Using Google Earth Pro to Create Off-Road GPS Tracks

I’ve been playing around with Google Earth Pro over the weekend. It let’s you sketch a track using imagery from Google Maps and then export it to a KML file. You can then use an appropriate phone to app to navigate using the track. This is specially helpful when Google Maps doesn’t have roads to navigate on or when you want to create a track by hand, similar to free-hand sketching on a paper map.

To see how well this works, I created a GPS track from Hanle to Demchok passing through Photi La and Umling La in south-east corner of Ladakh. Umlng La (19,300 ft) has been in the news for the wrong reasons, which I why I guess its not listed on Google Maps. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has built a road passing through Umling La which ends at Demchok, a village that was split between India and China as a result of the 1962 war. But this road isn’t on the map either.

Using the satellite imagery, I was able to sketch a track. The nice thing about Google Earth Pro is that it has imagery of many dates. This was very helpful because I could use the summer imagery to figure out the road build by the BRO. The snow in the winter imagery had completely covered the road at higher altitudes.

The only way to test my GPS track would be to actually go to Hanle and start navigating towards Demchok. It’s possible to get Inner Line Permits to visit Hanle. But at the moment its impossible to get permits to go to Photi La, Umling La and Demchok.

Maybe I’ll add this to my bucket list. 😬