Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off
Display Avatars Sort By:
Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/09/2007 10:50:47 MDT Print View

I am interested to hear any input people might have in regards to their methods for mapping a new trip?
Do most of you like to use a USGS map, Mapping software like Nat'l Geo Topo, create your own, guidebook, GPS, etc?
Anyone have recommendations on especially good reads for orienteering?
What is you typical route finding method?

Thanks,

Nathaniel

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/09/2007 22:34:45 MDT Print View

>Do most of you like to use a USGS map, Mapping software like Nat'l Geo Topo, create your own, guidebook, GPS, etc?


I gave up acquiring USGS topos when I bought NG Topo!, unless I'm traveling out of state--then I just patch up on-line topos. The Libre Map Project has free USGS 24K DRG topos (and more) for the entire US. I much prefer to print a custom map (with marked trails and/or annotations). I like having a guidebook if I don't know anything about the area--I learned long ago that the trails on the USGS topos may not be there. (NG National Parks Topo is pretty trustworthy on its own.) But I also like having guidebooks for local areas to find trails that I otherwise wouldn't know about. I'm working on a project to map and annotate all of the trails in Hiking Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest using a GPS, except now I have to start over because they published a second edition ;)


>What is you typical route finding method?


I mostly use a paper map and compass, but if weight isn't an issue (heresy!) or I'm off-trail and the cover is heavy enough to interfere with taking bearings then I like to have a GPS for backup. My GPS saved my butt in a blizzard when my maps blew away. Garmin's MapSource GPS topos aren't very high resolution, but they were sufficient for me to navigate through a pass I couldn't see.

Edited by Otter on 05/09/2007 22:45:42 MDT.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 06:05:44 MDT Print View

Thanks Doug. Do you have a state specific Nat'l Geo or is there a general one, I have looked around a bunch but haven't found an all encompassing one. Does ~$100 sound right?

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 06:28:18 MDT Print View

I thought about getting TOPO! but I am cheap and use freeware. USPhotoMaps (http://jdmcox.com) is used for setting waypoints, making routes, etc. The nice thing about USAPhotoMaps (aside from being free) is that you can also display USGS aerial photos.

To upload/download waypoints for my Geko 301 I use another freeware software called g7towin.exe.
http://www.gpsinformation.org/ronh/

Below is an example aerial that can be displayed/printed with USAPhotoMaps.
USAPhotoMaps screen shot

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 08:23:43 MDT Print View

Steve,

Thanks, I have never seen this before, excellent recommendation. It seems like a pretty complete solution.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 08:56:04 MDT Print View

At first I found it a little cumbersome but now I really like it :)

If you end up using it PM me and I'll send you a Word document with my notes on how to use G7ToWin.exe with the Geko 301.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Re: Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 09:30:25 MDT Print View

Downloaded it, a little cumbersome, take some time to get used to it. Still haven't figured out how to grab a specific location yet. I don't own a Geko, been thinking about a GPS but don't want to spend the money yet. Thanks for the offer though!

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 09:36:27 MDT Print View

Under the "Goto" menu item you can search by populated place (state, city), USGS landmark (lake, mountain, etc), or lat/long.

Once you do that use either the keystroke "T" for topo map or "P" for photo and then "F" for fill.

Try getting a aerial topo for Billings, MT.

1. Goto/Populated Place
2. Scroll to find MT and double click
3. Double click "Billings"
4. Press "P" key for photo
5. Press "F" key to fill

Then to see a topo for the same area
1. Press "T" for topo
2. Press "F" for fill

Edited by pappekak on 05/10/2007 09:41:44 MDT.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 09:55:58 MDT Print View

Aha! Fantastic, I appreciate the tip. Do you know of a way to see how old the information is on the map, or when it was last updated?

J W
(jhaura) - F

Locale: www.Trailability.com
Re: Topo! VS. Libre and USAPM on 05/10/2007 10:45:52 MDT Print View

I use both Topo!, USAPM and Libre. The advantage to Topo! is that it uses a newer update of the topos with more info and better seaming of the map edges. The dates on the maps in USAPM and Libre are 1988 while Topo! are 1995. When comparing two similar quads you can clearly see the additional info and detail of the newer maps. Terraserver also uses the older 1988 maps.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Re: Topo! VS. Libre and USAPM on 05/10/2007 12:22:10 MDT Print View

Doesn't TOPO! use the USGS maps too, therefore being the same date/data as USAPM without all the bells and whistles?

