I recently downloaded an app on my Android phone that logs GPS coordinates as I’m traveling. I was a bit unsure how well it would work, but a few test drives proved that it’s quite capable, at least in areas where cell phone coverage is good. I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and go hiking in South Mountain Park quite often. Since the park is just south of the metro area, and one of the mountains is peppered with cell phone towers, coverage is very good there.
So I gave the phone a try, tracking my progress around a two and a half mile hike over relatively easy terrain. I then exported the data from the web-site where it is stored, converted it to KML format so that Google Earth could read it in, and plotted my path. The screenshot below shows the track I took, the elevation that was traversed, and has a number of hot-spots where I stopped to take a few photos. The latter elements were added manually, which was tedious, but for me at least, makes the plot more interesting.
I’ve tried a tracking myself a few times since the hike, and am fascinated by the possibilities. I will continue to track my hikes this spring, and I think I’ll also try tracking commute time and speed, both of which are also recorded. I’ve tried doing this in the past manually, but that often meant that I forgot to check my watch, resulting in very incomplete data. Using the phone, all I need to do is remember to turn tracking on; should be pretty easy.
As an alternative, I’ve added an interactive Google Earth interface below. You can control the view in the same manner as the Google Earth application.