Allenby Pass area, Canada Topo 1:50000
This is one of the first topo map spots I found myself getting lost in

August, 1992. My dad and were biking up and over Allenby pass, on the 3rd day of a backcountry bike touring trip This was of course, decades before bike packing became a thing. We were on our old-school bikes, fully rigid with rim brakes and way too much gear.

A month before this trip, I was sitting in the basement of our home in Edmonton staring at topographic maps on the basement floor. Well technically it was one single “map” that I had made from about 100 photocopied pages of the topo maps. Being a poor 14 year-old, I had no money to buy all the maps along the intended route, but I dad have a father who worked at a provincial government office that had the entire set of maps for the province. I spent the better part of an afternoon painstakingly photocopying the maps, page after page until I was convinced I had covered rhe area I needed.

Back at home, I assembled that map with scissors and tap until it covered our entire route.

That was when the dreams began. As I started at the trails, the contour lines, the rivers and peaks I tried to envision in my head what the area would look like. Would it be trees, or scrubby grassland, or even sandy rocky flats? Back then we didn’t have the advantage of Satellite imagery so I spent hours gazing across the maps and wondering.

“I wonder what this pass looks like?”

“This looks like it would be a cool spot to camp and explore”

“What if we tried to connect this trail to this trail?

“I wonder if…”

This is still something I do to this day. I can literally get lost in a map for minutes, even hours. If there is a hut along the route with a map on the wall of it, you can guarantee that I’ll be the one staring at it until someone finally says “Daryl, we have to GO!!”

Maps are dreams and imagination to me.

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