Monday, April 2, 2012

Sixth Report Back

Debate this, please! As the map progresses it becomes clear that there are wide differences of opinion about what should be on the map, and what should not.

A couple of weeks ago I received this email:
While I do enjoy and appreciate your maps, I do worry about showing the hoi polloi how to find all the best gems in our wonderful mountains. The mob should be restricted to the main routes, and the best parts left to those who can find them for themselves.’

I’m sure my friend’s tongue was at least partly in his cheek. ‘Hoi polloi’ means ‘the many’ in Greek, and we were all hoi polloi once, even my friend. By good luck we were all introduced to the magic of the Cederberg by someone else – and hence we were welcomed into the hoi oligoi [the few].

My guru, Alex Basson, confessed that when he helped the Forestry Dept put together the 1981 map he deliberately scattered place names vaguely across the map without pinpointing their locations, because he too did not want the hoi polloi to find the ‘best gems’ in his wonderful mountains. However, he has appealed to me to include as much of his knowledge and wisdom as possible in the new map, before it gets lost forever. Part of the cartographer’s duty is to find and preserve place names; Alex appreciates that.

Patrick Lane, Wilderness Manager at Algeria, pointed out an important management problem in the Cederberg. ‘Most visitors,’ Patrick said, ‘want to visit the Maltese Cross, the Cracks, the Wolfberg Arch ...’ – leading to increased degradation of the paths to those places. ‘We need to highlight other features, to spread the load,’ Patrick said.

Finally, we have to consider that the Cederberg is a proclaimed Wilderness. This not only means that the number of overnight visitors [hoi polloi or not] is limited, it also means that by definition there are no signposts and, strictly speaking, there should be no huts or even paths. The only safe way, therefore, that anyone – hoi polloi or ologoi – can successfully negotiate routes in them thar hills is if they have an informative and reliable map.

Before listing the specific places for which I would like your inputs in this debate, please also consider this. When I produced my first map of Table Mountain I was asked by MCSA members to specifically exclude certain ‘best gems’ from my map [remember that, Greg?]. For nearly forty years I have not shown such places as Tranquillity Cracks on my map. The map is approved by the MCSA and it’s the only map of the mountain endorsed by SanParks – yet Tranquillity Cracks are nowhere to be found on it. Despite that, at least two popular hiking authors have published detailed descriptions and directions to the Cracks, and Full Circle mag published six pages of photos. Where does that leave my map? Red faced, if it could be, I reckon; sadly on a par with deliberately-distorted maps published in such great democracies as the USSR ...

If you know the following places and you don’t think / do think they should be included on the map, now is your chance to tell me. Please give coordinates if you can, to make sure we are talking about the same place. If you have other places you think SHOULD be included, please let me know [but bear in mind that no caves with rock art will be shown].
Here goes [these are all on the northern section, at this stage; NB these are all names not on existing maps; new names used by boulderers are not included; none of the caves listed below have rock art]:—

  • Ambraal se Vrou [rock formation nr Heuningvlei]
  • Amon se Kerk [rock formation nr Amon se Poort]
  • Asjas se Grot [cave near Crystal Pool]
  • Cederberggrot [near De Hoek, Vaalfontein path]
  • Chockstone [Middelberg North]
  • Dasklip [nr Amon se Poort]
  • Die Punt [nek nr Kleinvlei]
  • Die Rondegat [cave on Rondegat river]
  • Eenboom se Kamp [at Grootlandsvlakte]
  • Engelsmansgrot [cave near Pakhuis]
  • Eselbank Cave [nr Eselbank]
  • Geelgrot [cave at Krakadouw fort]
  • Houtkappersgrot [cave s-east of Sneeukop]
  • Kabouterland Cave [near Grasvlei]
  • Klipboombos [nr Pakhuis]
  • Koupoort Cracks [nr Klein-Koupoort]
  • Kruidkop [nr Amon se Poort]
  • Minor Arch [near the Maze]
  • Nuwejaarsgrot [cave near Shadow Peak]
  • Old Magazine [building nr Pakhuis]
  • Panorama Cave [above Welbedacht]
  • Pepper Pot [pinnacle near Welbedacht]
  • Perdefontein [nr Kliphuis]
  • Poon se Val [waterfall nr Sandwerf]
  • Slangbossloep [path section]
  • Strydom se Pad [Welbedacht to Uilsgat path]
  • Tierhoek Falls [waterfall]
  • Tierhoek [ruins nr Die Toring]]
  • Vensterklip [nr Amon se Poort]
  • Vuilpoortjie [nek near Shadow Peak]
  • White’s Rock [or White Rock] [above Agter-Warmhoek]
  • Winston Pinnacle [near Sas se Hoek]

More names may be added in due course; please send in any others you want excluded or included.

