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Gpx File 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. A gpx file is the way in which you transfer information to and from your GPS unit. See also the general discussion General GPS Techniques. In addition to using gpx files to get info OFF your gps, Bivouac has several major functions to generate gpx files to put ONTO your gps. Both those subjects will be discussed here. 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".


#6264 - 2018.05.25 Robin Tivy - Parsing GPX files into Bivouac Wayponts
As you may know, the normal way to make Bivouac waypoints from a gpx file is to upload the gpx file, then trace it with GMap "Draw and Save". This allows you to do a high quality job and label key points.

However, you can also simply translate your Gpx file into bivouac waypoints using the two Bivouac Gpx Parser Utilities. You just open the gpx file in a text editor such as notepad, and paste the contents into the parser. There are two parsers on your Author's menu:

  1. Gpx Wp Parser
  2. Gpx Track Parser

The first utility parses a set of individual waypoints, and the second parses a gpx file that contains a track log. I just used both of them for two different projects.

  1. Waypoint Parser
     Cut and paste the complete gpx file containing a series of waypoints. Eg: On Betsy's 2 week Edziza trip, she marked a hundred or so wayponts, some with descriptions using the Backcountry Navigator GPS app on her Samsung phone. When she got back, we exported them all, and parsed it into a set of Bivouac waypoints.

  2. Track Parser
     When using the track parser, I first of all thinned the wayponts using the GPS Track Editor described in my previous blog entry. I had originally collected the points every 20m and I thinned it to 50m.

#6261 - 2018.05.22 Robin Tivy - I found a good Gps Track Editor
I finally found a good visual Gps track editor program. It is called GPS Track Editor. Many times I forget to turn off my track logging on my GPS when I finish a hike. So when I finally save my file, it contains a big section of track going down the highway. What I want is a simple program that displays such a track log on a map so I can chop off the part I don't want.

I just fixed up a gpx file from my Saint Benedict trip. I split the gpx file using the program and saved the part I want with a new filename. I then can upload that new gpx file into my trip report as a "raw gpx" file.

I wrote some instructions for you on how to use the program. Such instructions are in the "External Resources" section of Bivouac. Here is a link: As you may know, "External Resources" is part of the Bivouac website that gives instructions on how to use certain programs in conjunction with the Bivouac website. You can look at all the other "External Resources" by clicking the Bivouac "Index" link, then search for "External Resources".

#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.