In a previous post I discussed the concept of terrain association. Terrain association is the process of visually confirming a map to land features.
A subset of terrain association is the use of handrails. Handrails are linear features found on a map and visually correlated to observed land features. In a building, a stairway’s handrail provides direction for a walkers travel down to another level.
Examples of handrails include roads, rivers, trails and railroad beds. Handrails can be particularly useful when they run parallel to ones’ direction of travel.
Highway 126 and Cache Creek are distinct linear features that could serve as a handrail.
In the map above notice that the red direction of travel line parallels Highway 126.
In this example Highway 126 could also be a backstop to alert the hiker that crossing the roadway would take them in the wrong direction.
Be alert for a handrail’s change of direction. There may be prominent land features that will alert the backcountry traveler to such a change. A butte or building might be adjacent or near to a change in direction.