Part of the mission of the Green Mountain Club is to try to help get people out into the mountains — and for the first time in its 108-year history, the GMC is now offering digital maps which you can purchase, download and view on a cell phone.
On a recent cold afternoon, GMC's Operations and Publications Coordinator Matt Krebs strapped on a pair of snowshoes and made his way up a trail out of Sherburne Pass near Killington. After about 10 minutes, he pulled out his cell phone.
“So as we’re looking at a PDF version of our Killington area map, you can see like we have a little blue dot of where we’re located. And then you can record a track of where you’re going,” Krebs said as he swiped and slid different pages on the app.
“You can take photos of a location and then later add them onto the map. And it allows them to basically put everything they want attached to the map so they can remember it digitally.”
The new Green Mountain Club digital map program shows trails and shelters and water sources, just like a paper map. And it even works when cell service isn’t available, using GPS technology.
But there are a host of other features that let people attach photos to locations, track their hiking, and zoom in and out to see exactly where they are on the trail.
Krebs said for those who use technology and are comfortable with it, it could be a way to encourage people to get into the woods more.
“We are seeing younger generations using digital products more and we think that that’s a way … to make the backcountry more accessible, easier for them, less barriers to participate in hiking and just enjoying the mountains in general,” he said.
But Krebs said that while digital maps are pretty cool, they should not be the only navigation tools you take out into the woods.
Cell phones fall and break, and the batteries die, and so he said it’s important to always carry a map and compass and know how to follow a blazed tail.
“We’ve had the conversation about digital products, and unless paper just completely disappears, where it’s not available, you know the Green Mountain Club has no plans of changing on printing the Long Trail Guide. It’s iconic," Krebs said. "And so you know I think there'll always be certain things that will be there, and you know, blazes on trees I think are one of them because it’s part of the experience.”
The Green Mountain Club currently has digital maps for sale from some of its most popular hiking sections near Killington, Stratton, Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump.
The club is continuing to work on the technology and hopes to have the entire trail available in the next year or so.