GPS HIKES & MAPS: Trip Search Products Using GPS

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The I.C.

This week Team 5 is the only group out, covering a 55-mile stretch south of Cuba, NM. An area near their southern trailhead is known among land managers as "The I.C.," putting the team's exploits in prime running for the next hit show on FOX.

But Orange County the I.C. is not; the initials stand for Ignacio Chavez, a local who was granted land by the Spanish government in 1768 in an attempt to populate the area. As Team 5 will discover, the attempt was a dud. The barren volcanic upland has thin topsoil, is studded with boulders and, in the time of Senor Chavez, was frequented by Navajo raids.

As a result the I.C., now managed by the BLM as a wilderness study area, is rich with wildlife. Elk graze patchy grasslands, and a rainbow of birds nest among ponderosa pines, Douglas fir and pinon pines. The trail leads north along the Rio Puerco, a river that typically carries more of a trickle of silt than a rush of fresh water.

The map posted above will give some idea as to the data teams are working with in the field. The waypoint here marks the southern trailhead of the section, and the track was pieced together by Backpacker map office staff (with assistant map editor Andrew Matranaga leading the effort). That track was cobbled together from a variety of federal resources, and represents the most up to date CDT route as designated by land managers. It sometimes strays from more popular thru-hiker routes, but if you're looking to hike the official National Scenic Trail, this is it.

With that data in hand, teams will hit the ground and see what's actually out there. Sometimes what's on the ground will match the map to a tee; sometimes it may be off by a hundred yards or so. As data that previous teams collected comes in, we'll have a better idea of where the CDNST is actually running these days.

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