Spring 2015

Putting Arcata Community Forest on the Interactive Map

João Paulo Curti, a Brazilian exchange student, created an online interactive map of Arcata’s trail network.

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS Brazilian exchange student João Paulo Curti did when he came to HSU last year was buy a bike. He then set off into Arcata Community Forest.

So began Curti’s interactive odyssey, a journey that would take him along trails wide and narrow, high and low, and inspire him to create an online map.

To understand what the Forestry major accomplished, one has to understand where he’s from. Curti, 24, grew up in Jundiaí, Brazil, and in his backyard is the lush mountain range called Serra do Japi. There, Curti and his friends would venture on their bikes, riding past creeks and waterfalls. He’s now a student at Universidade Federal de São Carlos (commonly known as UFSCar) in Sorocaba. For the nature lover, the university in this sprawling city of São Paulo state is nothing like home.

But as luck would have it, the international exchange program placed Curti in a place that was just right for him.

HSU was a great fit. I had the right major, I liked the size of the town and I also liked that I could ride my bike everywhere.”

Taken by HSU’s natural beauty, Curti took to what was in his new, temporary backyard: Arcata Community Forest. With a video camera strapped to his helmet, he set off to shoot footage of the trails. He shared the video online to show his family and friends back home what he was doing—and the stunning place he was doing it—in his spare time.

“When I’m in the forest, I have time to think about my life. There’s a connection between you and the forest and your bike. It’s a kind of therapy,” he said.

Inspired to share his enthusiasm about the forest, he eventually decided to create an online map. Armed with his video camera and a LOT of stamina, he returned to the forest again and again.

“It’s amazing out there,” he said. “People may not know how narrow it is in some places, or what kind of trees there are. My map and the videos on it have all that information.”

Indeed. His map lists everything from trail lengths and levels of difficulty to types of trees, plus video from his point of view. He also managed to work in movie references for hiking routes (think “The Lord of the Rings”).

For a link to the map and video, check out bit.ly/1637sBf.