Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Table Mountain XI
A serious hazard in this kartograffickle game is the need to update maps before you reprint them. Maps go out of date on their first day in print, because the Earth and its human environment is a dynamic, ever-changing thing, and it’s downhill all the way from there. By the end of its three to four year shelf life the printed map will have several “errors” caused by changes on the ground.
I say “hazard” because, even with carefully-kept stats and projections, the day the last box of maps from the warehouse empties itself is an unpredictable thing. With little warning you have to drop everything and dust off the files, tear around taking GPS readings and cursing Google Earth because their more recent air photos are fuzzy and dark and much worse than their older out-of-date ones.
Which is why this kaartmaker spent most of the happy holiday season slaving away in the dank depths of his studio over Table Mountain. The map, of course, but also that marvellous mountain itself. TM is not a mountain to be trifled with – it’s a small mountain on a grand world scale, but all too few understand that it’s composed of three very large squarish rocks with near-vertical sides, arranged in an H-shape with the city of Cape Town nestling between the uprights. It’s the near-vertical sides of the lower part that are the problem, because there is literally only one single route up and down [apart from the cableway] where, as far as I know, there has never been a fatality or serious injury.
Which makes the mapping thereof a rather responsible thing, and why we don’t like the TM map to be out of print – ever.
A related hazard is the extraordinary number of people who never update their collection of maps. “Oh,” they will say, “I’ve got a copy of that, I don’t need a new one.”
Which is a bit like using Fra Mauro’s 1450 ‘Mappa mundi’ to find Harare, Zimbabwe. “Here be beasties”, the map probably says. Indeed – that’s true; Mad Bob lives there.
In an attempt to thwart the update-denialists, Table Mountain XI is the first map we’ve published that carries a “Best Before” date.
Sounds like a funny idea, but we mean it most sincerely. We get too many emails that say things like “I’ve used your 1974 map of Table Mountain for the past 39 years and I have to tell you how disappointed I am that there is an error on it. It shows a path called the ‘Trolley Track’ but when we tried to go that way all we found was a lot of old rusty barbed wire and no path at all ...” etc etc. They never mention that they also met Rip van Winkle and the Ancient Mariner on their hike.
Quite apart from all that, it’s a simple safety precaution for you to make sure that your map is the most up-to-date available.
Nonetheless the redrawing was fun, and a riffle over the latest air photos [fuzzy or not] revealed a couple of interesting things. Like if you live in one of those very large pads at Ruyteplaats or Kenrock, at the north end of Hout Bay, you should be jacking up your fire insurance. Same applies across the valley at all those only-slightly-more-modest homes on the western slopes of Vlakkenberg (wake up, Cousin Robert!).
Three-and-a-half centuries after the introduction of home ownership to the Cape you’d have thought that everyone would have learned the simple truth by now – there is never a question of ‘if’ fynbos will burn – there is only an absolute 100% certainty that it will, some time. This year, next year, in ten years’ time, it’s gonna happen ... and if it’s lekker old stuff growing taller than your house, well, you’re in for a lovely whoosh!
New features on Table Mountain XI:
* Distances and estimated times shown for all paths above the Contour Path or Pipe Track
* GPS coords in DD MM SS format at important junctions
* Completely revised vegetation distribution
* Some vanished paths removed; some new ones added
* Three Firs, Oudekraal Ravine and Constantia Corner routes upgraded
* Clearer depiction of many features, including dangerous routes
* All the features for which the map is famous are still there.
The price of Duraflex waterproof paper has forced a price increase on this edition, but NB NB NB – all copies sold online up to the end of Feb 2013, including those in the complete TMNP set, will be at the old price – so grab yours fast!
In the past I have used this blog for items of more personal reflection and even family history. I’ve decided to continue those, in a new blog and keep Maps for Afrika for more directly map-related stuff. Go to the new one to find out about an amazing herpetological discovery concerning Dink, the family tortoise ... Notes for a Novel and occasional anger-dumps around the extraordinary range of fat, rude, racist, stupid and corrupt politicians who with yawningly predictable frequency conspire to muck up our fair land, may crop up there too from time to time.
Kaartman, Januarie 2013