On the sunny but chilly afternoon of January 9, 2023, I went on a hike on the Flanners Beach campground trail in Croatan National Forest overlooking the Neuse River. Since moving to New Bern near the coast last year, most of my outdoor activities have been tennis, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and camping. Today's trip was my first hike since the move.
The hike through the forest was pleasant and fairly short. Of course, it was completely flat. Hiking, camping, and backpacking near the coast is feasible, but cannot compare to the much higher quality of trails, scenic views, freshwater springs, and campsites in the mountains where I was raised and spent 70 years recreating. The coast makes up for this deficiency by offering 10 times more opportunities to canoe and kayak in creeks, rivers, estuaries, swamps, sounds, and sea grass beds.
For many years I have owned several generations of handheld GPS's to navigate in the wilderness. My current model is a Garmin Montana 700i, which is packed with so many powerful features that it would take me many pages to describe. Among other things, it will provide your location by accessing satellites where there is no cell phone signal. You can send live, real-time SOS messages to official government rescue agencies. And, you can even exchange texts with family and friends using their cell phones. After about of year of non-use, today I pulled it out of its padded fleece case and got some good use with it.
But the big news is that for several years I have researched and compared many iPhone app's which provide trail information and navigation assistance. Today was the first time that I actually used one. I had read many good things, and a few bad things, about All Trails. I put it to the test and was greatly satisfied to see that it worked wonderfully. The icons and map features were easier to see on the screen than the Montana; it was intuitive and user-friendly. It clearly showed me which way to go at several forks that were not marked on the ground, It was astoundingly accurate. I could see on the map if I strayed off the trail as little as 5 feet. Best of all, you can program a route on the app. Reassuringly, if you miss a turn or go some other way wrong, it posts a warning message.