Timed Hiking Trails – Technology for Competitive Hikers


Technology for Competitive Hikers

Whistler Blackcomb in Whistler BC, Canada began using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) technology last  winter.  Skiers  buy a pass that includes an antenna and their identifying information.  As they approach a chair lift, the gate reads the card and automatically opens to allow access.

The same technology has created a new angle for hikers with a competitive spirit.  Whistler is offering a “360 Pass” that is good through the summer.  The card includes a antenna and an RFID circuit just like skiers used last winter.   The new system is currently being installed.  It will have posts along hiking trials that read the 360 Pass and register the name of the hiker and the time they passed the post.  That information is automatically passed to a  website where hikers can compare their times to other hikers.  Reno McSkimming, Whistler’s vice-president of business development, told CBC News: “You’ll pass by the gate, a green light will go on so you’ll know that you’re being recorded, and away you go.”

A similar system is already operational at Grouse Grind Maintain Trail in Vancouver BC.  The popular Grind Timer Card ($20) requires hikers to scan the card at the bottom of the mountain and again at the top.  The hiking time appears on a website where you can see how you compare to other hikers.

While this is an interesting use of the technology and is certainly great if your focus is fitness, many of us would rather explore and enjoy the journey and all that can be found along the trail.

What do you think?  Are you a competitive hiker or an explorer? Or, perhaps you have found a way to do both at once.

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