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Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 17, 2017
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Event Director: - 831.439.9822
Course Setter: Nick Corsano
Type: B; Full-featured event for beginners through advanced in a beautiful forest

Course Setter's Notes

By Nick Corsano

Big Basin inspires a multitude of adjectives: magnificent, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, and for BAOC veterans, steep! It is without a doubt one of BAOC's most rugged venues, and the course statistics below reflect that reality.

The full array of seven courses is being offered. We will talk about White (beginner), Yellow (advanced beginner), and Orange (intermediate) separately from the Brown, Green, Red, and Blue advanced courses. Not only do the two sets of courses have a different start location, a different finish, and a different map scale; they use different generations of the Big Basin map. If you are curious about the two maps, read the Concise History of the Big Basin Map at the end of these notes; otherwise, just read the section applicable to your course, and the General Information section.

Course Statistics

                                         Water  Navigational  Physical  
    Course    Length    Climb  Controls  Stops  Difficulty    Difficulty
    White     2.3 km     30 m     12       0    Very easy     Easy   
    Yellow    2.7 km    160 m     12       1    Easy          A little harder
    Orange    4.4 km    255 m     19       1    Moderate      Moderate
    Brown     3.4 km    215 m     14       2    Difficult     Moderate
    Green     4.1 km    405 m     19       2    Difficult     Difficult
    Red       4.3 km    495 m     19       2    Difficult     Very difficult
    Blue      5.0 km    540 m     21       2    Difficult     Very difficult

Important! Everybody must check in at the assembly area and download their E-stick​—​by 2:00 PM​—​whether they finish their course or not. That's how we know you're not lost in the woods.

White, Yellow, and Orange Courses

These courses are set on the "old" club map, which has a contour interval of 20 feet (6 meters). The maps are printed at a scale of 1:7500. The Start is directly across the creek from the assembly area​—​just cross the bridge and continue straight ahead, and you will see the club Start banner on your left. From the Finish, it is a short walk back to the assembly area.

The White course is quite level, and in fact, could be done with a baby stroller if you don't mind a couple of bumpy spots and one short stretch where it would need to be carried. The Yellow and Orange courses have most of their climb early. These two courses parallel each other on the downhill section, so I want to caution people on these courses about following other orienteers​—​they may not be after the same controls as you. (As always, be careful to check the control numbers when you punch.)

Brown, Green, Red, and Blue Courses

The Start for the advanced courses is about a 1300-meter walk on a trail from the assembly area. Streamers will mark the way. It is about 900 meters back from the Finish. Neither walk involves much climb.

These courses are set on the "new" map. The contour interval is 5 meters. Maps are printed at a 1:10000 scale. The new LIDAR-generated contours are a vast improvement over the old map. They enable you to differentiate between steep, very steep, and suicidally steep. (Hopefully we have avoided extensive traverses of the third type.) You can reliably match up the re-entrants and spurs you see on the ground with those on your map, and vice versa. The mapping of vegetation is also more precise. On the other hand, the mapper has been very sparing in the use of point features, particularly rootstocks. So, if there is a brown × on the map, you can be assured that it is an especially massive rootstock. Since the map is still a work in progress, we have added only a very few key features for this event.

All four courses pass by a campground. We have used out-of-bounds marking to make it clear you must stay on the campground road and not cut through campsites. [Editor's Note: That restriction was later removed. See the Late Addition below.]

None of the courses cross the main park road (Highway 236), but they all cross other park roads. Traffic is intermittent, so please be alert. If you are tempted to run on a road for a distance, there is usually a parallel trail that is just as effective a route, and much safer.

Along with the steep slopes, your progress will frequently be slowed by the abundant deadfall on the ground​—​everything from tiny twigs, to fallen branches, to huge downed redwoods​—​all on top of a thick layer of redwood duff. As a rule of thumb, the fastest navigation (apart from trails) is along ridge lines; spurs are usually easier to navigate than adjacent re-entrants; and contouring over any significant distance will be more unreliable than usual.

General Information

A bit of good news​—​there is very, very little poison oak near any of the courses!

Following is an introduction to the mapping conventions used on the "old" club map related to redwood forest. Of the symbols described below, the "new" map uses only the rootstock and fallen-tree symbols.

Many areas feature continuous expanses of redwoods. In other places, stands of redwoods (often circular) are embedded in mixed forest. Several of these stands are mapped, using the vegetation-boundary symbol (black dots).

Redwoods also account for three types of point feature on the map:

On the clue sheets (control descriptions), rootstocks are indicated by an × inside a circle symbol; the stumps and snags use the distinctive-tree, ruined combination.

Since the huge fallen trees present significant navigation obstacles, many have been mapped, using a thin black line oriented correctly, and with length to scale. None of the fallen trees are used as control locations for this event.

Late Addition to These Notes

[Editor's Note: This section was added late on Thursday, September 14th.]

Here are a few items I forgot to include in the Course Setter's Notes.

  1. Footwear: Because of the steep slopes, we strongly recommend that runners on the Orange and above courses wear cleats or hiking shoes with lug soles.
  2. Vegetation: The dark green areas on the map are primarily huckleberry bushes, and while they won't tear you apart like the vicious flora we have in some of our venues, they can still be pretty impenetrable.
  3. First control: The Brown, Green, Red, and Blue courses have a common first control. Runners will follow a trail for about 100 meters. The trail is hemmed in by vegetation in places, preventing passing, so I suggest that runners with the same start time wait for several seconds between runners before punching the Start unit. (Because your actual start time is based on the punch, this delay will not cause you any harm.)

Finally, a change affecting the four advanced courses. You may safely ignore the out-of-bounds marking on your map. It was intended to keep runners from crossing people's campsites. As of this week, that campground is closed for the season, so you may go ahead and run through it!

A Concise History of the Big Basin Map

The Big Basin orienteering map was originally made in the 1980s. The terrain, and in particular the canopy of redwoods rising 50+ meters above the ground, proved a significant challenge for both the technology of the era and the expertise of European map-makers. The result was a map with contour lines that were in many places unreliable. The map has been upgraded a good deal since then, but the underlying problem with the contours remained. So when LIDAR data became available for the area, the club decided to undertake a re-mapping project. This is still a work in progress, but enough terrain was completed to fit a set of advanced courses for this year's event. However, the area used for the White, Yellow, and Orange courses has not been completed, so the old club map is being used for those courses.

We are interested in hearing your feedback on the new map!