August 4, 2015

2-day CTOC meet near Stanley

While we prepare for the CTOC meet this weekend near Stanley here are some details to help in your planning.

2-day classic format meet utilizing two new world class maps Dutch Lake and Trap Creek near Stanley. 3 courses each day: Advanced 5km, Intermediate 3.8km, and Beginner 1.4km. Starts both Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 1pm. Courses close at 3pm each day.

Saturday take Forest Service Rt195 SE for about 1km to the meet center (about 400m after mile post 115 on HW21 toward Stanley).
Sunday take Flat Creek Rd SE for about 0.5km to the meet center (about 200m after mile post 117 on HW21 toward Stanley).

Single meet (day) dues: $10 per person/team, free for members
Single Junior (up to 20 years old): $5 per person/team, free for members
If more than one map is needed for a team, a small additional fee may be needed depending on printing costs.

You may want to bring: a watch, a compass, a snack, a whistle and a cell phone. We have compasses for rental at nominal $1/day.

We will provide water and condiments at the meet center. We will place one water control approximately in the middle of each course. It may be hot so bring your favorite camelback or bottle on course if you may need more water.

These are slow woods for advanced courses. Precise navigation is a key for the glacial moraine terrain. In some places there is significant amount of deadfall (though we tried to avoid most of it) so we recommend full leg protection and good O-shoes. Winning times without any navigational mistakes will be in 1-1:15 hour range.

We hope to see you all enjoying these wonderful woods! We do plan to host our next Gold Rush meet and possibly USA Classic Championships on these maps in 2017.


Ben Brock - Saturday meet director and course designer
Sergey Velichko - Sunday meet director and course designer

July 20, 2015

Bogus Basin 2015 Results

The Johnson and Wears families prepare to plunge into Intermediate Course navigation

There's a cliff above the parking lot near the Simplot Lodge. The map shows it as impassable. Strictly speaking it's not entirely impassable. Almost any cliff can be climbed, and we now know this cliff is no exception. This particular cliff sits in the middle of the path from Control 10 to Control 11, posing a choice of routes either to the east or west. Madison Thomas informed me that there is a third choice—directly up the cliff. The Thomas family (dad Dustin, mom Heidi, son Quentin and the aforementioned intrepid Madison) finished the Intermediate Course in a respectable hour and fifty-two minutes to earn a fourth place. How much time they saved via the direct route is unknown. Although the things I learn about CTOC orienteers no longer surprise me, they do still amaze me.

Carrie with Kerry Davis
And then there is Carrie Magnuson who finished third on the Intermediate Course. When Carrie reserved a map she was undecided whether to do the Beginner Course or to tackle the Intermediate Course. Carrie's first O experience was Rabbit Creek when she accompanied her Rugby comrade, Kerry Davis. After some consultation Carrie chose to venture onto the Intermediate Course. Well, Carrie demonstrated that she is not a beginner with her third place finish within two minutes of Melanie Wright. Congratulations, Carrie, on a very good first solo run on an off-trail course.

The Wears and Johnson families came to Bogus in much the same situation as Carrie. They had previous experience at the beginner level and decided to take that next very big step up to off-trail navigation. Although they did not finish, they reported that they had fun. We have more of that kind of fun ahead in August and September. We hope to see more of you and share your fun.

Katrina & Kelly at Control 6
Katrina Wright and Kelly Golden are our youngest competitors. They took on the Beginner Course without adult assistance and finished all smiles. This was not your grandmother's Beginner Course. It required some off-trail travel guided only by the map. And it had a control not visible from the trail. So, for those of you who are familiar with OUSA's color scheme, this course in places exceeded the difficulty of white and yellow. Good job girls. There's a lot to learn, and you're doing it. Also, thanks for going back out and picking up the entire Beginner's course.

