November 28, 2023

Got Lucky...Again

I have been a member of CTOC since Dec 2019 and while I really look forward to our events out in the hills/mountains I also look forward to the events in the "off" months because that means we are closer to town, have maps that many can use for fine tuning skills and we get to see faces new and familiar!

We haven't been to Columbia Village in four (4) years so it was time we revisited the area.  We started with walking the original course and after the almost 4.5 miles we understood the vast area that we would be covering.  We took several trips out to the area to compare the old with the new, while many of the locations remained the same we did throw in a few changes.  Big thanks to Sergey for updating the base map and making it more current.

As we headed out around 7am to set controls a few stray rain drops splattered on the windshield and I found myself thinking "It wasn't supposed to rain!", but as we set controls and prepped for the event we got away with only a few sprinkles. Thank goodness I didn't plan this for Sunday or we would have been very soggy - got lucky...again.  This was only my second time using actual controls as I normally do an urban (QnA event) and as many of you noticed a few things didn't go according to plan.  Luckily the mistakes didn't really impact anything major except a little confusion but I've learned - Print a master map (once someone shows me how!).  I know this will come in very handy for my next event if I remember a year from now.

Since this area was built for speed I proceeded to use all 26 controls for our advance course and outside of the numbering mishap received lots of positive feedback.  We had 4 brave souls take on this course and the times were very competitive with less than 15 minutes separating them .  Ted squeaked out the top spot, but we are giving Sergey bonus points since he pre ran the course and made some minor modifications as he went to ensure it worked out for the rest of the field.

   1 Ted Smith                    39:36 
   2 Sergey Velichko          40:29 
   3 Jason Russel                43:08 
   4 Dustin/Heidi Thomas  52:16 

The Intermediate map was a big hit this month with a total of 13 teams.  It too was a very competitive field with Eli coming in first and Belen finishing only six (6) seconds behind him, neither looked very taxed at the effort - the joys of youth!  Eli and his dad started together but Eli came flying into the finish and when asking where he dad was he simply shrugged and said "I dusted him", haha.  Belen is rather new to Orienteering (to my knowledge) and she too crushed the course and overtook John for second.  Teach him to invite family to play with us! We even had a tie for 10 with Derek and Austin clocking the exact same time.

   1 Eli Arambarri                35:28 
   2 Belen Hoobing              35:34 
   3 John Murray                  39:36 
   4 David Byrd                    43:48 
   5 Torin Ford                     46:03 
   6 John Arambarri             47:21 
   7 Leslie Perez                  57:03 
   8 Eloise Hoobing             1:01:07 
   9 Cat Stauffer                  1:07:13 
  10 Derek Duval                1:17:33 
  10 Austin Agosta              1:17:33 
  12 Jerry Stewart               1:22:13 
  13 Lois Urizar                  1:35:20 

As I mentioned earlier I enjoy the courses close to town as this is when we see the most first timers (or new to CTOC) come out of the woodwork and this event was no exception.  Most of our Beginner/Sport courses were all newbies; it was great to see that all of them ejoyed the beginner enough to stick around for the Sport.  We had several groups of Royal Rangers (similar to boy scouts join us) and it was great to see them get acclimated to the map and take off in what you could tell would be a very competitive morning for them.  Team Jamie took the lead in both courses by nearly two (2) minutes.  Thomas Bernier came all the way from 2T to play with us and then stayed to chat with some at the start/finish - hopefully he makes the trek again!


Beginner

   1 Team Jamie                 13:03 
   2 Team Brendan             15:41 
   3 Thomas Bernier          15:56 
   4 Team Zack                  16:00 
   5 Ryan MacDermott      17:41 
   6 Amy Noyes                 20:11 
   7 Team Kendall             24:18 
   8 Mary Jane Byrne        53:57 


Sport

   1 Team Jamie                  26:16 
   2 Team Brandon             28:49 
   3 Team Zack                   34:36 
   4 Amy Noyes                  35:11 
   5 Ryan MacDermott       40:30 
   6 Thomas Bernier           47:15 
   7 Pete Paradis                 51:40 
   8 Mary Jane Byrne        1:29:36 


As always my thank yous go to:

  • Sergey for again updating the base map and pre-running the course to ensure it was ready for everyone else and helping pick up controls at the end.
  • John for always being helpful in jogging my memory on how to work on and print the course maps.  
  • Frank for getting up early on a Saturday and helping me set controls and getting coffee!  I appreciate that you support my crazy hobbies!
  • My Dad for walking the course several times, getting lots of miles in, helping to set controls in the sprinkles, and hanging out at the start/finish while we ran the event and then of course helping pick up the controls and load the car at the end.

