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  1. #1
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Default Over price guide books/maps. Are they really needed to hike the CT?

    This summer Iím during the Colorado Trail! The hiking community is full of people who have really done a great service to help others. Thank you! At the same time, others seem like they are more out to make a living off of the hiking community.

    I was looking at the books available. Just my hiking style but I donít really look at maps unless I have to figure out which way to go. Town Maps: I might visit 3 or 4 towns to resupply at a grocery store. Are the towns really that big a detail map is needed??? That leaves the miles on the trail something several sites already offer for a small fee or free.

    Iím not against paying a few bucks but it seems like everything is really over price for what is needed to hike the trail. There not as much information on the Colorado Trails as other trails such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail but there still seems to be enough information to thru-hike for a few hours of work and a printer.
    So what do other things think? Am I wrong?

    Wolf

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    You certainly don't need much in terms of navigation to hike it. Google Maps and a printer will no doubt do the trick for towns en route, while a free-to-download GPS track will keep you on route, if you possess a GPS unit. I've met folks hiking with just the data book (as I did my first time), while others have had trail maps, guidebooks, larger maps and GPS. The trail takes all types! With today's single best resource (the Internet) at your fingertips, it's hard to go wrong. I prefer not to spend much on books or maps or town-guides, so I can continue to afford the adventures themselves! But, that said, I am sure never to pester others for a glance at their maps or guidebooks, and I don't go unprepared.

    You CAN become lost on the CT--I and others have--but it requires some work!

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    At this point, aside from the Collegiate West reroute, my wife and I will probably just hike with the data book. From what I've researched online (mostly here on whiteblaze) it seems the CT is pretty well marked and easy to follow. I did get the map book as a Christmas gift from an over protective mother but still am unsure if I'll de-spiral it and bring it along for the entire trail or just for the CW portion.

    As for the towns, I'm just going to make sure I know which road goes in then wing it from there! I figure that's all a part of the journey. I actually enjoy getting "lost" in a town I've never been in, you never know what you'll come across!

  4. #4
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    At the same time, others seem like they are more out to make a living off of the hiking community.

    I give away my info for free (with a donation requested to the CTF if someone finds it useful).

    But I don't see anything wrong with charging for information if people so want to purchase it.

    It is how life works. Someone makes a product. Someone likes said product and is willing to pay money. Those who do not wish to buy a guidebook do not.

    When I go hiking in say Rocky Mountain National Park, I do not use a guidebook. OTOH, I am not going to criticize the author of the guidebook who spent hours hiking the RMNP trails, taking photos, writing a guidebook and charging money for it when something like SummitPost and CalTopo exist for free. Time vs money. Some people want to pay a fee to have something in one package. Others would rather not. Both are fine.


    I don't work for free in my IT day job (which is for medical software..perhaps I should just volunteer my time ), I do not think you were working for free in the military, my Dad did not work free for sheet metal work, my wife does not work for free at her job, gear manufacturers make money off gear (even your $25 book bag) and I do not see why people should give away their work for free either.

    Don't like something? Cool. Don't buy it.

    But I don't understand this Rainbow Family idea of that everything should just be given away...
    Last edited by Mags; 05-14-2015 at 12:34.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I give away my info for free (with a donation requested to the CTF if someone finds it useful). But I don't see anything wrong with charging for information if people so want to purchase it. It is how life works. Someone makes a product. Someone likes said product and is willing to pay money. Those who do not wish to buy a guidebook do not. When I go hiking in say Rocky Mountain National Park, I do not use a guidebook. OTOH, I am not going to criticize the author of the guidebook who spent hours hiking the RMNP trails, taking photos, writing a guidebook and charging money for it when something like SummitPost and CalTopo exist for free. Time vs money. Some people want to pay a fee to have something in one package. Others would rather not. Both are fine. I don't work for free in my IT day job (which is for medical software..perhaps I should just volunteer my time ), I do not think you were working for free in the military, my Dad did not work free for sheet metal work, my wife does not work for free at her job, gear manufacturers make money off gear (even your $25 book bag) and I do not see why people should give away their work for free either. Don't like something? Cool. Don't buy it. But I don't understand this Rainbow Family idea of that everything should just be given away...
    And a resounding THANK YOU for your Quick and Dirty guides, Paul! They've helped many a hiker, myself included, and for that I'm especially grateful.

