Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The great map fiasco

There are currently three available options for getting good maps for the trail (that I considered/know of) - Halfmile's, Postholer's and Eric the Black's. I guess all three of them would "work", in that I will probably not get totally lost, but I really liked the "open source" feel of the Halfmile project, and I decided that I will use his maps and notes for my hike. I know that having a free digital copy of the maps is only half the work, since printing them all (~450 color pages) would still cost money. But it seems like a simpler and nicer option than ordering a map book from one of the other publishers.

My plan was to wait for 2014 edition of Halfmile's maps, and print them at some local print shop in Tel Aviv, so I can drool over them at home, and also maybe try and arrange them into manageable chinks, ready for future mail drops (Though currently it seems as though I will just have one big chunk inside my bounce box).

I also wanted to experiment a bit with different formats - namely color/black & white printing (To save on printing costs, especially if I decide to primarily use my smartphone for mapping, and the paper maps only as a last resort), single sided/double sided printing (To save weight, but I have to make sure the backside map won't interfere with the front side map), and maybe even printing two smaller maps per page (This will save cost AND weight).

Well, several weeks ago Halfmile finally released the 2014 update, and I immediately downloaded all the files from the site, extracted the pdfs and started moving with my plans. I created a simple 2 page file (The first 2 maps of the trail), so I can test some of my options, and was also relieved to discover Adobe Acrobat can easily print 2 maps per page, with automatically rotating and placing them at the correct size, while retaining the aspect ratio. Before discovering that, I tried to calculate how much I'd need to resize each map to fit two per page (.64, in case you were wondering), all because Halfmile's maps are designed to be printed on Letter pages (8.5"X11"), and not on the simpler A4 format (where it would have been a nice .5 ratio...). Well - Adobe did that for me automagically. So I also created another simple file with 2 pages, containing the first 4 maps of the trail, as an experiment as well.

I then sent those two files to a print shop, asking that each option will be printed once in color, and once in black & white, all on letter paper size, and all in double side (I gave up on the single side option. Seems like a waste of paper/weight).

Botched map attempt
Yesterday I finally picked up my prints. A complete disaster. All printed on single sided A4 papers, it's just useless to me. Not to mention the fact that I probably won't be printing the whole set at this place now.

I might try a different place, if I can be sure they manage to follow my simple instructions. But lately a new option has come up - Yoggi is offering a low cost print of HalfMile's maps, that can be sent to the San Diego trail angels for a total of about $40. Seems like a really good price, and it also saves me the hassle of dealing with all those prints myself. The only downside for this is that I can't get the two-maps-per-page option, which I'm still thinking about. I guess I'll have to decide soon enough.