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Feral Bill
04-03-2016, 13:08
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?

Hikes in Rain
04-03-2016, 15:13
All solid points, and well stated. I agree.

MamaSmurf
04-03-2016, 15:49
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.

rafe
04-03-2016, 16:10
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.

Feral Bill
04-03-2016, 16:27
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...

RockDoc
04-03-2016, 16:29
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.

imscotty
04-03-2016, 16:34
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!

Jack Tarlin
04-03-2016, 17:08
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.

Odd Man Out
04-03-2016, 17:09
There was some map discussions taking place recently in this thread.

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/117893-Mytopo-custom-maps-Any-experience-Mine-is-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/jxdef1xyowe5d2y/2016CHike07.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/jrsrqpnse9brkv9/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/41dy8dx43nkvuhh/test2.pdf?dl=0

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

rafe
04-03-2016, 17:47
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.

Dogwood
04-03-2016, 18:01
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.


... 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!


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.

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.


...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.


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?

Another Kevin
04-03-2016, 21:20
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 (https://www.openstreetmap.org/) - 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 (http://www.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9797/3579) 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/test3.html?la=42.1273&lo=-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/test3.html?la=42.0957&lo=-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.)

Feral Bill
04-03-2016, 22:34
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.

Another Kevin
04-04-2016, 00:59
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.

Puddlefish
04-04-2016, 09:52
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.

Water Rat
04-04-2016, 10:37
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.

rocketsocks
04-04-2016, 11:51
I just got back from China, going back to Everest later today, maybe.

ki0eh
04-04-2016, 22:10
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.

Another Kevin
04-06-2016, 15:37
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.

squeezebox
04-07-2016, 03:40
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.

fiddlehead
04-07-2016, 04:17
I just got back from a trip to an island I hadn't been to before.
I like to explore new places.
In the old days, I'd try to find a map.
Usually they were pretty bad.
Now, I used the GPS on my phone and it showed every little road.
I highly doubt there's a paper map that would show them all.
I know some roads near the AT in PA that aren't on a map.

So, get used to it guys.
Maps will become obsolete in another generation. IMO.

GPS not only shows all the little roads, sometimes trails too and more importantly, shows you where you are on it. (unlike maps where you have to guess)
So, say goodbye to the paper ones and if you are in the map printing business, look for another job.

By the way, my GPS also showed me where each air plane was going from and to, and when my kid asked me what planet that bright star was, it took me about one minute to tell him it was Mars. All through the GPS.

rocketsocks
04-07-2016, 05:38
So, say goodbye to the paper ones and if you are in the map printing business, look for another job.

oh the humanity! :D

ki0eh
04-07-2016, 08:30
To me an interesting development is the Avenza PDF Maps app. You can use it to see a "you are here" dot on a curated map (if available as a geospatial PDF, many are now, often for free), even if you're not currently in coverage (if you downloaded the map when you were), but you can also switch to Google Maps or Earth (if you happen to be in coverage). I believe newer NYNJTC maps, even of the A.T., are available this way. PATC, maybe out of their general mandarin-ness, has similar capabilites but in its own app, for the A.T. maps in its coverage area. Battery life for the day hiker, maybe even the weekender, is solved by putting the i or And device into airplane mode but the dot still appears.

About ten years ago I began developing a map series for printing, on an "other trail" that was its first foray into color maps. They used to be, honestly clearer than, but otherwise similar to the old A.T. maps (black line on B&W topo) that Bill Bryson famously complained about back in '98. I raised the question "why are we printing paper maps?" then, and was told they still wanted them. We just had this conversation again over winter 2016, and surprised to find the same result for doing a re-print of those maps. That especially shocked me, as the area is now duplicate covered by a series of trail maps prepared by a very talented cartographer and more widely available than the organization's maps. Smh.

Mags
04-07-2016, 11:56
To me an interesting development is the Avenza PDF Maps app. h.

It is a cool app for "open source maps" J Ley uses it for his popular CDT map set. Lots of other maps, too.

As AK said, open source maps are where we are headed. The popular CalTopo site is going that way, too.

Here's the URL for those curious https://www.pdf-maps.com/

And a peek at the maps... https://www.pdf-maps.com/maps/

Another Kevin
04-07-2016, 13:15
It is a cool app for "open source maps" J Ley uses it for his popular CDT map set. Lots of other maps, too.

As AK said, open source maps are where we are headed. The popular CalTopo site is going that way, too.

Here's the URL for those curious https://www.pdf-maps.com/

And a peek at the maps... https://www.pdf-maps.com/maps/

Rather than Avenza PDF Maps (which I use for the NYNJTC maps, that come out in that format), I use Backcountry Navigator. I like the features a little bit better. It can use sources like ArcGIS, CalTopo, Google and Bing as well, if it's got a network connection, and there are a lot of map packages that you can buy for it.

