Trails of (Foggy) San Francisco

August 19, 2010

I should be careful about making declaring what month it is. After my last post, now I have to come back and correct the record: it’s mid August. Heck, it’s early Late August. It’s definitely been a foggy August out here in the Richmond District, though the sun came out yesterday.

Having put in a few solid weeks of work, the San Francisco map is looking beautiful, loose ends and all. I’ve added lots of landmarks and now trail mileages. Haven’t written a word of text, but my to-do lists could fill all the space on the map. Heck, my THANK YOU list could fill half the map, and I’m sort of a recluse. I’m planning to print in September, so I have my work cut out for me. Which will make me even more of a recluse. I do remember to field check things around the city from time to time. This week I’m hoping to get out and scout views from Russian, Nob, and Telegraph Hills. 

The other day I went to check on the Arboretum and ended up walking a couple miles to document which paths got moved. Sort of dead reckoning with the map and my memory of how things were, plus tracing the newly seeded lawn where the old geometric paths have been removed and rerouted. Interesting to see old, familiar places made ADA-accessible. 

Since the finished map has a semi-opaque relief layer, it’s a little frustrating to output it. I am working as far as I can in FreeHand, then importing it to Illustrator, where I have to move the relief to a mid-level layer, grab the brush and beach fills and make a copy with a swatch pattern for brush and beach sand respectively (Illustrator doesn’t import FreeHand’s tiled or postscript fills). And adjust a bit of type. I think by week’s end I’ll have made a couple files that make this transition as easy as possible (say 50% easier). I’m not ready to work in Illustrator yet; there are just too many stupid things it does. (Old time FreeHand users can list dozens or hundreds of shortcomings; a few more practical Illustrator converts have invented, and shared, scripts that replicate some of what Illustrator ought to do; for which I am highly grateful).

I AM enjoying Illustrator CS4’s capability to make multiple, overlapping artboards; once the file IS set up in Illustrator I can play with how the front and back sides of the map overlap, and keep adjusting the position of the artboards to print out samples of each side exactly how I want them.  Heck, I’m even using the map to navigate around the city.

When I get a few more projects out of the way this week I’ll post some images. I promised that last month, didn’t I. It’s been a heck of a month.


Suddenly it’s…July…2010.

July 9, 2010

We were blessed to spend the month of May in a lovely little Italian village at the foot of the Alps, a little north of Ivrea. The house sat at the base of a huge glacial moraine, a little above the valley floor, and all three rooms opened onto a balcony. It was the closest I’ve come to living in a fire lookout. The weather was rainy much of the time and we could sit on the porch and watch the clouds build up, the rain sweep past, and the Alps to our east appear briefly with a new dusting of snow. 

I brought along my draft Trails of San Francisco map but did very little direct work on it. Italy was distracting enough it took all our attention. However I did get to explore our area with two marvelous trail maps by MU Edizioni. They were fabulous guides for a stranger in a strange land, with every roadside shrine, regional trails, mule tracks, houses, place names, shaded relief, the works. At scales of 1:12,500 (roughly half the scale or 4 times the resolution of your standard 1:24,000 USGS map) and 1:20,000. I realized the scale of my own trail map was headed in the wrong direction (smaller and smaller to fit more acreage, but so small the trails within the parks weren’t readable, which was the point of the map in the first place). First thing I got home was enlarge my map about 150%, from 1:30,000 to 1:20,000, and let the scale determine the paper size, rather than vice versa. The sights of the city have a lot more breathing room, and what falls off the map will fall on my next edition of the Coastside, plus (dare I introduce another map in progress) Marin Headlands/Tamalpais in 2011.

There are still hundreds of little things to clean up, and dozens of loose ends with the format, plus running it by agency folks for review, but the San Francisco map really will come out this summer. Pretty soon I’ll post some previews. Thanks to everyone for your patience!

I’m catching up with my other work; I’ll slip in a trip report when time permits, and San Francisco is underway.

A place to sit on the Coastal Trail in Lands End

March 1, 2010

Walking recently on the Coastal Trail in Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Lands End, we came across a trail crew busy working on the stairs that bypass the big 1922 landslide.

On the east side the trail crew has rebuilt the alternating granite and wood steps so they’re all stone (old curbstones extracted from the nearby underbrush) with a uniform rise and run. The crest has new wooden steps replacing an eroded step-down. And down the west side,  they removed the old, rotted wood bench on the north side of the trail, which had been a welcome resting spot, but whose view had disappeared behind a young cypress tree. In its place, masons built a handsome pair of stone benches on the uphill side of the trail. Each seats 2-4 people and provides a snippet of view west toward the Pacific.

Trails in GGNRA's Lands End (excerpted from Trails of San Francisco map)


The big stairway is located halfway between the Camino del Mar and Merrie Way, about 0.5 mile from each trailhead.

The last shall be first…

February 16, 2010


I am an early adopter about some things, but I’m just about the last person in my family to start a blog. My dad has one, my partner started one last month. My brother and his wife each have one; even my niece’s guinea pig has one.

I’ve certainly read my share of blogs (particularly since getting DSL and marveling at the 2008 election). And I’ve found some really neat blogs, on topics ranging from public transit to trails to Alaskan politics.

I have taken a few stabs at making my website work like a blog, but with tools like WordPress and Blogspot, there’s no sense recreating the wheel (and all those links, folders, and self-updating archives). So here I am! I’m kinda excited.  It’s going to take a little while to get started — I went to add a link to the list and accidentally erased the page I was working on. And I’m the guy who says “save early and often.” I’ve reconstructed about half of my brilliant first post here, and as they say, it’s easier the second time around, and the rest I’ll catch later.

As I was writing a moment ago, my goal for this blog is to let you know about interesting projects and techniques relating to my freelance cartography business, Pease Press, and (if not too off-topic) other relevant aspects of my life. The other big chunk of content will be news of San Francisco Bay Area trails and neighborhoods. I publish a line of Bay Area trail maps. I don’t get a chance to update them on a regular basis, but I’m always finding new trails and hikes, and occasionally favorite trails fall into the brink. There are also a number of great websites and books out there which deserve mention, and/or links. 

No one platform is perfect, but I look forward to finding and sharing my voice about things that matter to me (environment, food, trails, neighborhood, hidden histories). And  connecting people with ideas, and linking to other, better voices. Here and in the real world.