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    Default Discussing Maps

    I love maps of all sorts. When people discuss hiking the trail without them, I cringe. Yes, I know you can just follow the blazes, and probably not get lost. Thatís not the point. Good maps are a powerful tool to enrich your knowledge and appreciation of anyplace you travel. (The examples are too numerous to discuss here.)

    Many look at a map and might as well be looking at an abstract painting. Sadly this is partly because in many places there is little emphasis on map literacy in schools. For those of you who find maps mysterious and intimidating, please take the time and effort to educate yourselves. The rewards are rich and many.

    Electronic maps have a place, (I use them often), but the tiny screen sizes involved make it impossible to see close detail and the big picture (context) at the same time. This is a fatal flaw for many uses, particularly for long trails. Print maps remain the best choice.

    The AT is an interesting and challenging problem for mapping. A set of strip maps would cover about 1500 miles of corridor, given the many miles of twists and turns in the trailís 2200 or so miles. At 1 inch : 1 mile, (the least detailed that would be useful) thatís a 125 foot strip. A 1 foot width would, of course, cover a 12 mile wide corridor. Thatís a lot of map. Cut into 10 sections and throw in needed insets however, and you would have something very usable.

    Comments? Discussion?
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    All solid points, and well stated. I agree.

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    I also love maps. I travel by car with a real map..hate the little screen GPS enabled stuff. Hate it! I need the big picture. I have the northern half-set of the AT topo maps. They offer so much more information than the (also useful) elevation profiles of AWOL's pages..... will have both versions with me when I hike.

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    A smartphone screen might be small, but how about a 7 or 8 inch tablet?

    I love the DeLorme Gazeteers. Lately what I've been doing is taking a snapshot of the relevant page or pages, and then loading those images (at full resolution) onto my phone. All the details are visible, but of course, at full resolution, you can only see a tiny bit of the map at one time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    A smartphone screen might be small, but how about a 7 or 8 inch tablet?

    I love the DeLorme Gazeteers. Lately what I've been doing is taking a snapshot of the relevant page or pages, and then loading those images (at full resolution) onto my phone. All the details are visible, but of course, at full resolution, you can only see a tiny bit of the map at one time.
    Better than a smart phone, still, as you say above...
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Great topic. If you hike, you should love maps. I'm a former US Geological Survey map maker. I carry paper maps and a dedicated GPS when I hike. I love the simple pleasures of navigation and visualization that they make possible. Otherwise, we're trapped in a long green tunnel that just keeps going and going...
    I'm surprised how many AT hikers don't have maps! You can spot them, from their confused, fearful expressions because they really don't know what's around the next bend.

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    I cannot understand why anyone would want to hike anywhere without a map. They miss out on so much.

    The reliance of GPS is just one of several factors contributing to the dumbing down of America. My own kids cannot find their way across town without their Smartphones. I have failed them

    Yesterday I visited the map room of the Boston Public Library. A room full of maps from every time period. What's not to love!

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    The plain and simple truth is that dozens, if not scores of this year's thru-hikers are gonna have a little problem with their electronic gadgetry sooner or later. There will be places where they simply will not work. They will run out of juice or batteries. They will be lost, stolen, dropped on rocks, soaked in a stream. There will be all sorts of places where your toys will not be there to save you, no matter how many hundreds of dollars you spent on them or how cool you think they are. On days like that, a five dollar printed map might save your life, and that's a fact.

    Unfortunately, less than 5% of today's thru-hikers elect to carry them.

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    There was some map discussions taking place recently in this thread.

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/show...going-horrible

    Some people are using caltopo.com to print custom topo maps with an AT trace uploaded from GPS data. I am planning a section hike that will go from Compton Gap (where the AT first crosses Skyline Drive in SNP coming south from Front Royal) down to Big Meadows. This is 40 miles on the AT. I used the Caltopo print utility to make 8.5x 11 inch maps at 1:25,000 scale. It took 7 maps to cover this stretch. Not bad for a 40 mile hike but at this rate it would take about 385 maps of this type to cover the whole AT. One feature of the Caltopo printing tool is you can print in landscape or portrait format, so for sections that run more EW than NS, you can have the trail follow the long dimension of the paper and get more trail miles on one page. I don't think it lets you rotate North to print any direction you want. That would give you more flexibility. Here is one of the maps I generated. Thanks to Upstream for the GPX file.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/jxdef1xyow...ike07.pdf?dl=0

    One could get more trail miles per page by making two skinny maps and printing them side by side on the same sheet. This would only help for section of the trail that run relatively straight. Also, you don't get as much surrounding area, if that is a priority for you.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/jrsrqpnse9...test1.pdf?dl=0