This website map correctly locates Panorama Cave
A note on Panorama Cave is appropriate, as two contributors have asked for it to be excluded:
1. It’s shown on all existing maps, albeit in the incorrect position;
2. It is correctly located on the public wallmap in CapeNature's Algeria office;
3. It is openly advertised at Driehoek, where they’ll even point its location out to you;
4. Jeroen Kant has pointed out that if you go to Driehoek’s website you can download maplets, three of which correctly locate Panorama Cave [see above] –
How can I leave this cave off my map?

PLEASE send all and any comments through the Contact form on

Report Back #6

Had a great response to my many requests in #5. Graham Bellairs came up trumps with the Chockstone, and he and Sandy MacDonald both sent pics.

Graham also sent a host of great pics; some copied here to whet the appetites of all who’ll be spending long weekend time in the Cederberg soon.

Pics by Graham Bellairs

Torben Wiborg and Trevor Rennison sent me some very useful GPS tracks for various trailheads/peak tops and routes which I had hoped to include but which are faint on the ground these days.

More pics by Graham

Peter Hart sent me the correct spelling of Ingar Valentyn – sorry I had it incorrect, Ingar. He also located Kroekedam for me.

Looking forward to your input on the names – all inputs will be acknowledged, and please don’t be afraid to say what you think!

Info already in:
Already acknowledged: Rudolf Andrag, Quinton Martins, Ronnie Hazell, Charles Merry, Wim Morris, Alex Basson, Graham Bellairs, Julyan Symons, Galeo Saintz, Paul la Grange, Laurence Elton, Mike Scott, Peter Hart, Justin Lawson, David Donald, Johann Lanz, Cisca Nieuwoudt, Hendrico Burger, Nicky Lombard, Jeroen Kant, Patrick Lane, Ingar Valentyn

Kaartman [April Fool’s Day was yesterday, this doesn’t qualify, hey], 2 April 2012


  1. Patrick Lane sent me this comment:
    We need to use a sense of logic as to what to include in the map, as we can see from Welbedacht Cave the rock art has been destroyed by illegal fires in the cave. Any rock art sites should be considered extremely sensitive and left out if at all possible.
    Although it is a small minority that destroy rock art sometimes on purpose but usually through ignorance, we need to manage according to the worst possible case scenario.

    By spreading the load and taking pressure off Maltese Cross and the Wolfberg Arch, we need to make the other rock features more known, Gatdeur kop and Machine gun ridge, promote other day routes.

    Patrick Lane
    Conservation Manager | Cederberg Wilderness

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Eugene Moll sent me this comment:

    I really do not know the Cederberg well but I would like to comment on the hoi polloi reference and TM maps.

    The Cederberg area is a wilderness area and if the managers are unable to manage it properly then they should be sacked. That is a bit rough I know, BUT if RSA is a signatory to international conventions then government should take responsibility and we have a duty to ensure that they do take responsibility because we are part of that hoi polloi! I agree that parts will get over-used but then sure that is where a quota comes in and also that is where paths (creating jobs through the various government schemes) should be constructed. If people do not visit and treasure areas then we will lose them as they will have no value (the other side of the argument). So do what YOU THINK IS RIGHT – THEY ARE YOUR MAPS TOO...

    Regarding TM I still have a Slingsby map from the 1970s and that is THE BEST MAP of TM ? It is my treasure...

    Stay well and keep fit


  4. Mike Scott sent me this comment:
    Your question is one that will divide families and could start the 3rd World War (my wife and I have diametrically opposite views in this)!
    In summary:
    1. The commercial Guide book writers are going to include anything special you leave out so they can advertise “something new” to sell their book.
    2. A true reference work is accurate, so that hikers don’t get killed in bad weather because the map was wrong.
    3. I agree with spreading the load, and the more remote places are not going to get the lazy faction of the Hoi Polloi.
    4. IF the general public can find these special features using any map, they don’t deserve to be called Hoi Polloi any more !
    5. Rather have your maps directing mountaineers instead of ill informed ‘friends’, as you will have provided the right warnings and behaviour guidelines.
    6. The ONLY ‘Off Limits’ places should be those requiring special permits (eg Private land)

    Please feel free to make my views as public as you like. Happy to debate this with anyone.
    Kind regards, and thanks for all your hard work.