    No doubt, there's no issue in someone selling what they've put time into, no matter what it is. If it's needed or desired, it'll likely sell. If it's not, it probably won't. And in this day and age of boundless information, it's no skin off our backs, really.

    I suppose what I find so interesting, if that's the right word, is that the long trail experience is now so packaged and, to an extent, homogenized. We carry the same maps, guidebooks, town-guides, etc. We seek "adventure," but yet wish for prior knowledge and security. Comfort. I have to say that I liked it when very little information existed. Word of mouth, mostly. Of course, it's quite easy to avoid or eschew information (ala Alexander Supertramp, though it cost him dearly!). And of course, if it's a new experience, regardless of prior information obtained, it's still an adventure. Hell, I'm hiking the CT again for more of the same experience!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uriah View Post
    And a resounding THANK YOU for your Quick and Dirty guides, Paul! They've helped many a hiker, myself included, and for that I'm especially grateful.

    No doubt, there's no issue in someone selling what they've put time into, no matter what it is. If it's needed or desired, it'll likely sell. If it's not, it probably won't. And in this day and age of boundless information, it's no skin off our backs, really.

    I suppose what I find so interesting, if that's the right word, is that the long trail experience is now so packaged and, to an extent, homogenized. We carry the same maps, guidebooks, town-guides, etc. We seek "adventure," but yet wish for prior knowledge and security. Comfort. I have to say that I liked it when very little information existed. Word of mouth, mostly. Of course, it's quite easy to avoid or eschew information (ala Alexander Supertramp, though it cost him dearly!). And of course, if it's a new experience, regardless of prior information obtained, it's still an adventure. Hell, I'm hiking the CT again for more of the same experience!
    +1 to this. I too am very grateful to Mags for his knowledgeable advice and expertise.

  7. #7
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    This summer I’m during the Colorado Trail! The hiking community is full of people who have really done a great service to help others. Thank you! At the same time, others seem like they are more out to make a living off of the hiking community.

    I was looking at the books available. Just my hiking style but I don’t really look at maps unless I have to figure out which way to go. Town Maps: I might visit 3 or 4 towns to resupply at a grocery store. Are the towns really that big a detail map is needed??? That leaves the miles on the trail something several sites already offer for a small fee or free.

    I’m not against paying a few bucks but it seems like everything is really over price for what is needed to hike the trail. There not as much information on the Colorado Trails as other trails such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail but there still seems to be enough information to thru-hike for a few hours of work and a printer.
    So what do other things think? Am I wrong?

    Wolf
    Everyone who sells you anything makes a living off of you. Or goes bust trying.

    I don't think many who put together books, guides, or gear are really in it for exclusively the money. From dealing with folks in the industry it really strikes me as more of a 'I love to do this but have to pay the bills' sort of outlook. That leads to widely varied production costs and pricing, which is where community judgment of goods and services enters the picture and becomes so valuable.

    Think of how much money would be wasted on things that weren't what you wanted if you couldn't ask others in the community what they think about this or that and get their (usually) free advice.

    I think that the hiking community is pretty great in this respect and I'm sure that you do too from the general tone of your post.