Sergey, as usual set the pace on the Advanced Course. He kindly provided us with his route. There are red circles identifying the two locations where Sergey lost time. The first loss could be attributed to a boulder that was not mapped. The mapper offers his apology. However, the second location was Sergey's failure to follow one of those indistinct snowshoe trails. Sergey does occasionally have a navigation error. Given the vagueness of the trail and the unreliability of the contours, it's hard to see how at some point he would not.

A respiratory infection held Ben Brock back and rewarded his efforts with a persistent post-race cough. We hope you are feeling better, Ben.

Thanks to Michael Bading for picking up most of the Advanced Course controls. And special thanks to my co-director, Melanie Wright, for all of the help from yummy treats to control pickup. It made a big difference.

Next month we have the opportunity to indulge in a weekend of orienteering on two new world-class maps. These maps began with LiDAR contours obtained two years ago. Last summer CTOC hired Alexey Zuev to come from Russia to map Dutch Lake and Trap Creek. CTOC regulars know the high quality of Alexey's work from the many meets, including last month's A-meet, that we've held on the Gold Rush map. If you value the navigation element of orienteering, you won't want to miss these two new maps on August 8 and 9. For those of you who demand a test of endurance, I suspect that the directors, Sergey and Ben, will find some distance and elevation too.

Meet directors,

Melanie Wright
John Murray

July 13, 2015

Announcing the Bogus Basin Meet- July 18

Join us for our fourth orienteering adventure at Bogus Basin. This year's Bogus Basin Meet introduces new courses on a map that has expanded beyond the Nordic area onto two boulder-filled ridges to the west.   Although the advanced and intermediate courses are relatively short in horizontal distance, the vertical will reward strong legs, stout hearts and astute route choices.

So that we can make a reasonable estimate for printing, please RSVP by Thursday to indicating your choice of an Advanced (6K), Intermediate(3.5K) or Beginner map(1.2K). It's OK if you are undecided. Just let us know which maps you are considering.  We will print a few extra maps because somebody will have an unexpected opportunity to participate, but when we run out, that's it.

All three courses (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) begin at the Nordic Lodge. The finish will also be at the Nordic Lodge. The beginner's course will follow roads and trails, but the controls will be off of the trail. They will be easily accessible and within 10 meters of the road. It will be necessary for participants on the beginner's course to identify features like boulders and re-entrants on the map. If you are a beginner 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.

If you plan to tackle either the intermediate or advanced course, be sure to bring gaiters or some other protection for your legs. Bogus Basin has brush. Full leg cover will prevent a lot of otherwise difficult to avoid scratches or worse. Also, because cut branches on the ground and steep slopes  often make the footing unstable, you should bring sturdy shoes and good judgment about when to be cautious. 

Who: Orienteers of all ages and abilities (beginners to advanced)
When: Saturday, July 18. Courses will be open for starts from 9 am – 11. Courses close at 1 pm. You may arrive within this window to try a course, as participants start separately a few minutes apart.

Finish and Parking Location: Nordic Lodge parking lot.
Restrooms available at the Simplot Lodge and/or in the parking lot.
Format: Classic
  • Single meet (day) dues: $10 per person/team, free for members
  • Single Junior (up to 20 years old): $5 per person/team, free for members
  • If more than one map is needed for a team, a small additional fee may be needed depending on printing costs.

  • You may want to bring: a watch, a compass, a snack, a whistle and a cell phone. (Some compasses will be available to borrow)

    Directors: John Murray/Melanie Wright

    June 23, 2015

    Western State Champs this weekend!

    Design by Lee Scott

    After many months in the planning, this weekend our club is directing an A meet:  the Gold Rush Western State Championships.  

    This is a full three days of orienteering for your hungry mind:  
    • a sprint on Friday at Veteran's Park against competition you have rarely seen here in Idaho
    • a ultra-long format with a mass start on our Gold Rush map in Idaho City - also the U.S. Championship race this year
    • a technical "middle" course on Sunday on the same map which will test your skills on an entirely new level.
    All the details are on a website dedicated entirely to this event.  You can still sign up for competitive classes on the day of at the start (given all the planning and preparation this costs quite a bit more than our usual local event), but if you just want to get a taste of the atmosphere and the terrain there will be a $15 recreational class for the easiest two levels of White and Yellow.

