I’m a map guy. I admit it and I say it with pride. I like to see the whole layout, get the entire picture, as it were. Or, at least as much as one can get, without actually walking the trail.
I was commissioned recently to guide two teenage brothers on their first ruffed grouse hunt in Northern Minnesota. The Boys, aged 13 & 14, are not map guys. Certainly not paper map guys.
The plan was to camp along the shore of Lake Winnibigoshish, and walk the trails of the Chippewa National Forest. My first stop was the ranger station for a decent map.
On the drive up, The Boys had nothing but derision for my paper map fetish. “We can just google map it!”, they claimed over and over.
I tried to explain the need for an actual map. Technology isn’t always reliable, batteries die, charging fails for one reason or another, signal evaporates.
All to no avail. They were convinced that I was a dinosaur.
Upon entering the ranger station, I promptly stated that my only need was a decent map of the forest. I was just as quickly denied of my quest.
“I’m not allowed to sell you a map. It’s not my job, and no one else is here.”
I asked if he had maps available. He answered yes. I saw the evasive map plastered to the wall with a price of $14.96, tax included. A bit pricey, but I offered $15, and the qualified individual could complete the transaction later, upon their return. I received an apologetic no. Getting desperate, I offered $20, but received another negative response.
“It’s not my job. I’m not allowed to sell you a map.”
I wondered if that statement sounded as absurd to his ears as it did to mine.
Then the park employee committed, what I consider, a cardinal sin: “Just google map it,” he says.
It was a dagger to my heart. Now, I wasn’t just angry, but wounded. You know what they say about wounded animals…
The Boys beamed; The Alaskan fumed.
We took two ATV maps that divided the forest. We found them lacking. We also took some specific HWT maps, but found them also lacking. As suspected, we also, at very inopportune times, found the cell coverage to be lacking. But between the three sources, we managed to piece together a game plan, and always managed to find our way out of the woods.
Sadly, The Boys remain sketchy at reading a map, and good luck getting either one of them to fold a map properly.