Briones Map Navigation Training Saturday 10/11/2008
Course Notes and Final Statistics

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I just received notice from the East Bay Regional Parks District that there is a red flag warning in effect for the weekend, including this Saturday event. So don't bring anything into the park that could cause any sort of fire.

Beautiful vistas abound, although I've chosen the tamest slopes I can find. There's some steepness to deal with, but usually when you're walking between courses - and that's not very far - at most 0.5 km. I didn't see much poison oak - know what it looks like, and avoid exposing your skin. Star thistle is not abundant on this side of the park, although there are a few patches in open areas. Cows were mostly seen lounging near the end of the trail course, and they didn't seem to agitated like the ones in Sunol. I did pick up two ticks today almost simultaneously - walking through taller grass, they hitched onto each forearm, and before they could settle down I knocked them off - they cling pretty well, and they weren't even biting yet. The ground is not terribly hard, but a few spots have tricky footing, and there are just a few patches of steepness you'll see on the Contour and Partner courses. Cleated shoes are necessary for a sane experience on all courses except the Trail course. Long pants and gaiters are recommended on the non-Trail courses as well. It was warm, but not hot, today and the forecast high for Saturday is 71 degrees.

Trail Course: 1.5 km, 7 controls, 80 m climb

The basics - equivalent to a "White" orienteering course. All checkpoint control bags are accessible from a trail.

Contour Course: 0.7 km, 3 controls, 0 m climb

This is like a "Line-O." Recommended for experienced orienteers, or with an experienced mentor. A contour will be selected on the map with a beginning and an end point - no control circles will be provided. If you stay close enough to the line, you will see and punch 3 checkpoint control bags. Having practiced this course myself, it's not always easy to stay exactly on the contour - there are a few obstacles that will send you slightly off the contour, but you can quickly get back on it. How do you stay on the contour? Choose targets - trees, or other objects - at the same height level off in the distance. Read the map, and check off features that are on or near the line. Sometimes reentrants are "long" and it helps to simply go down and up quickly and cross them, rather than milking the contour for all it's worth, especially if you can see along at that height and realize there is no control bag further in the reentrant.

Partner Course: 1.4 km, 8 controls, 90 m climb

Recommended for experienced orienteers, this is equivalent to a pretty short advanced orienteering course, if you've done Brown, Green, Red, or Blue. This would also work well if an intermediate-level navigator (familiar with Orange courses, for example) was paired with a more experienced navigator. It is possible to do this course without a partner. There are two maps, Map A and Map B, and each has half of the controls showing for this course, so you'll need to copy the missing four controls from the other map.

If you're working with a partner, make sure you have different maps. The person with a checkpoint control #1 showing on their map for the Partner course should navigate first while the other follows. Upon reaching the first checkpoint, the other partner will begin to navigate and lead to checkpoint control #2, which is only showing on that partner's map. So the key is not to lose map contact while you follow your partner to some mysterious location on the map. Then, when it's your turn to navigate, you hopefully will not have to ask your partner to show you where you are on the map. You keep trading legs until you reach the finish, which is marked clearly on both maps.

Downhill Course: 1.4 km, 8 controls, 20 m climb

This is similar to a Sprint course, with large changes in direction and short legs. Most of the legs are intermediate, but a few are advanced. It's harder to get lost because the course is tightly bound by fences and major trails, and it heads "back to the parking lot." Since it's almost 95% downhill, you can get the feeling of fast-paced orienteering without expending too much effort on your running. It's fun.

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