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Maps


Aaron Zagrodnick

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One thing that I seem to love are maps. When I’m not on the trail backpacking or hiking I’m most likely planning my next adventure, or when I head home from a trip I always seem to find myself staring at sets of maps to find out what the name of that peak that I saw in the distance was, or just where that other trail lead from a fork when I went right and the other trail went left.

Backpacking Maps

Usually, this results in maps spread out across the house for days - Once I find out just what the name of that peak was, I’m spending my weeknights devising a weekend plan that could take me to the summit. Or I might be calculating mileage with a piece of string and a ruler to an off-trail lake I noticed on the map that might have some potential to hold a golden trout or two…

By my side throughout this process the computer screen would light the scene, as satellite views and various topographic map resources were evaluated. Even though it was definitely an enjoyable process, as maps were folded and unfolded dozens of times, and as the online map images started to become permanently burned into my computer screen I figured there had to be a better way. Since we’re located at the foot of the Wind River Range, the Winds are our go-to getaway for a weekend or anytime that a long drive isn’t feasible. The obvious and better method was obtaining the topo maps for the entire range, a few thumbtacks, and some map pins… After a few minutes with a measuring tape and a level a wall map of the entire range measuring over 4 x 3 feet in size now dominates our dining room wall. On top of that, Jen and I decided it would be great if we somehow documented every place where we’ve spent a night in the range, and as such a map pin now documents each camping spot - Evoking memories of the mostly good sites we’ve chosen (And a few more memorable not so good spots) over the years. We even assigned a different color for each trip, the rows of pins on the wall really give one a nice impression of just how far or not so far you went and a great picture of the overall route from a bird’s-eye view.

Pin in Wind River Range Map

The great part is that when the curiosity bug strikes, or a route needs to be planned, the multiple maps don’t have to be unfolded and refolded, and the computer can lay idle… All we have to do is walk over to the wall, or simply come up with a quick plan over dinner. Best of all, I find that a huge map of your favorite backcountry destination provides serious inspiration to just get up and get out there, whether you’re planning an epic adventure or even if you only have a few hours to spare for a quick hike. And for those times when you just can't make it out to the trail, at least you can still (To some extent) bring the trail to you.

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I also love maps, and have had a facination with exploring to see what is actually "out there" vs just having a notation on the actual paper map. I've kept a hike journal for many years with hand drawn maps of my route. It's a great reminder of where I've been, and an invitation to hike there again. These days my GPS does most of the work for me.

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TollerMom

Posted

I love this idea. I wanted to do something similar using highlighters, but I really like your map pins. Especially useful on some of the coated maps. I think a trip to the local USGS office is in order!

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Posted

Gary, great idea on the hike journal, I might have to adopt that idea as well. I think taking things to a hand drawn level would really document things in an interesting manner.

TollerMom, if something like this has been on your mind, I say go for it! I've found that something as simple as a map of my favorite hiking area on the wall has changed things quite a bit. Anytime I take a look at the map and see an area without as many pins as another place on the map...I know where to plan my next trip. :D

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I absolutely love the map on the wall idea! Think I'm def gonna have to steal this one! Always wanted to start a hike journal, just never have. Maybe now I'll be motivated too.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Posted

Hey bkpackerb, thanks for checking out the post - At the moment I'm finding that the wall map is definitely helping the 2013 trip planning efforts as well as helping to fend off the winter cabin fever that's starting to set in! :D

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