Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SUV ATV Trails Near Las Vegas

I've spent the past several weeks entering all the waypoints for trails in the book "Great Basin SUV Trails, Vol 1 Southern Nevada."

I purchased the book several years ago because, even though it was written for SUV riders, it looked like it had trails which could be ridden by ATVs as well. Additionally, it has incredible descriptions of the geology and history of the Great Basin area.  Probably the best on the market. [For a free Google Earth offroad trail map of this route see: SUV-ATV Trails Near Las Vegas]

One of the authors, Roger Mitchell, is obviously a geologist or some such "rock-person" by trade and he shares more information than most normally want to know about the area of each ride. He is currently in a project to publish rides all over the Great Basin and now has 3 volumes.

As I said, I bought volume one several years ago, but found that, after trying to code the first couple of trails, it seemed too poorly organized as far as easy data extraction was concerned, and too daunting of a task. In addition, I was turned off by what seemed his condescending – well lets say "unenlightened" – approach to GPS coordinates. He bragged in his introduction about how he had "never used" those outfits in all his many years BUT "in deference to the younger generation brought up on high tech gadgetry" he was going to condescend and include some.

He actually apologized to those whom he sees as the readers of his book and asks: "forgive us, and just let your eyes breeze right across those silly numbers in parentheses." And, frankly, you can tell his heart wasn't in it because his GPS work is just plain sloppy, especially for a scientist.

However, the guy is no fool. He's extremely knowledgeable about the area and you can tell he has spent countless hours in the field – lately accompanied by his wife and co-author Loris. And, they're prolific - look at Amazon and be amazed at all the books he's authored.

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.”Elbert Hubbard
Back to my story, I found a new data entry program which makes the job a bit easier and have spent more than several hours programming some templates which combines Microsoft Excel, GPS Visualizer, CSS Stylesheets and J Edit macros all together so I could take the Mitchell's waypoint data and produce a Google Earth map. I've even had to communicate with the author of one of those programs in Oregon.

However, even with easier entry of waypoints, I still need to hand-draw the trails over satellite images in order to obtain the Google Earth Map because he doesn't feel the need to support a GPS track.  That's when I noticed all the errors.  Distances are never identical when you ride them so "turn left at the wash in 1 mile" is meaningless when there are three washes, all going left, within several hundred feet. Landmarks change from one ride to the next, and writing "turn left" when you really mean "right" doesn't help either.

That said, GPS units don't always plot where they should in mountainous terrain either (that's why I don't mention when several waypoints are "transposed").  Therefore the trails I've drawn, even though more explicit and with corrections, still need to be confirmed by riders with GPS units. How about it? There's got to be some of you Nevada readers who could help us out!

The offroad trail map available from the link at the top is for all the books' trails which are rides out of Las Vegas. There are eighteen going to what look like great destinations, many of which I've determined to ride to myself next season.

For example: Goodsprings, southwest of Vegas hosts the first saloon in Nevada, the Pioneer Saloon (coordinates are on the map). They have a web site (it's in the map too) which it states that they have family/group barbecue areas (with equipment) for use, by reservation. They supply the fixin's and the facility. You bring your appetite and cook it just like you want it.

And, Goodsprings just happens to be centrally located to four or five of the trails in the book. That's definitely on the 'ol TODO list.

[As mentioned above, drawing the map tracks is a bit time consuming owing to feeling the need to verify all the directions.  The books are a good read because they are phenomenal for their information about the incredibly interesting trails – these maps are indispensable when you ride the trail for their enhanced clarity and accuracy. The addition of rides out of Boulder City, Searchlight, Laughlin, Pahrump and Beatty are in work even as we speak. They will be expanded to the same file so check back.]

Learn A Little More

The Great Basin SUV Trails book by Roger and Loris Mitchell is an incredibly informative and useful book for use on the trail.  It is to geology and history what Native Plants Of Southern Nevada by David Rhode is to botany and Native American lore.  Both have the ability to enhance any ride through the Great Basin and Mojave Desert.  If you are planning to purchase either one, I would appreciate it if you would do so through clicking these links. It will not cost you any more for doing so but I will receive a few cents advertising fee, which can help keep the web and blog operating and free. Thanks!


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