May 14, 2015

Bannock Creek-- Saturday, May 23 – An Entirely New LiDAR Map

Join us for our second orienteering adventure on a LiDAR map. Last year Sergey treated us to a meet on a LiDAR map in the Sawtooths. It was so well received that we have since had the Dutch Lake venue professionally mapped using the LiDAR contours to begin a basemap. The Bannock Creek terrain is similar to Gold Rush above the hydro-mined area. Ponderosa Pines predominate in what is mostly a runnable forest.

We are offering three courses. For the advanced orienteer there is a 6K course covering enough vertical to ensure a good workout in addition to the runnable forest noted above. The intermediate orienteer will travel mostly in runnable forest punctuated by numerous spurs and re-entrants with some added climb in the last kilometer. Novice orienteers will venture a little off-trail along linear features or will search for large prominent features.For those who have run Gold Rush many times this is an opportunity to use the same skills in new and unfamiliar terrain. Due to the absence of trails there will be no truly beginner course. It will be necessary for participants on the novice course to identify features like boulders and re-entrants on the map. If you are a novice and unfamiliar with orienteering map symbols, the meet directors and experienced orienteers will gladly give you a brief explanation before you depart on your adventure.

All three courses (novice, intermediate, and advanced) begin and end about four miles up the Pine Creek Road (USFS Road 304).

Because cut branches on the ground often make the footing unstable in many places, you should bring sturdy shoes and good judgment about when to be cautious.

In the desire to minimize waste and save myself some printing expenses, please RSVP to me no later than Wednesday May 20 with your name and intended course choice (and if you want an extra map or two for a larger group.)  My email is jnm2870 AT cableone DOT net.  If you decide to show up impromptu, I expect to have a few blanks on hand and you will get to copy your course the old school way.
Who: Orienteers of all ages, novice to advanced.

When: Saturday May 23. Courses will be open for starts from 10am – 12. Courses close at 2 pm. You may arrive within this window to try a course, as participants start separately a few minutes apart.

Finish and Parking Location: Pine Creek Road between mile 3 and mile 4

Restrooms are not available. You should be responsible for your own water.
Format: Classic. 
Cost:  $10 per person/team, $5 for a single junior, free to CTOC members (more info here)
You may want to bring: a watch, a compass, a snack, a whistle and a cell phone. (Some compasses will be available to borrow)
Bannock LiDAR Sample
A word about LiDAR: Several government agencies have acquired high resolution mapping data for land management. In Idaho many of the LiDAR projects are undertaken for hydrology studies. The process involves a low altitude GPS guided laser scan resulting in a digital elevation model with accuracy sometimes in a range below ten centimeters. These data have been made available free to the public in many cases.

A Finnish orienteer developed free software to convert LiDAR data into contour maps with vegetation colors. Using his software we have found the contours to be extremely accurate. Sadly, we have not been able to optimize the vegetation mapping parameters to the point where there is usable detail. The vegetation mapping gives the orienteer little more than a general understanding of density in the area. Because so much of this map is runnable forest the low level of vegetation accuracy is not a serious drawback, especially on the intermediate map.

Director: John Murray

May 4, 2015

True Tales of Rabbits, Rattlesnakes, and Wild Horses

Wild horses on the courses!  Photo:  Bill Pilcher
In its 12th year Rabbit Creek greeted us generously with fine weather, spectacular wildlife, and rocky ups and downs.  Aside from the expected verticality in the terrain all around, that included a few inevitable learning experiences by both director and orienteer alike.  It is worth noting that this was quite probably a record attendance given the tremendous turnout from the Riverstone Orienteering team led by Ben Brock who arrived complete with their own custom shirts!  For most it was their first time at Rabbit Creek.
Riverstone Orienteering Team!
Four classic courses were offered this year.  On the White course, the difficulty level was juuuust right as seen from the smiling finishers.  Winslow Brock and Robyn eagerly took the circuit around the ranch and finished with a spectacular kick to take first place.  The Thomson family, newly minted CTOC members, took a more relaxed pace and spotted the very approachable fish hanging out in the pond.

Winslow and Robyn finish fast.
The Thomson family punch the first control.

