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Old 08-09-2012, 10:29 AM   #21
Wldrns
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Originally Posted by wildriver View Post
The problem here is that from everything that I've been led to believe, the USGS is getting out of the paper map business
Yeah, I know, it is obvious they are doing that. Sorry to see the old ways pass. Some of my most used maps still get a bit tattered as I fold and refold them. It is becoming very difficult to replace them. Some store vendors (REI, EMS) no longer carry paper, but have the machines that will print digital maps for you. They don't look nearly as good in my family room map chest as "real" maps.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:44 AM   #22
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The problem here is that from everything that I've been led to believe, the USGS is getting out of the paper map business. They have been digitizing the metric quads from the 1990s and posting them for free download online under the header "Historic Maps."
The USGS did a massive project to make high resolution scans of all (yes all) the paper topos they previously published. To download any of those scans for free, start here: http://nationalmap.gov/historical/

Gmap4 (see my earlier post in this thread) can show you those high resolution scans for the most recently published paper topo and do so in a seamless interface. Just steer Gmap4 to your area of interest and select "t4 Topo High" using the button in the very upper right corner of the screen.

If you prefer to look at the medium resolution topos from the MyTopo company then select "t2 MyTopo".
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #23
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You guys are the best. This is awesome information.

I've been using a variety of mapping sources but principally have used Garmin's BaseCamp with the NYTopo11 map. I also use GE to try to figure out the terrain. During the several practice runs, I've brought with me several zoomed in maps from BC, that have the UTM coordinates, along with the USGS map for that area.

Whoever thought that after 33 years of hiking I could become this animated about something new. The BW adventure is something I think I am going to enjoy. It's amazing how many of you can read the map and see so much more than I. It was never that critical to me when hiking on established trails.

What is the best way to try to determine whether you've hiked 1/3 mile vs. 1/2 mile? There's the stride-counting method but that would seem to be very difficult to do especially when having to circumvent blow down, creeks, ravines, and other obstacles.

Is it just your experience from reading the map and knowing where you are on it?
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:11 PM   #24
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What is the best way to try to determine whether you've hiked 1/3 mile vs. 1/2 mile? There's the stride-counting method but that would seem to be very difficult to do especially when having to circumvent blow down, creeks, ravines, and other obstacles.
The military teaches pace counting. You can count by 100's and swap pebbles from one pocket to another, or you can buy or make a little bead counter on para-cord.
I hate it. There is far more to occupy my mind than counting endlessly all day. I mention it, but do not teach or practice it. It may be ok for troops marching along a road, but it has no appeal to me. I use time, based upon the terrain I am in, along with strict observation of the terrain itself.

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Is it just your experience from reading the map and knowing where you are on it?
Yes, totally. There are general guidelines for estimating your speed and distance, but nothing is as good as your own experience in various terrain types, various stages of fatigue, weather, etc. The same with pace counting and stride length that varies also. But you are not blindfolded, after all. By measuring time instead of counting paces I am free to actually think and enjoy where I am. But keep in mind that this is a dynamic process, subject to frequent change and adjustment as you go.

On a long bushwhack I choose intermediate points at reasonable distances away, some feature that will identify where I am as I follow a handrail, or a feature change observed while following a pure compass heading in otherwise featureless terrain. I like to space points 15 to 20 minutes apart if I can, but sometimes it has to be much longer. As I walk I'll adjust my time estimate continuously depending on what is dynamically happening as I move. I never lose sight of my surroundings, as even "featureless terrain" is itself a feature and it does not go on forever. I am disappointed if I am in error by more than 2 minutes (10%) in a 20 minute span, and if so I'll then recalibrate what happened and why. Dead reckoning, defined as navigation by accurate accounting for direction and distance, can be quite precise.

This procedure keeps me from mis-identifying, for example, a stream crossing that may not be noticed on the map. Expecting to be at stream "B" at a certain time to fix my position for perhaps a change in heading, and arriving 5 minutes early makes me look closer at the map to see if there is a less distant stream "A" that I neglected to note on the map. It doesn't have to be a stream, as "squiggles" of parallel contours can be observed in the same way. This is a very common error, as you more often arrive a little late than early.

On the other hand, if I am 5 minutes late I begin wondering if I am really heading where I thought, I rationally justify my actual slower speed, and I start looking for my backstop beyond, or maybe my compass dial got randomly turned when I crawled through that thicket a while back (which has happened - another lesson learned).

