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A Map Archive

Just added a new feature on the site - a quick-linked archive of the orienteering maps in my possession, just like many other people have done. I'll be scanning in and adding additional maps as time goes on - back to 2002, even - after all, isn't that what an "archive" is supposed to be?

See the current batch here, or use the link on the left menu underneath "Orienteering".

Camp Ripley, Pillager, MN
Classic Day 2
October 17, 2010
Camp Ripley, Pillager, MN
Long Sprint
October 16, 2010
Camp Ripley, Pillager, MN
Long Middle
October 16, 2010


Even More at Ripley

A lot to write about the Camp Ripley weekend, I guess! As I mentioned previously, we got permission to hold a night-O, but had a hard requirement to be downrange by 9 PM (remember those rules and procedures.) But all the MNOC volunteers have had excellent practice in meet management, and we were actually broken down and ready to leave in less than 10 minutes from the course cutoff time at 7:45 PM. Everyone showed up at Range Control around 8:30, and a number of us headed to the barracks that we had rented out - another perk, since it was A) convenient, B) cheap, and C) right next to the mess hall - all you can eat breakfast, 4 bucks!

Each barrack building is arranged into 6-8 units, and each unit is a single long cinder-blocked room with about 20 single beds. Each bed has a footlocker, and this year we unlocked the door to find the Guard had upgraded! Last year, they had old, kinda-sketchy wooden footlockers. This year, there were nice new 48 gallon Action Packers, familiar to many of us as a favored adventure racing tote. Still, it's not like we needed to use them for anything but tables. This year we had about 25 people staying in the barracks, so we rented out two units and designated one for the church-mice and one for the partiers. I'm sure you can guess which one I stayed in.

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More Ripley - Sprint and Night-O

Camp Ripley is an interesting place to orienteer. Since it's a military reservation (and the largest winter training facility in the country for all branches of the service), there are rules and regulations and procedures. As long as you follow them, everything is good. (Of course, none of us ever considered any alternative.)

It starts at the entrance - there is only one, on the south side. You drive between two massive stone pylons and are directed to a manned gatehouse where you need to state your business. "Here for the orienteering event" has always gotten a wave through, though. It's still a long ways to the start area at the far northern end of the reservation. First, there's a couple miles of flat, developed area with a square road grid and many buildings of indeterminate purpose. The speed limit is either 30 or 25 mph "strictly enforced". After that, you arrive at a gate with a building to the left with a sign "All traffic must stop." This is Range Control. As in artillery range.

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Back to Camp Ripley

The weekend of the 16th I finally broke my self-imposed hiatus on things orienteering-related, and headed up to Camp Ripley for a weekend of MNOC events. Camp Ripley is a 53,000 acre military reservation jointly managed by the U.S. National Guard and the Minnesota DNR. Because it's so large, been around for so long, has such controlled access, so little development, and lies on the eastern edge of the Alexandria Moraine, it contains some the most pristine glacial kettle terrain in the upper midwest, easily rivaling the Cat's terrain from the 2009 U.S. Champs.

This event was a little more low-key, though. Joe Sackett, Charlie Shabahzian, and Maricel Olaru came up from the Chicago area, and a couple of PTOC and OK folks as well. The rest of the field was filled out by the usual MNOCers. Unfortunately, the entire weekend was cold, drizzly, and rainy, but once we got into the terrain that was the last thing we were thinking about.


Day 1 Middle course. Click to enlarge.

As usual, analysis behind the link.

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We, the Navigators, Remember


(photo by Will Kyselka)

The Hawai‘i news has been busy lately with the news that Mau Piailug has passed away at the age of 76. He was the navigator of the Hokule‘a on its maiden voyage from Hawai‘i to Tahiti, a teacher to David Lewis, Nainoa Thompson, and many others, and largely responsible for ensuring the survival of traditional Polynesian oceanic navigation into the 21st century.

Although my wary personal relationship with water may keep me from ever setting foot on a voyaging canoe, I'm still amazed by what he, his peers, and his students have been able to accomplish.