See you all Dec 9 at Ann Morrison!

October 9, 2023

Mulligan

 I'm not a golfer, so I don't have any personal experience with Mulligans. I had a vague notion of the rules affording a redeeming do-over and the attendant humiliation, but nothing really solid. And, long before I associated the word with golf, I associated it with stew. That's stew where the only requisite ingredient (or should I say non-ingredient) was the kitchen sink. As in “everything but the kitchen sink”. As I pondered the Snowbank Meadows Meet, it seemed to have some of each version of Mulligan.

If there was something needed to redeem a meet of arguably dubious success, it was the weather. Saturday was a glorious sunny day with comfortable temperatures complemented by the absence of mosquitoes and the recent removal of cattle to lower elevations. Throw the recent grading of the notoriously washboard Snowbank Mountain Road, and you have the base into which to mix the other ingredients of a Mulligan stew.

Accommodations and Restroom
The meet was a Mulligan stew. Unlike almost all of our meets it required a memorable walk down an unstable slope to the start in the meadow (named Wilson Meadow on the USGS map). Most of us prefer not to remember the climb back up to the parking area after navigating the Intermediate Course (or part of it—more on that later). There were sumptuous accommodations (Notably, the accommodations were secured with a chain and padlock.) and unparalleled restroom facilities ( well, not entirely unparalleled if you consider horizontal to be parallel to the ground). Sergey had the latest start ever. He didn't start the Advanced Course until after 3 o'clock, an hour after the course closed and three hours after the last start time. The map had some “inconsistencies” and some missing features that should have been there, even though it had not been drafted to a professional quality, a prominent creek being a glaring example.

I sent out a pre-meet message with my mapper's notes and course setter's notes. I had the intention to impart useful information to the participants. John Siebold, a man of estimable intelligence and accomplishment, uncharacteristically ( I might add “incomprehensibly”.) interpreted my description of the northernmost four controls on the Advanced Course as an option to bypass the northernmost four controls on his Intermediate Course. I've often been accused of and probably am guilty of too much information, this meet report serving as evidence to support the accusation. John found the option to be an elegant solution to optimizing his performance. It wasn't strictly a Mulligan in the golf meaning, but it did very much reduce John's strokes.

Christy and Scott blew it on the very first control. They assured me the error was theirs. Whether that's true or not, they graciously omitted mention of my misplacement on the map of a line of fence posts leading directly to Control 1. Eventually, the found the boulder and went on to successfully navigate the course.

I know better than to hide controls. Controls 5 and 6 were hidden. They also were found by every orienteer, but not without some aggravation. In each case the control was exactly where indicated on the map and in the control description. Those facts do not exonerate the course setter. Perhaps a photo courtesy of Torin Ford will illustrate my blunder. If you look closely, you can see the control bag hanging off the tree wedged between the two boulders of the boulder cluster. If you stand at just the correct angle, you can see the control bag. If you don't, and you are within a couple of meters, you can't. I don't have a photo to illustrate the problem with Control 5. I won't explain except to say it was a somewhat similar blunder on my part.


Looking at the results you might conclude that Sergey completed the Advanced Course in an excellent time to capture first place. Or, you might conclude that Sergey was first because he was only. Here's my Mulligan: I don't know what Sergey's time was. The posted time is just a typical time for Sergey. He didn't start until the meet was over. He shouldn't even have a time. Sergey called me and told me he'd be late because he had to pick up his wife at the airport. One time I actually do know is that he arrived at the start at 2:44, 44 minutes after the course closed and 44 minutes after the time he told me he would arrive. Sergey gets a Mulligan because he's Sergey and, thankfully, because he picked up all of the 17 controls. Sometimes we earn our Mulligans. As he always does, Sergey sent his map with his route inscribed. Examining the map you'll see he overshot on Control 2 and circled the notorious Control 6.

It really was a good day. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beautiful venue and the courses in spite of my errors. 2023 has been a year of four good new maps beginning with Blackrock Canyon in the winter and including the spectacular world class Granite Peak. We should have some more new venues for 2024 including Sergey's new Warm Lake map. But, before we get to 2024,  Christie will add next month's Simplot Complex on November 18 to her string of first rate urban meets.

John Murray

Meet Director


September 12, 2023

Confirmation Bias: Gold Rush South 2023



Confirmation bias is the innately human characteristic of seeking information that confirms an already held belief (and ignoring things that refute it). Most orienteers will be familiar with this phenomenon, having had the experience of going through all sorts of machinations to make the lines on the map force to fit the (wrong) belief in their head about where they are. In medicine, doctors are taught to combat confirmation bias in a diagnosis by deliberately asking ha"what can I look for that would prove me wrong?" (not what proves me right). 


