[cdt-l] CDT Mapping Effort

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Fri Dec 1 14:48:13 CST 2006

Some thoughts on this...

One thing to consider is the type of people who thru-hike the CDT. Most of
them have already hiked another long trail, and most of the others who make
this a "first long hike" have done other adventurous trips. I think those
kinds of people are generally less-interested in following a dotted line,
and more interested in non-conformity and having a rewarding hike. Of
course, there will be a few who want to follow the official route by the
book. But, who in their right mind is going to bypass Temple Pass in the
Winds in favor of the llama-packer route in the CDTA guidebook? (assuming
it's still drawn like that).

Another thing to consider is the terrain along the CDT. There are just many
more options than the PCT or AT. On the PCT at least, the trail generally
follows the most scenic route or only hikeable route anyway, and the few
cool alternates do get hiked quite a bit. The terrain along the CDT is
generally more open, which allows for off-trail routes in some places where
a designated trail would never be established (i.e. over the top of some
peak). If you're standing at a pass, looking up at an easily do-able
alternate route with amazing views, while the official trail goes into a
wooded tunnel... what more incentive do you need to strike your own path? 

There are a couple advantages to having such a project. It would raise
awareness of the CDT among a larger audience (i.e. the people involved in
the project), and gives a stronger legal foundation to the CDT, both of
which can help protect areas that might otherwise be lost to motorized
vehicles and/or resource extractors. Having an established CDTNST drawn on
official US maps can be a helpful thing to "point to" when dealing with
bureaucrats. Hopefully, this will also help put some pressure on local
agency offices to work to establish a good walkable right-of-way in areas
that currently have none (i.e. around Rawlins, parts of NM). 

On the other hand, I think such a project has little value for thru-hikers.
How accurate do you really need maps to be? I mean, does it matter if there
are 16 or 17 switchbacks on a particular climb? I think it's far more useful
to get key junctions, decision points, water sources, etc. identified and/or
described... as well as having a good accurate base map of the terrain (i.e.
the USGS 1:24K quads). Of course, I'm a bit biased about it ;-). I don't
know anything about the details of this project, but I'd be skeptical of any
info they gathered this way - it's only as good as the person reporting it.
A GPS doesn't "lie", but other things can be mis-identified,
mis-interpreted, mis-understood, mis-reported, etc.

I guess time will tell...


-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Ginny & Jim Owen
Sent: Friday, December 01, 2006 12:11 PM
To: cdt-l at mailman.backcountry.net
Subject: [cdt-l] CDT Mapping Effort

Backpacker Magazine is joining with CDTA to produce a definitive map of the 
CDT.  They are looking for volunteers to go out for one week sections.  This

is similar to previous efforts, but with Backpacker pushing the idea, it may

be more fruitful than some of the past efforts to gps the trail.

I have mixed emotions about this.  I understand the necessity of creating 
good maps of the trail, but at the same time, I am sorry to see this happen.

  One of the best parts of the CDT is the idea that you can and will create 
your own route, by picking and choosing among many options. The CDTS 
guidebooks give several options, Jonathan Ley gives others on his mapset, 
and once you get used to the idea that you don't have to follow a single 
defined route, most hikers feel free to invent routes of their own choosing.

  It seems to me that with a single map set, showing only one possible 
route, that most hikers will no longer enjoy the freedom that is the CDT.  
It will be so much easier to simply follow the route on the map.  What do 
you all think?  If you had a map set available that showed only the 
offiicial route, would you follow it, no matter what?

If you haven't hiked the CDT yet, be aware that in many places the official 
route is not the best route for hikers.  There are places where Jim Wolf's 
alternatives are much more scenic or better watered.  There are places where

Jonathan's routes were more adventurous.

I loved the fact that our hikes were totally unique.  This mapping effort is

likely to change the trail and the trail culture considerably for future 
hikers.  What do you think?



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