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How to trace and save a GPS tracklog online
Particularly in the desert, these days aerial or satellite imagery from Google Maps and ESRI (Bing, etc – often better than Google) is so good you can spot passing vehicles and whether a road is sealed, a track or even a little used track. This is the sort of age-sensitive information you won’t always get from maps, be they digital or printed. When planning new off-road routes, I find tracing the probable route in advance helpful for all the obvious reasons. It also gives a good preview of the area and what features I might come across (mineral mines; climbs, gorges, junctions). Using Google satellite mapping services, tracklogs can be drawn, saved and exported in two ways: using Google Earth Pro – no Google account needed but maps won’t be automatically saved online. I’ve drawn tracklogs using this method in Moroccan hotel rooms prior to setting off along remote tracks (left), benefitting from the reassurance of knowing a track exists and where the junctions are. Fwiw, I do this all on a desktop computer or laptop. It may well be possible on a mouseless smartphone or tablet but would drive me nuts.
With a Google account you can save your routes on a Google ‘My Map‘. It can have as much detail (tracklogs and waypoints) as you like, but Google ‘My Maps‘ are limited to about 10 layers. Layers are a bit like folders (with infinite capacity) and sometimes you have to shift tracklogs or waypoints into a pre-existing layer to free up a new one. This map can be shared or exported but will be saved online and be viewable/editable wherever you have internet (unlikely in the desert).
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