Tag Archives: Hiking

Traditional Map Making Around the World

Maps are everywhere today, but did you know that cartography, or the art of map-making, has existed in various forms since the dawn of humanity? The earliest known map was discovered in Turkey in 1963. It is a wall painting showing the layout of a village and two erupting volcanoes dating from approximately 6200 BCE; the map closely matches the ruins found in the nearby valley.

Egypt

Map of gold mines in the New Kingdom of Egypt, ca 1160 BCE. These maps, drawn on papyrus show the location of gold mines and rock quarries. Annotation in hieratic, the common language, indicate the meaning of colors and symbols such as mountains, roads and rivers. This map is also considered one of the oldest geologic maps as the coloration matches the types of rocks found in the area. Source: http://www.wikipedia.org

Many early traditions passed knowledge on through story or movement, similar to how we give directions today, “turn left at the store and you’ll see my house behind the pine tree.”  India has a rich history of such ‘verbal cartography’. The epic, the Mahabharata, details the surrounding landscape using text rather than drawings. An excerpt from the Mahabharata describes King Bharata’s kingdom, “There are seven Main Mountains…but thousands more mountains are recognized in their general vicinity…Then, there are other hills less well-known…the population drinks from many rivers: the great Ganges, the Indus and the Sarasvati.”

Cameroon
A royal tapestry from the early 20th century, of King Njoya’s palace in Bamum Kingdom, Cameroon. A sketch was made on undyed cloth and then tightly stitched over. Next, the cloth was dyed with indigo and the stitching removed to show the undyed pattern. Source: http://www.portlandartmuseum.us/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record;id=12637;type=101

Ephemeral, or temporary, maps, made by drawing on the ground, are found around the world. Imagine the person you are giving directions to is confused, so you draw the store, the road, your house and the pine tree. In 1817, the Russian explorer Otto von Kotzebue visited the Marshall Islands. There, a local navigator laid out the location of all known islands in the chain using pieces of coral. By recreating this map for navigators on other islands, von Kotzebue was able to create a nearly complete map of the Marshall Islands. Pacific Islanders were well known for their ability to create mental maps. Sailors would memorize island locations in relation to the stars and sail for days at a time without a physical map.

Ammassalik
Examples of wooden map models of the Greenland coast carved by Ammassalik Inuit, Kunit fra Umivik, and collected in the late 19th century. The shorter map represents the coastline and the longer model represents a chain of islands. Source: http://books.google.com/books?id=iDspAAAAYAAJ.

Native Americans frequently made maps on birch bark. During the Revolutionary War, Benedict Arnold found one such map near the British garrison at Quebec. It was inserted into a split stick and pointing toward the western stream in a fork. When opened, the map included the streams, hunting camps, and a line showing a direction of travel.

During the age of European exploration, many traditional forms of mapping were replaced by the western method: using latitude and longitude to plot features on a grid. By the 1850s, mapping practices had become uniform across Europe and Asia. These methods eventually spread around the world. Today, most maps are created on computers, using Geographic Information Systems, or GIS. While maps may be easier to produce, they still require the careful eye of a cartographer to make sure they are easy to use and read.

Maps are everywhere now: on our phones, in our cars, on the trail. On-line versions can give us directions, link us to photos or restaurants, and even show us nearby parks to visit. There are over 90 State Park maps available for download to Android and iOS Apple mobile devices through Avenza.

Given the long history of cartography, it is exciting to think about what the future holds for mapping.

Post by Maddy Gold, former Student Conservation Association member

Source: Harley, J. B., and David Woodward, eds. The History of Cartography. Vol. 1-3. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1987-2007. Web.  http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/HOC/index.html.

First Day Fun in NYS Parks

Resolutions

Get outside to a State Park this New Year’s Day! New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) is putting RECREATION at the top of this year’s New Year’s resolution list with First Day Hikes.  Now in its 5th year, First Day Hikes are a great way to help you get your New Year’s resolutions started on the right foot.

On January 1st State Parks is hosting 41 First Day Hikes in parks and historic sites across the state from eastern Long Island and Staten Island, to the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, and much more.  Hikes range from accessible, level walks; a leisurely stroll across the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, explorations of historic landscapes or quiet forest; dog-friendly rambles, mountain hikes, family-orientated activities and more.  If there is snow, bring your skis or some parks have snowshoes you can borrow.

During your hike you’ll be able to meet new people, see new places, spend time with family and friends, get a bit of exercise, and enjoy time outdoors.  Could there be a better way to spend the first day of 2016?

Remember to dress in warm layers, wear appropriate footwear, and bring water and a snack for your group. Most hikes range from one to three miles in length.