There will always be a place for curated maps, but the curators need a place to start from. That's where the open source maps shine - in providing data. A good cartographer can add a lot of value atop that, and a well-done map is worth paying for - for the usability.

There are a lot of people who are afraid of open source - think of schoolteachers who forbid consulting Wikipedia (rather than trying to teach research skills - an encyclopaedia is a starting point, not an ending point). People of that mindset tend to say, "the topos are from the government, they must be better" or "DeLorme wouldn't put its reputation on the line with a bad map, but who knows where the open source data came from?" In practice, though, that doesn't seem to be how it's sorting out. Nobody has the budget to survey the terrain, so everybody - even the government and the publishers like DeLorme or NatGeo - depends on the open-source data.

I routinely grab GPS tracks for my own use - I might want to go back there someday, after all, and I give them to my friends - they might want to go where I went. The easiest way to give them to my friends is to send them to OpenStreetMap.org, where they'll see not only my tracks but those of a lot of other people. (And to reprocess OpenStreetMap data into a form more useful for hikers with GPS - which is where http://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/test3.html?la=42.6348&lo=-73.1635&z=14 comes from.)

I sometimes worry that I'm starting to offer open-source competiton for the trail clubs, who see selling maps as a profit center. But it's hard to have it both ways. Then I say to myself, "they're free to use my data, and I can see that they do." Hopefully, that's giving back enough to make up for whatever indirect harm I'm doing them I know that they'd rather I share the tracks with just them, but that's not how I roll. Besides, I do a lot of small stuff like http://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/test.html?la=42.8353&lo=-74.0341&z=15 that nobody would bother to map otherwise. But I've been thanked for that one by some Mariaville fire fighters, who have printed off a bunch of copies of that part of the map. (They're in there all too often. People come from town for a nice walk in the park, without realizing that it's relatively undeveloped, and fall into the canyon there.)

Please, if you're a GPS user, consider contributing your data to OpenStreetMap. Anything from correcting a trail alignment to mapping your neighborhood. Something as small as a stroll through your neighborhood simply waypointing the locations of all the fire hydrants and putting them on the map might save someone's life someday.

Dogwood
04-07-2016, 13:38
I just got back from a trip to an island I hadn't been to before.
I like to explore new places.
In the old days, I'd try to find a map.
Usually they were pretty bad.
Now, I used the GPS on my phone and it showed every little road.
I highly doubt there's a paper map that would show them all.
I know some roads near the AT in PA that aren't on a map.

So, get used to it guys.
Maps will become obsolete in another generation. IMO.

GPS not only shows all the little roads, sometimes trails too and more importantly, shows you where you are on it. (unlike maps where you have to guess)
So, say goodbye to the paper ones and if you are in the map printing business, look for another job.

By the way, my GPS also showed me where each air plane was going from and to, and when my kid asked me what planet that bright star was, it took me about one minute to tell him it was Mars. All through the GPS.


Nah. GPS reception isn't everywhere nor is an portable compact unlimited power source. Some situations still require maps. GPS of some places, like a small to med sized more remote or yet underdeveloped island, where good paper mapping demand is not the norm and many situations does however have it over paper maps.

Dogwood
04-07-2016, 13:41
GPS and paper maps don't have to be thought of as an either/or proposition. While one can be perceived as better than the other under various scenarios/situations it can also be approached as two possibly complimentary approaches BOTH having major usefulness.

Mags
04-07-2016, 15:26
Maps aren't going away. How we make use of them is changing, however (electronic vs paper, open source vs. govt or commercial )

ki0eh
04-07-2016, 16:09
I appreciate the reminder about OpenStreetMap. I had not been on there for a while. There is a high density of trail info near State College, PA, but far less in Tioga County, PA, as examples.

fiddlehead
04-07-2016, 16:13
When I think of some of the situations I've been in with maps and trying to figure out where exactly I was:
in dense fog in France, using a map that was based on the Paris meridian ('99 Pyrenees HRP hike)
in Nepal with a map that had a 32,000/1 ratio and had the wrong spellings of towns/rivers/mountains,etc. Dhampus peak ('94)
on the AT in the Smokies when I thought I got off trail on the east side, but in reality I had gone off on the west. (ok was just learning back then in '77)
in Thailand with maps using Thai writing only (2000-2007)

No thanks.

I'll stick to my GPS.

By the way, my $400 map set that I bought for the CDT has now been used 5 times and is literally falling apart.

Designed a hiking trail here in Phuket that is close to 100 miles of jungle trekking.
If you saw the maps that are available, you would not even go into the jungle. (I have NEVER found a topo map of Phuket, except on my phone)
took me 6 years of working closely with Google earth and my Garmin 60CSX

That was in the 'old days" when tree cover would block the signal.
That doesn't seem to happen anymore.
When it did, I looked for a clearer view of the sky.

