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General Map ?'s
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Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
General Map ?'s on 12/09/2006 16:12:36 MST Print View

Do you enjoy pouring over maps? Why? What's the big satisfaction/attraction?

If you do not pour over maps, do you know anyone who does?

Do you put maps on your walls? What scale -- big worldly or continental scale, or local and trip scale?

On your wall maps do you pencil in places you have been (like trophies) or places you'd like to go (like dreams)?

Do you think of maps as inviolate (i.e. do not write on them) or as good paper for "spatial note-taking", sort of like GIS meets journaling while out on the UL trail (no need for the write-in-the rain)?

Is a map consumable (used for one trip) or reuseable (used for many trips)?

What is your favorite map scale? Why?

What countries make your favorite maps and why?

Anyway, just wondering if there are any map freaks out there, and if so how freaky are you?

Edited by romandial on 12/09/2006 16:14:55 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/09/2006 16:30:24 MST Print View

At work I have a massive map of WA state next to my work space. It is my duty to show my boss where I was, every Monday ;-) The map is at least 6 ft wide and 4 feet high.

I love maps, and I love buying them and dreaming of places to go and see. Seeing all the potentials out there!

My maps for Mt. Rainier are nearly worn out. They are held together with tape. They have seen a lot of love and miles!

Certain maps have highlighter marks all over them. They are maps to places with many trails, and I mark where I have been.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/09/2006 16:38:57 MST Print View


I love maps. At all scales. Of most any place. On trips I use them to write on (and sometimes have journals and shopping lists and notes from phone calls on the back).

I have a USGS 7.5" map with my house marked on it and various other interesting local landmarks, like good bouldering rocks and semi-private ski runs with names unprintable on a family-oriented web site.

One time I discovered a pre WW II (actually, right before WW II) map of the russian far east showing various prison camps and whatnot. I donated it to a local museum which probably promptly sold it to a wealthy collector. But it was cool to find that map.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: General Map ?'s on 12/09/2006 16:45:34 MST Print View

David, we are kindred (and by the way, your comment about how far and how fast from last summer is right on -- the better and simpler model, integrates the increase in speed over time, summing up each day as you suggested -- amazingly enough, a similar answer results)


Edited by romandial on 12/09/2006 16:46:17 MST.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Maps! on 12/09/2006 16:57:23 MST Print View

How can you not love maps? I love pouring over them, seeing where I've been, where I could go, how far Ulaanbaatar is from Kathmandu... The patterns you can see and the work that goes into making them is inspiring, too.

If you haven't tried Google Maps, you might not want to. It's so addictive. For instance, you can get a file of the PCT, zoom in, set the speed low, and have it trace the trail all day long. You can zoom in to Chesler Park and see which campsite might have the best view. Or trace the streets that you walked in Paris. Or...

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Maps! on 12/09/2006 17:03:16 MST Print View

MIles, right there with you!

The new computer systems and easy access to remotely sensed images have made this the golden age for geeks like us. Espeacially those of us with big screens to tile with Google Earth and TOPO!

Thanks for the tip about cruising the trail on Google Earth. I didn't know you could do that.

At a slide show recently someone in the audience asked if I'd brought any reading material. I said yes, my maps.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Google Earth tips on 12/09/2006 17:28:11 MST Print View

Here's some more info on that PCT (or whatever else) cruising.

Download this Google Earth file.
Double-click the file. It'll install in Google Earth.
Find "pct05_1" under places. Double-click it.
Press the play button. Right now it's limited to SOBO at a very slow speed.

Here's a link to talk of an updated Google Earth file.

This can be done for other things, too. For instance, if you ask for driving directions, you can "play" the directions based on the "touring" section of the preferences.

I'm hoping that some of us map geeks can make these sorts of Google Earth summaries for the BPL Online Trip Catalog, if that ever happens.

Kevin Pietriyk
(pietriyk) - F

Locale: Northeastern PA
maps! on 12/09/2006 18:45:59 MST Print View

I'm a confirmed mapaholic! I have racks full at home, plus new and antique maps on my walls in the house, plus it's what I do for a living. Having access to detailed local maps is a great plus to hiking.

Google Earth is a ball to use, I have so many things marked- the Tower of Babel, Ankor Wat, the Sphinx, etc. Plus my in-laws' house in Japan, friends' houses across the country and around the world, and places I'd like to visit.