Remember your camera and please share your photos on State Parks’s Facebook Page!

Click here for a complete listing of “First Day Hike” events and registration guidelines.

Post by Susan Carver, OPRHP. Photos by OPRHP.

 

The History of Hiking in New York State

Have you ever gone hiking and wondered where the trail came from, who built it, and when? Many of the oldest trails in New York began as Native American hunting paths, eventually becoming established trade and migratory routes. Until the Industrial Revolution, trails mostly served a functional purpose, but trail building boomed as a new ‘leisure class’ emerged and became interested in outdoor recreation. Today, 16,000 miles of trail run through New York, accommodating hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and more.

In 1891, the New York State Legislature assigned funding to build a trail network across the state, which turned into the greenway system we know today. To promote and advocate for these trails, groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NY-NJTC), and the Adirondack Mountain Club were founded. They provided the volunteers and training necessary to build enough trails to satisfy the demand. Many of these groups exist today and continue to train volunteers in trail construction and maintenance.

The first long distance hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, was built by The NY-NJTC in Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks in 1923. Conceived in 1921 by Benton MacKaye, the original idea combined recreation, conservation and economic socialism, with wilderness camping. It was seen as an opportunity for people to get away from the city and renew themselves. While MacKaye’s vision of interconnected mountain resorts was never fully realized, the trail was completed in 1937. Today, the Appalachian Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Maine to Georgia.

Promotional poster for the CCC. Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wvcccfhr/history/3ccc.htm.
Promotional poster for the CCC. Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wvcccfhr/history/3ccc.htm.
Adirondack Mountain Club hikers atop Mt. VanHoevenberg. Source: WikiCommons.
Adirondack Mountain Club hikers atop Mt. VanHoevenberg. Source: WikiCommons.

The Great Depression was a time of enormous parks and trails growth. As part of the New Deal, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), based on a similar program he started while serving as governor of New York. This program, in operation between 1933 and 1942, provided unskilled laborers with jobs in the conservation and natural resources fields. During the nine years it ran, three million men participated (220,000 of which were in New York). They planted over three billion trees, and they built more than 800 parks nationwide.

As bicycles increased in popularity, cyclists began advocating for paved surfaces. Paved roads allowed cars to go more places and drive faster than they had been able to previously, thereby making road biking more dangerous for cyclists. In the 1960s, the government began converting unused rail corridors into rail trails to provide a safe space for biking. In the 1970s, rail trails also allowed inline skaters to venture outside of roller rinks and provided ideal corridors for the first recreational snowmobilers.

Following a funding slump in the 1970s, the 1980s and 1990s saw renewed interest in trail building. In 1987, New York City began planning a greenway system; the project was amended in 1993 with a proposal to develop 350 miles of bike and pedestrian trails throughout the city. As of 2010, 140 miles of trail were open to the public.

Black Diamond Trail Volunteer Work Day
Black Diamond Trail volunteer work day. The Black Diamond Trail connects Taughannock State Park, Allan H. Treman Marine Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Robert Treman State Park. Photo by OPRHP.

These days, most trails are built by volunteers through programs like the NY-NJTC, the Student Conservation Association, Park Friends groups and other organizations. Anyone can get involved to help build or maintain a pathway and contribute to the legacy of trails in New York.

Enjoy this short video about safety and preparedness tips for hiking in New York!

Post by Maddy Gold, SCA Intern.

 

Symbols of New York State Scavenger Hunt

Ah, Labor Day Weekend, a perfect weekend to take a hike through your favorite state park.  If you do take a hike, try the Symbols of New York State Scavenger Hunt – let us know how you did.

Red-Spotted Admiral or White Admiral butterflies are one our newest state symbol, they were designated as the state butterfly in 2008.  These butterflies are polytypic – meaning that there are different coloration patterns for this butterfly depending on where it lives. The white admiral variation has blackish blue wings with wide white band.

Admiral
White Admiral. Plismo (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
The red-spotted admiral lacks the wide white bands and sometimes has a row of red spots along the top of the wing. Overall the wings are a dark blue color with a light blue dusting on the hindwing.

If you are hiking in northern New York, you will only see the white admiral.  If you are hiking in any other part of the state, you will see either the red-spotted or white admiral.

Red Spotted Admiral
Red Spotted Admiral, note the red spots on the top wings. FrigidNinja (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Look for Eastern Bluebirds in Park grasslands and on utility wires. These birds are primarily cavity nesters, utilizing hollowed out holes in trees and man-made nest boxes to lay their eggs. Bright blue males are easy to spot while females are a bit more challenging with blueish grey plumage.  Both have rust-colored chests and white bellies.  Eastern bluebirds have been our state bird since 1970.