Now, confirmation bias on the part of the navigator is bad because it sucks up time, but not horrible because the absence of a control at the location where you expect it to be forces you to consider other options. UNLESS, the confirmation bias error was made by the course setter (that was me, control #8 on the Long Intermediate course). If the navigator is good, and confident, he or she may immediately recognize the error is not their own and choose either to "guess at" what mistake the setter made and have a broader look or simply move along (as Sergey did). I don't know whether Torin & Jackson, and Kirsten, and Ted, who eventually found my wrongly placed control (not only on the wrong spur, but also too far down the spur) guessed that I was wrong, assumed they were wrong, just generally broadened their search, or got lucky. In any case, my apologies to you and anyone who ran the part of the intermediate course that included #8 (John? Innes?). 

I started my planning with an Intermediate course initially sketched out by John Murray, which, on setting, ran beautifully as 5-9, but for some inexplicable reason, I changed the order of controls for the participants, without trying it myself. On pickup, I experienced 5-6 and 8-9 as those who ran it did and, sigh, more regret. Plus the journey from 8 to 9 was made even more difficult if you believed control 8 was set at the correct location. 

Enough with the regret and apologies already!  I showed up and made it happen. It was a beautiful day. Thanks to John, we had a new map in some very interesting hydro-mined terrain with a complicated mix of dirt-bike trails to both help and hinder our task. Eighteen smiling people in 11 groups took on the challenge. Many wisely chose the Sport Course or recommended Intermediate shortcuts. I had a fantastic time getting to know Donna and Valerie, talking navigation strategy with Ted, catching up with old pals, and sharing the sunshine with everyone. And I got to go home to the best tasting tomato I've had all summer. Thanks to whoever left it! 

Results

Team

Course

Time

Rank on course

Kirsten Severud

Intermediate, Full

1:41

1

Torin & Jackson Ford

Intermediate, Full

2:11

2

Ted Smith

Intermediate Full

2:37

3

Sergey Velichko

Intermediate, Full

MP (1:02)*

 

John Murray

Intermediate, Full

DNF

 

Innes Wright

Intermediate, Full

DNF

 

Lois, Micah, Emilio, & Tyler

Intermediate, 6-9 shortcut

3:08

1

John Siebold & Leslie Perez

Intermediate, 5-10 shortcut

3:09

1

Jerry Stewart & Valerie Orr

Intermediate, 5-10 shortcut

3:28

2

Scott Cockerham and Christy Morris

 

Sport

 

1:23

1

Donna Pitzer

Sport

1:36

2

*Sergey also claimed 11 was wrongly placed, but my due diligence checking leads me to disagree

Thanks to John Murray for mapping the course. Thanks to Innes for helping with set up and making sure I made it home safely. Thanks to all of you who came and made it worthwhile! Hope to see you in October at Snowbank Meadow.

Meet Director,
Melanie Wright





August 7, 2023

Super Scenic

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Severud

I long ago learned that when I compose a piano concerto, design a nuclear fusion reactor, or draft an orienteering map there is always a flaw or two. As you undoubtedly suspect, the first two-thirds of that sentence are lies. However, it is true that I have actually drafted a few orienteering maps, and every map has been littered with flaws. It's inevitable. Maps are abstractions of reality, and therefore depart from that reality. Mostly the representations of the terrain's reality so overwhelm the flaws as to render them inconsequential if they are even noticed. 

 As I set controls I found four large boulders, a medium size meadow, and some forest missing from the map. One of those boulders lay right along a likely route from Int 7 to 8 (Adv 13 to 14). I drew it in on the already printed maps. I had walked within five meters of the other three during my field work. I missed those boulders in spite of the fact that I had mapped 413 features over three days in the field. The map was far from complete, let alone perfect. 
 
Click on Sergey's map to see the expanded version. Have a look at Sergey's route from 10 to 11. Notice how he proceeded 150 meters on a bearing toward #11 and then veered off to the south. My understanding of what drew him off course was the absence of green slashes in the meadow southwest of the numeral “4”. There was some low dense vegetation with good visibility, but unmapped in that meadow. Sergey saw that vegetation and thought it was represented by the green slashes just east of the numeral “4”. Choosing a route just south of those green slashes would have put him right on course. A major mapping omission produced enough confusion to require Sergey to re-locate to #4 and lose 15-20 minutes. Mea culpa. The map has been corrected, but what other errors lurk out there? 

