Jeff's Algonquin Map Version#4… and MORE!
"I can see the entire nipissing canoe route!" This was my first remark upon laying my eyes on Jeff's new map: "Canoeing and Exploring Map of Algonquin Provincial Park & The Haliburton Highlands" - Version 4.
Jeff's new map comes eighteen months after the release of version 3. It has been a long time in development and I gotta say it is worth the wait.
Right away I can see that the canoe route itself is easy to follow. These 40+ year old eyes of mine had a hard time following the canoe route in some places on the old map. A sample comparison between versions 3 and 4 of the map (In the images below), shows many improvements that are highly visible, while other changes that are subtle but effective nevertheless. Many of these changes have enhanced the map's visibility overall.
Campsites are slightly larger and portage markers are now boxed; Giving a more bold look, which I find ideal when glancing at the map from distance - Portages stand out better in this way. Also, there is the addition of GPS'd portage distances where it differs from official claims of trail distances. This is a welcome feature, for I've crossed a few portages that at the time left me thinking, "There's no way that was 500m, more like 800m." It seems I was right!
There's also the inclusion of 'Unofficial' portages that have been accurately GPS'd. These unofficial trails offer an opportunity to explore additional waterbodies on day-trips or even to overcome problematic watercourses such as Cauliflower Creek, east of the hydro line.
Removed campsites (Remember those old green "X" marks from version 3?), have now been taken out of the map entirely. I think this is a good decision. It helps in keeping closed campsites from being used illegally, as well the map is less cluttered with old campsites now gone. So keep your version 3 map handy, just in case you want to explore!
There has also been several new campsites added as well as some being removed. This happens pretty much every year; Campsites become closed or disused for various reasons, while Park staff open up new campsites occasionally. Jeff has done a fine job in keeping up to date on this issue. However, it is one area of the map that keeps changing and keeping up with the changes is near impossible, even with all the volunteer data supplied by fellow paddlers.
The relief of the map is a real pleasure to look at too. The shading has been tastefully subdued along with the elevations lines. They are still both easily visible, but no longer make the map 'busy' looking.
Colour and clarity of map elements has been vastly improved
Text: There's text all over the map and there always will be. In this case all that could be done was to improve the colour matching and quality of the text and Jeff has done so very well. Adding outlines to certain text makes the captions and names of lake and rivers throughout the map stand-out better. With the improved colour choices, the text flows nicely though-out the map.
Distance markers have been improved as well. A feature that was added in version 3, Jeff had plotted numerous distance markers along canoe routes, giving a canoeist an idea of the distance involved along any given stretch of a canoe route. I also noticed that in some cases the distance markers have been updated. The same goes for height of portage elevation markers (A new feature in version 3). Many more portages have been marked in version 4 with this feature.
I could go on and on about this map, but I don't want to spoil your fun; Part of the experience in paddling is exploring and part of that experience (beforehand) is in planning, so in exploring Jeff's new map I'm sure many will find endless hours of planning joy.
As always, Jeff's downloadable map is free and weighs in at approx. 93MB, this is down significantly in file size from a hefty 182MB in versions 3.
There is MORE!
Ok, now your head is going to explode! Jeff has released new printed versions of his version 4 map. With an improved scale of 1 : 84 000; The map would be too big to use as a single map and so the printed versions have been divided into 4 over-lapping maps (Western, Central, Eastern and Southern), each with size of 24" x 36". Each map is available for purchase online or through retailers through-out the Algonquin Park region.
Opening up the conveniently pre-folded maps and examining them in detail is useful in many ways in that the map is water-proof, having been printed on hop-syn material (A type of synthetic paper). The map will float on the water, which is a godsend for those windy days when you need to examine the map far from shore and it happens to be caught by a gust of wind. In the same vein, the map could be used as a ground sheet in the canoe or at camp; It will crease but the material is tear-resistant. If anything it will stretch or warp before it will tear…It takes a lot of effort to produce a tear, I tried this myself. The maps are available in a matte finish which makes it easy to view the map outdoors. For the minimalists out there, the maps weigh in at light 85 grams.
The map features are pretty much the same as the online map, but in printed form. The real bonus is the 'gaga' feature; The overleaf of the map has a travel-guide and is full of useful tidbits of information. Even to the most learned outdoor enthusiast, the travel-guide has a cornucopia of beautifully arranged useful information available at a glance, promising to aid in the educational value of the outdoor experience. In addition to the travel guide, the legend is located on the overleaf, freeing up room for more map goodness.
You have to see it to truly believe what a marvellous work of art the printed version of this map really is. It's not just art though, it is accurate with Jeff having drawn upon many data sets as well as data collected through the years from fellow paddlers.
The beautifully arranged map overleaf on the new printed map series
I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to spend many hours glancing over preview copies and reading the information included. Presented in a no nonsense style with a witty tongue and humorous perspective that I've come to know of Jeff's style (Use the Map Luke!), version 4 of the printed algonquin map series is a fascinating piece of accurate, useful and gorgeous canoe route mapping of Algonquin Park.
A few more easter eggs
As with versions 3, version 4 of Jeff's Algonquin Map is also available in downloadable GPS form (To load onto your GPS device) and KMZ file form for use in Google Earth. All these files are updated and available free from Jeff's newly re-designed web site at www.algonquinmap.com & www.algonquinmap.co
Jeff's mapping venture has gone from a simple desire to build a more accurate map to a highly polished professional product. "Bravo" Jeff! You have blown my socks off!