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  1. #1

    Default Paper maps can fail, too

    As is often the case with me, I took my time enroute home from a cycling trip to the Virginia Creeper Trail yesterday, choosing to nearly double my travel time home by exploring two areas I'd never visited even though they're each right along a well-beaten path from Raleigh to Boone, NC. I had my brand-spanking new DeLorme NC Atlas & Gazetteer on board, as always, complete with much improved landscape resolution and more place-names. All in all, a nice piece of gear.

    But, I headed down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Aho Gap on Sampson Road only to find a quandary at an intersection. The state's/county's signposts, or lack of them, didn't help, but the DeLorme depiction of the intersection and which road was which was cluttered and difficult to comprehend. The signage which did exist did not fully match up with the road names on the DeLorme, either. After a few minutes, I could hear banjo music over the sound of my idling diesel, so I chose to head back up to the Parkway then north to Elk Creek Road instead. Not a complete fail, mind you, but a bit annoying to a map junkie like me. We did complete a long drive along Elk Creek, explored some campgrounds and cycle trails around W Kerr Scott Reservoir near Wilkesboro, and generally had a nice outing in the Blue Ridge and adjacent foothills.

    Further down into the Piedmont, a fairly new reservoir and some bicycle rail-trails awaited our exploration, as we like to do a drive-by or two before loading up the cycles and dedicating a day to a new trail. The Randleman Dam and Randleman Regional Reservoir was our primary target. From prior map study, I knew it straddled US 220/I-73 between Greensboro and Randleman, so I didn't bother to even open my DeLorme to the correct page before arriving at the Level Cross exit. A "boating access" sign was present assuring I'd reached the right place. While pulled over at the top of the ramp, I opened my DeLorme to decide just where on the lake to go to and was astounded to find the lake ISN'T ON THE MAP! This is no farm pond, but instead is a +3,000 acre impoundment over 15 miles in length. Construction on the dam was started in 2004 and the basin was flooded in 2007. Plans were to open the lake to recreational use in 2009 but budget and other problems delayed its opening to March 2010.

    The new DeLorme NC volume is Ninth Edition, copyright 2010, so I guess I can give them a pass to one degree or another on the complete absence of the lake and the dozen or more truncated roads its construction provided. The dang thing was full of water by 2007, however, and county roads forever altered by then, so would hope a feature of its size and regional/local significance would appear on a map whether it's open to the public or not.

    Obviously not a life-or-death issue like the reliance solely on GPS in the case of the Canadian couple in Nevada in the recent news, but not what I expected from DeLorme, either.

    Be prepared, RoadTrippers!

    Foy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    And that was the atlasses you urged me to invest in??

  3. #3

    Default Yes, Ma'am, but..........

    ......I've opted for the Benchmark map books for the Western states, where Benchmark offers, in my opinion , a superior product compared to DeLorme's older Western US map books.

    Of course, nothing's perfect, so the adage "there is no COMPLETE substitute for a map and the ability to read it" includes "the ability to read it", therefore having an idea of if and when one's map seems about to lead you astray.

    If Benchmark offered Eastern US map books, I'd have them.

    In the case of the Aho Gap/Sampson Road situation, if I'd have been willing to try the most likely fork shown on the map, it would have been the correct choice, as determined by online mapping software earlier today. I was unwilling to proceed further down a steep mountain road with few opportunities to turn my 21' long truck around, so I bailed out in favor of the next canyon to the north.

    Foy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Never ever recommend De Lorme

    De Lorme's best maps are in Maine... But I've never recommended De Lorme for any US state. The maps I use, every day are Benchmark, as mentioned above. Unfortunately they don't cover every USA State -- but they are excellent for western states.

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    De Lorme's best maps are in Maine... But I've never recommended De Lorme for any US state. The maps I use, every day are Benchmark, as mentioned above. Unfortunately they don't cover every USA State -- but they are excellent for western states.

    Mark
    In the case of our mutual friend Lifey, I'd recommended the Benchmarks. While DeLorme has limitations, they remain the only game in town here on the Right Coast for "whole state" detailed coverage at 1:250,000 scale.

    That said, I am thoroughly enjoying my National Geographic Trails Illustrated waterproof folding maps for the mountains of NC and VA. I've purchased coverage from the northern end of the Smokies in NC/VA well into VA and have had to purchase only 4 maps to obtain great detail of an entire region. At about $12 each, they're not cheap, but they're easy to read and are chockablock full of information. I recommend them for any level of interest in back-country driving and travel planning in the Southern Appalachians.

    Foy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default That's why they're updated every year

    I also use Rand McNally and every year I find something that's not quite right and every year, they publish a new one -- Just like the other map publishers. Mapping is a very complex undertaking -- no paper or electronic map will ever be 100% accurate -- Each of our brains have to be able to bridge that final gap -- as you did.

