How Having a Map Collection Can Inspire a World of Possibilities and Crazy Ideas
|Some of my old favorites, representing adventures past.|
I may have lost a few over the years, but for the most part, the collection remains in tact. There's the waterproof, tear-resistant map of Denali that I bought before I moved to the park in the summer of 2006. Then, there's one of the same material for Bryce Canyon National Park, which I was lucky enough to visit for work. It was the first trip I'd taken to a place so beautiful I could hardly imagine going to sleep for fear of wasting a minute of the two days I was there. The paper map of Alaska and Northwest Canada helped my partner in crime and I get from Fairbanks to Dawson City, and from Dawson City to Whitehorse. We have an entire set of paper AAA maps for the roads between Fairbanks and Philadelphia.
I have two of Joshua Tree and two climbing guides to match, all acquired before or during the first-ever Joshua Tree Tweetup. There are two matching copies of the Mohonk Preserve Trail Map in addition to two matching copies of the Ralph Stover State Park trail guide, all reminders of climbing trips past. The Appalachian Mountain Club's Catskill Mountain Trail Map has seen better days after three trips to Devil's Path. The copy of the Hibernia County Park map, marked with checkpoints from my first adventure race, is still safe in its plastic bag. They've all been used. And loved.
|Memories of climbing trips, backpacking trips, and more!|
In the age of Google maps, phones with GPS capabilities, and the ability for any human being with two thumbs (or without) to tell a device where they want to go, printed maps seem more important (and antiquated) than ever. Using maps forces you to pay attention. To make decisions about what direction to take when you don't have the omnipotent voice coming out of your phone to tell you what do to. Maps force you to notice the little things. The small peaks and valleys of a mountain range that can help you figure out exactly where you are. The roads Google doesn't know exist, or does, but won't tell you to use. With a map, you can choose to not stay the course, or to get off course, or to figure out how to get back on course. They're full of symbols and lines that each have a significant purpose, and if you miss one, it could completely alter your course. They force you to problem-solve. To be creative and inventive.
So much more than just route-finding tools, the maps I keep are tangible reminders of all of the possibilities in the world. True, you can punch "Dallas, TX" and "Deadhorse, AK" to find out exactly how far you'd have to drive (4, 294 miles) to get from one to the other, and how long it might take (89 hours). That's pretty cool. But there's something special about spreading out maps of all the places in between and charting your own course.
|Future adventures, hopefully.|
I did The Edge the first autumn I lived here, pre-Adventure-Inspired, with the goal of finishing in the allotted time and having fun. She's biked Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and is an avid whitewater kayaker. We both have (some) mountain biking experience, a lot of experience reading maps, and a passion for playing outside. We figure that's enough. Our goal is to make it through the race as a team of two and to have a blast doing it.
I love that just looking at an old map from an old race was enough to prompt me to make good on what seems like a crazy idea.
Do you have a map collection? Has looking at a map inspired you to go on an adventure? How do you use maps in your adventure life? And most importantly, any tips for a n00b adventure racer? Leave a comment!