As of November 2011

•    GPS – This map was created from three forms of basemap: USGS contour data as available in metric form; NY State Plane photos; and the existing USGS Topo map. Each of these sources has significant limitations. On top of those bases, everything was placed by my own (and Marty’s) field work using a Garmin Colorado GPS unit. This too has limitations. Naturally there was no immediate agreement among any of these data sources, despite all of them being “geo-referenced”. They just are not sufficiently precise, which is why we pay professional orienteering mappers big bucks. Think of this as a rougher “ROGAINE” map, not a precision orienteering map, and you will be better off.

•    Stone walls – The area is crisscrossed with old stone walls. They are among the most reliable features on the map. The difficulty you may face is that their level of ruination varies considerably, and it was simply not possible for me to consistently determine if each segment of wall is simply wall, a ruined wall, a “very ruined” wall, just linear stony ground, or even merely a small raised line of earth. I did my best to represent what I saw, but due to the changing appearance of the walls as we went along through the seasons, some sections may be mislabeled.

•    Fencing & barbed wireNOTE: POTENTIAL DANGER! There are some fences shown on the map, and with only a couple of exceptions they are longer stretches of ancient fencing which will be obvious in the terrain. One particular stretch is mapped as ruined, though it is only fitfully ruined; however, this is on the property boundary, so it should not be an issue for crossing. The real issue is that any of the stone walls may have ruined strands of fencing along them, or just a bit to one side. Sometimes this is barbed wire, sometimes it is mesh fence. There is simply no way to map it, as it confuses the depiction of the stone walls (which are important), and it is much more uneven and ruined than the walls.

•    Paths & Rides – The paths were all done by GPS, and after many traverses, I believe the end results are fairly accurate. Still, I would not try to use a minor trail bend as an attack point. Beyond that, there are many deer paths, hunter paths, and old farm roads or logging trails. The deer paths and occasional hunter paths are not mapped, being impossible to see when crossing them at any speed (they become visible when you happen to be going that way anyway). I have tried to map the most obvious and recently used old roads and logging tracks as “vehicle tracks”, and the less obvious and older ones as “rides”, but you may disagree with my symbol choice for any specific one of them. No doubt there are some that I thought too minor to map, or I never encountered, which you may run into and wonder why they aren’t shown.

•    Contours – USGS Topos are well known by orienteers for their lack of detail. The contour data one can get for free over the internet is only slightly better, in that you can get it in whatever interval you wish. I have done my best to re-work the downloaded contours as I found them on the ground. But, this is one place where a pro could certainly do this better. So, the general ups & downs are all correct; but, the details of minor reentrants, spurs, gullies, etc., are all just the best I could manage, or are simply not shown.

•    Cairns & boundary markers & stony ground – As you might have guessed from all the stone walls, there are a lot of stones out there (though there are very few map-able boulders, because of the type of stone predominant in this area). There has been no consistent attempt to map “stony ground” as such, because it is everywhere, to the point that it could not be a reliable locator. “Cairns” are piles of stones that are significant in the terrain. I have used a non-IOF symbol to depict those smaller piles of stones which include a metal spike (and usually some paint) to mark a boundary point, generally –but not always! –where the state/private land boundary changes direction. The symbol is a small open triangle with a dot in the center, and is depicted in the map legend. To my uncertain knowledge, this symbol was created in OCAD by Mark Dominie, but he intended it for use with USGS Trig Points. I think it serves my own purpose here just as well.

•    State land border – The light green dashed line with tags is another Mark Dominie creation. It signifies the border between state and private land, with the tag lines pointing towards the state land. This line is often coincident with walls or fences, but it shows up under them because it is wider. Where it is coincident with a road, it does not appear, but is readily inferred from other info on the map. Pay close attention to this line, because you have no right of access to the private lands on the other side. Entering private land will be cause for disqualification.

•    Vegetation levels – From my discussions with other amateur mappers, this is the second (after contours) or perhaps even the most difficult thing to get right on a map. And, of course, it is one of the most changeable things on any map. On this map, unless there is a “distinct vegetation boundary” line drawn, do not expect clear demarcations between different levels of vegetation. However, you are certain to discover what seem to be distinct lines that are not mapped as such.  White will morph to Light Green and back; Light Green will morph to Medium Green and back; etc. You generally want to avoid Medium Green except for short distances.

•    Rootstocks – There have been some significant ice and wind storms in this area over the last couple of years, and because of them there are a lot of rootstocks in places. They tend to be clustered, because once one tree falls, often more go with it. In places on the map where there are many rootstocks shown, there could be even more; and, the trunk directions cannot be shown there due to the tangle. Where there are more isolated rootstocks, I have generally tried to depict the trunk direction. As with most maps, the rootstocks shown are there, but you will certainly encounter many others which are not mapped, even along trails.

•    Knolls – As noted above, there are few actual boulders in the area. On top of that, some of those which could possibly be considered boulders (because they are rock, after all), are mapped as knolls, because they are so old in their places that they are overgrown with moss and have other vegetation growing out of them. I think this is in line with current mapping standards.

•    Water features – In case you don’t know, we had a hurricane and resulting flood around here not that long ago. This land does not drain easily, and so, not surprisingly, all water features are likely larger than they are mapped, and you will definitely encounter marshy areas which are not mapped as such, small streams that are not mapped, and generally a lot of unusual levels of water.

•    Overall – As you may have figured out from all of the above discussion, the paths and stonewalls are the best handrails. Plus, as you move away from a path or stonewall, you are more likely to encounter things which are not mapped, or are otherwise less reliable.