Don't you just love topographic maps? I am planning a trip later this fall, and one of the first steps is to study the map of the potential area. In this case, I have a very detailed map of where I am likely going - subject to change based on a last minute weather forecast, since this particular area can have short periods of severe weather even as early as September.
But I've had fun so far imagining this particular trip - if and when it happens - by looking at the topo map. It is always exciting to study the topography of places one has not been ever or in a very long time, and try to imagine from the map what the hike would be like. Wow - that part of the trail looks like a really steep downhill! I can imagine how my knees will feel. What about there - is that a cliff? Better avoid that! Look at that remote stream or pond. Might that be a good spot to view wildlife? But if I can get there, I'd better avoid the shortest looking route, as it is likely to be boggy. I wonder how long it would take to bushwhack it? And what about that summit with no trail leading to it? Would that be worth a bushwhack? Naw, it looks too steep through there, and there are likely to be dead falls and big rocks. Hey - that should be a great spot for lunch with great views! I wonder if I can make it there on day 3 for a lunch spot? How long is this total hike going to be, anyway? 30 miles, maybe? Maybe a little more? I bet if I do that detour for a mile or so, leaving the main trail and doubling back on that other trail, that I will have some great views, if I interpret the map correctly. And how about that waterfall? I wonder what that is like?
Hiking in my mind, using a good topo map, is a lot of fun. It is like imaging the trip prior to doing, and anticipating the fun I hope to have while there - without the aches and pains, bug bites, and chance of cold or wet weather. It is well worth the price of the map!
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