[cdt-l] hiker-centric CDT cartography

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Tue Dec 19 21:44:18 CST 2006

I think eventually, this is where maps for the CDT, and/or other trails are
headed. However, while there are some solutions today - like the wiki
approach - I think there's still some way to go on this. And those are
mostly text-based community-content applications (It may work for something
like a traditional trail guide book however).

I don't think the .tpo solution will work for most people. That's a
proprietary format, and would require that anyone buy ~$400 of maps to
either contribute or get it to work. 

I think (hope?) what will eventually happen is that someone like google will
buy a company like topozone, etc. and merge that service with something like
google earth (or just home-grow it themselves). If they also added a GUI
.kml editor, it'd be a killer application and perfect for this kind of

Google earth already has what amounts to a giant bitmap photo of the US, so
why not add a layer of the USGS 1:24:000 quads? Or other USGS scales? I just
hope they wouldn't make it a part of their for-pay service only.

I drew the CDT in .kml last year, and it is possible to do things like add
notes, alt routes, photos, overlays, etc. to this file, but doing so
requires a bunch of coding, and I don't have the time to tackle that... and
I doubt many others do either. It also makes future edits a real bear. It
would be a lot easier with a GUI .kml editor. But, such an editor would have
to directly interface to google earth so you could see what you're drawing
on top of - so I think google would have to create it. To see what I did,
you can click here:

Anyway, specifically to Bliterfree - I think you're quite familiar with all
this as I believe you did the GET in .kml... and fancier job than I did with
the CDT!

.kml could be where .html was in 1993 wrt/ editors. Or, it could be a
dead-end proprietary format - who knows? Actually, I don't think such an
editor would be such a difficult thing to create. It wouldn't be much
different than some of the tools included with the topoUSA series maps,
which have been around for years.

The one thing that concerns me about this kind of solution is that it would
then be dependent on a private corporation. Google could go bankrupt, get
bought, or change their market strategy and "poof"! there goes the


-----Original Message-----
From: cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:cdt-l-bounces at backcountry.net]
On Behalf Of Brett
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 6:12 PM
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: [cdt-l] hiker-centric CDT cartography

OK, overblown subject heading. But here's the thought:

A CDT mapping project that encourages the sort of 
independence and individualism that hikers are uniquely able 
to bring to this trail, while also improving their ability 
to plan and implement long hikes along a route of their own 

A set of maps depicting each of the commonly used routes, 
cut-offs, and variants, each color-coded for easy 
identification, would shift the balance of power away from 
any one guidebook, author, organization, or the conventional 
wisdom du jour, and give that power directly to the 
hiker-in-planning, or hiker-en-route, so that the hiker can 
hike his own hike.

The CDTA route is official, but not necessarily the most 
practical at all times; its guidebook can sometimes be a 
bear to use in the field. The CDTS route identifies many 
interesting and potentially helpful alternatives to the 
official route, but sometimes strays significantly from the 
Divide itself. Jonathan Ley's maps are easy to use in the 
field and represent an interesting third point of view, but 
why stop at three?

A single resource showing each of these commonly-used routes 
would encourage independent thinking while it also validates 
the CDT and its variations both descriptively and 

Anyone (or more than one) feel like tackling this thing 
someday? :)

I'm thinking of a .tpo file for Topo! containing traces 
and/or waypoint-derived route info for the "big three," plus 
whatever else folks would like to add in for good measure. 
The file could evolve over time to reflect changes in the 
guidebook-described routes as well as to highlight new 
alternates as hikers explore them. (Maybe updating could be 
more of a top-down thing than a bottom-up.) This would be 
like Wikipedia for the CDT map user. Hikers could print out 
just the maps they need, based on the route they intend to 
travel, while adding in whatever notes and info pertinent to 
their experience.

With a large enough stockpile of waypoint data, such a 
project could practically finish itself.

Anyway, just a thought...

- blisterfree

Simblissity Ultralight :: One-of-a-Kind Designs for the 
Great Outdoors

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