New York’s largest rodent, the Beaver, can be found in wooded streams, marshes, and along the edge of ponds and lakes.  When you are walking near these wetlands, tree cuttings and chewed trees or shrubs near the shore is a great indicator that beavers are live nearby. If you hear a slap on a pond or marsh, the beaver has spotted you and has slapped its tail on the water to warn other beavers that you are around.  If you can find a spot to hide and have time to wait, you might get a glimpse of these shy animals.  Beavers have been our state mammal since 1975.

Snapping Turtles can be found in marshes, rivers, streams, lakes, and even in urban waterways.  Our largest turtle, their shells can be upwards of 20” long and they can weigh up to 35 lbs.  The upper part of the snapping turtle shell or carapace has three keels or ridges.  The turtle’s shell can vary in color from tan, brown, olive gray or black.  They have a long tail with saw-toothed ridges. Interestingly, snapping turtles have the smallest plastron (or bottom part of their shell) in proportion to their body of any turtle in New York State. Most of their defense strategy is their large size. Look for these turtles swimming slowly through the water with their head poking out of the surface or perched on rocks near the water’s edge. Remember to keep your distance from these turtles; their jaws have a powerful snap! Snapping turtles became our state reptile in 2006.

Female Snapper
Female Snapping Turtle. Lilly Schelling, NYSOPRHP.

The rare Nine-Spotted Ladybug has been our state insect since 1989.  Slightly bigger than a dime, these oval-shaped insects typically have nine-spots on their backs.  If you think you found one, please take a photo, record where you found it and send all the information to The Lost Ladybug Project.

9 Spotted Ladybug
Nine Spotted Ladybug, each wing usually has four spots, plus one spot that overlaps on both wings. http://musingsofabiologistanddoglover.blogspot.com/2011/08/lost-ladybugs.html?_sm_au_=iVVV163fqrZsRWDr.

The Sugar Maple was designated as our state tree in 1956. The bark of a young sugar maple is smooth and dark gray; as the tree ages the bark becomes furrowed in uneven long plates.   Sugar maples have easily recognized leaves that are between 3”-5” long and 3”-5” wide, usually with 5 shallow ‘u-shaped” lobes.   Perhaps you will see the leaves a few of these beautiful trees turning red or yellow during your walk.

And remember to stop and smell the Roses during your hike.  If you do, perhaps you will see some late flowers on some of our native roses such as this Common Wild Rose.  The flowers can be observed either individually or in small bunches.  Look for the common wild rose along roadsides, fields, and salt marshes.  Roses were designed our state flower in 1955; they are our oldest state symbol.

Rose
Common Wild Rose. magnolia1000 from Canada (Rosa virginiana) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
When you are done, why not enjoy some New York state goodies: milk, the state beverage (designated 1981); apple muffin, the state muffin (designated 1987); apple, the state fruit (designated 1976); or yogurt, the state snack (designated 2014.).

Snack
Photo and snack prepared by Susan Carver, OPRHP.

Post by Susan Carver, OPRHP.

Learn more at:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/education/1887.html

http://www.dos.ny.gov/kids_room/508/symbols2.html

http://explorer.natureserve.org/

http://plants.usda.gov/java/

 

Lace up those boots for National Trails Day!

In August 2011, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated the Catskill Mountains and Schoharie Valley with a torrent of wind and rain.  Several bridges were washed out, including the historic Blenheim Covered Bridge located just north of Mine Kill State Park.  A culvert over a tributary of the Mine Kill on the Long Path was subsequently destroyed.  On June 6th, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), Long Path North Hiking Club and New York State Parks will join together to construct a new bridge spanning 40 feet over the drainage to once again allow safe passage over this creek for hikers.

Every year, on the first Saturday in June all across the country, people celebrate National Trails Day by getting out and going hiking, biking, geocaching and more.  National Trails Day is not only about getting out and recreating, but is a great day to give back and volunteer on projects helping to build and maintain trails that we all love and enjoy.  This year, three Trails Day projects will be organized and led by SCA AmeriCorps members at Mine Kill State Park in North Blenheim, John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville, and Hudson River Park in Manhattan.  These projects not only accomplish vital work on trails in the region, but also provide SCA members with valuable experience in project management and peer leadership.

For many years, the SCA Hudson Valley AmeriCorps program has been partnering with New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as well as New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and several non-profit organizations providing internships across the Hudson Valley region.  Currently, 46 SCA members serve for up to ten months at sites from Saratoga Springs to New York City.  To learn more about the SCA and Trails Day projects you could get involved in, visit www.thesca.org/events.

Post by Nick Marcet, Student Conservation Association (SCA). Photos by SCA.