I was going to review two new free smartphone apps from Colorado Parks and Wildlife today, but I will be reviewing only one, because I am having problems with the other.
Colorado's Trail Explorer." Subtitle: "We're mapping Colorado's trails."
They have a way go on that. Based on my trial, it works well in state parks. But standing on my front porch, I am within two miles of three or four marked US Forest Service trailheads, and none of them shows up on CoTrex. Yet every trail up at Lake Pueblo State Park is visible.
Colorado's state parks are popular, and it is good to get people out walking around. When I tested CoTrex at Trinidad State Park — which has good connectivity, since it is just outside the town of Trinidad — the app was more convenient in some ways than a paper brochure, but it did not give me the historical/ecological information that the park's trail brochures contained.
Cotrex lets you save routes (if you create an account—more on that below) and even set up a sort of "friends" network and other social mediumistic stuff, if you're into all that. You may complete “challenges” to earn badges.
You can also download your trail map for when you lose your data signal. (If you come to my neck of the San Isabel National Forest, even digital-trunked radios don't work well, not to mention cell phones.) But at that point, no device screen will show you as much as a paper topo map, unless you keep a MacBook Air in your day pack. Me, I like my iPhone SE because it fits in a shirt pocket, even inside its Otterbox fumble-finger protection case. But it is a way-too-small screen for map-viewing.
Pluses: Easy to use. If you have a data signal and GPS enabled, you can see your position on the trail and reassure your anxious hiking partner that you are not lost and that an important trail junction is just head. And it's free.
Minuses: Shows only a fraction of "Colorado’s unique trail experiences" at this time. The app designers invite uses to add them (otherwise known as do their work for them), which could lead to all kinds of confusion over trailheads, private property, seasonal trail-closures, etc. But the makers do promise to grow their database. Like any app, it encourages you to stare down at a screen when you should be looking around and orienting yourself.
I expect that CoTrex will help newbie hikers who are using urban and state parks systems primarily.
I also planned to review an app called CPW Fishing.
It is supposed to help you "visualize your trip and track your catches with CPW Fishing, the official fishing app of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. CPW Fishing can help you discover new fishing locations, learn new skills, stay on top of the latest regulations and journal your fishing experiences."
I downloaded it, created an account (see below), received a verification code in my email, typed in the code, hit "Go" — and it stalled. After looking at an "Authorizing . . . " screen for five minutes, with no way to restart the process, I just removed the app. (I emailed the "support" address, but no response yet.)
Still, it's out there, and maybe I can get it work later. Tell me your experience if you use it.
There is also a "Match a Hatch" app that I mean to try as well. My little iPhone should display invertebrates well enough.
CoTrex was created by a software firm called Natural Atlas, whereas CPW Fishing was created by Crestone Digital. Apparently they do not talk to each other — they are competitors, after all. Worse, no one at CPW is forcing them to talk to each other and to agree to make accounts interchangeable.
Right now, I have four CWP accounts:
1. For buying hunting and fishing licenses
2. For volunteer work
3. For CoTrex
4. (in theory) for CPW Fishing.
Wouldn't it be nice to have One Password to Rule Them?