Interview with Bob Garrison, the Trail Bandit:
What was the philosophy of making a St. John map in the first place?
The only recent maps of St. John were the USGS topo maps which were not updated very often and did not show any hiking trails, the National Geographic map which showed few trails and was inaccurate in places and the map passed out by the NPS which was a poor excuse for a hiking map but did show some trails. After I had visited St. John a few times I realized that there was far more out there than shown on these maps. I decided that I could learn a little about map making and do a better job. My map had to be accurate, give more information and stand up better than the others I had seen.
How the maps were created?
I bought a GPS receiver and hiked the trails and drove the roads to record GPS tracks for all. I discovered the wonderful map of St. John that was published by P.L. Oxholm in 1800. His map showed roads and trails that I did not know about. Using his map and aerial photographs I was able to locate most of the roads he showed and many are still in good shape even after over 200 years. Those old engineers knew how to build a road that would last. I purchased a set of negatives that the USGS topo maps were printed from and used them to get the elevation contours, shoreline, and stream bed locations. I added the trail and road locations that I had recorded and made my first map. I now know that my first way of doing things was not the easiest way to do this.
What is the history of the various map editions
My first map was printed in 2004. I used the USGS data for the roads as they were shown on the 1983 revision of their map. I also did as the USGS had done and only showed the part of St. John that is west of Hurricane Hole. It also showed only the main trails that were on the NPS map. The size of the map was 12″ x 14″ and folded up to fit in your pocket. One problem with the NPS map was that it turned to mush if it got wet. I used a water proof paper. This was a vast improvement over the NPS product.
In 2006 I reprinted the first map, adding a few more trails and updating the roads from aerial photos. I had this map printed in a larger format of 17″ X 21″. I also learned about doing maps in vector format as opposed to treating a map like a photograph. This simplified the layout process and made a better quality product.
In 2008 I designed a map that was acceptable to the NPS so that it would be allowed to be sold in the Visitor’s center. The company thet runs the visitor’s center, Eastern National, ordered 5,000 of these maps and I oversaw the printing. These maps were for sale until 2013 when Rafe Boulon and others had them pulled from the store because the map showed things that didn’t want the public to know about. To the best information I can get, they only sold about half of the maps and I guess the rest were thrown away. This map showed the whole island and was printed in a 14″ X 24″ size. The NPS redid this map to remove a number of trails that they objected to and started selling them in the visitor’s center in early 2014. Sadly, they used cheap paper that won’t last long in the rain. Sometimes it rains on St. John. At least there is a decent map available in the Visitor’s Center.
In the 2010 edition of my map I showed the whole island and included many of the hidden old roads that are out there as dashed red lines. The roads were updated by walking on the new roads with my GPS and also from aerial photos. This edition was printed in a 16″ X 26″ size.
What’s new, what’s changed in the Last Trail Bandit Map
In March of 2014 I had “The Last Trail Bandit Guide to the Hiking Trails of St. John, VI” printed. There are more of the “hidden” trails shown and 33 of them are numbered and short descriptions are printed on the back of the map. GPS tracks are available for these trails and can be downloaded from www.trailbandit.org for free. If you enjoy exploring, these 33 trails will give you a good start. There are many more things to find out there. This last map is printed in a 20″ X 34″ format. The larger format was chosen because the dashed red line trails showed up better and my eyes are not as good as they used to be so bigger helped.
When will it be available?
The 2014 map is available now and I will be shipping them starting in mid April.
How can they be ordered?
Send a note to; Bob Garrison, P.O. Box 394, Henniker, NH 03242. The price of the map is $3.00 each, Post Paid. I accept cash or checks. Don’t forget to include the mailing address for where you want the map sent. If you are leaving for St. John in a week and want a map asap, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the map and trust you for the $3.00. Again, be sure to tell me where to send the map. Those who want to buy the maps in quantity for resale, etc. can contact me for pricing.
Why is it called the last Trail Bandit Map?
There is not much more I can do on St. John and I have grown tired of the fight. The Park is being run by “Protection Rangers”, also known as Cops or Goons with Guns. They do very little to help a tourist get to know the park or give information. They ARE IN CHARGE and their ticket pad is never far from their hand. Ever since Superintendent Mark Hardgrove retired, they have been deleting hiking trails from the park by enforced neglect. It is sad to watch and I choose not to watch. Remember, the National Parks belong to the people. The Parks are to be maintained so that people can come visit them and enjoy the experience. The Park Service is supposed to maintain the place and preserve the old buildings, roads, trails, etc. for the enjoyment of future generations. If you look around Virgin Islands National Park you can judge how good a job they are doing. It is not supposed to be a retirement home for Superintendents.
Are you sure? One never knows…
I am pretty sure this is the last edition. I will have all the files necessary to print the map posted on my web site soon. Eventually, I hope some other Bandit will take over the job.
St. John Live Music Schedule
5:30 – 8:30
Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
7:00 – 9:00
6:30 -8:30 – Drumming
5:00 – 8:00
6:30 – 9:30
Rascio on Steel Pan
6:30 – 9:30
7:00 – 10:00
6:30 – 9:30
6:00 – 9:00
6:00 – 9:00
The David T Carter Duo
6:00 – 9:00
St. John Weather
Scattered showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 76. East wind 16 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.