As for the Yellow course...intended to be an advanced beginner course, included an extra challenge from a meet director blooper.  Despite my noble intentions of providing matching controls codes, and my codirector Dondi reminding the novices especially to check such codes, I goofed in correcting those codes on the smaller map format from the master.  This led to considerable confusion amidst many of the newcomers out there.

Nancy and David Emerson came back after the second control puzzled why the code did not match the sheet.  This was my red flag!  I quickly realized my mistake and hand copied the correct codes for their map and sent them back out again, after which they finished the course still with smiles on their faces.  They plan to be back but tackling courses independently for maximum learning next time!
Nancy and David Emerson among others around yellow control #2.
Riverstone students Alden, Avery, and Max steadfastly persisted through the course independently without any control corrections, sometimes finding other intermediate and advanced controls in their periphery to make up for it.  To their credit they made their best crack at finishing instead of bailing out early, even after encountering a rattlesnake lurking by the water hole on control 6!  Such persistence will undoubtedly serve to their advantage as they visit future maps, assuming I have not discouraged them too much.

Audrey Thomson (of the Thomson family above) finished the course with the benefit of the director catching up to her and scribbling the right codes on her map.  She did acquire a generous helping of cheatgrass in the socks as she searched for the tricky control 5 in the reentrant beyond the pond.  I think she will be back.
Audrey Thomson closes the Yellow loop.
Results for Yellow are shown in order of starts (instead of completed finishes) given the control confusion.  Congratulations to all for finishing and making the best of the day.

The Intermediate course proved to be plenty challenging.  (Next time on this map I may dial this difficulty back one notch as well.)  Kerry and Carrie took first place, even while admiring the plentiful diffusion of colorful and varied wildflowers on different slopes of the course out there.  Zach Curtis patiently and quietly took on the intermediate course with his family and finished cleanly.  Jerry Stewart, who we seem to have hooked since he renewed his membership before even starting, took advantage of his earlier starting time to completely finish the course even if a tad over 3 hours.
Jerry Stewart rounds a boulder cluster.  Photo:  Greg Davidson
A majority of the field did not quite finish the course for a variety of reasons but I think gleaned some good experience from their time out there.  Mikayla and Chris could not find control #7, an intentionally tricky control shared with advanced not visible from the trail, but called it a run and put on some miles for the return trek.  Ken Karcher and Natalie also struggled with #7; Ken ended up hitching a ride back on an ATV, which was perhaps the best insurance that he made it back before the clock ran out!  Ben and Agnes made a real go of it, even going back to punch the correct first control after returning to the ranch (this unfortunately is a DQ, but it turned out they also substituted a nearby white control near the end.)  Their enthusiasm was steadfast.
Ben and Agnes cruising downhill to the finish.
For the two Murray pairs, they just reached a point of fatigue (one I think almost all of us have experienced) and decided to call it at their respective corners of the course.  Katrina Wright felt the same way and came back after the halfway point, and Melanie went out to get as many others as she could.  Jeremy and Lori chose to take another way around the course with their dog and arguably made the course climb even more challenging while still collecting some of the harder controls!  Nevertheless they enjoyed the search.

If any of you readers are still with me on this ultra-long O report, the Advanced course proved to be remarkably competitive with Sergey getting a run for his money from the Riverstone crowd.  Sergey took first as expected, but with all the climb he worked for a living.  He had a few comments on my control placement for #7 (too high relative to the mapped cliff) and #17.  Admittedly I realized the night before #17 was going to be a little tough given the map detailing there, and there turned out to be a bit of luck involved in how easily it was found.  Hot on Sergey's heels was Levi Schmitt, who came in only four minutes behind and not looking nearly as fatigued.  Then came coach Ben Brock, pleased I think to be shown up by his student.  
The Riverstone shirt comes completely personalized.
Zach Clayton was next, followed closely by Greg Davidson (who took a few remarkable photos out there for me - see the last photo), and then Michael Bading who began with grand optimism for tracking Sergey as well as he did last month!  The long tough course took its toll.  Ole was only one minute after Michael, complaining with a big grin on his face about the lack of orienteering and brutal up/down to the far reaches of #11.  But I think he liked it.  Riverstone Regan Zhang came in next (his first foray on this map), followed by Bill Leahy who was just a little wet and boggled at the speeds displayed out there.  Jay Morgan strolled in after wondering if he could make the 3 hour cutoff, but with his Icebug shoes still looking new.  
Bill Pilcher wraps his fence and sign at the finish.
Bill Pilcher, who has provided us with the ranch hospitality and the self made map we all ran on, finally got to run a course and arrived with a smile on his face with Apple, who was ready for another go round.  Melanie Schuster arrived just as Greg was getting worried, but she too got them all.  Of special note is Jan Eichhorn, a Riverstone student who is so new at this he hasn't actually run a course with he never knew to punch!  While I take his (and Ben's) word for it he did find them all, next time I hope to check his results so I can include him in the ranking!  And I will remember to ping even the advanced runners to punch their map.  Brian Bohme also made it out and wanted badly to run all the hills, but was not feeling well shortly after starting so made the smart decision to wait until next time to run his race.

