Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New "Trail" and Technology in National System

This isn't really about the Appalachian Trail, but it raises some interesting thoughts. The article is from "The Capitol" newspaper on, written by Andrew Bystrom, and published on 24 July 2007. It's titled "John Smith's trail brings history to everyone" and describes the new Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

As the article says,
"The trail is the first water-based National Trail in this country. It joins the ranks of many prominent land-based trails including the Appalachian Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail."
Well, okay. One of the things that makes for further thought is that
"Through Verizon Wireless and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the installation of cellphone accessible "smart buoys" has begun. The floating trail guides serve as historical, cultural, geographical and ecological interpretive sites."
You dial up the 877 number -- as you're floating in the area, I guess -- and the recording tells you what John Smith might have been seeing when he was there in 1608.

So ... can something like this be far behind for the Appalachian Trail? The antennae could be hidden up some tree and powered by a small solar panel. You could dial up the magic number when you're on the mountain top and the disembodied voice of a park ranger tells you something of the history and ecology of the area where you're standing.

Or, perhaps better than the phone thing, hikers pick up a very lightweight battery powered receiver where they get on the Trail and when they approach one of the information stations they automatically get the recording piped into their earphones. This would sort of be like the headphone sets people get in the larger museums these days.

With satellite technology, updates about trail conditions, hostel closings or openings, extreme weather forecasts, alerts, and so on could all be pushed to the solar-powered stations.

And for the white blaze fixated, a little RFID tag could record the passing of the hiker in order to update a database of who got where when during the hiking season.

It could be only a matter of time, folks! You heard it here first!!

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