Map Reading 201

Friday, April 14, 2017
Valley - A valley is a gently sloping area generally connected to a stream or river.

Once you understand the information contained in a map margin you can then get down to the information on the map itself. Next are the colors you will see on a topographic map. There are numerous colors used but here are the basics and what they represent.

BLACK - The color black indicates man-made features such as roads, buildings and surveyed elevations.

RED-BROWN - This is the color is used for relief features such as contour lines.

SADDLE - A saddle is the spot between two hilltops.

BLUE - The color blue is used to show water like in lakes, streams, rivers or swamps.

GREEN - Green depicts vegetation such as forests, orchards, or vineyards.

These two groups are major features and minor features.

Depression - A depression is what happens when you realize your GPS batteries are dead and your maps are at home. It is also circular spot of land that is lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain and is not filled with water. Good examples would be strip pits and sink holes.

Although this may seem like oversimplification itís really not. Once you understand the basics of a map the rest will come with experience and familiarity. Map reading and usage is whatís called a perishable skill, which means you can get really rusty if you donít use the skill regularly. The skills explained here are just the very basics one must have to get started. There is much more to map reading and using a map for scouting. Now you have just enough information to become temporarily disoriented rather than flat out lost. In the next article we will cover compasses and their use, terrain association, and basic scouting from the kitchen table.

SPUR - A spur looks like a spur on a rooster. Its the part of some hills that sticks out like, well, a roosterís spur. (Minor terrain features)
DRAW - A draw is a spot that pushes into a hillside. (Minor terrain feature)
HILL - A hill shows you the top of the hill as viewed from above.
RIDGE - A ridge is nothing more than a series of hills in a row.
Cliff - A cliff is that thing I always manage to find while navigating in the dark without a map and, a nearly vertical or vertical change in elevation as noted by the extremely close contour lines. (Small terrain feature)