 Well, after all of that Sergey was gracious: “World class area!
And amazing map considering that you spent only couple days field checking! The key was to use white wood patches, contours, and large boulders and rock features for navigation. It is very tough terrain physically but so much reminds me of mountain terrain in Switzerland!“  And thanks to Sergey for recommending that we explore Granite Peak. It was his recommendation that put this map into CTOC's growing inventory.

Three Springs at Int 7/ Adv13 --Kirsten

The terrain “reminds me of Switzerland” remark reminds me that most of the quotations about Granite Peak revolved around Karin's contribution to the meet report's title. In addition to world class orienteering terrain it was “super scenic”. Add in a respite from the heat, post-season for mosquitoes, and recent grading of the first four miles of the Snowbank Mountain Road. It was as close to a perfect day as I could imagine. 

Int 10/Adv16 -- Bill Leahy
“Super scenic” did have its distractions. If I were to be technically correct tyrant, the Advanced Course would have only one finisher and two DNFs. Bill explained that he spent a lot of time taking photos and chose to exercise his option to drop one control, Adv 14 (Int 8). I didn't know the rules allowed that option. I am grateful for the photos, and Bill is very persuasive. I should note that Kirsten took a whole lot more photos, finished first in the intermediate division, and never skipped a control. Maybe she just wasn't aware of the option. 

Melanie baled at Adv 13 after a fall resulting in a thigh wound. It turned out to be a wound she could ignore. Later she went out and picked up the remaining five controls. No way I'm going to DNF someone who saved me the time and effort of picking up controls. Deciding second and third place puts me in a moral quagmire. Bill dropped # 14 and rested his case on the photography imperative. Melanie quit and restarted after the course was closed. Decide for yourself. 

 Thank you Melanie and Sergey for the control pickup. 

 Karin had what I consider to be a very respectable second place finish in tough terrain. The two teams of Leslie and John and Scott and Christy arrived at the finish visibly more satisfied than tired. I know the terrain. I've walked up and down that mountain. I understand the challenges of navigation. Finishing this course as they did is a worthy accomplishment. I want to honor that.

October 14 is a couple of months away. It wasn't too early for Kirsten to be thinking about the Snowbank Meadows Meet. After the meet she drove up the road and took a photo looking down onto the Snowbank Meadows terrain. Keep September 10 open for our next meet. Melanie will direct that meet somewhere in the Idaho City area.

Snowbank Meadows --Kirsten Severud
John Murray
Meet Director


July 11, 2023

 

Bear Basin East orienteering meet July 9, 2023

It was a beautiful day to spend wandering around in the woods and those with an early enough start got to enjoy some of the cool mountain morning before the heat came on.    Sergey topped out those brave enough to attempt the challenging advanced course which made a tour of every part of the eastern Bear Basin map with varieties of terrain and lots of route choice options.  Late comer Melanie narrowly beat out John on the intermediate, dashing his hopes for a victory in their rivalry.  The intermediate runners got to join the advanced runners in experiencing a rough vague area with a control placed on a dam in a mosquito dense swamp, yet most were able to make it out of there before being bled dry.  The sport course provided a step up from a beginner course and a couple of groups were up for the challenge, and thanks to Cliff of Valley County SAR who came out for some navigation training.  Included is Sergey’s map with his route for the advanced course.
Thanks to Andy, Ole, and Sergey for helping with control pick up.

Anyone with pictures from the meet is welcome to post them on the Meet Up Bear Basin event page.

Karin Didisse, meet director

Sergey's route  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced Course   7.8 km   16 controls

Sergey Velichko                          1:15

Ole Bergset                                  2:30

Andy Hill                                     2:48

Sean Howerton                            3:07

Ashley Boyd & Forrest                dnf

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermediate Course   4.3 km   9 controls

Melanie Wright                            1:13

John Murray                                 1:14

Torin Ford & family                     1:28

Bob Didisse                                  1:47

Bill Pilcher & Dee                        2:35

Christy Morris & Scott                2:38

Jerry Stewart                                2:52

Ted Smith                                     dnf

 

Sport Course    2.6 km   9 controls

Maggie & Matt Vuturo               2:04

Ray & Lindsey Ramirez             dnf

 

Novice     1.9 km   9 controls

Cliff Steele (VCSAR)                     1:29


Intermediate Course

Sport Course

 
Novice Course

June 12, 2023

Ponderosa Pleasures June 10, 2023



Bill's Dog
 Orienteeering with the CTOC can be a lovely way to spend time among the flowers or intense competition or both. I believe Bill Pilcher's dog got the first option right. It was, indeed, a beautiful venue punctuated by several displays of wildflowers. Lynette and April came equipped with a mesh bag to carry the morels they hoped to find. Alas, it was not to be a fungal feast. Instead, there were places laid out with banquets for the eyes.