Dogwood, where aren't you getting signal?
I haven't had that problem for the last 4 or 5 years now.

Of course when the Gulf war started, they messed with the signal and it was off a few hundred meters.
But that was a while ago too.

Another Kevin
04-07-2016, 18:19
I appreciate the reminder about OpenStreetMap. I had not been on there for a while. There is a high density of trail info near State College, PA, but far less in Tioga County, PA, as examples.

Sounds as if you've identified a project, then! ;) Get a bunch of mappers together and have a Tioga party? (Tioga! Tioga!)

Another Kevin
04-07-2016, 18:24
Dogwood, where aren't you getting signal?
I haven't had that problem for the last 4 or 5 years now.

Of course when the Gulf war started, they messed with the signal and it was off a few hundred meters.
But that was a while ago too.

Some users - I don't know if Dogwood is among them and don't want to insult him if he is better informed - confuse GPS availability with the fact that many smartphone applications also need a cellular network connection. (And some, like Backcountry Navigator or Avenza PDF Maps, do not, or at least have useful functionailty without one.) But I've certainly had the signal go wonky on me, particularly if I'm down in a deep reŽntrant on a north-facing slope, where rock blocks most of the view of the sky. (Of course, when I've been in that situation, I've known exactly where I am: for example, "I'm in the ravine of the Plotter Kill." But that's not useful when the purpose of the trip was to gather GPS tracks for a trail map.)

The interesting thing was that a day or two into the Gulf War, they stopped dithering the GPS signal. They found that the military was using a lot of civilian-grade GPS gear and that the advantage to our fighting forces of having a clean GPS signal was greater than the advantage to our enemies of having it. They've not dithered it since.

ki0eh
04-07-2016, 18:30
Rather than Avenza PDF Maps (which I use for the NYNJTC maps, that come out in that format), I use Backcountry Navigator. I like the features a little bit better. It can use sources like ArcGIS, CalTopo, Google and Bing as well, if it's got a network connection, and there are a lot of map packages that you can buy for it.

So is the advantage of Backcountry Navigator that it will load vector data directly on your choice of basemap?

Another Kevin
04-07-2016, 19:19
So is the advantage of Backcountry Navigator that it will load vector data directly on your choice of basemap?

It will do that, yes. It also has a decent UI for stroking out a rectangle of your basemap and loading that to your device at all resolutions, so that you can preload the part you need before you leave. That's great for a weekender and short-sectioner like me.

It also doesn't have very many restrictions on third-party basemaps. I can use my own basemap with it. Some of the other apps constrain me to a list of preselected ones and don't let me make my own.

And I don't have a lot of experience with these things. I started using BCN a few years and at least two phones ago, found it pretty much did what I wanted, and stopped looking. There may be something else wonderful out there.

Dogwood
04-07-2016, 19:44
Dogwood, where aren't you getting signal?

I must be in Phuketville. :D

what island were you on recently? - near sumatra, phillipines, malayasia, Nicobars.?

Traveler
04-10-2016, 06:36
I just got back from a trip to an island I hadn't been to before.
I like to explore new places.
In the old days, I'd try to find a map.
Usually they were pretty bad.
Now, I used the GPS on my phone and it showed every little road.
I highly doubt there's a paper map that would show them all.
I know some roads near the AT in PA that aren't on a map.

So, get used to it guys.
Maps will become obsolete in another generation. IMO.

GPS not only shows all the little roads, sometimes trails too and more importantly, shows you where you are on it. (unlike maps where you have to guess)
So, say goodbye to the paper ones and if you are in the map printing business, look for another job.

By the way, my GPS also showed me where each air plane was going from and to, and when my kid asked me what planet that bright star was, it took me about one minute to tell him it was Mars. All through the GPS.

Maps have been around for a very long time, as have compasses. If one has to guess where they are on a map it's not the maps fault. The GPS map will likely be more detailed than the 1962 sectional from the USGS, but its still a map. Mags has an excellent point, maps will always be around, how we use or access them changes as our technology does.

W1LDJACK
05-06-2016, 19:12
Absolutely! A map and compass tell me where to go. GPS tells me where I've been. Terrain recognition is the part of hiking I do enjoy a lot. Awareness of Ridges keeps your mind fresh.

rocketsocks
05-06-2016, 20:32
There was a time in history when only the higher orders had access to navigational devices and maps, now any schlep can buy a $0.10 compass and spit on it when the direction they want to go is on the map at home.

rocketsocks
05-07-2016, 15:39
There was a time in history when only the higher orders had access to navigational devices and maps, now any schlep can buy a $0.10 compass and spit on it when the direction they want to go is on the map at home.oops...on the map they left at home.