This past weekend my wife and I were backpacking in the Shining Rock wilderness area in North Carolina. Many years ago we pounded the ground there a lot but hadn't been back in a long time. We quite accidentally wound up going there on a weekend of perfect weather sandwiched between 2 rainy weeks. The fall colors were amazing and some of the leaves looked like they were on fire.

Anywho, we stopped for a bit at Ivestor Gap and soon another hiking couple walked up from another trail. The two were "discussing" the right way to go and it was clear that neither had any previous experience in the area. They were dayhikers and were not planning to spend the night out.

They asked us for some info so I pulled out my 1:44,500 topo trail map, explained to them where they were and what their options were for the way back. At this point the man said "well, I guess I should have brought a map...". His ladyfriend made it clear that she agreed. It was late in the afternoon and while they could have backtracked the way they came (if they had lights), I showed them an alternate that avoided the mountainous terrain that backtracking would involve.

He seemed to be learning a lesson so to help him avoid losing too much face I decided not to mention my 1:24,000 custom UTM map from MyTopo, Garmin Vista HCx and Suunto compass. He might have noticed the Brunton backup compass on my watchband, though... well probably not.