Mapping software
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Kevin Clayton
(kclayton) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Mapping software on 10/09/2007 19:44:28 MDT Print View

For my PCT attempt next summer I would like to get more adequate maps then what I have in the wilderness press guide books. I dont no were to start because buying individual maps would cost a fortune.
What is the best way to get maps for each section of trail?
Is there any software out there for USGS maps for the PCT?

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Mapping software on 10/10/2007 07:57:52 MDT Print View

Kevin -

The following links aren't in regards to specific software but they will give you some one possible approach. The following links both access high-resolution .tif files of all the USGS topo maps.

USGS Store - Digital File Download

Libre Map Project - Free Maps and GIS data

Edited by sharalds on 10/10/2007 09:15:21 MDT.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Mapping software on 10/10/2007 08:43:05 MDT Print View

Kevin, the sources that Sam mentions give you good, high res images of the USGS source maps. If you want more mapping function then a lot of us here have used the National Geographic Topo! state series mapping software. It's published for CA, OR, and WA. With a quick look on google, I found each for $80. I've seen better deals before on eBay. It's not necessarily cheap. You can check out the software reviews elsewhere on bpl.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Mapping software on 10/11/2007 01:12:54 MDT Print View

There are no cheap options, but there are a couple options for 1:24K (7.5 minute) seamed USGS maps.

National Geograpic Topo! for each of WA, OR, & CA would total $300 retail.

Delorme TopoQuads for each of WA, Western OR, Northern CA, & Southern CA would total $400 retail.

The best functionality would come with GIS software. You can find most of the data you need for free, but the applications are several hundred dollars, and take an Associates Degree to run.

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 10/11/2007 01:17:15 MDT.

charlie babbage
(babbage) - F
Here one I have used for a while on 12/27/2007 16:32:34 MST Print View

expertgps.com

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
a comment on the guidebook maps on 12/28/2007 07:02:39 MST Print View

the guidebook maps look awful but they're much better than they look like. Once I got used to the spartan, black & white representation, I wouldn't think about it anymore and just read the maps normally. Terrain representation is ok and the trail depiction is very good, much better than for example on the Tom Harrison maps which I was carrying through the High Sierra in addition to the guidebook. The TS maps look so much nicer and are easier to read at first sight but they've got basically the same info as the guidebook ones, all the info is there, just a bit harder to read (at first sight). And when we wanted to locate the trail after a snowy section, we'd always check the much more precise guidebook maps.

The basic problem I still see with the them is the tunnel vision they give. Sometimes it may be hard to map the terrain around you because your best reference may be off the map and potential scape routes will probably be off map too.

I know this is not the advise you were asking for but I mention because I thought they'd be a pain to use and went with them to save me the hassle to eventually find I liked them. Then I guess not everybody does.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
maps are fine. on 12/28/2007 08:51:30 MST Print View

hey kevin.

i only used the guidebook maps on my thru-hike and they were great for my needs. they are the 7.5' map series (i'm sure) and that's all you'll ever need for the actual walking and whatnot. i used the data book too, of course - but most of my hiking just followed the little topo maps. i usually would read the next day's description in my sleeping bag the night before.

i definitely agree that they give you some tunnel vision, which i felt most prominently in the high sierra - if it was more than a mile or whatever off the trail, you couldn't figure out what it was (e.g. what's the huge peak over there?). tom harrison maps are great for sierra wandering and bigger picture details.

in general, it's almost impossible to get lost (with a few key exceptions) on the PCT unless the trail is under snow.

i started the PCT with a trimmed copy of a CA state map (which shows the PCT) from AAA, but sent it home along with some other stuff at Warner Springs. i guess i just didn't want to see how much of CA i had left to hike!

please NOTE that this all presumes that the trail is visible. if you are entering the San Jacintos, High Sierra, etc. in lots of snow, you'll want more of an ability to see more terrain around for navigation. or a GPS if you are in the snow in the forest and breaking trail (e.g. first one through the San Jacintos!). in 2004, the snow levels were very low in the Sierra and we had it easy.

Edited by DaveT on 12/28/2007 13:13:13 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: maps are fine. on 12/28/2007 08:58:10 MST Print View

hey, I have never thru-hiked the PCT, but I plan to in a few years.

What I have been thinking, is that for most of the trail, the guidebooks will be adequate for maps, but... in the high sierra, and possibly in oregon and washington, depending on the snow levels that year, I will add in more detailed maps, and a GPS for in the sierras.

most trails are not that difficult to follow with a smaller map, but when there is going to be snow covering my route, I will opt for more navigational equipment.

Kevin Clayton
(kclayton) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Guide book maps on 12/28/2007 09:27:45 MST Print View

Thankyou for the input. I will probable just stick with the guide book maps now. I was concerned of entering unfamiliar terrain with out wider maps could pose issues. but coupled with the good descriptions in the book they should be adequate. I'll continue watching the snow pack to see if I should get some better maps.
Thanks dave for the resupply data.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
finding/naming features, escape routes, off strip maps on 12/28/2007 17:18:11 MST Print View

In the past on walks in Australia, I have sometimes taken smaller scale maps, like 1:250,000, for the purpose of being able to ID features (mountains, ranges) in the distance (not for nav, just for interest sake), and also for escape routes. You can add more features or notes to the 1:250k maps, if you want, ie key intersections, etc, though in SA I find that they have plenty of the features required anyway.

South Australians use 1:50k maps almost exclusively for bushwalking navigation. Our Heysen Trail comes in 2 A5 guide books with strip maps aswell at 1:50k scale, so I know the pain of not being able to see/nav off the map.

Alternatively you can make notes on the edges of your strip maps (if not already there), with appx directions and distances to features or escape routes. Eg Mountain Peak MN132, 5.2km from Big Peak. Or Rocky town-follow rd for 5km, then bakers rd for 2km on left.

you get the picture. This can take some serious effort and pre-planning and thinking ahead though.