Watching for new arrivals on the course.  Photo:  Greg Davidson
More photos here on yahoogroups!

This was a big meet and a long race report.  Thank you as always to Bill Pilcher for loaning us his ranch for the day, creating the map, and feeding the masses afterward.  Special thanks goes to Bill Leahy who arrived with me the day before to assist with transport and making it a notch easier and safer for me to set up controls.  And for fine company while we admired the boulders and birds in the yard.  Bill (L.), Ole, Jerry, Greg, and Melanie (S.) were exceptionally generous in sticking around for another couple hours and made quick, efficient work of the nearly 30 controls scattered all over the map.  I thank you for saving my legs for more enjoyable running miles in the future which I hope to navigate well.  My wife Dondi served as my most able and calm co-director.  She not only gave a little tutorial to Nancy and David, started and finished all the orienteers while I tried to keep maps and corrections and cash straight, but even made gingersnaps which luckily for me stayed hidden inside and mostly came back home for me to savor.

Next up will be a special event on new LiDAR basemap in Idaho City on May 23.  I will leave the details to race director John Murray to present.  Stay healthy and I hope to see you at our Western State Champs meet in June!

April 26, 2015

Hopping into Rabbit Creek

2015 marks the 12th year of orienteering meets at Rabbit Creek!  While we are still enjoying the hospitality of Bill Pilcher on the ranch, this year brings a change in meet director (Jeff) so that Bill can finally run his own map - or photograph some orienteers on the course live.  Be prepared in your best O garb and a good layer of Owyhee dust.
Spring flowers at your feet.

Four levels of classic will be offered:
  White (Beginner) - 0.6km, 0m climb, 5 controls.  A short course right around the house for families or those just getting acquainted with orienteering.
  Yellow (Advanced Beginner) - 1.5km, 60m climb, 8 controls.  A little larger loop to see topography and some distinct map features with the house in sight.
  Intermediate - 5km, 355m climb, 13 controls.  A medium distance loop that takes a serious sightseeing tour of boulders and cliffs, requiring your full map reading attention.
  Advanced - 8.6km, 475m climb, 18 controls.  A large loop with a full complement of technical controls and long legs.

Given the variety of courses, the impossibility of printing maps anywhere near the area, and the desire to minimize waste, please RSVP to me no later than Thursday April 30th with your name and intended course choice (and if you want an extra map or two for a larger group.)  My email is jeffwrites AT gmail DOT com.  If you decide to show up impromptu, I expect to have a few blanks on hand and you will get to copy your course the old school way.
Friendly face in a reentrant.

This is the edge of the remote Owyhees with wild horses (and a few ATV's), a strong contrast to our last few urban meets, so come prepared to handle the terrain and weather for early May:

  • your compass of choice, baseplate or thumb compass works best for orienteering.
  • sturdy shoes for off trail navigation.
  • pants and/or gaitors for the high desert - cheatgrass and sage being the most common.  Some barbed wire fence hopping or crawling required for the intermediate and advanced courses.  (Maybe one on the yellow.)
  • hat and sunscreen as you need.
  • water and food for up to 3 hours in the desert sun.  A water control is included halfway on the advanced course.
  • whistle and cell phone for emergencies.  Cell phone coverage is not assured everywhere.

Keep in mind rattlesnakes are starting to get out at this time of year.  Please pay attention in boulder areas and keep your ears open!  At the moment control placements look clear but I have not had a chance to vet all locations in advance.