    By the way, I adore those National Geo maps -- the one for Death Valley is really good -- I've worn out 4-5 versions of it. Oops, I need to add it to our RoadTrip Store!

    Mark

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    And that was the atlasses you urged me to invest in??
    Haha, glad you didn't listen to them investment ideas eh?
    I've had a few issues with older maps and road closings or where a road simply wasn't on a map like someone had forgotten it was there???

    OP - you start off saying you were bicycling but then say you could hear bango's over your idling diesel? I'm confused.


    I've given up on paper maps as my first line of navigation, instead I use a GPS that I can update right before a trip, sometimes getting lost can be fun, but at my age is more of a pain in the arse.

    My GPS - I like the big text and screen, really helps out these old eyes!

    That's what I use, I still have paper in the glove box in the camper but my first tool is the GPS anymore.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TravelTOAD View Post

    OP - you start off saying you were bicycling but then say you could hear bango's over your idling diesel? I'm confused.


    I've given up on paper maps as my first line of navigation, instead I use a GPS that I can update right before a trip, sometimes getting lost can be fun, but at my age is more of a pain in the arse.

    I still have paper in the glove box in the camper but my first tool is the GPS anymore.
    Fellow traveler T Toad,

    I believe a careful reading of my OP will show I was describing the drive home from a cycling weekend, a drive I made in my diesel pickup.

    I had, in fact, encouraged our friend Lifey to invest in Benchmark maps given that her plans for future travel involve Western US states where Benchmarks are generally available. My private communications with Lifey mentioned Benchmarks as preferred, DeLorme's if no Benchmarks available.

    Good luck with the GPS. Don't lose that paper, however, and don't be shy about consulting it. You might want to read the "Reliance solely on GPS.........." thread above. Albert Chretien is most likely dead now because of his reliance solely on GPS, and his widow is said to have been within days of joining him in the hereafter before being discovered after she had been marooned for +7 weeks. If Albert had had a decent paper map on board, even a DeLorme, and had consulted it before hieing off into the mountains of northeast Nevada from the Snake River plain in Idaho, he'd probably be alive today, and his widow would have been spared weeks and weeks of suffering.

    Here's a recently written little piece on the subject. It's titled "Death by GPS": http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/...20063222.shtml

    Foy

  9. Default

    Oh my apologies Foy, I must have skipped a few sentences whilst reading :(.
    Sorry for the mix up, I was at a total lost how you went from being on a bike to a diesel powered truck hah I guess I have my answer!

    Sorry about that...

    Wow, no fear we keep our paper maps close at hand, we normally plot a rout on the map then let the gps guide us until something fishy comes up. Thank you for posting that article about the couple in Nevada!

    (Sorry, I had to change that sentence... The couple referred to in the article got into trouble in a wilderness area in northern Nevada -- not even in the same reality as Las Vegas)... We don't want to cause any more confusion here.)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-17-2011 at 12:17 PM.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TravelTOAD View Post
    Wow, no fear we keep our paper maps close at hand, we normally plot a rout on the map then let the gps guide us until something fishy comes up. Thank you for posting that article about the couple in vegas!
    No worries here, friend.

    If I'd remembered to bring my Garmin NUVI last weekend, I could have entered my intended route and would have had a "second set of eyes" at the intersection in question, so to speak. Had I had it on board, I would have been more likely to proceed in the right direction with the "second opinion". My old-school land navigation training in geology school leaves me partially of the mind-set that using a GPS is "cheating". I really should more warmly embrace the technology, as when combined with good maps and a wide streak of common sense, one is likely to never get lost or go astray.

    I took a few minutes to examine the road and intersection on my old DeLorme last night and was struck by the "change in category" for Sampson Road from the old edition to the new one. (Placing tongue in cheek) Sampson Rd went from "goat trail" to "Major Connector" status (the latter being the actual depiction now). One wonders what the guys playing the banjo on Sunday afternoon think of their "upgrade".

    Short-term annoyance aside, we enjoyed a fine traverse of Elk Creek Road, which at the downhill end is part of the Overmountain Victory Trail (Revolutionary War-era campaign involving several hundred guerillas from the Great Valley who trekked over the Blue Ridge to annihilate a stunned British column at Kings Mountain, NC, a precursor to subsequent defeats in the months preceding final victory at Yorktown), and the upper portion of which was the route taken by Daniel Boone and company enroute from present-day Wilkesboro, NC for the Cumberland Gap in the mid- 18th century. Then, as now, transportation routes are topography-driven, and topography is geology-driven.

    There are additional news story links related to the Canadian couple within the other thread here in the Gear Up forum, the most telling of which involve the locals' incredulity with the fact that ANYONE went into the mountains in March as did the Chretiens.

    Safe travels!

    Foy

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