  8. #8
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uriah View Post

    I suppose what I find so interesting, if that's the right word, is that the long trail experience is now so packaged and, to an extent, homogenized.
    That I can not disagree with..which is why I doubt I'll do another well known long trail again anytime soon.

    http://www.pmags.com/grassroots-to-o...-of-thru-hikes

    To sum up the above

    "Take the trails for what they are, not what you want them to be.The long trails, however or when they are hiked, are wonderful experiences.
    However, depending on the type of person and what that person’s expectations may be, a different type of thru-hiking experience may better. The traditional “Big Three” trails and the experience and way of hiking them have changed. A non-traditional way of hiking the trails, or even a different trail or route from the Big Three, may be better for some hikers.
    At this point in my life, I know it would be for me."
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
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  9. #9
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Interesting topic. I want to hike the CDT before it becomes the next PCT. At the same time, I find it very daunting. I have lucked into a reliable hiking partner from Chief Mountain to Roger's Pass. After that I'm going to take it one day at a time.

    I've been watching CDT videos and many, many times you can plainly see hikers are just walking across the terrain - no trail in sight. Sometimes you can see a pass in the background and I've assumed that's where they're headed. It's going to be .... interesting.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    This summer I’m during the Colorado Trail! The hiking community is full of people who have really done a great service to help others. Thank you! At the same time, others seem like they are more out to make a living off of the hiking community.
    Wolf
    First of all, The Colorado Trail is not a National Scenic Trail and it was not built by the US Forest Service. It was built by hundreds of volunteers working thousands of hours without compensation. It is an example of a grass roots effort that has developed into a world class hike thanks to 40 years of ongoing efforts by volunteers.

    The Colorado Trail Foundation is the nonprofit organization that takes care of the CT. The CTF has three employees - a director, a office manager, and a operations manager. The organization is governed by a 12 person board of directors, who all provide their services for free. The CTF receives revenues from contributions, grants, and sales of published materials. The income from these activities is used to support operations. Every inch of the trail is maintained every year via a ongoing adopter program, and 15 crews are currently scheduled for this coming season to build new trail and improve or maintain existing trail. The crews, crew leaders, and adopters are all volunteers - nobody receives any compensation other than the satisfaction of a job well done.

    The CTF produces a Guidebook and a Data Book, both published by CMC Press. They also sell the Mapbook, of which I am the primary author. The Guidebook and Databook are published every few years in large quantities, with prices set by the publisher. The Mapbook is produced on demand - one book at a time, which makes it more expensive than mass printing. Since it is published in this manner, it is also revised and re-published whenever the trail changes, which makes it timely and accurate. As with the other publications, the CTF makes a little bit off of each book. For the record, I produce the Mapbook as a contribution and 100% of the revenues from Mapbook sales are reinvested in the trail. I am not compensated in any way for this.

    If you think those guides are too expensive for you, don't buy them. The CT is in great condition, easier than many trails to follow, and well marked. You will probably do fine without any guides at all. I encourage you to come and give it a try. I also would encourage you to leave the attitude of entitlement at home.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10-K View Post
    Interesting topic. I want to hike the CDT before it becomes the next PCT. At the same time, I find it very daunting. I have lucked into a reliable hiking partner from Chief Mountain to Roger's Pass. After that I'm going to take it one day at a time. I've been watching CDT videos and many, many times you can plainly see hikers are just walking across the terrain - no trail in sight. Sometimes you can see a pass in the background and I've assumed that's where they're headed. It's going to be .... interesting.
    Interesting indeed. But you can expect that you'll love it, for the odds are in your favor! The Hayduke (non)Trail was of a similar ilk: daunting, but only until you get out there and place your shoes to sand, at which point the worries seem to melt. There were times I was terrified, but all it took was a reminder that all I had to do was walk. Sometimes through bramble, other times through quicksand (no kidding), but when the journey came to an end, I found myself wanting nothing more than to incur such fright again. I think it's normal to find ourselves full of dread when we dream big, but that's precisely what ignites our senses.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    At the same time, others seem like they are more out to make a living off of the hiking community...Wolf
    Well, most gear is made by people out to make a living off of the hiking community as well. Selling books and guides fits right in. Any product, including information, that requires the time and effort of others often has a price tag attached.