If you have any interest in birds, the ranch is an amazing place full of orioles, kingbirds, hummingbirds, buntings, and birds of prey.  Bring your binoculars to see them up close.

The usual details:
 Date:  Sunday, May 3
 Location:  Rabbit Creek, Murphy, ID (driving directions below)
 Start times:  9:30am to 11:00am
 Time limit:  ~3 hours (all courses close at 2pm)
 Cost:  $10 per person/team, $5 for a single junior, free to CTOC members (more info here)
 Lunch:  no major meal planned this year, but will have some snacks afterward.

Driving directions:
From Boise take I-84 west to Nampa (exit #35). Turn Left and proceed to 3rd Street S (Caldwell Blvd). Turn Left on 3rd Street S (Caldwell Blvd) and proceed to 12th Ave. Turn Right on 12th Ave. Follow 12th Ave. south and it becomes Hwy 45 as it leaves Nampa city limits. Follow Hwy 45 across the Snake River. Soon after crossing the river, bear to the left and it becomes Hwy 78. Follow Hwy 78 to milepost 29. Immediately after passing the "Murphy" city limits sign turn to the Right on "Old Hwy 45" follow this for one block then continue straight and it becomes " Rabbit Creek Road". Follow Rabbit Creek Road for about 5 1/2 miles to J & S Road there is a lone mailbox. Turn Left on J&S Road and follow this road approximately 1 1/2 miles to the house and sign in area.
Unique rock features, canyons, and mountains beckon.
See you soon at Rabbit Creek!

April 20, 2015

Riverstone Score-O Summary & Results

First of all, thanks to the 35+ who headed out east to last weekend's Score-O! at Riverstone.  "The more the merrier" was an apt theme of the day.   While the Shakespeare parking lot was shuttling people up to the Robie Creek finish, the real fun was being had down in the valley...

A few notables from the day's activities:

  • Perfect weather.
  • First-time CTOCers Audrey Thomson, the Bied Family, the Koenig Family, and Boy Scout Troop #104.  We hope to see more of you all in the future!
  • Blurring Lines between Youth and Experience!
    • 6 participants visited all 24 controls....2 of them, Brian and Levi, were juniors! 
    • Other juniors Regan, Owen, Beatrice, Alden, Amelia, Nikolai, and Alexi all scored over 300 points, mixing it up with stalwarts John Murray, Emily Morgan and Melanie Wright.
    • Congratulations to young Audrey Thomson who tackled the course on her own!
    • Jordan and Derek topped their dad Mark by 60 points.
    • On the flip side of the coin, "The Snails" (mom and dad Milstein) executed their slow and steady strategy to perfection to out-pace their son/daughter team of Ben and Rimone.
  • It was tight at the top!  Right on Sergey "Pace-setter" Velichko's heels were Michael Bading (+2min) and Levi Schmitt (+5min).   
  • Great work by Riverstone students Brian, Levi, Natalie, Becca and Regan, who helped with setting, run registration/start/finish/scoring and course take-down.
  • Thanks also to Jeff Black who reliably toted his camera with him, at the expense of speed (but not too much speed), to document the action.  Here is a link to Jeff's photos on the CTOC Yahoo Group site. (Make sure to subscribe to the CTOC Yahoo Group if you haven't already!)
Next up, a Jeff Black special at Rabbit Creek on Sunday May 3.  Make sure to brush up on your contour line reading!  See you all next month!

And now, without further ado....

Overall Riverstone Score-O! Results 
Sergey Velichko
41m 8s
Michael Bading
43m 24s
Levi Schmitt
46m 23s
Brian Bohme
54m 40s
Jeff Black
56m 18s
Jay Morgan
58m 18s
Regan Zhang
53m 46s
Owen Zhang Beatrice Tornaghi
56m 36s
John Murray
Greg, Alden and Amelia Koenig
56m 8s
Emily, Nikolai and Alexi Morgan
59m 19s
Melanie Wright
57m 26s
Corrected - 350
Jordan and Derek Liebich
Mark Liebich
57m 46s
Gregory and Preston Bied
58m 13s
The Snails
57m 27s
Lewis & Clark Spartans
12:01 PM
53m 24s
Audrey Thomson
Ben and Rimone Milstein
58m 3s
The Warriors
12:01 PM
51m 30s