In 1998, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) began its GIS program. Its first two challenges were to map the trail’s centerline as accurately as possible and to digitize the land tracks by scanning the “segment maps” that had been created by the Land Acquisition Office (LAO) of the National Park Service (NPS).
In 1999, Dr. Vernon Vernier, known on the trail as DelDoc because he was a retired doctor from Delaware, volunteered to walk the entire trail with a GPS receiver. “We took him up on his off er and planned out the type of information he should collect,” recalls Matt Robinson, a GIS specialist in the Appalachian Trail Park Office of NPS. “NPS acquired a GPS unit for him to use, and he walked the entire trail.”
The centerline DelDoc collected had some errors, however, mostly due to the limitations of the type of GPS unit that he carried, so the ATC decided to repeat the process.