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Thread: maps or not?

  1. #21
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    is there any chance of photographing the maps on your phone would work? Then some way to print out a week or two a time when in town? Anyone try that?

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    It's not all about not getting lost or achieving a goal. Maps contain a wealth of information that will enrich your outdoor experience. If you can not read them well enough to benefit from them, it is time to learn.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    is there any chance of photographing the maps on your phone would work? Then some way to print out a week or two a time when in town? Anyone try that?
    I suppose you could store all you want on a thumb drive. Printing could be an issue. Probably easier to have them sent ahead as you travel.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    We do longer sections, and I use the maps almost every day. On the Long Trail I was using it constantly. I like maps

    There are alternative maps available that are easier to use and carry than the "official" ATC maps. National Geographic sells small map books, about the size of a folded map but they open like a book. These have big chunks of trail, two or three hundred miles per book. They are excellent quality maps with plenty of detail. Then I think Postholer is still selling three map books that cover the entire AT at this link. I've not seen those but they look interesting. You can carry one and have each of the others mailed at the appropriate spot.
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  5. #25
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I agree with Soumodeler. You don't need a map till you need one. I have carried a map on probably every hike I have taken in the past 40 plus years. There were a couple of instances on my NOBO AT thru hike where a map came in handy. In one case I came to a valley with a lot of jeep roads and other paths and could not figure out where the AT was. I pulled out my map and quickly found my way back. Now I probably could have found the trail without a map if I spent a good deal of time backtracking and hunting around randomly. The companions and guides do not provide enough detail if you need to quickly evacuate. I used the AntiGravity maps on my BMT hike this year along with the NatGeo maps. The AG strip maps do not have enough detail to be of much use. I mainly kept it in my pocket and referred to the waypoints to make sure I was on the correct trail. I have to admit that I have a map bias. I started at an early age earning my orientation merit badge in boy scouts and then spent a large part of my professional career making and using maps.
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    I saw a couple people mentioned the National Geographic maps which is what I have. I plan to bring one to start then swap them at the drop boxes, I'll end up carrying 2 at once since I'll get the next one before I get through the previous. Also bringing pages of AWOL's guide at a time to swap the same way.

    Are these maps good enough for the Smoky Mountains and the Whites? ... those are the two places I see mentioned most as far as having maps for.

    I bring topo maps when I hike in my backyard just for a better picture of everything, so bringing them on the AT isn't a question for me. I'm just wondering if I should have a more detailed map for the Smokies or the Whites.

  7. #27

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    I remember back in '77 when I hiked, we had maps.
    They were just strip maps and showed the trail only (about a mile to each side maybe)
    Then we met a guy who was carrying the state AAA road maps.
    We all gathered around him to see our resupply options.
    I guess they don't make them anymore (state road maps) as everyone has a phone with built in GPS and zooming options.
    paper maps limit you to the zoom level they are made for, and are going out of necessary use.
    Phone maps are just so much better.
    Of course, you must think about water and battery with any phone operation.
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  8. #28
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    200 miles on the A.T. and never got lost. This is saying a lot considering how bad I'm with directions. Awol book and just pay attention to the blazes is all you need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    IPhone maps are just so much better.
    .
    A screen the size of a playing card is hardly an improvement over a couple square feet or more of paper. That's what generates the need for the zooming in the first place.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    At minimum, have a good set of maps for the white mountains in NH. The A.T. up there was built by borrowing sections of existing trails that were already named and the signage/blazing can get a bit confusing.
    Agreed. Note that Sarcasm states "have a good set of maps for the white mountains in NH" not "the AT map for the whites." In case of bad weather, which can change quickly to an extreme, you want to be able to find a "down route" ASAP. Knowing that heading north for 1/4 mile will connect you to a good down route versus backtracking for 3 miles before getting off the ridge line could be the difference between life and death. And yes, including in the summer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyPincher View Post
    Agreed. Note that Sarcasm states "have a good set of maps for the white mountains in NH" not "the AT map for the whites." In case of bad weather, which can change quickly to an extreme, you want to be able to find a "down route" ASAP. Knowing that heading north for 1/4 mile will connect you to a good down route versus backtracking for 3 miles before getting off the ridge line could be the difference between life and death. And yes, including in the summer.
    So very true. I remember hiking down from the ridge to the Great Gulf on a trail that was knee deep in flowing water,, and being glad to do it. A long ago but vivid memory.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  12. #32
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    I echo what others have said about having maps in the Whites... it sure is confusing up there. The actual AT is not well marked, at least to my old eyes...