  13. #13
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walkintom View Post
    Everyone who sells you anything makes a living off of you. Or goes bust trying.

    I don't think many who put together books, guides, or gear are really in it for exclusively the money. From dealing with folks in the industry it really strikes me as more of a 'I love to do this but have to pay the bills' sort of outlook. That leads to widely varied production costs and pricing, which is where community judgment of goods and services enters the picture and becomes so valuable.

    Think of how much money would be wasted on things that weren't what you wanted if you couldn't ask others in the community what they think about this or that and get their (usually) free advice.

    I think that the hiking community is pretty great in this respect and I'm sure that you do too from the general tone of your post.
    Walkintom,

    From my own experience, some people motives I would question if it not more about making money or just get their name out than to really help hikers. A hiker who has their name known has an easier time getting sponsors even if they are clueless. At time they do more of a disservice to the hiking community. For example, I run into one “expert” who made a video on how to hike the AT. After he made the video, he started his first thru-hike ever on the AT. I’ve run into several hikers who charge for their classes, but not as knowable as an instructor should be. As a repeat hiker myself, I would expect a ‘instructor’ to be a lot more knowable. I even had one class ask me to speak because they didn’t have much faith in the instructor who they paid their money. I’ve seen some writers who themselves seem very inexperienced when it knowing what gear to carry but still pose themselves as “experts”.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some good ones out there too. I’m not against someone earning a few bucks, but I also like to get what I pay for. Just a quick look, some of the prices for the CT seem a little high for what you are getting.

    Wolf

  14. #14
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Well, most gear is made by people out to make a living off of the hiking community as well. Selling books and guides fits right in. Any product, including information, that requires the time and effort of others often has a price tag attached.
    4eyedbuzzard,

    True. The different between those that make gear is you can assess the gear before you make your purchase. If there is something is really over price you move on to something else. There are also many companies that backup their product.

    A book is a little different. A book does not have any warranty that the information is either accurate or helpful. It is very difficult to return a book. Living on the East Coast makes it also more difficult to see what I’m getting.

    Wolf

  15. #15
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Mags,

    I’m not suggesting someone should not paid for their work. You are paid (and should be) for your IT medical software skills. You are also paid a salary that both you are your employer agree is fair. Your employer offer to pay you $$. For your skills as in IT, you agree to provide your services for that salary. If your skill in the IT medical field is easily found, they will not pay you as much.

    A book on the CT (or any trail) is the same thing. I would yourself to being in the IT field to spend $100 to someone only to install a hard drive. At the same time, if someone offer to do it for $20, you might take them up on it – depending on how much free time you have.
    It is a matter of what you are getting for your money is why I’m asked the question. There are some books that are very good at a fair price. Others seem, well over price for what is needed to hike the CT.

    Wolf

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    I think theres a lot of plagiarism involved from other sources typically, so that one doesnt need to walk trail multiple times and develop their own data set. It certainly would help with informational tidbits though.

    What I find Im willing to pay for , is convenience of having information I want, in a tidy lightweight form thats easy to use.

    I also dont expect it to have every campsite, and every water source. But maybe the most popular ones so you know where SOME options are, kind of like my gps in the car knows where SOME gas stations and hotels and restaurants are.

    I think Erik the blacks CT atlas, combined with map covering collegiate west is the best option for CT, based on my limited research into guidebooks.
    I dont carry a smartphone thingy, and I think the CT foundations data book without real maps is a poor execution of a good idea. Their large map book is not made with hikers in mind. I have no idea who they had it in mind for.

    That said, even if I could print out the same things, and carry the paper, I probably wouldnt. I used eriks on the JMT and found it was all I needed, convveniently fit in my front pocket in a ziplock, and vastly superior to Harrison maps whose scale was too large to be useful.

    I do make it a point to contribute to agencies caring for trails i hike in some way. That may not mean buying their guide.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-14-2015 at 21:55.