    You could also get more miles per page by printing 1:50,000 scale. It depends how much detail you wan't. Here is an example of that.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/41dy8dx43n...test2.pdf?dl=0

    Once you get used to using the Caltopo print tool, you could generate whatever format works best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    One could get more trail miles per page by making two skinny maps and printing them side by side on the same sheet. This would only help for section of the trail that run relatively straight. Also, you don't get as much surrounding area, if that is a priority for you.
    I like having some notion of "surrounding area." On section hikes I often carried copies from relevant pages from DeLorme guides or from a decent state road map. That was when I had a functioning color inkjet printer, which is no longer the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    I love maps of all sorts. When people discuss hiking the trail without them, I cringe. Yes, I know you can just follow the blazes, and probably not get lost. That’s not the point. Good maps are a powerful tool to enrich your knowledge and appreciation of anyplace you travel. (The examples are too numerous to discuss here.)

    Many look at a map and might as well be looking at an abstract painting. Sadly this is partly because in many places there is little emphasis on map literacy in schools. For those of you who find maps mysterious and intimidating, please take the time and effort to educate yourselves. The rewards are rich and many.

    Electronic maps have a place, (I use them often), but the tiny screen sizes involved make it impossible to see close detail and the big picture (context) at the same time. This is a fatal flaw for many uses, particularly for long trails. Print maps remain the best choice.

    The AT is an interesting and challenging problem for mapping. A set of strip maps would cover about 1500 miles of corridor, given the many miles of twists and turns in the trail’s 2200 or so miles. At 1 inch : 1 mile, (the least detailed that would be useful) that’s a 125 foot strip. A 1 foot width would, of course, cover a 12 mile wide corridor. That’s a lot of map. Cut into 10 sections and throw in needed insets however, and you would have something very usable.

    Comments? Discussion?
    YUP! Excellent pts. Even though I'm a map person too, for two complete AT hikes, one a Thru-hike, on trail didn't feel the absolute need for maps every single mile. I do have the entire AT covered though the ATC maps at a typical around 1:62,500 scale.

    One can learn so much from maps having a possible wider deeper connection with and understanding of the one's experiences.


    Quote Originally Posted by MamaSmurf View Post
    ... I travel by car with a real map..hate the little screen GPS enabled stuff. I need the big picture. I have the northern half-set of the AT topo maps. They offer so much more information than the (also useful) elevation profiles of AWOL's pages..... ...
    YUP!

    [QUOTE=rafe;2056587]A smartphone screen might be small, but how about a 7 or 8 inch tablet?

    I love the DeLorme Gazeteers. Lately what I've been doing is taking a snapshot of the relevant page or pages, and then loading those images (at full resolution) onto my phone. All the details are visible, but of course, at full resolution, you can only see a tiny bit of the map at one time.[/QUOTE]

    The tablet for some hikes may be OK depending on how much of the big picture I want to see but for me too it doesn't offer as much as I want to glean in detail at once for most of the hikes I do. I'll also highlight what FB did as one of my main concerns.

    Benchmark Atlases are good too offering pros and cons in comparison to the Delorme Gazetteers. BA's are only produced for a handful of western /mid western states.

    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    ...I carry paper maps and a dedicated GPS when I hike. I love the simple pleasures of navigation and visualization that they make possible. Otherwise, we're trapped in a long green tunnel that just keeps going and going...

    I'm surprised how many AT hikers don't have maps! You can spot them, from their confused, fearful expressions because they really don't know what's around the next bend.
    There are other times I want GPS capability as a back-up like in winter across rather featureless flatter areas with a chance of whiteout situations, in deserts and heavily foliated jungle under the same rather featureless terrain or having less chance of overseeing the terrain.

    That confused fearful deer caught in the headlights far away look of some hikers without maps is IMO contributed to by folks habituated to having (needing?) an overload of information including "connectivity" via electronics usually obtained immediately. The unknown or unfamiliar is a vast new to be feared territory for many. They don't knowhow to operate in the unfamiliar much less embrace it. There will be mass confusion and mayhem in societies like the U.S. and much of the rest of the world should digital electrical "connectivity" be impaired or fail.

    Quote Originally Posted by imscotty View Post
    I cannot understand why anyone would want to hike anywhere without a map. They miss out on so much.