    Being old and having hiked for 50+ years, I love maps. It's fun being able to see and identify your surroundings (peaks, rivers, etc), and occasionally using them to find your way. I never hike without some form of a map.

    That being said, if there is any trail you can hike without any sort of a map, the AT is one of those. You won't die on the AT because you don't have any sort of map.

    I did find a map REALLY handy twice... both times I was yacking away with a fellow hiker and stopped paying attention to the blazes and got maybe a mile off trail (on a side trail). The "map" I used to get back on the AT was simply Google maps on my phone. If you zoom in enough, the AT does show up on Google maps. I personally think this (along with a TI map of the Whites) is all the "map" you need on the AT for the occasional screw-up. And as far as seeing nearby towns, etc, again, google maps provides all that info nicely with a little blue dot of your current location. NO, you do not need to be in service for that level of zoom, but you do need to be in service for the zoom level that includes the AT. Or you can cache a high level of detail when in service.

    Even being a long-time map lover, I now think for the most part that physical maps are a waste of paper and resources. With today's accurate GPS phone and map apps, I just don't see the need. Old timers and other nay-sayers will say: "But phones fail, and then you are up a particular creek w/o a paddle". Well, what actually fails on a phone 99% of the time? The battery, of course. So if you carry an extra battery, this takes away 99% of that worry. Todays phone screens are large enough to zoom and pan around a map easily enough. I carry Jpeg images of maps generated in Caltopo, with the GPS grid (in UTM) turned on, so basically I can always find my way around no problem on obscure trails. Sure, you can lose your phone or drop it, but you can lose paper maps as well. I have.

    Being super conservative however, on REALLY sketchy routes, like the Sierra High Route, where routefinding is critical for safety, I do carry a paper backup, and by the way, I always have a 0.3 ounce compass with me.

    Just my own Modus Operandi.

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    Thanks everyone for your awesome thoughts and suggestions. Super helpful! This is such a great community and I hope to meet some of you on the trail one day.
    Cheers and happy hiking,
    Matt

  14. #34

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    Had maps in GA, nice but didn't really need. Started carrying maps again in NH and will through ME.
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
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  15. #35

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    I you have always carried maps, then it is part of you hiking style and you should maintain that. I use maps extensively.

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    I've not on the AT, and not on a through hike.....but I enjoy maps. Sometimes I like to study the area around where I am at that moment. I find that I sometimes discover things that I otherwise miss....and a paper map is often better for this than zooming and panning around on that little phone screen. I also find it fun to review...like in the evening look at where I've been and get a preview of where I'll be going tomorrow.
    on an AT through hike though, I can see not bringing maps....trying to save the grams and all....just follow the trail.
    When I finally do get to do my section on the AT I'll probably bring a map, just for entertainment purposes.

  17. #37

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    Well I'm ok of map reading...sometime..lol
    Once I've found myself and decide which way to go, put the map away.. then put it out again... because I forget. .
    Now days I just use my phone... offline, gaia , appalachian trail and osmand app.. downloaded maps, gpx and waymarks.. will look for an up to date AT route near the time.
    If I feel uncomfortable in a area and can't see a path, I'll just track myself..at least I can go back..

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    If you're just planning on following the AT, data book and elevation profile are more than enough. Maps are required if you're the type who hikes side trails. Check my online map of the AT if its something you're interested in: http://bighike.net/m

  19. #39
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    You don't need maps for the AT.

    I have the entire set for the AT, and during my thru hike I had them sent every 400 miles. But the only time I looked at them was after I completed a section, and I'd say to myself, "Oh, that's where I was" or "Wow, look how far I went today." That was one item I wish I left at home.

    That said, having a good map for the White Mountains section would prove to be useful. As echoed in a previous post, the AT is not always well labeled at trail junctions in the Whites as it consists of a series of other trails. One wrong turn and a couple miles of backtracking alone is worth the weight of a 3 page map of the Whites.
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  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    is there any chance of photographing the maps on your phone would work? Then some way to print out a week or two a time when in town? Anyone try that?
    Did some experimentation with the PA maps. A picture did not work well. Very hard to get quality image you can zoom in on. But I tried my printer/scanner and one map took 9 scans. for total of about 15mb. I then mailed them to myself so they are on my phone. I can zoom in on these with great detail. Also, I could easily print them in a library of hotel if they have a printer center. I may try it this way on the next section hike.

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