  17. #17
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearcreek View Post
    First of all, The Colorado Trail is not a National Scenic Trail and it was not built by the US Forest Service. It was built by hundreds of volunteers working thousands of hours without compensation. It is an example of a grass roots effort that has developed into a world class hike thanks to 40 years of ongoing efforts by volunteers.

    The Colorado Trail Foundation is the nonprofit organization that takes care of the CT. The CTF has three employees - a director, a office manager, and a operations manager. The organization is governed by a 12 person board of directors, who all provide their services for free. The CTF receives revenues from contributions, grants, and sales of published materials. The income from these activities is used to support operations. Every inch of the trail is maintained every year via a ongoing adopter program, and 15 crews are currently scheduled for this coming season to build new trail and improve or maintain existing trail. The crews, crew leaders, and adopters are all volunteers - nobody receives any compensation other than the satisfaction of a job well done.

    The CTF produces a Guidebook and a Data Book, both published by CMC Press. They also sell the Mapbook, of which I am the primary author. The Guidebook and Databook are published every few years in large quantities, with prices set by the publisher. The Mapbook is produced on demand - one book at a time, which makes it more expensive than mass printing. Since it is published in this manner, it is also revised and re-published whenever the trail changes, which makes it timely and accurate. As with the other publications, the CTF makes a little bit off of each book. For the record, I produce the Mapbook as a contribution and 100% of the revenues from Mapbook sales are reinvested in the trail. I am not compensated in any way for this.

    If you think those guides are too expensive for you, don't buy them. The CT is in great condition, easier than many trails to follow, and well marked. You will probably do fine without any guides at all. I encourage you to come and give it a try. I also would encourage you to leave the attitude of entitlement at home.
    bearcreek,

    I don’t know the actual number but I don’t doubt there were and are hundreds of volunteers who spent thousands of hours to make the CT what it is. Also a BIG THANK YOU to you for donating the proceeds of the Mapbook sales back to the trail.

    There are also several books out there besides the Mapbook or the Guidebook. Some that seem over price for what they are giving back to the hiking community. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t believe all of them give the proceeds back to the trail or are always as noble. I also don’t think that it is a sense of entitlement not to want to support those that don’t give back to the trail.

    There are also some hiking books, the writer might have good intentions but are not very particle for thru-hiking. As you pointed out, the Mapbook and Guidebook are published every few years. If someone else is providing a service to help hikers by providing more update information is it really bad to use it?

    Wolf

  18. #18
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10-K View Post
    Interesting topic. I want to hike the CDT before it becomes the next PCT. At the same time, I find it very daunting. I have lucked into a reliable hiking partner from Chief Mountain to Roger's Pass. After that I'm going to take it one day at a time.

    I've been watching CDT videos and many, many times you can plainly see hikers are just walking across the terrain - no trail in sight. Sometimes you can see a pass in the background and I've assumed that's where they're headed. It's going to be .... interesting.
    10-K,

    Years ago - back in the 1990s, I created my own databook. Long before the PCT was what it is today. At that point, I believe there where less than 500 hikers who completed the entire trail. As I went up the trail, I update my own databook to use for my next thru-hike. I went on to complete the PCT three times 1993, 1996, 1997.

    My point being is creating your own can also help you become more involve with the trail. I saw the long stretches without water or resupply points. I also had a better idea of what towns were good places to resupply. This was before the Internet was popular and things were harder to find. Now things are not as hard to put together.

    If you are planning on doing the CDT and have your own time, I suggest consider creating your own.

    Wolf

  19. #19

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    I wouldn't hike any long trail without maps of some sort. Western trails don't have many blazes. Many trail junctions are not marked and turns can be very obscure. If you need to bail out for some reason (illness, injury, bad lightning) you need to know what other trails are out there that can lead you to safety.

  20. #20

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    The Guidebook is updated every 2-3 years. The Mapbook is updated every year, if anything changes. Nobody is updating their information more often than that.

    Indeed, there are some publications out there about the CT that do not "give back to the trail".

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