  5. Graham Bellairs sent me this comment:
    Thanks for this and the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful project. I don’t think that gems should be hidden from the ‘Cederberg hoi poloi’ for various reasons:
    1. the true ‘hoi poloi’ don’t go to the Cederberg. Visitors to the Cederberg generally are responsible nature lovers and know at least a little bit about conservation and preservation; more so those who venture into the remote areas where the gems are to be found. I have seen no evidence of vandalism at popular Cederberg gems such as the Wolfberg Cracks and Arch or the Maltese Cross; the only exception being the self righteous and aggrandizing graffiti on the walls of the Stadsaal Cave. The Tranquillity Cracks on Table Mountain example is somewhat different as there is no controlled access to Table Mountain, those cracks are readily accessible to the massive population of Cape Town including the true ‘hoi poloi‘ and issues of ecological sensitivity are more severe given the Cape yellowwoods exposure to visitors to those cracks, but even then I don’t think that MCSA ,hiking clubs, cartographers or any unauthorised group can assume to themselves the right to and privilege of secrecy over such a gem in the interests of conservancy. That is the duty and obligation of TMNP to exclude or limit access if needs be.
    2. It is inherently unfair of those who know of the whereabouts of a gem to think that because they were fortunate enough to have found out about these places that others who may be as appreciative and observant of conservation principles should be excluded from their appreciation by secrecy. By so doing gem coverters retain to themselves an undeserved privilege. It is not for them to decide who should or should not enjoy them. All responsible mountaineers have the same right to enjoy gems.
    3. Access to the gems can be controlled responsibly through the permit systems and by education of those to whom permits are furnished. That is the responsibility of Cape Nature and it should not be for the fortunate few to afford to themselves the decision on conservation and preservation of gems by exclusion and secrecy. Nor should the burden of the conservation of gems be placed on the shoulders of cartographers.
    4. The easing and spreading of the load on the Cederberg by disclosing the gems has merit too. Erosive pressure on the paths and immediate surroundings will be lessened and result in accessibility to popular spots being sustained for a longer period of time.

    I have copied this to all as I think that it is an important debate for all to contribute in a constructive and reasoned manner. I hope commentators will reciprocate by sharing their views with all of us.

    Best wishes,


  6. Galeo Saintz sent me this comment [Google insisted I shorten it]:
    ... good mapping is essential, not only in navigating clearly but also safely. A map that is accurate can save lives in situations where weather is bad or an emergency has arisen - so too can a poor map result in unnecessary tragedy.

    Being a mountain wilderness guide, explorer and 'route finder' ... I have over the years become very aware of the nature and dangers of mapping. Essentially all mapping in my view is colonisation of the mind and / or of the land, through the disclosure and projection of information in certain ways. As we know the famous dictum: "the map is not the territory', always applies. I make the following comments and contributions:

    1. Less is more.

    2. A map that reveals the basic terrain and the essential landmarks that help us interpret and understand our place in that terrain is all that a map should convey. At its very best a map is an accurate record of terrain features that help us find our way.

    3. The naming of 'gems' or inserting historical information, or information that is known by a certain group of folk, be they frequent walkers, or such folk as the local communities (who by the way have very different names for some of the 'gem' spots, caves and landmarks we know), I feel distorts the landscape and ruins one's personal and direct experience of it.

    4. On the trails I have helped create we try and stay away from any naming of places, or even using historic names referring to incidents that happened there in the past, when I walk through the mountains or in nature a good map is one that gives me all the relevant information to assist my navigation. We all love the mountains and there is no small part of being out there that involves discovery of something you did not expect to be there. When 'gems' and every swimming hole or cave is listed it removes the possibility of future walkers or visitors from the opportunity to discover for themselves. All names or identifications of such spots populate a map with unnecessary data that soon influences the way a user of such a map sees the landscape, and soon one no longer sees the terrain, but sees only what the map reveals.

