Monday, January 17, 2011

Charts and Maps

The route begins to take shape. While it is a fairly direct course from Ketchikan to Skagway, there are a few decision points that need to be addressed. But yesterday I spent an hour and a half reading notes from an inside passage blog with information about campsites and transferred those campsites to our charts. The charts which hang on the walls of my office are now covered with 25 small yellow post it notes. Each one with the name of a campsite, and other little bits of information. Little bits of information like 'BEARS'. The post-its are next to highlighted sections I created on the charts.

I then turned to technology. I have a copy of National Geographic TOPO! installed on my laptop. I transferred these campsites to the digital topo map, and created waypoints of each. I then transferred these waypoints to my GPS which previously had the maps for the inside passage loaded on board.

The locations of campsites are really the determining factor in what our days will look like. Most people don't realize that you can't usually just 'get off the water' whenever you want to. In most of the world Trees, or cliffs or some other natural obstacle will keep you from getting off the water, and too safety. In order to camp we not only need to be able to get back on land, but we need a place that isn't going to be flooded at the next high tide - and Alaska can have tide cycles that can range 20 vertical feet - there also has to be room for us, our kayaks, and enough space that our tents aren't on top of each other. The distance between these campsites is going to be what determines the length of our paddling days. If the next campsite is 10 miles away, but your team is tired and need a shore break, guess what. You keep paddling. It will be the determining factor if our days are ten miles long, or thirty miles long. It's the difference between a 4 hour paddle day and a 14 hour paddle day.

I will continue to pull camp site data from other sources - a book is next - and I will continue to load them into the TOPO! software and the GPS. Before we depart for Alaska, I will print the topo maps which will have the campsites marked on them. We will also have our charts with the campsites marked on them. As paddlers it is good to use both, as we need both water, and land information.

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