Topo maps: what’s Now, and what’s Next

Topo maps: what's Now, and what's Next

When I was a tyke they gave us map-reading aptitude tests. I loved those tests. Ever since, I’ve tried to stay one jump ahead of the rest of the class. Now I’m an old guy. Anybody who knows me knows I get stuck in a good map, like anybody else might get stuck in a good book. In fact, on trips, I no longer bring a book to read. It can be a camping trip, a foreign trip, no matter where I go I know I’ll just be reading maps. It’s relaxing for me. Sometimes after staring at a good map for a really long time, suddenly there it is: the perfect route, the perfect camping spot. Or in a city, something fun beyond the bridge, that I would have totally missed.

On any trip, I’d rather have the perfect map than the perfect guidebook — or even the perfect guide. It’s fun having that freedom to just explore on your own. Maps let you do that. It’s not uncommon to know things even most locals don’t know, based on serious perusal of a good map. Come to think of it, in our house, we even decorate with maps. The maps get the premium wallspace. They are our art.

This article is about how I’m doing topos now. So it’s about topos specifically. Much of what I say though is equally applicable to city maps or road maps, like you’d use on other kinds of trips. (more…)