Janet Brewster
(jgranite25) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
mapping on 05/10/2007 12:43:59 MDT Print View

USGS maps may be way out of date, but I still heavily rely on the 7.5' quads. I also use Tom Harrison maps -- shaded relief and updated trails with mileage -- for research, but I rarely take them in the field because of the scale. I've found that I need the detail of the 7.5' in the field, esp. when hiking cross-country. I have a cheap GPS -- the Gecko, I think -- that I use for cross-country trips. It sucks up battery life, though, so I only turn it on for brief periods to check my altitude.

Before my computer died I used TOPO, an older version. But I believe it was based on USGS quads, so I don't think it provided more current info. I did like the ability to check elevation gain/loss via the path profile. I don't save waypoints from the field -- on the rare occasion that I go back to a previous spot, I mark it on the map, since that's what I would be taking back out into the field.

As for books, one that's been around a while is "Be Expert with Map and Compass" by Bjorn Kjellstrom. He goes into orienteering a bit. There are local and national orienteering societies that offer courses and events.

Edited by jgranite25 on 05/10/2007 12:46:24 MDT.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: mapping on 05/10/2007 13:17:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for the book recommendation Janet. Do you have any experience with the USAPM program?

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Map/Image Date on 05/10/2007 13:22:24 MDT Print View

USAPM has a quick way to find the date of the photo/topo you are viewing. Use the Help/Get Date of Photo/Topo. A new Terraserver window will open that lists the date.

Edited by pappekak on 05/10/2007 13:22:55 MDT.

Janet Brewster
(jgranite25) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
mapping on 05/10/2007 14:04:58 MDT Print View

No -- actually I've rarely used aerials for planning my trips. I've found they don't offer enough resolution for where I go, but I'll admit I haven't looked in a while so perhaps it's worth checking out again. I use TerraServer frequently at work, but I'm looking at urban areas so the resolution's good.

Nathaniel Hein
(nandj) - F

Locale: Mid South
Re: Map/Image Date on 05/10/2007 17:11:30 MDT Print View

Steve,
You should run a tutorial on this program, very helpful tip. I have been struggling with the idea of buying a state TOPO! but those things are too expensive and I hike in many different states. . . I'd end up spending a small fortune.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Map/Image Date on 05/10/2007 18:09:34 MDT Print View

Thanks Nathaniel. Since you hike many states TOPO! could make you poor quickly. I think that's why they added an exclamation point to the name.

Anyway, USAPM does what I need. Gives me an idea of the area (water, peaks, terrain), lets me set reference points for my GPS, and print maps. Toggling between the topo and aerial photos very helpful for me.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 23:14:02 MDT Print View

>Do you have a state specific Nat'l Geo or is there a general one, I have looked around a bunch but haven't found an all encompassing one. Does ~$100 sound right?


I use the state version of Topo!; ~$100 is the normal price for one state, although I've bought some on eBay for about $70. I added NG Back Roads Explorer, which has the level 4 maps (1:100K for continental US, 1:250K for AK) with road names. That way I can see everything at the high level, but I only get down to the quads in the states I own; good for driving. NG Topo National Parks (recently updated) stands on its own; it is the electronic equivalent of the TrailSmart paper maps, and the scale varies by park. It has top-notch annotation for the national parks, way beyond what you get on a USGS quad.

I agree Topo! is expensive, but when I started 'investing' in it there really weren't any good low-cost alternatives to cut&paste to construct seamless maps. It works great with my GPS, and I like being able to see the area on various scales without hassle. My map of the Na Ala Hele Honolulu Mauka trail system was created from GPS tracks, and when viewed in Topo! the trail segment distances pop up and there are live links to the Na Ala Hele trail descriptions on their web site. Topo! very easily allows me to sketch routes and get distances and elevation profiles, and load the route into my GPS (although I usually just follow it on a printed paper map).

Edited by Otter on 05/10/2007 23:21:27 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Off on 05/10/2007 23:32:58 MDT Print View

> methods for mapping a new trip?
1:25 k topo map, compas, and a spare nights food in case.

Don't have a GPS; don't even WANT a GPS. Deep in the rainforest in the canyon country we probably wouldn't get a fix anyhow.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re:Re: Methods for Mapping - On Trail and Of on 05/11/2007 00:30:56 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

" Deep in the rainforest in the canyon country we probably wouldn't get a fix anyhow."

Your would be surprised how sensitive the Sirf 3 chip GPS is I have been in the dark depths of the Monolith Valley (Budawangs National Park New South Wales Australia) and it still gave readings. The same under thick foliage.

Tony

Edited by tbeasley on 05/11/2007 00:33:59 MDT.