Help! (Ultimate GPS Shield Issue)

I ran through the direct connection setup to verify that everything was working okay, and it was as simple as following the instructions.
I moved on to try the next lesson

and got this ambiguous avrdude error:

...All I am finding on Google is people who are having trouble getting started with their boards, but it really seems to me as though something in this code or the jumpering it calls for has caused the connection issue. I set up everything per the example directions:

Is there any likelihood that having jumpered Transmit (TX) to Digital Pin 8 and Receive (RX) to Digital Pin 7 could damage my board? I can't even upload any of the old code that I had working fine before!

As I am sure is always the case when one is fearing for the well being of their beloved Arduino, any assistance with this debacle would be greatly appreciated.

I am uploading again. Still no luck getting the leo echo to work, but the board is okay. Although I hate fixing a bug and not knowing how. I had disconnected / reconnected before posting, as well as all the base line trouble shooting I could think of. I tried switching from direct to soft and back, woo woo woo, but to no avail. I just kept trying random things and eventually I got a clean upload. So my issue is less urgent, but still of course I would like to get a soft connect to the shield. Thanks guys!

[Edit: And I'm nervous to try jumping those transmit and receive lines again, is this a pretty safe connection to make?]

Okay, I think I have solved my own problem. I had the shield connected to the UNO with stacking headers. The instructions state that I should be connecting the TX and RX from the shield to D I/O 7 & 8. I believe what I did was connect the TX and RX from the UNO itself right back into itself at the Digital Pins. I have now changed the wiring to this orientation, but still am not seeing anything readable in the Serial Monitor

It’s updating in the Serial Monitor at the same rate it had with the Direct Serial Connection (a new message @ apx 1Hz), but the messages are no longer starting new lines, and so I am getting a massive string of illegible characters all concentrated on the first line.
…I hope it’s not bad etiquette to keep updating so quickly…

In the setup code, here it says that the initial baud rate doesn't matter. Out of desperation and grasping at straws, I tried changing it to match the second baud rate. Turns out, it does matter. This has resolved my issue, I am now tracking and communicating through Soft Serial.

From what I saw in my searching, no one has ever struggled enough with this to post about it, but hopefully if it ever does become an issue, this will be able to help someone. (Should it have been common sense to change that? If so, why did the initial code start out with two different baud rates and state that the first doesn't matter!?)

What the comments are implying is that the baud rate on serial can be whatever you like, but the GPS likely is preset to a particular baud rate which you will need to match on myserial.

What's left unsaid though is that whatever baud rate you pick for serial, you'll have to pick the same one in the IDE's serial monitor, otherwise you'll get what looks like garbage. I suspect that you left yours set to 9600 so only when you changed the code to match that did you get a readable result.