Setting up Social Hiking for TGO Challenge [updated for 2017]

Last year, for the sixth year, Social Hiking had a group map running for Social Hiking users on the TGO Challenge (view the TGO Challenge 2016 group map). The map displayed the progress of several hikers live as they made their way from the west to east coast of Scotland.

This year we have been asked to provide the same service again for anyone who wishes to share their progress on the TGO Challenge. If you are new to Social Hiking but what to share your challenge, this post covers how to register, setup your location sources, link media accounts and create your map ready for your challenge. Although specifically for TGO Challengers, other users may find some of the sections useful.

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Last chance to get your place at the Social Hiking community weekend

‘Right in the very heart of Devon, Dartmoor is a landscape of stunning views, awe inspiring granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and rugged, wide open spaces.’

Visit Dartmoor’s description of the moor is perfect. Once you have visited, Dartmoor finds its place in a corner of your heart and never lets you go. From one day to the next she can change from being rugged, wild and a challenge to overcome, to suddenly being gentle and welcoming. Whatever the day brings, Dartmoor is always beautiful and unique.

Over the years we have encouraged many people to discover Dartmoor, and we think it is the perfect place for the first Social Hiking Community Weekend.  We are excited to have the sole use of a cozy self-catering bunkhouse with a log fire right on the moor on Saturday 22nd October.

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Virgin Money Giving Integration is back!

When I was first asked to integrate Virgin Money Giving with Social Hiking to match the existing JustGiving integration (quite a few years ago now) I hit a fairly major stumbling block. Virgin Money Giving, a fairly new site at the time, did not have an official API (Application Programming Interface – the magic that allows sites to integrate with each other). Instead I had to use an unofficial setup someone had knocked together which created the data I needed from the actual web pages on Virgin Money Giving. Roll forward a few years and this ‘bodge’ broke horribly with subsequent updates to Virgin’s website. The good news however is that they have also released an official API… so…. after a surprising amount of development time…. Virgin Money Giving integration is back!

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Updates to peak bagging feature: notifications, more peaks, manually add missed peaks or remove bagged peaks

Screenshot of manage bagged peaks page

Automatic peak bagging is one of the most popular features of Social Hiking. Originally based on a concept from Steven Horner (@stevenhorner), the basic idea is simple – as you share your position (either live or from a gpx file upload), Social Hiking compares each location to a database of peaks (mountains and hills) to see if you were on the top, and rewards you accordingly with a special icon and the kudos of having bagged the peak.

Over the years, especially the last year, there have been quite a few improvements to automatic peak bagging –

  • support for other geographical  features, especially passes (often more relevant than mountains to hikers in places like The Alps for example) was added
  • a peaks page was added to let you browse all the peaks in the database on a map and view league tables of the most popular peaks and the top peak baggers (by country and type of peak)
  • each peak has it’s own page, so you can browse routes to a specific peak and get in touch with the people who have bagged it the most
  • you can browse a list of peaks bagged by a specific user in chronological order [if the user is a supporter]
  • if you are logged in, peaks you have bagged are marked in red throughout the site

Over the last month, a further set of updates have been rolled out……

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Setting up Social Hiking for the TGO Challenge 2014

Last year, for the third year, Social Hiking had a group map running for Social Hiking users on the TGO Challenge (view the unofficial TGO Challenge 2013 group map). The map displayed the progress of flintyrich, volpi, nickbramhll, aussie_mike and viffer98 live as they made their way from the west to east coast of Scotland.

I know there are several users who are on the challenge this year so, ‘back by popular demand’, there is an unofficial TGO Challenge 2014 group map. If you are new to Social Hiking but what to share your challenge, this post covers how to register, setup your location sources, link media accounts and create your map ready for your challenge. Although specifically for TGO Challengers, other users may find some of the sections useful.

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Social Hiking in Trail Magazine this month!

Social Hiking article in Trail Magazine

Other than the generous support from some of our users, Social Hiking is otherwise not funded. This means there is no money to hire marketing or PR agencies (or in fact for much marketing at all), so it is always a lovely surprise when the outdoor press mention or feature Social Hiking in articles.

This month, Social Hiking is featured in the highlights section of the March 2014 edition of Trail Magazaine – ‘Take a Social Hike’

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An example of using Social Hiking whilst on a hike

Setting up Social Hiking can, for some people, be a frustrating experience – there are quite a few steps to allow Social Hiking to be able to talk to the plethora of media and location services supported before you get going (some easier than others!) – but what happens once everything is all set up and you have successfully shared your first map?

As a lot of my focus is on helping guide new users through the set up process, ‘graduates’ of that process are left to discover, thankfully with the help of the wonderful Social Hiking community (who are amazing at welcoming new users and sharing their knowledge), some of the more advanced ‘power’ features and to work out how best to share their adventures.

What I thought might be useful to these ‘graduates’ is an insight into how other people use Social Hiking, not just the final map, but the process of creating the map. So, on a recent hike with Rich (@FlintyRich), I recorded a series of mini-podcasts (they are only a few minutes each) describing how I use Social Hiking during, and after, a hike. This is not THE way, just MY way – the site can be used in many different ways depending on your personal preference. It would be brilliant if other users would be willing to share with the community how they use Social Hiking for their outdoor adventures (it does not have to be in audio form!)

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