Knowledge can be a fragile thing, at times. Thank you for keeping it alive, Mau.



William O'Brien - New and Improved!

Sunday was the orienteering meet at William O'Brien, on what's basically a completely different map than the one we had three years ago. Two years I entirely redid the base contours using LIDAR from Washington County, and last year Kevin T. came to town and quite a bit of field checking and vegetation remapping. So now it's back to being pretty accurate, although there's still an excessive amount of raspberry vines that, if you're not careful, leaves you looking like you lost a battle with an angry cat.

My legs were still a little cashed from the Trail Mix the day before, and staying up until 4:30 AM the previous night didn't help matters either. However, I am no longer allowed to claim certain things as extenuating circumstances.

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Terrace Oaks Meet

The local 2010 orienteering season is officially in full swing! This weekend was the meet at Terrace Oaks Park in Burnsville, set by none other than my fellow Gnome Hunter, Dave Swanson. Terrace Oaks is a small but fun park with surprisingly large hills and a mess of confusing trails. Its main drawback is that it's fully infested with buckthorn - pretty much the whole map apart from open areas is medium green, and you have you protect your eyes as you sometimes swim through the undergrowth. Nevertheless, it's still often faster to cut corners between trails rather than running all the way around.

I ran the 6.5 km Red, and in a small park like that, Dave had to set a "superball" course to get the requisite distance. There were 19 controls, all E-punch, and I was bouncing from wall to wall, so to speak.


Map of April 3, 2010 Terrace Oaks course - Click to enlarge

As usual, race details below the fold.

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A Sprint at Forest Park

Last weekend I headed down to St. Louis with a dozen other MNOCers for the Gateway Grunt orienteering weekend - a sprint at Forest Park on Friday, a middle distance and sprint at Hawn State Park on Saturday, capped off with the 16-kilometer goat-style "Grunt" on Sunday. After the success of my Possum Trot video, I was definitely planning to wear my helmet cam for all the races. So here's the first installment - a full, unedited video of the Friday sprint. It works a lot better if you bring up the map and follow along.

It's a large video, so give it a couple minutes to load, and please excuse the rough audio. There is one epithet at about 4:55 in, when I realize a silly parallel error, but so far the video has proven I'm much less... expressive than I think I am on-course.

Download this video (260.3 MB)

Click on the still frame to play.


We, the Navigators - Part I

The day before I left Hawaii, Annie and I were browsing the shelves at Barnes & Noble before she headed to work next door. I was perusing the local interest shelves and I bought this book for the plane ride home:

Its author, David Lewis, has had years of experience sailing the world's oceans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he undertook a study of the fast vanishing art of indigenous navigation across the open expanses of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. He sought out native navigators across the Pacific and learned many of their techniques in the most effective way possible - by actually voyaging with them for many days at a time and essentially becoming apprenticed to them. In 1976, as part of the bicentennial celebrations in Hawaii, he was one of the crew members who sailed the 65-foot voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a (which is the Hawai‘ian name for Arcturus) from Hawaii to Tahiti using only traditional techniques, no instruments, and no Western knowledge.

In the book, he details the essential techniques he learned from these very competent navigators, and tries to convey the completely different worldview that informed their practice. In particular, none of the navigators he worked with were ever really able to understand nautical charts, something we would consider absolutely basic to the task. Nevertheless, it was pretty amazing to find so many correspondences between the navigational techniques of the islanders and the techniques many of us use every time we run an O-course, or do an adventure race.

More detail (much more!) below the fold.

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Just Another Winter Day

The first orienteering event of 2010 this afternoon. It was our usual winter format - a mass start, 90-minute score-O - which meant that everybody would get back at about the same time, and there wouldn't be any late finishers holding up control retrieval on these short winter days. The morning started out a bit raw, in the teens with a southwest breeze.


Map of January 10, 2010 Lake Elmo course - Click to enlarge.

As usual, much much more behind the link.

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