Map: A Month in Pakistan


Our route (late June to late July, 2005):

Rawalpindi-Islamabad –> Hunza Valley and Karimabad (via flight to Gilgit) –> Trek to Rash Lake –> Down the KKH –> Islamabad –> Lahore –> Into India

Maps! How could I have neglected the maps? For years, I have moved among maps:

As a wilderness instructor, I taught topo quads and compass skills, even received training in map repair and folding; in the Park Service, I found fires with maps (and GPS), off-trail in the wilderness; then, I became a travel writer and was told by my publisher, “Maps to guidebooks are like butter to pound cake.”

Words and photos can only take us so far. We must have maps!

I realized this the other day, compelling me to hastily scrawl the subcontinent with what pens I had, tracking our route across mountains and through so many un-mapped blog entries, place-names merely floating in space until I nailed them each down on paper with black Sharpie circles. That same day, I discovered photographer Eric Gauger’s travel site with its beautiful watercolor-on-Moleskine maps, inspiring me to make a beeline for the school store and shell out twenty rupees ($.48) for set of paints and a pad.

I’ve got my technique to work on, I know, but there is opportunity to practice: potential maps are all around me, telescoping in and out of detail — a map of West Bengal, of Dooars, of a tea garden (plantation plots and labor lines), of the streets of Birpara (market alleys and train tracks), then WHOOSH! Pull-back to Mt. Everest, Darjeeling and Sikkim. . .

Always with a red star to point out exactly where




“I like the idea of travel as a solitary enterprise, something that involves maps and planning, forethought, consultation, even secrecy.” –Paul Theroux

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