Inspiration

As a former section hiker, planning for where you will next be able to fill up water is of the utmost importance. Stretches of up to 30 miles often exist between reliable water stores! Knowing where the next water source is and the latest reports of that water source will help inform PCT hikers on the most precious resource of all - water!

What it does

Using a through-hiker's GPS location, he/she will be able to obtain a list of the known water sources that lie ahead or behind on the trail. Crowd-sourced and date-stamped notes on each give an account of the reliability of finding water at the noted location.

How we built it

  • Imported PCTA trail geodatabase
  • scraped water data from water report
  • we massaged these sources and created a hosted feature service which we then consumed in a web map.
  • built Swift native iOS App to consume the webmap.

The app relies on a few things:

  • user's location,
  • data connection (since offline was not able to be implemented in time)
  • input from the user on whether his/her is hiking northbound or southbound along the trail

Challenges we ran into

  • Linear referencing: A) equivalent tools in Pro do not work as they do in ArcMap. This forced data prep to be split between two applications. B) Presumably due to rise/run not being accounted for, mile marker positions did not always match up a water point with its exact location along the trail.
  • Some of our API methods don't fully wrap all params of the equivalent REST API call (finding alternate ways of passing necessary info was time consuming and often led to dead ends).
  • Human brains do not operate as efficiently late at night (the official science is still out on this one, but we're fairly certain we can prove this with our source code).
  • Incomplete dataset of water sources (much of Central California was missing).
  • Python scripting is dirty.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Two person team! (with a little help from Sandie Peters, thanks Sandie.)
  • Generating map content (python scripting of excel sheets) took only marginal amount of time.
  • Fully working iOS app in 28 hours

What we learned

  • Date strings contained in the excel file were converted in ArcGIS, though some of these strings contained a dash "-" and thus ArcGIS pro treated the column like a General string. We needed to find a way to convert that string back to a date.
  • There are better ways and there are worse ways to find the nearest coordinate in a geometry (line, in our case) .. we chose the worse way before discovering a better way.

What's next for PCT Guide

  • Offline capabilities - allow hiker to take a section of the trail map offline.
  • Sync capabilities - give user permissions to add his/her own water source notes and regularly re-sync for the benefit of other through-hikers.
  • Picture attachments - a visual reference of the water site
  • Other points of interest - (campsites, trail angels, etc.)
  • Improved routing using closest facility task

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