Golden Age of Cartography - KennKart Digital Mapping
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28 Apr Golden Age of Cartography

By Larry Garland

Appalachian Mountain Club, Gorham, New Hampshire

Some are calling it the new golden age of cartography: Map-making hasn’t been this relevant since Columbus landed in the New World 500 years ago. The advent of digital geographic data and our desire to pinpoint our precise location anytime, anywhere has made this old-school profession suddenly very modern. GPS units and computer software have replaced pencils and drawing compasses, and the smartphone has become and unabridged pocket atlas, while our daily reliance on maps has exploded.

Demand for new and updated mobile, web-based, and interactive maps will drive a 20 percent growth in the market for cartographers and photogrammetrists (who take measurements from photographs for maps) in the next decade. Mappers earn $61,000 (USA) per year – with a bachelor’s degree in geography or a related field required.

The downside: Cartographers spend plenty of time indoors. AMC cartographer Larry Garland spends hours behind his desk, sifting though data and creating digital maps for the club’s guidebooks. But on field days, he hikes throughout the Northeast, logging motes and data points with an ultraprecise 8-pound GPS system for up to a week at a time. He’s trekked thousands of trail miles in nearly 20 years with the AMC. “You put your heart and soul into the map,” Garland says.

Article from Backpacker Magazine, March, 2016. #backpackermag