View Poll Results: How important are maps to you while hiking the AT?

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  • I don't use maps, nor see the need to

    42 13.55%
  • I don't use maps, but would like to

    10 3.23%
  • I have used maps and they have been a big help

    181 58.39%
  • I have used maps and felt they were just added weight

    19 6.13%
  • I have used maps just to see the elevation changes

    53 17.10%
  • If I need to see a map i'll use someone else's

    5 1.61%
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  1. #1
    Former Admin
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    Default Poll: Importance of Maps

    How important are maps to you while hiking the AT?

  2. #2
    GA-ME 3/5/02 -8/14/02
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    Default

    We used the entire AT map set (sold by the ATC) for our thru-hike, and found them extremely helpful, not only for the elevation profile (which I have to concede, often seemed incorrect when you were actually HIKING it), but we also used it when we wanted to step off the trail and explore other areas around us, to find water sources that weren't always in Wingfoot (especially helpful for New York), and to get an overall sense of what every day would be bringing us.

    We encountered quite a few thru-hikers who didn't invest in the maps, and consequently were ALWAYS peering over our shoulder or asking if they could "take a peek when we were done with that" to see elevation profile, etc. It got to be irritating pretty quickly...(especially when we were packed up and ready to go, and just waiting for the return of our map) but in trying to preserve trail harmony we never made a fuss about it. Just something to think about for those who are not considering them....(also, I have the complete set numbered and in order from South to North, if anyone would be interested in purchsing it at a discount from the ATC price)...
    "It's a dangerous business, going out your door...if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."-The Hobbit

  3. #3

    Default

    I carried maps on my thru hike, using a bump box, to recieve the next set. You really do not need them, but they made my hike alot more fun. I am a map person. I like maps. Plus, it gave me someting to look at and read on those lonely evenings.
    Singletrack

  4. #4
    2005 Camino de santiago
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    Default Maps on AT

    AT users should be extremely appreciative that the AT is clearly (?)marked with white blazes, divergent trails marked in blue and its even marked where the intersection of a divergent trail is approaching and that you have the luxury of discussing whether to even use maps or not.

    Its not the case on the CDT where map & compass is as needed as raingear. In some parts there is no trail at all, seldom is there any explanation for divergent trails-which may or usually may NOT be on the map- and the few CDT signs may-like other backpackers you'll see- be days apart.

    I cant wait to try it. But I'll still take map & compass. Thats a habit I doubt I'll break!

  5. #5
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Hey Jumpstart!

    How Much?
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  6. #6
    GA-ME 3/5/02 -8/14/02
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    Default Maps for sale

    Hi Sgt Rock,

    The ATC web site sells them for $189 for non-members (the price we paid) and $150 for memebers...we'd let the whole set go for like $100 bucks, including the book for Maine..email me privately if you're interested and we can set it up...

    Jumpstart
    "It's a dangerous business, going out your door...if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."-The Hobbit

  7. #7
    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    Maps are imoportsant. Not to mention great fun to have. HH
    Hammock Hanger -- Life is my journey and I'm surely not rushing to the "summit"...:D

    http://www.gcast.com/u/hammockhanger/main

  8. #8
    GA-ME 02 Kilted Hiker Trail Yeti's Avatar
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    I didn't use maps until VT, and from there on I used them. I usually bought them for the elevation profile...but now I have a better reason.
    Me and my partner were hiking along N of Gorham, in fact we were almost to Gentian Pond Lean To, when she got stung by a bee or a hornet (we're not sure which). Normally, this isn't a big deal, sure it hurts but that's it right? Wrong, my girlfriend happens to be allergic. So we keep hiking until the shelter, going slowly for obvious reasons. When we get there her hand is swollen to twice its size, the swelling is moving up her wrist, she has broken out in hives everywhere, and she is itchy all over, also, her eyes were getting puffy. So we throw some Benadryl down her throat and just in case, I go to get her Epi pen out of her pack. Guess what? That's right, somehow, somewhere, the Epi pen has gone MIA (missing in action). Oh sh.. not good. It is now obvious (even though its only been 10 minutes since we sat down) that we need to get off trail and to a hospital. So I pull out my MAPS!!! And find out the blue blaze right next to the shelter leads to a road, and its 3 miles....a lot shorter than backtracking on the AT. So off we go, the blue blaze runs into a forest service road, we find some people picking blueberries (after only a mile, thankfully) and they give us a ride to the emergency room. Full recovery, living happily everafter and all that jazz.
    So I know this is really long, but THAT is the reason you need maps.
    The books are fine, but when you need detail on roads, terrain etc..nothing beats a map. I will not do a long distance hike again w/out a map....
    Yeti
    "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit"- Ed Abbey

  9. #9
    Registered User
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    Great example Yeti. Glad she is OK. I agree that emergency "replans" are probably the most important reason for maps on the AT (at least in the south, my only AT experience).

    I might add though that maps are very helpful (if not essential) non-emergency replans. Numerous times I have used a map to change my trip plans (maybe I should have planned better, like SGT Rocks military attack plans). This June our maps allowed us to add some miles and interest to our trip on the move and helped us find a camping spot not in the guide book.

    I also enjoy just messing with the map and compass to try to figure things out from overlooks. For me it adds to the experience.

    Weeknd

  10. #10
    LT '79; AT from Springer-Rangeley in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Default Military Planning

    Even with the exhaustive planning that goes into military actions, the unexpected is to be expected. Having up-to-date maps available is instrumental to having soldiers adjust plans on-the-fly and act with some level of reasonable independence.