    The reliance of GPS is just one of several factors contributing to the dumbing down of America. My own kids cannot find their way across town without their Smartphones. I have failed them

    Yesterday I visited the map room of the Boston Public Library. A room full of maps from every time period. What's not to love!
    While electronics has opened up vast numbers of possibilities, and I'm no Luddite in practice, I'm also of the opinion that folks should also learn and practice alternate non electronic means of self reliance including paper map and compass navigation. People should learn to think and operate without always a reliance on electronics. Nor let us forget that GPS supplies others with data mining opps that may be used in ways not always in our individual best interests. "Connectivity", as the digital electronic marketers desire it, involves disconnecting from other things too which never gets communicated by them. How do you define connectivity?

    Can you navigate by the stars, by paper map and compass, find your way out of a forest or off the top of a mountain or a deep canyon, signal for rescue or help, assess weather conditions now and in the near future, provide some basic medical attention to yourself or others, wander safely off a Super Highway Maintained Mega Trail, identify regional wildlife threats, read people face to face to assess intent, personally with patience socialize, inspire others, personally contribute, etc. WITHOUT electronics?

  12. #12
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    I don't think I've ever gone hiking without a paper map of where I'm going, and I'm not about to start now.

    In the dense Eastern forests, I also tend to regard barometric altimeter and wristwatch as essential navigation instruments, and I bring both. Notebook and pencil, too, always.

    But I'm not going to apologize for including GPS among my tools.

    I mostly hike less well-developed (and less well-mapped!) trails than the AT. I also ordinarily, nowadays, have GPS along. When I do go astray (it happens to all of us), it sometimes helps me to backtrack. I don't depend on it, but it's a useful cross-check. The primary purpose for the GPS, though, is to record my tracks so that I can edit them and put them on Open Street Map - so that they will be there for the next guy who's making a map. And I know that those tracks get used. If you talk to people like Guthook or Postholer, you'll find out that OpenStreetMap is one of the sources that they use for producing their maps. I've seen evidence that the pros use it too. The map overlay on http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/maps/TopoView/viewer pretty obviously has OpenStreetMap among its data sources. I've spotted my own mistakes propagating into it. I know that the "official" mileage table of the Northville-Placid Trail at http://www.nptrail.org/?page_id=59 comes from the trail alignment on OpenStreetMap.

    USGS no longer has the mission nor the ability to include recreational features such as trails, campsites, and even some remote roads in its maps. The current "US Topo" series omits them, and the traditional topo maps were - at best - last updated during the first Bush administration.
    Citizen mappers like me - and I hope I can recruit some of you - are the only way that good maps of our trails are ever going to happen.

    You can see an example of how citizen-mappers are improving things if you look at my working map at https://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/...=-74.1248&z=15 . Trails shown in black, with labels in lowercase, are from OpenStreetMap, and come from ordinary ciitizens hiking with GPS. Trails shown in magenta, with UPPERCASE labels, are from NYSDEC, the state agency that manages the forest in that part of the world. I tend to view those places where only the magenta is shown as a "to do" list. Those magenta tracks represent the best data that the managing agency has of the trails in that forest. They're what the emergency responders use, having nothing better. And you can see on that single view how they would route you right into a beaver pond or down a creek instead of the trail. How one of the parking-lot icons appears (shown in black - one of these months I'll get around to showing the state's idea of the assets in a different colour) in the middle of the woods rather than on the dead end of the road.

    I include the magenta data because the map, like all living maps, is a work in progress. Scrolling southeast to https://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/...=-74.0827&z=15 will show you a spot where nobody's captured the data yet. (I would have, but the last time I was there was a few years ago, before I got the big external battery for my smartphone, and I ran out of juice before I got the trail alignment to my satisfaction. One of these times, I'll get in there again and grab the trails, then kick back and fish at Echo Lake. I'm betting that another mapper will beat me to it.

    But I'm digressing from the original poster's question. Yes, Feral Bill, I do think that a map series of the A-T (or of other long trails) produced at a scale like 1:50000 or 1:63360 would be a useful book, and could be done in paperback book form -intended to be cut up so that you can carry the pages you need for a section. Except for the HMW, the trail corridor is narrow enough that few pages would be unable to show access points on nearby roads.

    I've even thought about what it would take to do such a thing. I'd already be tooled up to produce suitable electronic documents to go to the printer. Producing a book of about three hundred US letter-size pages in full color (I don't think B&W will really serve most users) costs about fifty bucks in the small quantities that we're probably talking about. I'd say that if we could get a few hundred hikers to sign up on a site like Kickstarter for a full set at, say $65 for the complete kit - dirt cheap for that many high-quality maps - that would pay for the initial press run, and make it so that a guy like me wouldn't lose his shirt on the prepress. At that price and volume, I couldn't afford to pay myself to do the job. It would have to be a labor of love.

