MARQUETTE - Ahh, the great outdoors. A place to get away from your troubles, take a deep breath and be one with nature-or technology? Smartphones have countless outdoor applications from how to tie fishing knots to mapping hiking trails-even flashlight apps. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity is, chances are there's an app for it.
While blazing trail hikers can use a free app called EveryTrail to map their route and share it with others. Create an interactive trip map while you walk, bike, run, hike, drive, sail or ski. You can plot pictures that you take along the way and add commentary throughout your hike. Then share your adventures with friends by posting it to Facebook, Twitter or even directly to your blog.
Hikers sometimes like to bird watch or identify plant life or animal tracks. The iBird Explorer Backyard app is an interactive field guide that lets you search North American birds by color, shape, habitat and location. It will even play audio clips of the birds' song or call. The app MyNature Animal Tracks can help you find out which animal certain footprints belong to. One app, called Leafsnap, allows users to take a snapshot of a leaf with their phone and it instantly searches a library of leaf images by the Smithsonian Institution, helping identify which tree it came from. So far its database only covers trees in New York's Central Park and Washington's Rock Creek Park, but is gaining popularity quickly and is being expanded to cover more regions as it's developed.
Jess Laxo prepares for a canoe trip around Lake Superior in June, displaying a cellphone with an application for navigational information. (Journal file photo by Danielle Pemble)
Hunters and fishermen can use apps like Sportsman4Cast, which gives hunting and fishing forecasts. One called Buckulator helps hunters score, track and hunt whitetail deer.
There's even a Hunter's iJournal app where you can log all the data about your outing including temperature, GPS location and details of your hunt.
Camping is a popular fall activity, and with parks such as Van Riper State Park now offering wireless Internet, using applications on your smart phone while camping is becoming easier and more widespread.
There are many GPS and compass apps that can help you return to your camp in case you get turned around. Numerous flashlight applications can turn your phone into that much needed flashlight in the middle of the night.
One favorite camping pastime is sitting around the campfire and telling ghost stories. The camping equipment brand Coleman developed an app called Coleman Campfire Tales, which provides a series of scary stories divided into age groups for kids, teens and grownups. While you are reading the story, you can also play creepy sounds.
Another interesting one, which you may have to test for yourself, is ultrasonic "bug spray" apps that apparently emit high frequencies to keep pests away.
When taking your phone out in the wilderness with you, it is recommended have a protective case that can withstand the elements. You can purchase all-weather cases that protect your phone from dust, water, sweat, shock or scratching as well as waterproof floating boxes or bags for kayaking, canoeing or boating.
If you decide to embrace technology in the wilderness, explore some apps that interest you. Who knows, you might learn something. Or at least be able to find your way back to the car.
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256.