Trip Report: Little Cottonwood Canyon's Low North Ridge Hike and GPS session

Little Cottonwood Canyon's Low North Ridge Hike and GPS session
By Ray Daurelle
HIKE 03/02/2021 NTD+

This is an unusual hike. It starts on a newly purchased piece of land near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s north side. It has no trail up besides a web of animal trails.

I looked closely at this area on Google Earth and found I was able to draw a track up between the trees and bushes that would avoid all bushwacking - if you follow the track exactly.
So I turned this evening hike into a session on how to follow a GPS track. I billed it as being good for those with a cell phone, but no other GPS device.
I was absolutely delighted with the result of the first official session.

Six people registered and everyone treated it seriously.
Upon meeting at the trailhead, I saw they had all downloaded the suggested Gaia software to their cell phone, then took the track I sent via email, and imported that into Gaia.
So people that had never seen the area were able to thread us carefully through a big maze.
Then on the way down, the maze again looks mostly unfamiliar - so more excellent practice.

One thing this showed is that following a track, even under optimal conditions, is not as brain dead simple as it sounds. This exercise helped give us a practical feel for the strengths and “weaknesses” of using GPS tech.

I'm scheduling a repeat each second Tuesday evening through March and April, especially for after word is out (this article) that this terrain offers such an unusually good exercise in following a track.

The hillside is steep, but what takes us 30 minutes to get up as a hiking group, took us 65 minutes to get up as a class. So anyone concerned about the pace should know this one is worth taking slowly and we're happy to. First timers are welcome on any of these as well as repeaters. Dedicated GPS devices are also welcome. Or come along just for the nice hike.

People on the first of these did not seem completely confident by the end of the evening, even after having lead us successfully through a tight, winding labyrinth. It takes practice. I've built 3 distinct tracks to work with. So attending more than 1 of these can still offer more navigating challenge. And it's too big of a maze for a second time up to lose its mystery. But we’ll stay together, and the highway is always visible below.