    5. There are many places i have come across in nature that are pristine and beautiful and the very wonder they convey to visitors can so easily be spoiled when they are named, or referenced or even photographed for that matter. I think a lot of the gems and the historic elements being discussed have a natural home in some kind of a book, but not online or on a map. It is not about keeping information to one self, or secret, rather it is about keeping a place in the world for mystery and discovery, for finding things out for oneself and for respecting the gems in nature without 'owning' them through naming or mapping. Historic books are the natural home for certain incidents where the name, place or incident can be put in correct context - a map with to much history or information over and above navigational elements soon distracts from what is really there and starts to become an interpretive map, and therein lies the danger: interpretation is always subjective.

    Continued in next Comment ...

  7. Galeo Saintz contd
    6. Maps with gems listed ... result in people going to those spots to 'tick them off' or visit them like tourists, and in so doing miss out on the opportunity to stumble upon them and to be surprised. Do we need to disclose Crystal Pools - if the stream itself is mapped? I may find my own crystal pool and so have a special relationship with it because 'only I' know about it - oh yes it may be familiar to a whole lot of people, but by not being indicated as such on a map it does not become a destination, but something special, and something to be cherished. This also allows new generations of outdoors people to develop their own skills in discovering beautiful places and in navigating and understanding terrain.

    7. The other question is at what point do we exclude something from a map? When considering 'gems' or historic elements, what should be included and what should be excluded? I think instead of giving exact locations to everything in the world, indicate walkways and paths and good natural features without naming them through our limited cultural views, and then add details, like: wonderful pools to be found along this stream, or unique rock features in this area, etc.

    8. In the end we are loosing wilderness and it is not just the wilderness out there, but the sense of wilderness within ourselves. 'Over mapping' a terrain can remove the sense of wilderness in how we experience a place. Mapping is a very powerful tool and has been used as the primary tool for colonisation throughout history. We often loose sight of the fact that all we are colonising in the end is our own minds and how we experience a place.

    9. As far as conservation goes, we should all be practicing and advocating the strictest 'Leave No Trace' principles. I cannot say how often I am out with long standing hikers and outdoors folk, who have a no awareness about some of these principles. Yet profess to be conservation minded and aware. Sometimes conservation means we purposefully do not visit a place. I have come across many places that are beyond beautiful and i have decided not to visit them on purpose, because not everywhere on this planet should be exposed to human presence. This is a very personal view I know, but some places we should simply not summit but walk around and respect that place's privacy and space.

    10. In the end it al depends what the purpose of a map is. Is it for tourism, is it for navigation, is it for historical record, is it for marketing, is it for safety, is it for education or is it for all of these? All I know is we have to be very careful when it comes to maps (and on this note I think Peter has made an enlightened decision to include a broader community and get a multiplicity of views to inform his mapping project). We need to be careful what we include and exclude, because every piece of information colours and influences our experience of a place whether we like it or not.

    Finally, let us keep our own wild spirit alive by honouring simplicity and creating maps that detail very accurate landmarks, natural features and all elements that assist in safe navigation. Not necessarily by naming them, or classifying this one as a 'gem' or not or even revealing its existence. Let the map be our invitation to self discovery in a world filled with wilderness and wonder, by not naming everything, by not revealing what is important to one group of people, and which is possibly not important to others. A map can help us safely discover the wild out there for ourselves and not always make us feel as if we are walking in someone else's footsteps. As I said, less is more, the simpler the better and the more physically descriptive and accurate the more honourable a map is. Retain the mystery and help map the wilderness not just with an outline, but by retaining its wildness on a map by not defining it through names and cultural projections, or historic reference.

    Galeo Saintz

  8. Greg Moseley sent me this, in response to Graham and Galeo ...
    I wasn't going to become involved in this fascinating blog as I simply feel that most of my information is much better known by others but the present discussion on "gems" and the utility of maps is very close to my heart!

    First I would like to thank Galeo for his wonderful contribution that has saved me from trying to find the words! I feel very much the same way and those principles have guided my climbing and exploring career. So much so that when a well-known film making crew were thinking of making a film on South African involvement in Patagonia, they came round to try and convince the MCSA to help fund their endeavours but were unaware (and embarrassedto find!) that I had been to climb and explore in Patagonia half a dozen times. Places we went to 40 years ago are now popular tourist traps...

