Two new map books encourage backcountry adventures By Andy Stonehouse Anyone who's ever pondered a voyage off the paved roads in Sea to Sky country may have found themselves at a loss when trying to find their way, especially when many B.C. road maps show the entire area in a space the size of a matchbook. Likewise, hikers hoping to head off into the backcountry in the Whistler-Spearhead range have probably found their existing maps virtually useless when the valley's more typical cloudy weather rolls in. If you're looking for an up-to-date compendium of roads, trails and recreation areas in Southwestern B.C., or an all-weather map to guide you on your way through the Singing Pass, two new products may save the day. The newest edition of the Backroad Mapbook series produced by Vancouver's Mussio Ventures is now on sale, offering an extremely detailed look at logging roads, hiking trails and mountain-biking routes from the U.S. border to the Lillooet/Bralorne area, and from the Strait of Georgia to the Fraser Canyon. The grid format map book can help show more adventurous types some little-known routes throughout the entire area, including forest road loops which allow drivers a back-woods transit route from Harrison Hot Springs to Mount Currie. Russell Mussio, co-author of the new book, said the maps offer an up-to-date look at some of the most popular touring routes in the province. "We wanted to offer a complete guide for the outdoors, with all activities quite thoroughly outlined," Mussio said. "We've included mountain-biking trails, from extreme to gentle, and the best fishing lakes." Mussio said he and the book's other planners have used a massive database, including forest service maps, municipal trail information plus travel information from the internet and local tourism centres, to plot the course of roads and make sure which sites are still open. "We cross-referenced everything to verify what's on the maps, and we know a lot of what's out there is true." More than 270 trails and two- and four-wheel drive roads can be found, with details stretching from the Sunshine Coast clear into the Stein Valley. All of the maps are computer generated and Mussio said new editions can be easily updated. For those interested in taking the non-motorized route into the mountains, Beta Digital Mapping's "Unlimited Visibility" map of the Whistler-Spearhead range may be a necessary buy. The pre-laminated map uses technology called orthophotography to offer a 1:15,000 scale topographical map details, superimposed on an aerial photo of the area. The result is designed to allow users to practically feel their way through the area, including the Singing Pass trail and backcountry hikes as far-flung as Russet Lake. George Weetman, the map's designer, said he's applied the same methodology used in mining, forestry and urban planning to allow hikers and backcountry skiers to easily find their way. "A lot of other topographic maps make it difficult to locate yourself, particularly in bad weather," he said. "With all of the terrain detail on this map, it's easy to orient yourself on the surrounding features." Contour lines and a grid for compass work have also been included, as well as names of major features and trails. The map is also set up for anyone smart enough to take a portable GPS receiver along on their hike, ensuring safe passage through the rugged area. The full colour map has been designed to be viewed in natural light. Both maps can be found at local retailers including the Escape Route, Wild Willies, the Mountain Shop and Armchair Books, as well as Mountain Equipment Co-op and Coast Mountain Sports in Vancouver.