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The Unknown Joys of Cartography

Piney Creek Wilderness

Several years ago we made a map.

A trail map of a wilderness area for which the official maps were sadly lacking. We hiked the trails with our GPS, and I spent many hours overlaying a USGS topographic map of the area with our GPS Tracks and notes. We put the map on our hiking and backpacking website and forgot about it.

Yesterday I was on YouTube looking for videos of local hikes, and I instantly recognized the thumbnail image of one — it’s a great view of the start of a really steep descent at Piney Creek Wilderness — the Wilderness we’d mapped. So I clicked on play. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that the opening credits were shown over a copy of our map. And it was our map the chap used on his hike around the wilderness. Excellent! That was exactly why we made the map and it was good to know that it is being used.

Watching the video I discovered one of the obvious, but previously hidden from me, joys of cartography. In making the map we’d recorded several unmarked trails, and he who makes the map gets to name things. Sure enough, the names we had given to the unnamed trails were being used.

It’s a minor thing, but at the start of a long busy week, it made me smile.

It also reminded me that we need to go back and map the last couple of trails we’ve not hiked. I also suspect there are a whole lot more unofficial trails left for us to discover.    

Photographs of Piney Creek Wilderness.

Copyright © 2018 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.