I also use ExpertGPS and Topofusion for analyzing and using my GPS data. Topofusion's 3D features and "trail network" setup are really neat to use once you figure them out.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/09/2006 21:58:30 MST Print View

>Do you enjoy pouring over maps? Why? What's the big satisfaction/attraction?

Absolutely. I've enjoyed maps since before I could read; we had a relief topo of the Olympic Peninsula. Also, we had US and world maps on the dining room walls within reach for map races and discussion during dinner. On the smaller scale, I enjoy correlating what I've travelled over or seen with the map, and it helps bring the trip back.

>Do you put maps on your walls? What scale -- big worldly or continental scale, or local and trip scale?

I have a Raven Map of Wyoming (high-res, 3-foot by 3-foot, 3-second elevation data), and I'd get Washington, Montana, Colorado and Hawaii if I had room to display them. We have US and world maps in the hallway for the kids, along with a globe. I have a drawer full of various maps, plus National Geographic Topo! for the states in which I often hike.

>On your wall maps do you pencil in places you have been (like trophies) or places you'd like to go (like dreams)?


>Do you think of maps as inviolate?

Yup, just like books.

>Is a map consumable (used for one trip) or reuseable (used for many trips)?

That's what big-bed photocopiers are for. (Copying a portion of a purchased map for personal annotation is generally considered "fair use" under US copyright law.) I also print Topo! maps when I can, and those are generally consumable unless it is an area that I will be visiting on a regular basis--then I print on Teslin waterproof paper.

>What is your favorite map scale? Why?

1:24,000, because I can 'see' the terrain.

Edited by Otter on 12/09/2006 22:20:52 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Does anyone else... on 12/10/2006 10:24:48 MST Print View

When out hiking, do you stop and pull out your maps, and in your mind you start seeing the 3D of the maps? I love it so much when I can see the trail rolling and curving ahead of me in alpine, and I look at the maps, and it is as if the trail on that map comes alive!

As for Google Earth, that is an awful time waster. I love nothing more than "running" along the PCT and just dreaming that soon summer will be back. The almost 3D of it is so cool!

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Does anyone else .... on 12/10/2006 11:40:48 MST Print View

Ditto to all the previous posts re: how much fun it is to look at, play with, study maps.

Special ditto to Sarah: I love playing with the 3-D function in TOPO! which allows me to fly over and through the topo map, with elevation and relief shadows. It is a real blast for a map person. Now I fly through almost any new trip just to see what the elevations are like, changed shoes from boots to trail runners one time as a result of that test flight.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/10/2006 11:42:49 MST Print View

Hi my name is Laurie and I am a map freak. I actually collect maps. You see if I decide I want to go someplace, example the Annapurna Circuit, then I buy the map. It might be another 5 years before I can go but I pour over the map and think about the trip. Sometimes I even have to buy a new map when we go places because mine become outdated.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/10/2006 15:56:10 MST Print View

Yes, I love maps. And Google Earth. I play with the Alaska TOPO program on my computer all the time (also the Washington version, and a similar Canadian program for BC). Usually it's just procrastinating, but I plan routes on them too.

Then I delete the routes, leaving the campsite marks (not because I'll necessarily camp there, just to let me see if I'm generally on schedule), and print them on waterproof Adventure paper.

I used to like drawing on the maps as I went along... Now I can't, since I can't draw on the waterproof paper, but have decided that not having the map deteriorate into a soggy mess is worth it.

On my last trip, I started carrying an overview map for the whole (500ish mile) trip, with the rough route drawn in. This helped a lot in explaining to the random people we met asking "You came from where?"

I occasionally reuse maps. But that requires going back to the same spot (rare), and being able to find the map again (rarer).


Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Wet Maps! on 12/10/2006 17:02:56 MST Print View

Wet maps! Now there is heresy.

I am a throwback to USGS paper maps -- I can buy them right across the street from my office. They know me by name there.

I use TOPO! and Google to plan, but when the rubber hits the mud, I pack 1:250,000 scale into a quart sized ziplock that gets tucked into my shirt, between layers w/two tops and next to skin with one. Even packrafting or hiking in rainy brush, or wading rivers, I work hard to keep 3 things dry:

(1) my head above the neck
(2) my camara
(3) my maps

I revisit many places. I have done at least half a dozen Alaskan routes >150 miles long five times or more each, of course, with variations. But I never use the same maps. Too much info is written on each one -- too much valuable info to risk their re-use.