    And thus it is. The places we used to visit in the Cederberg are now frequented by the hoi polloi (not my term!) and we had better learn to live with it! However - there is always a however - certain statements by Graham bear examination - concerning Table Mountain:

    That is the duty and obligation of TMNP to exclude or limit access if needs be.
    Absolutely right - in principle. Unfortunately, this does not happen. whether it is a lack of resources or a lack of will, I really do not know (and as Vice Chair of the TMNP Forum, I should know!). But the bottom line is that the management of TMNP and Cape Nature have not yet shown themselves capable of managing this sort of thing. So what do we do? Not publicise the "gems", not publish more than the basic map to ensure that people don't get lost..? [As another by the way, I have just heard that today, one of the blogsters (is that the technical term?) spent 25 minutes trying to persuade a group of hikers that Dark Gully was not Newlands Ravine...] Graham's thoughts are also a double-edged sword - limiting access is something we would all have trouble with!

    That leaves the field open for the guide book writers to publish and be damned... Some of them are good and some of them are - how shall I put this - less good. The MCSA was asked - pre-publication - to review and comment on one proposed guide book to be published by a commercial publisher of note. As Chair of the CT Section at the time, I passed the script out to four very senior and knowledgeable Club members whose unanimous recommendation that the book not be published with out extensive revision and re-writing. This recommendation was ignored and the book subsequently came out...

    The point of this? Well, I feel that a good map along the lines that Galeo likes is a very useful piece of equipment. Noting certain areas as particularly attractive is I feel, not a bad thing, But in a limited way. That way the statutory authorities could ensure that the paths and trails to those (few) areas were adequately maintained and - importantly - patrolled by rangers to keep the visitors safe and to keep the areas as pristine as would be possible. This would channel most visitors into limited areas and relieve the pressure elsewhere. The rest of the area could be covered by good solid maps which would allow for a degree of exploration excitement much as Galeo advocates. A compromise maybe but life is a compromise! And I think we should all read Galeo's paragraph 10 carefully...

    Enough - I have probably offended more people than I usually do in a few short paragraphs!

    Greg M

  9. Tony Heher sent this:
    Hi Peter (and all)
    The recent (voluminous!) correspondence on this topic of what to include or exclude in maps refers. (I am not sending the original correspondence on to all, as all cc'd have already seen it.)

    As many (but possibly not all) may know, Mike Scott and I and many others have been involved in a "mapping project" of a rather different kind, but which faces similar issues. This is the web project aiming to map and describe all routes in the Cape. The Cederberg parts are still in their early stages but I see no reason why they would deviate from the established policy described on the site - e.g. see the article the was published in the MCSA Journal of 2008 Background to Mountain Meanders

    I think it is clear from that, that excluding "gems" from is contrary to its principles and the site (like any other wiki) would not exclude anything per se - but of course individual contributors may. That is one of the key differences.


    Tony Heher

  10. Dear Peter,

    I can appreciate Mike's concern, as I too disagree with my wife on what should appear on maps and in guidebooks (as little as possible, in her view). I am conflicted - on the one hand I am selfish and would like to keep the good stuff to myself (and selected friends); on the other, as a surveyor I would like to see the map as accurate as possible. I was one of those who expressed concern at showing the correct position of "my" Panorama cave. In the end, I think I must reverse myself and come down on the side of accuracy and completeness. It would be wrong (and dangerous)not to show existing paths and major features (I was very thankful to have been led by Greg to Panorama cave on a rainy Easter weekend many years ago - but he knew where it was without benefit of a map or GPS!). So, Pete, please include the path from Welbedacht to Uilsgat, and Panorama, Welbedacht and Sederhouthop caves. The emphasis should be on safety - the map user should know what paths exist and where shelter may be found. I would not like to see a plethora of minor features shown. If they are not aids to navigation, then rather let the mountaineer find them for his/her selve (or be led to them by other mountaineers).

    Pete, I must express my appreciation for your providing this opportunity for us to comment.

  11. I certainly support Galeo's view expressed above.

  12. Tony Heher forwarded this further comment from Mike Scott ...
    Hi Tony,
    Thanks for your response to the Slingsby forum.
    [When] I wrote to Peter Slingsby [I] forgot to add a point I had agreed with him some time ago, that even closed or dangerous routes/paths should be shown on a map if they exist, maybe with a Skull and crossbones?
    The reason for this was that when the MCSA published the Sanlam map of TM they left off closed paths and hikers would get totally confused coming across a clear path not on the map!

  13. This received from Graham Bellairs, in response to Galeo Saintz [I have shortened this]:

    Hi Peter,

    I have been thinking about Galeo's reply and I think it is simply this; if he wants to find things on his own by wandering in the wilderness and chancing upon its hidden gems, then he doesn’t have to buy a map or a GPS or a book with route descriptions.

