Despite your best efforts at preparation, there will be days you find yourself in new territory or off the end of your trail map that youâ€™re carrying. Our test staff has found this to occur more often than theyâ€™d like to admit, never knowing for sure some days where the route will lead them.
So when you find yourself standing at an intersection looking at a new trail map for the first time and you realize you donâ€™t have that map in your pocket, whip out your digital camera. At least one in your group should have one! Take a good photo (or several) of the trail map that is posted at the intersection. That way, you have a â€œcopyâ€ with you for the rest of the day. If, in a pinch, you need to figure out which way to turn next, you can get out the digital camera, display the map image, and through the wonderful world of digital electronics, zoom in on the area in question and figure out your next move.
This has proven to save much time and effort when exploring new territory. Sometimes a map is only posted at select intersections, or at a trail head or parking area for example. Even if you carry a GPS, having a current copy of the local trail map on hand will save time and maybe keep you from running out of gas or counting candy bars and matches. (Every group should also carry a mapping GPS like a Garmin Vista, a small handheld unit with an internal compass that works while standing still.)
Weâ€™ve even had the occasion where we had a map with us, but another group did not have the map and was in need of directions. Since we didnâ€™t have an extra map with us, we told them to get their digital camera out so theyâ€™d at least have a â€œdigitalâ€ version of the map.
Now why doesnâ€™t somebody put together a set of electronic trail maps for a select area and distribute them as JPGs or something that could be displayed on a handheld, like a digital camera. No need to carry a stack of paper maps, you could have a good chunk of riding areas all there in your camera when you need themâ€¦â€¦â€¦