Photo by Kirsten Severud
Early June in the McCall area brought nearly perfect weather for orienteering and mosquitoes. It had rained the night before, so wet grass inevitably meant wet feet for early starters. Frequent rifle shots at a nearby target range shattered what otherwise would have been a tranquil day in the woods (more on that later). And then there was the confusion about the location of the start/finish after I changed it from last year's location. With those caveats in mind it might seem like maybe nearly perfect is not the way to describe Ponderosa Pleasures on June 10.

Maybe as the meet director who had to cancel this meet due to the presence of a crazy guy with a gun when it was scheduled last autumn I had lowered my bar for success. Nevertheless, I stand by my characterization as nearly perfect. We had 35 individuals participate in 24 starts. Eight people took on the Advanced Course, enough so we had more than a quorum for competition. The Intermediate Course is where the competition was. Twenty orienteers competed in 14 starts.

A quick examination of the results posted below will show why I record finish times to the second. (It's not really accurate to the second because there is no finish line, but it's probably accurate to within 5 or 10 seconds.) If those recorded finish times were accurate to the second, I could say that David Bergset beat Kirsten Severud. The one second difference was really no difference at all, effectively rendering their competition a tie. I would have liked to decide the question by applying my director's bias. But even that was a tie as Kirsten kindly provided me with many of the photos gracing this report and David Bergset along with Ole and Andy helped pick up controls. Thanks, guys. That made my day much easier.

Sergey is by all accounts a masterful orienteer. So, it's one of those unusual situations where another orienteer posted a better time. That orienteer was Isabella Mcdonaugh, who posted a time of 53:58 well below Sergey's time of 1:06:17. There's more to the story than the raw times. I probably should inform you that Sergey's time was on the Advanced Course and Isabella's was on a modified version of the Sport Course (only the first two and last two controls). Isabella is in kindergarten and Sergey . . . well, Sergey is a bit older, old enough to be Isabella's grandfather, which he is. I am thrilled anytime I see three generations (I'm including Masha here.) orienteering.

Not all is right with the Wright family. As long-time and accomplished orienteers they do tend to compete with each other. The sad state of affairs is that they can't all win unless they run different courses, which they did not. Congratulations, Melanie on not only beating hubbie Innes and daughter Katrina, but also edging out Ole by more than a minute to take top honors on the Intermediate Course. I hope Katrina and Innes didn't make the ride home undeservedly painful.

I posted Sergey's map for those of you who would like to gain some insight into how a world-class orienteer navigates. I would direct you to Sergey's routes to the first two controls taking advantage of the road and a long re-entrant to #1 and the contours, a saddle/hill and vegetation on the way to #2. In Sergey's own words: Excellent opportunity to practice bearing and reading subtle vegetation details to zoom into controls!” Click on the image to enlarge it.

Finally, I want to express my apprehensions about some of our bad luck with Ponderosa Pleasures. Last year as I prepared to set controls the day before our scheduled meet I found a family camped with their trailer on the site I had planned to use for our start and finish. A man, presumably the husband and father was outside. I introduced myself and explained what we intended to do and told him we would modify our location to avoid interfering with his camp. All seemed well. When I returned to my car to change my shoes he began to yell to nobody in particular about so many newcomers intruding into the forest. I became alarmed that he might be unstable. Subsequently, he told me that he was going to do some target practice with the rifle he was holding. Of all of the trees he might have chosen as a target, it was the one behind my car he chose. He asked me to move my car, which I did, canceled the next day's meet, and moved it to June 2023.

When I scheduled the meet for June 10 I did so having deemed the previous year's incident a one-off event. When David Bergset approached Advanced Control #3 he believed he was in a deliberate line of fire and retreated. Later in the afternoon Andy Hill collected that control. With this second incident I have become wary of further CTOC events here. Maybe these incidents reflect our increasingly troubled relationship with firearms, growing use of public lands and can happen anywhere. But I've been twice warned at Ponderosa Pleasures and do not want to risk a third and more consequential occurrence.

Karin Didisse will direct the July 9 meet at CTOC favorite Bear Basin. It's great terrain for courses of all skill levels. I'm looking forward to it.

John Murray, 
Meet Director

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Severud

Lynette and April conferring with Andy as Karin looks on.
Osborn Ranch Meadow