Attention current Topo Map Set owners, and autumn G.E.T. hikers-in-planning:
Grand Enchantment Trail Topo Map Set CD v1.2 is now available. This version replaces v1.1 as the latest and most accurate collection of topographic maps available for the route. The updated information represented on this CD-Rom corresponds with updates and changes to the online guidebook, and includes:
+ Clarification and correction of navigational information, based on my experiences along the route this spring, but especially upon those of other hikers who were out there this year. Thanks, folks!
+ Representations of alternate route possibilities, including new alternate routes (some tested, some not), as well as the “decommissioning” of alternates routes that haven’t worked or aren’t likely to make sense for most hikers. (E.g., the Black Rock Alternate in Segment 8 has been removed, and the as-yet-untested North Santa Teresa Alternate, same segment, is represented instead. The Buford Hill Alternate has been simplified. And in Segment 10, the Blue Jay Ridge Trail is now part of the FR 286 Alternate alignment, which most hikers will use.)
+ Improved GPS waypoint accuracy, as well as new waypoint data to correspond with changes in the route.
+ Small changes to cumulative mileage figures from the west terminus near Phoenix. These mileage changes are uniformly represented in the guidebook, town guide, and water chart, as well as overview maps.
Before anyone gets a headache, let me just point out that these changes – both in the v1.2 mapset and in the guide – are, for the most part, small. So if you’re not planning to spend time along the route this autumn, then you really don’t need the upgrade. If you are, and you currently own v1.1 or v1.0, then I would recommend making the upgrade, which is essentially free to do. Anyone who owns an existing map CD can go to http://simblissity.net/get-topo-cd.htm and click on Add to Cart where it says “Upgrade” to get the latest maps. The only other recommendation would be to do so before next Monday (9/10), as the online store will be closing down for a few weeks (just before I’m due to hit the trail, not so coincidentally!).
I’ve spent my pre-hike time this summer plugging away at this, rather than on expanding the guidebook. It seemed more important to make the existing route description and maps as accurate and in agreement as possible, before moving the narration, so to speak, farther ahead into New Mexico. So currently, as it has been, the guidebook ends with Segment 18, just over the NM line from AZ. From there, heading east, hikers will need to make due with the maps alone. What this means for westbound hikers this autumn is that they’ll be navigating by map, compass, GPS, and/or gut sense, for the first 400 or so miles. At that point, from Glenwood on, they’ll be able to use the guidebook, albeit with descriptions primarily written for the eastbound hiker. And yet, I suspect that autumn westbounders may still have it somewhat easier than springtime eastbounders, as the route in New Mexico is generally more straightforward than in Arizona; the maps alone should generally suffice; and the experience gained by the time they’ve entered Arizona will serve them well for the challenges ahead.
My fall hike will hopefully give me the chance to come away with the most up-to-date info possible for New Mexico and the remaining guidebook chapters, which will begin to appear later this fall and throughout the winter months. With any luck the whole enchilada will be ready by spring 2008, with the release of Map Set v2.0.
If you’ve been thinking about giving the Grand Enchantment Trail a try this autumn, the weather and water outlook are both looking favorable. The Southwest has seen plenty of moisture this monsoon season, with more on the way, and the water situation should be good throughout the fall. When summer is wet, autumn thru-hiking is undeniably easier than in spring – the weather is cooler, the sun less intense, the snowpack is long gone, and most water crossings are benign. Add in the aspens in their golden hues, fall wildflowers in the middle elevations, and coyotes yipping all through the long Sonoran November nights, and the memories are sure to be grand, indeed.