Several times I have taped maps from mega-routes, maps actually used on the trip, and suspended them form office or home walls, a physical reminder more rich with texture and memories than any photo set would be.

I never corrupt a map with planning lines. The maps I write document the past and make no supposition aboutthe future. Planning is what TOPO!'s route tool, elevation profile, and reduce by 25% are for.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/10/2006 19:13:27 MST Print View

I like to make my own maps by downloading the USGS DRG and using only GraphicConverter to draw UTM gridlines, cropping, and assembling several quads if necessary...all on a 12" powerbook. Don't need no National Geographic TOPO.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: General Map ?'s on 12/10/2006 22:48:50 MST Print View

>and a similar Canadian program for BC

What program is that? The question of maps for Canada has been raised before, and I haven't found a reasonable solution yet. (The only free on-line maps I've found is Garmin's Topo Canada and that's not very high resolution.)

>since I can't draw on the waterproof paper

Sharpie Permanent Marker, ultra fine point (0.4 oz) writes fine. No smear, won't rub off (unlike pen ink).

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Memories of the "Good Old Days" on 12/10/2006 23:16:12 MST Print View

The beginning of a dream was always the map,

Before there was 7.5 minute maps there was the trusty 15 minute map. A long day was one of crossing a 15 minute map..............

I remember getting the maps out and laying them on the floor, getting a picture in one's minds eye of not only the trail but the surrounding scenery.

I remember getting a National Geographic and reading about a Canadian Rockies Trail.......and promply writing to find where I could find the maps (before there was GPS).

Being the backpacking-anal person that I am I always carried my maps rolled (usually in a clear plastic tube or a fishing rod case. I could not bear to fold my maps. Even today I carry my GPS in a small camera case.

Most of my maps were destroyed when an upstairs sewage pipe broke while I was away on vacation, ruining memories and plans for the future.

For me the 7.5 minute maps are too detailed to spread a week upon the floor. Give me the 15 minute maps!

Nothing can replace the reality of a map, just as a picture can never be replaced by an image on a computer monitor.

Just as a Kelty will always be synonomous with backpacks and Svea for stoves give me a paper map and a Silva to guide my way!


Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: Canada Maps on 12/11/2006 00:52:52 MST Print View

Douglas - I spent quite awhile looking around for Canada maps, since I'll be hiking through a big chunk of coastal BC on my trip next year. I couldn't find any free ones either. However, if you're willing to buy them, there's a very similar program to the National Geographic TOPO! program, called Etopo. Because the provinces are large, you buy one chunk at a time (instead of a whole state). They cost about $80 each. Find them here: Canadian Etopo digital maps
(and thanks for the tip on the fine sharpie)

Roman - I guess I just like not having to worry about the map at all. Take it out in the pouring rain, stuff it in a pocket, no problem... It's just easier.
We used USGS maps on the Alaska Peninsula trip, and were able to keep them dry ok. But they took forever to come in the mail (USGS is not across the street from us), we couldn't see them before ordering, and some came after we left. This resulted in us not having any maps at all for a significant chunk of one leg. Which resulted in a longer route... Which resulted in us being very hungry...
I've always thought it would be fun to put all the maps from a large trip up on the wall. But I've never had the space.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: General Map ?'s on 12/11/2006 02:35:56 MST Print View

> Do you enjoy pouring over maps? Why? What's the big satisfaction/attraction?
OF COURSE! Why - I wonder what 'there' looks like?

> On your wall maps do you pencil in places you have been
I used to, but the map became illegible. Too many lines...

> Is a map consumable (used for one trip) or reuseable (used for many trips)?
Topo Maps don't leave home. A3 photocopies do. Waterproof paper sometimes.

> What is your favorite map scale? Why?
I vary between 1:25l, 1:50k and 1:100k, depending on whether we are on or off trail.

I have a dedicated 5' high filing system for our maps and the A3 photocopies. You can't buy A3 filing cabinets...

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: General Map ?'s on 12/11/2006 08:59:18 MST Print View

Above my desk at work there is a large, custom, laminated wall map, 1:100,000 scale, of the entire Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. It offers enough topography to be practical while not so much that you can't step back and see the overall topography of the land (it's a shaded relief map as well).