When in difficult terrain you are allowed one navigation error for easy recovery back to a known point. If you do not notice the first error and proceed to compound it by making a second error, then your job becomes exponentially more difficult unless you randomly happen upon something unmistakably identifiable. If the many observational clues surrounding you do not make sense with one another, then you have made an error. Hopefully it is the first one, not the second.

Expectation of where and when is a great navigation tool that keeps you honest.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:37 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by wiiawiwb View Post
What is the best way to try to determine whether you've hiked 1/3 mile vs. 1/2 mile? There's the stride-counting method but that would seem to be very difficult to do especially when having to circumvent blow down, creeks, ravines, and other obstacles.

Is it just your experience from reading the map and knowing where you are on it?
I also use time. It's a great way to gage your progress while hiking or bushwhacking.
Always be sure to have a watch and make sure that it's working.
There's been a few times when I've set out on a bushwhack, then looked at my watch to check the time only to see that the battery has died.
To me that's like the batteries in my gps just died.
I do not use a gps, so I feel completely naked when hiking/bushwhacking without knowing my time.
Usually, I can hike about 1 mile in 20 minutes with a full pack hiking along a marked trail over moderate terrain...30 minutes if the trail is a bit rough, muddy, or steep.
When bushwhacking I usually give myself a mile an hour, depending on the terrain and forest of course. There's been times when the going is much slower, and there's been times when the going is much faster.
The important thing is to have a decent idea of your own pace.

A few things you always have to keep in mind when bushwhacking in the Adirondacks are that the hobblebush, blowdown, pine thickets, beaver activity, black flies, and deer flies can be absolutely relentless and extremely unforgiving at times!
Sometimes even all at once!
...You either love it or you don't.

Last edited by Justin; 08-09-2012 at 10:56 PM..
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:18 PM   #26
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I echo the time method vs. counting. I tried counting paces once and made it to 50 or was that 80 that's what happens, you lose track. If you did go this route there are clickers available ....www.maptools.com sells them, I believe. Also, breaking the trip up into a series of points is helpful and recalculating ETA time as needed.

Other than that, I would just like to offer encouragement. Even masters of this are not born with the skill and knowledge. It is earned through practice and learning from your mistakes. And the mistakes are sometimes what is need drill in something you thought you knew.

Don't be afraid to get out there and try it out. You sound like you have the wilderness skills through your years as a hiker. If you are comfortable in the woods, patient and go with the idea you will make mistakes along the way you will quickly make progress.

We all started by looking at a topo and seeing a bunch funny, squiggly lines, a baseplate compass and wondering what the heck a declination adjustment was...don't be intimidated it is fun. Addictive, I think!

My one piece of advice is if you get confused, STOP and THINK. And you will work it out. At leaste it always has worked for me.

Plus, you've got help, right here, with all these folks.
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:52 AM   #27
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There are tons of navigation instruction books out there, enough to be rather confusing. One of the early books that I and most everyone used was "Be Expert With Map and Compass" by Bjorn Kjellstrom. He was a co-founder of the Silva Compass Company in 1932. I see that more recent editions of the book are available.
It's still a part of my library
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:25 PM   #28
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For longer trips I use time. For very short distances where I am looking for precision, I use steps. For example, many features on a cliff cannot be seen easily from the top, so if I want to rappel down a feature and there are no usable landmarks, I may count a couple hundred steps to a place where I can hike up to the top, and then count back to find the feature. But in general, time is better for anything more than a couple hundred steps.

As a beginning bushwhacker, you cannot know what your pace will be. Two things to do: 1. Try to make sure your backstops, or "bump lines" as some call them, are really unmistakable, like a highway or a large river or lake. Then you can walk with confidence, knowing you have containment. 2. Don't be surprised at the slow pace vs. trail hiking. I echo the above about "expectation." I was taught to "anticipate and confirm." Most of the time, as a beginner in this, when have verified your direction, and you do not yet see the feature you are expecting, it means you are going slower than you thought, and you simply have not reached it yet. But if you don't have unmistakable backstops, not seeing the feature you expect can be scary.

Have fun! Don't miss the rocky east shore of the pond, and little Peak 1900. They are both cool.
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