This on-line map overlays the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center's (NWAC) avalanche forecast (using the avalanche rose) over the Washington Cascades. It’s a useful tool for seeing the general hazard in different parts of the state, on slopes of different aspects, and/or on slopes of different elevation. This uses the same color code as the avalanche rose. Spend a few minutes learning how to navigate the map and how-to zoom in on a region. This is graphically useful for getting a quick overview of whether there’s a hazard difference between skiing around Stevens Pass, Icicle Ridge, Blewett Pass and Mission Ridge. Note: This overlay does not calculate slope steepness it just gives a broad brush geographic impression. Once you get an idea of where you might want to ski, the slope-angle overlay (shown above) will help keep you on slopes of appropriate steepness.
Topo! Maps on Compact Discs
7.5-minute topographic maps made by the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) are
the gold standard for backcountry navigation, and the statewide CD map sets made by Topo! National Geographic arm you with every 7.5-minute map in the state. For Washington State, that’s
over 1,300 maps for the $50. With a computer and an inexpensive color printer, you can quickly view and print a detailed map of any piece of ground in the state. You can also do lots more with digital maps than paper maps – like stitch multiple maps
together onto one sheet of paper in those pesky four-corner areas, calculate
distances super fast, automatically display the elevation and
latitude/longitude coordinates of any point, display the bearing between
two points, tweak the scale so your route fits on one sheet of paper to
be carried in your pocket…
These CD maps are one of the best outdoor products of the
computer age and we highly recommend them for anyone spending much time outdoors. In fact, paper
maps covering the entire state of Washington would cost over $7,000 so, through the
associative properties of perverse logic, investing in
these maps is like getting your computer free.
Historical Washington 30-Minute Maps (1:125,000 scale)
Rob Mullins sent us the link to this site (very interesting) that has most of the topographic maps of Washington State produced by the USGS around 1897. The United States Geological Survey was created by an act of Congress in 1879 and the USGS set out to create a set of topographic maps of the entire United States beginning in 1882. One sheet of this set, is referred to as a quadrangle. The standard quadrangle consists of 30-minutes of latitude and 30-minutes of longitude at a scale of 1:125,000 (these are four times more general than the 7.5-minute maps most outdoor enthusiasts use today). It's fun to study these maps and note the amazing changes that have occurred in a century. On the Mount Stuart and Chiwaukum quadrangles, for example, look at how the Enchantment Lakes Basin is completely covered by yesteryear's Snow Creek Glacier and how Central Washington is nearly devoid of roads and trails. Fascinating.
More About Gmap4
Gmap4 is online software that runs in your browser. There is nothing to buy, download, or install. Gmap4 runs on most browsers in your phone, iPad, iPod, notebook, laptop, and desktop. Because Gmap4 is not a ‘native’ app but a 'browser' app, you do need to be connected to the Internet.
As of 2012 Gmap4 is an enhanced Google Map viewer that can display high-resolution topographic maps. These maps are based on new scans that have much better quality. As of June 2012 the hi-res maps cover all of the US, except Alaska, and are all available with a seamless interface. Just keep scrolling and the maps keep coming as you move from sea to shining sea. Incidentally, you can vary the hill shading of hi-res maps at: 'Menu', 'Hill shading'.
What can you do with Gmap4 besides admire how cool the maps look? Lots.
Use the trip planning feature ('Menu', 'Draw and save'). Click the map to make a GPX file that will load into many (not all) handheld GPS units. Then, when you get back from your trip, use Gmap4 to display your GPS track.
Gmap4 has the ability to display data files that are hosted online almost anywhere. If you want to put your own data files online but lack a website to host those files, use Google Sites, which is free and easy. The Gmap4 ‘Help’ file has step-by-step instructions for uploading your files to Google Sites. Gmap4 can display GPX, KML, KMZ, TPO and Google MyPlaces files. It can also display a delimited text file format. Note: You cannot (yet) display files straight from your harddrive -- first put your files online.
To share a map with others: Click 'Menu', 'Link to this map', then a URL will appear in the message window. Copy that URL and use it in a forum post, email, blog, website, etc. Those who click the URL link will see the same map on their screen.
You can also:
- Automatically center the map on your current location
- Display a UTM grid
- Get the current magnetic declination
- Get directions (the route is draggable)
There is no cost for using Gmap4 for non-commercial use, but donations are welcome and taken on the home page 'Menu','Donate'.
The Gmap4 homepage has a FAQ section, detailed 'Help' file, and links to examples that will help you learn more.