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After nearly a year of planning and training, the big day is almost here: In a few weeks, two friends and I will wake up early and make our way to the Appalachia trailhead for the beginning of our attempt at the Presidential Traverse. The Presidential Traverse (or Presi) is a roughly 20-mile journey that…

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A lot more goes into planning a day hike than choosing your target elevation. Here’s a starter checklist. Consider the group. When choosing a route, think about the companions with whom you’ll be hiking. If you’re hiking with a novice, choose a trail that’s beginner-friendly; if you’re hiking with an experienced mountaineer, choose a hike…

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The number of New Hampshire peaks over 4,000 feet is thought to be 48, but according to AMC cartographer Larry Garland, that count could change. If you’ve hiked in the White Mountains over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance that the maps of Larry Garland were guiding you. For over two decades, this…

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Adapted from AMC’s Mountain Skills Manual If you’re lost in the woods, one not-so-well-known approach to locating a more familiar area is the find-me cross. This technique is quite effective, but you have to be self-disciplined to use it. After admitting that you’re lost, mark your location by building an obvious landmark using rocks or…

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It can happen to even the most seasoned hiker. You casually duck into the woods to relieve yourself, zip up your pants, and—uh, oh. Which way was the trail? If you’re a solo hiker who becomes disoriented—or, worse, injured—nobody is there to help. Don’t panic! You’ve got options. Before You Go Getting found starts before…

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One of my favorite family traditions is our annual orienteering dash. Each year, we head to a nearby forest with a unique amenity: a permanent orienteering course. Because we hold our dash on Thanksgiving, when lots of family is around, grandmothers are paired with sons-in-law, cousins with uncles, and moms with nieces and nephews. Then…

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The shiny brass theodolite in AMC’s Library & Archives was built by a British firm, likely in the late 1800s, but its exact provenance and its path to AMC remain unknown. Artifacts make up a small portion of AMC’s collection, but the theodolite’s relationship to AMC’s own history of cartography and trail building is strong…

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Magnetic declination refers to the angle between the geographic North Pole and the magnetic pole located in the Arctic Ocean. You will discover that good hiking and topographic maps always indicate the local magnetic declination via a declination diagram, which includes one arrow pointing to geographic north (commonly labeled as True North, or TN) and…

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A map and compass make up two of the 10 essentials recommended for safe backcountry travel, but they’ll do little good if you don’t know how to use them. Misuse could even turn a situation in which you’re simply confused into one in which you’re totally lost. The bottom line? Learn proper technique before your…

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Last fall, National Geographic introduced a free, user-friendly web tool that automatically breaks up USGS topographic maps to fit onto standard 8.5 inch x 11 inch printer paper. If you’ve ever used any standard-sized USGS topographic map, you are well aware of the over-sized dimensions that such maps typically come in. That means that if you download one in its entirety—and you can…

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