I went hiking back in March in the Middle Prong Wilderness, in North Carolina. I started walking up the trail to Green Mountain. I had with me my brand new map entitled, Shining Rock & Middle Prong Wilderness, my older map, the one that I usually bring is a map entitled Pisgah Ranger District. The new map is supposed to be more specific to the Middle Prong Wilderness, so I bought it, and now I'm here in Pisgah NC and I'm going to give it a try.
I reach the first meadow and the trail splits in two directions so I stop to consult the map. I open up the map and lay my compass on it and look for the north indicator arrow on the map. THERE'S NO NORTH arrow on the map!?! I mean I know the top of the map is always north, but it just doesn't feel right not seeing that arrow.
Anyhow I've been to Pisgah before, although this is my first time hiking up to Green Mountain. I know to figure out on my new map which direction north is I just need to locate Cold Mountain (or the top of the map), which I know lies north of me. Later as I get pretty high up on the on the trail I see Sam Knob to my right so I know I'm going the right way.
The trail up to Green Mountain makes many more splits along the way. At each split I take the one going north. Finally I make it up to what feels like it might be the summit of Green Mountain. There is a group of about five guys I run into lounging around under some fir trees. I ask them if I'm on the summit of Green Mountain and they say "yes". Explaining why I have doubts as to where I might be, I tell the guys about my new map with no north directional arrow on it. One of the guys sitting there smiles and says "You must have the same map we do". And I thought mine was just a defect, hilarious! You would think the same forest service that recommends hikers carry a compass and map would not assume all hikers know the top of a map is north. At least I knew that fact and I made it to the summit of Green Mountain and found a nice spot to camp. Though like I said I still felt uneasy about the whole thing.
Of course let's not forget the view north!