Thursday February 28, 2013 | 01:57 PM

I saw a photo on Facebook with the quote, "There is no wifi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection." And since I appreciated the sentiment, I liked it.


Photo credit: www.facebook.com/sungazing1

One of my kids saw it on my Facebook timeline (the hazard of liking stuff and being "friends" with your teenagers is that they know what you're doing on that site, too) and reminded me that I do in fact use my smart phone in the woods.

I use a mapping app on my phone that tracks some of our outdoor adventures. The EveryTrail app records our path through the woods and if I take photos, it plots them on the map as well. It also offers information on how far we've traveled (a question that is inevitably asked during every hike I've ever taken with my kids). It also has an elevation gain tracker that is usually more humbling than not (the elevation does not always correlate with the sweat factor). But in the end the map gives the kids some nice bragging rights when we hit the summit of our big mountain hikes (like our Mt. Lafayette hike last fall).

Tracking speed is fun for the kids during the winter on our cross country skis. I recall a time we traveled down the same hill multiple times at Five Field Farms with my old GPS unit to see how fast we flew down those mountain trails. I believe 17 miles per hour is the record on our skinny cross country skis (our review of that trail is here), which is darn fast with my non-competitive skiers, particularly without a downhill edge on the skis.

The other day we tracked our cross country adventure with a friend at Riverside Golf Course in Portland (which doubles as some great groomed ski trails in the winter). We had an hour before dark so our plan was only to cover a couple of miles. The kids were pleased to hear that in 45 minutes we managed to cover 3.5 miles (which did correlate with the sweat factor). That was information I would not have known were it not for my smart phone.

 

Riverside XC Skiing


I also use my phone to geocache as well. The high-tech treasure hunt game requires an application that uses a GPS coordinate (that my phone turns into a compass to follow) to find hidden boxes in the woods.

So I guess I have a couple of uses for my phone that have nothing to do with talking but everything to do with fun outdoor adventures with my family.

Using these phone apps doesn't mean I don't respect the peace and quiet on the trail. Nor does it mean I talk on the phone while out there. I love the quiet of the woods. My kids do, too. But a little discreet use of technology offers many talking points with my kids later on that I (and the kids) really like.

We have a fun "scrapbook" of adventures with the kids on Everytrail.com and my older blog entries thanks to my smart phones (old and new). It's been a great way to record memories.

And with teenagers, it's nice to have visable proof that you can have fun with your family.

About the Author

Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.

On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.

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