    Europe advanced because of amongst other things, written records and printing. Knowledge was imparted more quickly and efficiently in this manner, history was recorded more accurately and music was sophisticated because of its written format. Mathematicians and scientists recorded their work in written format and this facilitated quicker exchange of ideas and advancement of science. All of these written records are maps in a sense.

    I don’t have time to wander about the Cederberg. I would love to embrace information recorded in a modern accessible format and be able to make informed choices about what to go and see and how would be the easiest and quickest way to get there. I could use my free time more productively and at the end of it all I would be a richer and happier person for all the accumulated experiences far more than if I had simply wandered hoping to chance upon a gem!

    Peter, put as much as you can into your map! In fact all your maps!!!

    Crystal Pool, Uilsgat Needles, Donkerkloof, Engelsmanskloof, Duiwelsgat and Bakleikraal are all lovely names which add to the character of the Cederberg. Long may they last and be recorded for posterity.



  14. My own resonse to Galeo Saintz, which I have emailed to him. In two parts
    Galeo -

    Your emails gave me considerable pause for thought and, in the end, considerable confusion; until I realised that you had not in fact answered my questions at all, but [perhaps unintentionally?] steered the debate off into a subjective direction of your own. A [philosophical?] debate upon the nature of mapping the wilderness was not my intention, nor do I intend to engage you on it beyond this reply. Korzybski’s “dictum” [it’s a metaphor, actually], “The map is not the territory” is irrelevant to my present purpose: with reference to the “wilderness” one might well have quoted his other, more famous one: “Whatever you say it is, it isn’t.”

    Let me explain: at the moment there are no good maps of the Cederberg and, in your words, “a poor map can result in unnecessary tragedy.” With this in mind we have been engaged for some eleven months now in producing what we trust will be a reasonable and safe map for the area [that will also show the “escape routes”, ie the 4x4 trails over the hill: we know people whose lives these have saved]. Being aware that the Cederberg is a popular area that often arouses strong emotions I have launched an online debate about what to include. The mapping is proceeding towards a publication deadline: I need specifics, which why I listed some names. All I got from you, if you will excuse me, were some very subjective generalities about “basic terrain and essential landmarks”, etc etc without a single specific.

    I’m not going to engage you on the question of maps and colonisation, either, except to say that I vehemently reject your contention – “Mapping ... has been used as the primary tool for colonisation throughout history” – as completely untrue: for example, southern Africa was colonised several thousand years ago by “Bantu” [mainly Nguni] speakers from central Africa. I don’t recall that those guys had any maps. The “primary tool” has in fact always been weaponry, not maps.

    Three points, then:

    1. You consistently refer to “pristine” and “wilderness”. Our context is the Cederberg. There is no part of the Cederberg’s living landscape that has not been altered over the past 2000 years or more; very little of it looks the same as it did a few hundred years or even a few decades ago. It’s a “wilderness” by legal definition, but it’s certainly not pristine. A true wilderness has no paths, no huts, no forest stations, graves or ruins, no old plantations or rooibos tea lands, no stone leopard traps, no old military forts or remains of fallen military aircraft, no built-up walls in caves, no traces of human history, and no public roads, private land and farms right in the middle of it. Which “undiscovered” part might be ruined by a map? Do tell – and be specific, please. Cartographers try their best to be exact.

    [see next comment for the rest]

  15. PART TWO of my reply to Galeo Saintz:

    2. You maintain that naming/identifying physical features is “unnecessary data” that will lead to the map-user being “unable to see the terrain, but ... only what the map reveals”.
    Your sadly-blind observer has my sympathy! When I go out into the mountains I also see the “dead stuff”, the physical landscape: it is beautiful and fascinating and exactly the same for everyone who witnesses it during the present geological epoch; its unchanging constants can and should be described and named in detail on a map.
    Unlike your disabled map-user, however, my experience does not end there: I celebrate the wonderful floral richness; the insect life; the croaking of frogs; the songs of birds and the mysterious scats and mammal prints, the darting ants in the sandy path. All these are incredible discoveries for me. It’s the ever-changing wonders of the living landscape that cannot be described in a map – or even a book or a photograph. It’s the lovely trees that overhang the pool, the gorgeous russet reeds that fringe it and that rattle softly in the cool mountain breezes, the hint of water-life, the scent of unseen blossoms and herbs, the fresh leopard spoor in the sand that is still filling with water as I draw near – these are the things that define the excitement, the thrill of discovery, not the pool itself. These are the things that bring beauty to the pool, that make it a “gem”.
    Without its life the pool might as well be anywhere; it is just a pool. Lekker to cool off in, but just a pool. It may indeed be more beautifully-situated than the previous pool, or bigger, or deeper, or have a more attractive waterfall – but these features are also not compared on the map! – there it is merely labelled, “Pool”; or perhaps, “Crystal Pool” or “Disa Pool”. The naming data, the positioning of the pool is absolutely necessary if the map is to have any use at all as a map; it has no effect whatsoever on the actuality of the pool, nor upon the wondrous life that truly defines it.