    We can also use volunteers!  Email me (jeffwrites AT gmail DOT com) if you would like to help out.

    It is predicted to be a very hot weekend, so prepare accordingly.  We hope to see you there!

    May 25, 2015

    The Young, The Old and The Phantom

    After having negotiated some potentially treacherous mud on FS Road 304 earlier in the week I harbored some anxiety about Saturday's event. As it turned out my fear that weather would make the event site inaccessible was unjustified. The God of Orienteering blessed most of our orienteers by holding back the rain almost until the course closed at 2:00 PM.

    Brad & Dawn Lowe still dry.
    Ole, who turned in a stellar performance on the Advanced Course, stalwart Norwegian that he is, volunteered to help me pick up controls. Even though suspicions linger that Ole just saw control pickup as a cheap shower, I was grateful no matter what the ulterior motive. Somewhat soggy myself, I returned to the start to find our intrepid Norwegian vigorously toweling his body in the dry confines of his car. At that point we had some rainfall, but nothing noteworthy.

    But that doesn't end the story of control pickup.

    Someone came up to me late in the meet and asked what Sergey's time was. Sergey's consistent presence and performance is such that he has become a standard by which many of us judge our own performances. I had to inform my questioner that Sergey was out of town on a business trip and wasn't scheduled to return until midday, making his arrival too late to participate. Sergey's spirit hovers over these meets even in his physical absence, so I wasn't surprised when after everyone had left I had a vision of Sergey's phantom in my rear view mirror. Actually, I was driving to a point to begin control pickup on the upper end of the course. There he was demanding a map after the course was closed. Who am I to deny a phantom's request? So, after Ole had picked up 1-8 and I had picked up 12-18 the phantom ran the course. He was last heard muttering, “Navigate to the feature, not the control”. A good thing since all but 3 of the 21 controls would be collected before he could reach them. Hence, the special category in the results. We know that Sergey navigated to at least three of the controls because he returned with 9, 10 and 11. Click on Sergey's map to get the control-by-control details.

    Sergey's Route
    Early Sunday there was a call from Sergey. He had completed the course in 1:25, two minutes behind Ben Brock. Ben, before we give you full credit for your victory we would like know whether you sat under a tree for 30 minutes waiting for the hail to abate. Unlike Sergey, the rest of us were lucky enough to have avoided some rather intense precipitation.
    Zoe Peterson capturing 1st in Or-Yel
    While Ole was putting in his superb performance as the oldest member of the advanced contingent our two youngest orienteers made some marks of their own. Kudos to Sarah Curtis for taking on the 4K Intermediate Course and returning both with a smile on her face and her father in tow. And, our admiration goes out to fifth-grader Katrina Wright, who had the spunk to take on the Yellow-Orange course on her own. Dad shadowed her, but Katrina navigated. And navigate she did, getting a second place against some much older competitors. (I won't estimate how many decades older some of them were.) I also should note that the Yellow-Orange map lacked two controls due to a printing error on my part.

    I've met Robyn Olnes' helping with the meet direction at Riverstone. Saturday she and her husband, Andy, tried the Yellow-Orange Course. Robyn reported that Andy is totally hooked on the sport after his first experience. Her report reminded me of my very first real orienteering at Rabbit Creek five years ago. Orienteering doesn't grab everyone. It grabbed me. I hope Andy has as much fun with his orienteering adventure as I've had with mine.
    Riverstone's growing presence at our meets is requiring us to move away from our simple Beginner-Intermediate-Advanced categories. We now have too many participants who want to advance their skills beyond beginner and are not quite ready for Intermediate. These are Yellow and Orange orienteers who are not yet ready for Brown.
    Without Riverstone? Old folks stumbling through the woods.

