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

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