discussion Custom Gpx Files. If you are interested in that, then subscribe to it as well.

#6219 - 2018.02.19 Winifred Swatschek - Raw GPX Files
I am eager to try this out. I have many saved tracks that I would like to share and Bivouac seems to be the best place to do so.

#6209 - 2018.02.17 Zoran Vasic - Raw Gpx Database
Robin, I believe what you offered, will make a great difference and could attract new members. This will be enormous leap forward in Bivouac!

All depends on contribution of our excellent members. Database of Raw Gpx files will grow quickly.

Older and most active contributors will keep working hard entering trips. They love to contribute to Bivouac and they will continue. You are great example, Klaus is another and there are many great mountaineers who like to share and make difference.

Having Raw Gpx downloads available, will enable to quickly pick trip on Friday night based on weather forecast in area of interest.

#6206 - 2018.02.17 Robin Tivy - New Raw Gpx Database
Today I added a new feature whereby you can upload raw gpx files onto bivouac to share with other members. One use of this feature might be to make lightweight trip reports. Or just to share some gpx file with others. Right now the gpx files are not indexed, there is just one big list and you can view or download ones you find interesting. It will also handle kml and kmz files, so you can create projects in Google earth and upload them. The main link to the database is on the home page with the title Gpx.

I would really like to hear from anybody who uses this feature, because I'm still trying to decide how it should work. I want to keep it simple. The primary motivation is to simplify the Waypoint Working Files, not to create a parallel set of trip reports. I don't want people to forget that they can also download gpx files for any trip report, trail or road. at present these raw gpx files are not indexed by location. You find them by looking through the list, with the newest files first. They do not show up in What's new.

Please read my help document titled 'Gpx Database' which describes the whole system.

#6204 - 2018.02.16 Zoran Vasic - GPX Raw files
I was hoping I would get more Raw GPX files and expected that when I joined Bivouac. This files can be very valuable to load to GPS unit and ski, hike or bike.

It is easy for people who have GPS unit already and have file on computer saved. I recently uploaded my Gpx RAW file and started working on trip post but gave up. it is time consuming and i am busy at work.

I wish posts can be made with small blurb, few pictures and Raw GPX to share.

In addition, is it possible to filter trips WITH Gpx Raw Files using search engine on Bivouac?

I found one:

The Secret Trails of Mount Seymour from my dear friend Klaus.