    3. You said that “understanding the purpose of a map and who the user is, is the most important factor.” Have no fear, Galeo – I am very happy with my understanding of the purpose of my maps and who their users are. I have mapped most of the major hiking trails and the whole of the Natal Drakensberg over nearly 50 years; with my current maps we are approaching our one millionth satisfied customer. I am extremely proud that I have introduced so many people to the wild, natural beauties of my country.

    In the end, if you do not want your subjective experience of the terrain to be ruined by too much detail on my map, well then, don’t use my map! If you’re a paying client on a guided slack-packing trail you don’t need a map anyway, though using a good, detailed one is a great way to enhance your experience, just as the way to enhance your experience of the living landscape, the real wildness, the real get-in-touch-with-your-primal-self-stuff is through some good-quality reference books.

    All the best, thanks for the input.
    Peter S

  16. This response received from Eugene Moll ...
    Good answer Peter -
    I would like to add that throughout human history, at first orally and later through the written and mapped media, we have gathered and PASSED on knowledge. That is what humans do – like it or not we are what we are – murderers and greedy (now money grabbers), only at the family unit level we were once also nurturers (that is no longer always the case – especially when we live jammed-packed cheek-by-jowl in shacks).

    But alas we are no longer ECOSYSTEM people, we are all BIOSPHERE people and all who walk the mountains wear boots that allow them to enter all terrain types. I well remember a talk I gave at the MCSA Cape Town Section, must have been 1977 after the completion of the Moll and McLachlan path survey of Table Mountain, when there was a heated debate concerning our point that all recognised paths on the Mountain should be paved, and all people should NOT stray from said paths. Many MCSA members felt it was their God-given right to stray where they wished – and those days are long gone. There are simply too many people now.

    However, without all these people we would not have the uproar about the Chapman’s Peak M&R building, etc. We need people to police the “wilderness” – what we need to do also is to educate them to understand and appreciate. And for me the Slingsby maps are vital curriculum material – they are the basic building blocks for a better conserved future.

    Cheers, Eugene

  17. I have this further comment from Galeo Saintz:

    Thank you for a well constructed, clearly thought through and appropriate response to the emails of last week. I had no intention of getting into a philosophical debate, nor did I have any intention to purposefully steer the discussion into another direction.

    I know the purpose of the online engagement with the blog and forum and I applaud it. It is the right way to go about gathering accurate and correct information and engaging a broader community and especially the community that knows the region you are mapping.

    I am glad my comments made some of us think, and that you have come back with a profoundly strengthened purpose and a very erudite reply.

    I completely agree with your comments and you are correct to call me on not being specific or giving specific examples. My take was more a general comment, and a direct response and reaction to the post before mine.

    Regarding wilderness - sadly you are only too correct. There is no land in the Cederberg that has not been transformed in some way though human presence and activity. But wilderness and the experience thereof is in many ways subjective. My comments come out of my own direct experience.

    Suffice it to say, I do think your maps are brilliant and I use them myself for very specific purposes, and of any map makers out there I would say you certainly are conscious and aware of your purpose for the maps and your user's needs. None of what I said in past emails was in any way a criticism of you or the work you are doing, but merely my views relating to mapping, its power and its potential dangers.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your response and I am encouraged by your stance as a map maker. It has me thinking and I hope others as well.

    Regards, Galeo

  18. This received from Johann Lanz - thanks, Johann ...
    I find myself agreeing and supportive of both Galeo's original post, and Peter's response to it. Although each may apply for slightly different purposes. That there is agreement on what is important seems to have been established ... Good thinking about these things. Thanks.

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  21. I think you may have posted this on the wrong blog. I've some stuff about skilpaaitjies on Maps of Afrika, but not here in the Cederberg ...


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