[Cdt-l] Maps & Guidebooks

Bob BobandShell97 at verizon.net
Fri Mar 12 09:11:54 CST 2010

Jonathan is, of course, right:   "it really depends on how you learn about
and navigate the world"


There's also an enrichment issue, in addition to the method issue.  It
depends on just how you view your environment and what you want to learn
about it and from it, as you go.  


Staying found is the absolute bottom line.  Maps can do that.  But, in
addition, there are many hikers who view their hike as possibly a
once-in-a-lifetime experience and they want to wring all they possibly can
out of it.  That usually requires information.  My, do I love maps and I
usually hike with three or four of any given area.  Often it takes
consultation with several before the particular answer, lurking on the
paper, reveals itself. 


But next to staying found, locating water has to be right up there in
desperate importance.  Often guidebooks tell of a water source slightly off
the obvious path that simply isn't marked - at least in an obvious way - on
the map.  Jim Wolf is particularly good at helping you find those.  He spent
a lot of time looking for water for you.  


Many hikers are just interested in walking speedily from Point A to Point B
and checking out the views as they go.  That's cool.  


However, some are fascinated that runaway slaves who killed their overseer
were caught and hanged right here on the trail, or that a moonshiner had his
cabin 100 yards to the right, with hundreds of old bottles in that gully, or
that the area just ahead is famous for the unusual fly-eating pitcher plant
or that a huge, especially fine example of conglomerate rock can be found
here just by sticking out your left hand or that the spring ahead has been
tested and found to have too much uranium in the water or that there are
lots of bleached cow bones in the bottom of this shallow lake or that this
notch you're going through used to be called xxx and why or that a
particularly famous explorer crossed the Divide right here, going east to
west, on a particular date.  Just random memories from the guidebooks for
the AT, PCT and CDT.  A impossibly long, but delightful, list of info
learned only through reading a guidebook could be made.  Yet, it's
absolutely true that info like that just doesn't interest some hikers.


The elder statesman of the CDT, Jim Wolf, has devoted all his free time for
many decades setting forth for future hikers all he could learn about the
trail and its environment, as well as being a champion for challenging the
Forest service to do the right thing in the actual treadway placement.  When
I did the CDT, I wanted to be the beneficiary of all his work and knowledge.
Do I think his guidebooks are perfect?  No.  Would I like them readable in
either direction?  Of course.  But the changes I'd like would be much too
costly for him to manage, with the limited finances available.    Hiker
cost?   Somewhere either on this list or PCT-L, years ago, I believe someone
wrote that if you couldn't afford to buy the guidebooks, you probably
couldn't afford to do a thru-hike.  You'll spend more than that in a good
town stop.


Some buy the books, then to save weight extract what they think they need
and mark up their maps with many little details.  Namie Basile told me that
the first two times he hiked the CDT he just used Forest Service maps,
nothing else.  He's got more guts than I do.  Obviously, there's no "right
way" to hike a trail, hence the motto HYOH.  It boils down to the type of
experience you want.  I'm one of those old farts who thinks of life as
"continuing education."   It doesn't matter which trail we're on. for me,
guidebooks help that education.   


OK, this came off as more "preachy" than I wanted, but I'm too lazy to go
back and change it.  I'm still working on my early caffeine and I may be -
as Click and Clack say -  "Non impediti ratione cogitationis." -
Unencumbered by the thought process.    But some of you have thought that of
me for years.


Dr Bob



From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Jonathan Ley
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:27 PM
To: CDT MailingList
Subject: [Cdt-l] Maps & Guidebooks


I think it really depends on how you learn about and navigate the world. Not
sure if anyone here has studied different learning/communicating styles, but
I think this has a lot of relevance:

Many people are primarily visual, in which case the maps alone might work.
Others are more auditory or kinesthetic learners, who might work better with
a textual description of where the trail goes. 

Think about this. When someone asks directions from you, do you draw them a
map? Or tell them where to turn?  

When you are driving around in the city, do you feel more comfortable
looking at maps? Or reading directions? 

If you catch a bus, do you need to know exactly which streets the bus is
going down in order to figure out where you're going? Or do you just rely on
the names of the stops? 

Personally, I'm a much more visually-oriented person. For instance, when I
print out directions from google-maps of where I'm trying to go, I only
print the map, and could care less about the turn-by-turn directions. Others
are just the opposite. 

When I was on the PCT, I never read the trail descriptions. I just used the
little guidebook maps. I would meet some other hikers and if they asked
about some point on the trail, I'd point to the map. They'd reference some
mile-point, or description that was in the guidebook. I could never figure
out why they'd make it so hard on themselves to navigate that way. But, I've
come to the conclusion that it just matched their learning style better. Or,
maybe I'm just a crackpot ;-)

So, either or both approaches are good for different people - we all have to
hike our own hike. One thing though. out on a trail like the CDT, you do
really need a map, as if you get off-route, directions won't help much.
However, if you're not primarily a visual thinker, reading and using a map
is likely to be harder for you. It's something you'll probably need to
practice a lot to get right. There are a lot of books out there about
navigation. I always recommend "Staying Found" by June Fleming, as I found
it very well put together, and readable:
Also the mantra here is to "stay found" - i.e. the key to not getting lost
is to always know where you are. Always. With every step (i.e. no putting
your head down for hours and getting lost in some iPod music then hours
later trying to figure out where you went wrong).  Not quite as easy as it

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