    I made good use of my trail map last Fall. I had just left Sam Moore Shelter heading north to Snickers Gap when I encountered a teenage girl with a tiny bookbag-type daypack hiking south. I asked her where she was heading and she said her folks house in Bluemont. She had been dropped off in Snickers Gap by a friend and was just enjoying an afternoon walk. Fortunately, I recalled seeing Bluemont on my map just northeast of Snickers Gap, and I also knew that the next road crossing to the south was about 15 miles. I convinced her that she was walking the wrong way. In retrospect, she could have died of hypothermia that evening if she hadn't found shelter and warmth.

    Of course, as a computer science & geography major, I just love maps. But they can be useful even on the relatively narrow ridges of the central AT where civilization is never really very far away.

  11. #11

    Default

    Nobody with any sense goes into the backcountry for 6 hours, let alone 6 months, without the best current map of the area they'll be visiting, and, needless to say the ability to read and use the map they're carring.

    Whether it's to know, or to keep track of where you are; for use in an emergency (for your own use or to assist others); to pinpoint the location of lost, injured or otherwise at risk hikers; to assist search, rescue, or law enforcement personnel; for use when you need to get outtta the woods and back to a road or civilization as soon as possible, for whatever reason; to locate additional water sources than the ones immediately adjacent to the Trail; to plan your daily itinerary and hiking schedule; to help plan your food needs for each section depending on the terrain involved; to figure out where it'd be wise to have friends from home join you on your hike, and where they shouldn't; to help pick out where you want to end the day, pitch your tent, see a sunset; to help you plan your day so you get the worst part of the day's hiking over early on, while you're fresh and it's not too hot yet; to help plan your day so you don't end your day with a monster uphill; and on and on. There are all sorts of things Trail maps are good for. However, there's one main reason to carry them: Only a fool goes out into the backcountry without one.

  12. #12

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    Map buffs should check out the Historic USGS Maps at the UNH DIMOND LIBRARY. They have a collection of awesome "antique" topo maps. Get to the Monson maps via the following link:

    http://docs.unh.edu/towns/MonsonMaineMapList.htm

    Omar,
    "You're young 'til you die"

  13. #13

    Default Not exactly a "Big Help"

    Maps of the AT help somewhat. I mainly carry them in case of an emergency, to find roads, towns, trails, etc.

  14. #14
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    Default maps

    the maps are good for reference..

    BUT, the A.T. is marked so well & so well defined (let alone the numbers of people out there for six-plus months)...it's almost impossible the get off the the trail (unless on purpose).






    p.s. (i take the Data Book!)
    see ya'll UP the trail!

    "Jaybird"

    GA-ME...
    "on-the-20-year-plan"

    www.trailjournals.com/Jaybird2013

  15. #15
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Default

    I love maps. like to read em, mess with em, etc.

    that said, i didnt carry a single map the whole length of the AT. just not needed. a weight trade off.
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    I always carried the map for the section I was hiking. For all the reasons Jack mentioned.

    If hiking in a place I know intimately, like Shenandoah or Grayson, I don't often carry maps. But anyplace else, definitely.

    For weight consideration, I did not carry any guidebooks, Data Book, Wingfoot, or Companion. Instead, I photocopied the relevant parts from each plus the elevation profile from the map, cut-and-pasted (the old fashioned way, with scissors and glue) to a single sheet for what I figured would be a day's distance. Then made a photocopy of THAT on more durable paper. So for say, five days, I only carried five sheets of paper--with the one I needed that day in my pocket in a ziploc for ease of referral. The other sheets stayed in my pack in the same ziploc as my other paperwork until needed. Sometimes the text for a day's hike would spill over to the other side of the sheet, sometimes not. If I didn't stick to the exact estimate of what a day's hike would be (happened a lot!)--not a big deal--just get out the next sheet mid-day.

    It's a lot of pre-hike prep work, but better to save weight this way than to do without the maps IMO.

  17. #17
    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Like a lot of things, it depends on your comfort level. There are lots of things you can carry that you may never need - map, compass, first aid kit, knife, fire starter, whistle, etc., etc. For 99 out of 100 hikes on the AT, you aren't going to need them. But, if the right thing goes wrong ...

  18. #18

    Default

    I'm the type who can pore over a map for hours. Sure, on the AT your route is largely predetermined. But I still enjoying soaking in a map's details and exploring its possibilities. A good map can also serve as either a window into the future or a review of the past. Surely I'm not the only one who's relived a favorite trip by pulling out a map some winter evening and retracing the route I followed way back when. But then again, competing in orienteering meets twice a month or so may slightly bias my opinion towards maps

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSaint
    I'm the type who can pore over a map for hours. Sure, on the AT your route is largely predetermined. But I still enjoying soaking in a map's details and exploring its possibilities. A good map can also serve as either a window into the future or a review of the past. Surely I'm not the only one who's relived a favorite trip by pulling out a map some winter evening and retracing the route I followed way back when. But then again, competing in orienteering meets twice a month or so may slightly bias my opinion towards maps
    I'm with you Saint. I don't remember all the details of my trips, but when I pull out the maps, a lot more comes to mind: miles covered, campsites, break rests, views, etc.

  20. #20

    Default

    I think maps can be a great help on the AT, or any other trail, for that matter.

    They usually can aid you in finding your pace on the trail, and are a great help if you ever get yourself into an emergency situation that involves getting off the trail.

    I usually don't use them, but would probably look into getting some kind of area maps on my next trip.

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