    So, what are Yellow-Orange and Brown? Orienteering USA has seven competitive categories. Unfortunately, they are identified by colors that bear no relationship to their difficulty. Arranged in ascending order of difficulty they are: White, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Green, Red and Blue. Brown through Blue have equal technical difficulty but vary in required endurance. The old dogs like Ole and me compete in Brown. Sergey, because he's in his 50's, is Red. White is pretty much navigating from one trail intersection to another. Yellow makes extensive use of trails and requires navigating to large/distinct features in the proximity of a trail. Orange is mostly off-trail navigation by linear features with well defined attack points, collecting features and catching features.

    The most obvious question about the Bannock Creek meet was how participants would evaluate the LiDAR generated map. It was enhanced with no more than 12 hours of field work to locate some of the trails and a few of the many point features like boulders and root stocks. As expected there was a range of opinions. All of the conclusions were positive. Sergey dissented from my view that the contours are perfect, but he thought the area deserves further development and might even be suitable for an A-meet. He said he was pleased that we have “discovered this wonderful area and nice course of true red level”. (Our local meets are C-meets. Regional meets operate at higher standards and are classified as B-meets. And A-meets are major competitions drawing participants from around the US and often from foreign countries.) Bill Leahy enthusiastically endorsed the map and proposed that we put Bannock Creek on the 2016 schedule. My opinion is somewhat more subdued. I think Bannock Creek is a valuable contribution to our map inventory. It's always in need of variety to keep from becoming stale. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned competitor, we would like to have your opinion. Please let us know.

    “Where's Bannock Creek? I drove up Pine Creek Road, not Bannock Creek.” Yeh, I know. “Bannock Creek” is really not a very good name for a map that has no creek and is some distance from Bannock Creek. The name comes from the LiDAR study sponsored by numerous federal and state agencies to facilitate “vegetation structural modeling, erosion modeling, fuels, transportation planning, timber system planning, wildlife habitat modeling, and stream quality”. Our map is a small subset of the LiDAR data covering more than 21 square kilometers.

    I've explored some of the terrain east of our map and found it suitable for orienteering. There is much of the 21 square kilometers that is too steep and/or too densely vegetated. I urge any of you who are interested to explore further. I'll be happy to provide you with maps and consult of possible venues. And, I'd like to hear proposals for a more appropriate name for the map. Maybe a name without “Creek” in it.

    I hope everyone is already aware of the A-meet we are hosting at the end of June. It's an opportunity to see and participate in an A-meet close to home. As of today there are 117 registered competitors. Only five are from CTOC. Click the link on the CTOC blog and get registered before the June 15 deadline.

    Melanie Wright and I will be directing our next local meet at Bogus Basin on Saturday, July 18. Melanie is considering adding a mountain-biking course. Be sure to let us know if that option appeals to you. We hope to see you all there whether mounted or on foot.

    Finally, I am reluctant to make an appeal for more help, but the time has come. If we put Bannock Creek on the 2016 schedule, I will not direct the meet. In the last few years I've added five maps to the CTOC inventory. I will continue to direct Hidden Springs meets because we receive permission to use the property through my son, David Murray. I will direct the Bogus Basin Meet next year because that will be the fifth and final year of my plan for expanding the map. And, I will direct at least one meet on an entirely new map. There is a promising area near Warm Lake and some possibilities in the Owyhees and Sawtooths. It's time for meet directors to step forward and adopt Dutch Lake, Trap Creek and Bannock Creek. And then there are the two new maps at Slack's Mountain and Glass Hill north of Silver City in September. If they prove valuable and repeat on the 2016 schedule, they will be up for adoption. I am pleased to develop these maps. I also want to orienteer on some of them.

    If you choose to direct a meet, I promise lots of support for both the maps and the course design.

    John Murray
    Meet Director

    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