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CHINA CAMP - Course Setter's Notes (provided by Evan Custer on 11/11/03)
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San Rafael
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003

China Camp Course Setter's Notes
By Evan Custer

Terrain and Map

Terrain and Map China Camp State Park has typical Bay Area terrain: steep with predominantly oak and bay forest, with a few groves of eucalyptus and also large areas of manzanita. The manzanita is usually mapped as medium green (walk). Bob Cooley has spent several days touching up the vegetation, particularly along the corridors between some of the controls. However, it is very difficult to map large areas with exact precision, so do not be surprised if you find some unmapped areas of manzanita. We have tried to map the larger ones that might affect route choice. The park is predominantly forested, although there are few large open areas. The "sudden oak death" disease that is affecting many of the Bay Area parks has hit China Camp particularly hard. There are many dead, fallen, unmapped oak trees, which may impede your progress. Unfortunately, these are frequently in the white areas of the map. Some of the older rootstocks have disintegrated since they were originally mapped, and may not be as distinct as one would expect. The ones near controls have been removed. There is an area on the southeastern portion of the map over the ridge that has had some tree removal and replanting. Bob has remapped this area.

There is an extensive trail network, mainly used by mountain bike enthusiasts. Some of the smaller trails that are mapped have been closed by the rangers, and as a consequence, are getting more indistinct. Many trails that were previously mapped have been eliminated or reclassified as indistinct. There is a very indistinct trail that is used by the yellow course. It has been streamered. There are a number of newer fences along some of the major trails which the rangers have erected to prevent the bikers from cutting corners and creating new trails prone to erosion. Most of these fences are not mapped in order to improve the legibility of the map. Most of the rock features are in the steep reentrants. There are relatively few rocks that are not in the reentrants. Many of the reentrants are very steep. At times they appear to be steeper than mapped. In some of the flatter terrain there are seasonal streams which over the years have eroded deeper and have become very difficult to cross. Some of these have been reclassified as gullies, which on the map appears similar to a index contour line with sharp points on the end.

The field work and cartography was originally done by George Kirkov in 1998. Generally, it is a pretty good map, although in the steeper areas further away from a trail, the quality deteriorates. Map corrections have been made most years, with a considerable number of corrections being added this year. The biggest problem is that the areas of manzanita are not as well mapped as one would like.

The maps will be printed at 1:10000 for the intermediate and advanced courses and at 1:7500 for the white and yellow courses. The contour interval is 5 meters.


Rob Clima and Laura McKeegan designed the white and yellow courses, and I designed the intermediate and advanced courses. A total of eight courses will be offered, including short and long versions of the intermediate course, entitled orange and adventure race training respectively. Since the area is so steep, and because of the large areas of manzanita, the courses have been shortened in an attempt to have the appropriate winning times. The advanced courses share a number of legs so you will be able to compare route choice and splits.

Course Length Climb No. of Controls
White 1.525 60 11 Yellow 1.875 110 12 Orange 2.85 165 8 Advent Race 3.475 230 11 Brown 2.1 180 9 Green 3.35 245 15 Red 5.375 350 13 Blue 6.25 530 18


There is a small amount of poison oak in the park. The usual poison oak precautions should be used, including avoiding it if possible, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, using Technu as soon as possible after your run, and putting your competition clothes and shoes in a plastic bag and not touching them again until after they have been washed. The use of a high strength topical steroid, such as fluocinonide 0.05%, as soon as you notice any rash or itching (usually within 24-48 hours) is very helpful in preventing a sever case of the poison oak rash. There are also ticks. Be sure and do a body check after you get home.

Many of the slopes at China Camp are very steep and slippery with fallen leaves. Take care, and if you are concerned, look for an easier route choice. Orienteering shoes with cleats are highly recommended on the advanced courses.

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