GPS HIKES & MAPS: Trip Search Products Using GPS

Friday, April 13, 2007

Starting Point

So how do you follow a trail that has no official map?

That’s a question coming up a lot at the Map Office in Boulder, CO, these days. Unlike the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, the CDT has many, many routes—some official, some not—stringing along America’s backbone from Mexico to Canada.

In fact, as odd as it sounds, there’s a debate on where the CDT begins on the Mexico border. Most thru-hikers prefer Antelope Wells, a small port of entry on the Mexico border. However, Jim Wolf of the Continental Divide Trail Society claims a spot near Columbus, NM, in his guides. And most land managers say it’s the south end of the Big Hatchet Mountains. That’s where we’ll send our first scouting team in a few weeks.

As the crow flies, the Big Hatchet trailhead is roughly 30 miles south of Hachita, NM, on the eastern border of New Mexico’s bootheel. From there, the trail travels north crossing mostly BLM land, bypassing the private lands and long road walks of the other two routes. The route is constantly being tweaked; BLM staffers were out marking a re-route of the trail earlier this week.

Jackie Neckels, the wilderness and recreation planner for the BLM's Las Cruces office, made a quick note on a map of recent reroutes that speaks volumes for the process: "The reroutes and proposed trail segments should all be marked with orange flagging—unless the cows ate it, or the wind has blown it off!"

Our team will carry a detailed topo map with a rough outline of the trail, and a GPS unit preloaded with known points to assist them. Getting lost will be part of the job since there’s no official line or continuous blaze throughout the first 40 miles.

It’ll be dusty and hot, and water sources are scarce. That and the border patrol wants to know our team‘s whereabouts, and its satellite phone number. It’ll be dirty job full of adventure... maybe Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs should join us.

Kris Wagner, Map Editor

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Hey Kris,

I was also thinking of writing Mike Rowe about the dirty job of hiking. :o) Maybe he'll come out.