    Other people who've funded things on Kickstarter have managed to raise extra money and get publicity at the same time, by doing things like offering things like tchotchkes from Cafe Press or Teespring for the patrons - these wind up being things like T-shirts and baseball caps that are actually advertising the product, so you wind up getting your customers to pay for a certain amount of advertising as well. You can even work in higher-tier things, like "pay a thousand bucks and airfare, and the editor will come and speak to your club about how the maps were produced or teach a day's course in land navigation."

    As long as it all adds up to a budget of $20-25k for prepress, production, and fulfillment, it would work. I don't think this is ever going to be a big enough seller that you could shop it to a real publisher, so we'd be dealing with vanity-press prices. At least nowadays, you can get a vanity press to list your project on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, so dealing with the truckload of paper can be Someone Else's Problem.

    And whom am I kidding? I do NOT have time to run this. (Aside to self: Seriously, Kevin, you don't want to get into this! You have a real job that pays the bills, and you don't want even to think about the liability exposure.)
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    I don't think I've ever gone hiking without a paper map of where I'm going, and I'm not about to start now.

    ...
    And whom am I kidding? I do NOT have time to run this. (Aside to self: Seriously, Kevin, you don't want to get into this! You have a real job that pays the bills, and you don't want even to think about the liability exposure.)
    Not so clueless at all, I think.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    Not so clueless at all, I think.
    Clueless about long-distance hiking, because I don't aspire to be more than a weekender and short-sectioner.
    I adopted the moniker a while ago to cock the snook at several regulars here who were bitching about how the hordes of clueless weekenders were ruining their wilderness experience. I still hold on to it, well, just because.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    I used to drive around the NH for my job, and went through several copies of the Rand McNally road Atlas. As a result I know about 3/4 of all the tiny back roads in the entire state. I sailed the east coast pre-GPS days, maps, tides, currents, compass, light houses, depth, dead reckoning, it was always an interesting challenge.

    I just feel less involved in my trips when using GPS. I'd love a consistent, larger sized set of maps for the entire length of the trail. I currently have sort of a mish mash of what maps were easily purchased. The northern ATC maps are amazing, the southern maps from National Geographic are a bit small to make out much detail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by imscotty View Post
    Yesterday I visited the map room of the Boston Public Library. A room full of maps from every time period. What's not to love!
    HOW did you make it out of that map room?!?! I can never seem to tear myself away from maps and all the possibilities they hold. You have just added something to my "to-do" list the next time I find myself in Boston! Though, I might need to schedule a couple of days as I tend to get immersed in maps. Oops.

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    I just got back from China, going back to Everest later today, maybe.

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    While any maps have frustrating points, as they necessarily are mere abstractions of reality, the official A.T. maps offer some potential advantages over some others:

    -They tend to be printed on waterproof material, sometimes indestructibly so.

    -They show things like shelters, water sources, side trails, profiles, and the like. Even if you find data sources for the A.T. centerline and for shelters, there is much else that you will pass that may have some relevance especially if things go south on you.

    -Currently sold maps for the A.T. tend to be very up to date. The little dotted line in the DeLorme Atlas might be years old by the time it's printed.

    -Purchasing the official maps from atctrailstore.org or otherwise, supports the ATC and member organizations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
    While any maps have frustrating points, as they necessarily are mere abstractions of reality, the official A.T. maps offer some potential advantages over some others:

    -They tend to be printed on waterproof material, sometimes indestructibly so.

    -They show things like shelters, water sources, side trails, profiles, and the like. Even if you find data sources for the A.T. centerline and for shelters, there is much else that you will pass that may have some relevance especially if things go south on you.

    -Currently sold maps for the A.T. tend to be very up to date. The little dotted line in the DeLorme Atlas might be years old by the time it's printed.

    -Purchasing the official maps from atctrailstore.org or otherwise, supports the ATC and member organizations.
    Yes, indeed. Most of my map making has been about stuff that the trail organizations haven't yet troubled to map, or that has been mapped badly. The maintaining organizations get their stuff mostly from citizen-mappers and trail maintainers walking the trails with GPS. When I'm talking about map making, I'm likely working with one or another maintaining club. One of these years I'll probably take on editing a full map for one of the clubs - they're always looking for someone to slog through that thankless job. I'm not undercutting the ATC. I'm just upstream of them.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    I stopped and asked someone who had their smart phone out. They had the app with the you are here arrow, very cool!! I'm stil very glad I had the AT maps with me. I set up a list of 14 map drops. I like knowing a bit about where I am, other than somewhere out in the woods.

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