That GPS app I used on The Mountain yesterday appeals to my inner geek. It lets me gauge with confidence things like location, distance, elevation and grade, plus spatial and relational information that isn’t obvious from feet-on-the-ground observations.
I took what I’d gathered and entered it today into a couple of online mapping utilities. One of the coolest things was the resulting visuals — not true photographs, since they’re generated digitally from terrain data and satellite images, but they’re still striking.
In the image to the left (or above, if you’re viewing this on your phone), The Mountain appears near the left-hand edge, the access road winding in front of it. Above and behind it is a long ridge that rises a few hundred feet higher. In the distance, to the south, are the hazy outlines of the Boston Mountains, home to the Buffalo River just eight miles away (though a 22-mile drive).
I love that perspective. I think the visual captures just how special this setting is.
According to the app, just outside the county seat of Yellville we cross over Crooked Creek at 532 feet above sea level. (That’s a drop of 500 feet from where we cross it in Harrison.) Six miles later, the road up The Mountain begins at 735 feet and, within just four-tenths of a mile, climbs at 17% to 952 feet.
Unlike that sudden 217-foot gain, the rise of 203 feet between Yellville and the foot of The Mountain doesn’t happen all at once. The county road is a twisted roller-coaster, a delightful ride that ascends a total of 732 feet — and descends 529 feet.
The area we cleared on The Mountain sits at 935 feet. Deb’s cousin’s cabin, built in a saddle between a pair of high points, is at 919 feet.
The numbers fascinate me.
While exploring The Mountain with Deb yesterday I marked a number of locations, the first round of what eventually will become dozens of spots on the property. The most important product of the exercise, I believe, is that it informs a “mental map.” It’s the way my brain has worked for as long as I can remember.
With a collection of known points (locations and relationships) in my head, I’ll have a good shot at knowing, for instance, that the place we want to go is over here in this direction, not over there in that direction.
Naturally, the longer we linger on The Mountain the better we’ll know it. And yes, “dead reckoning” remains an essential skill in the woods, but even that requires landmarks. (Otherwise it’s just guessing.)
The rest will come with time. Our love affair with the place has only just begun.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.