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Tahoe Weekend 2018

Spooner Lake

Date: (Sat.) Aug. 4, 2018
Location: Between Incline Village, NV and South Lake Tahoe, CA
Event Director: – 415.566.7990
Course Setter: Bruce Wolfe
Type: B; Standard 7-course event for beginners through advanced

Course Setter's Notes – Spooner Lake

By Bruce Wolfe

There was a movie a few years back that featured the tag line, “There will be blood!” For the Spooner Lake courses, let’s change that to “There will be climb!”​—​well, except for the White and Yellow courses that stay fairly close to the Lake itself. In the nearly 170 years of “western development” at Spooner, this area has been logged, grazed, mined, dammed, flumed, fenced, railroaded, mountain biked, Rim Trailed, teepee’d (see below), and (since the ‘90s) orienteered. But none of those activities has diminished the steepness of Spooner’s terrain.


To account for the climb (and the elevation), I’ve tried to keep the courses a bit short and avoid climb that doesn’t feature route choice or get you to less-steep terrain. Nonetheless, “per kilometer” times will be slower than usual.


The map has been only minorly updated since its first use for the 1999 U.S. Champs. As such, some vegetation has changed: vegetation nearer the lake and in wet reentrants tends to a bit thicker, while in other areas it has been thinned. This is where “teepee’d” comes in: there is a lot of forest work underway to remove fallen trees and dense vegetation. That removed vegetation has been stacked into “teepees” in many areas, awaiting burning when the teepees are sufficiently dried out. For now, runnablility is improved, but visibility may be limited. I’ve tried to place controls in locations that won’t be hard to see through the teepees; however, the forest work has continued throughout the time I’ve planned and set the courses, so there may be some limited visibility.

Rock Features

While I don’t always agree with how the mapper shows the rock features, I’ve found that, in general, rocks under 0.5 meter aren’t individually mapped even if distinct. A rock over 1.0 meter may be mapped even it is in an area of stony ground but not if it is in a boulder field. Most rock features are accurate enough that they can serve as attack points.


I’ve tried to keep you off Highway 50 or the North Canyon Trail that is the mountain bike highway to/from the renowned Flume Trail. Nonetheless, you can use them if desired, just keep your eye open! The trail around Spooner Lake and the Rim Trail should be part of your route choice, but please be courteous to hikers and horses you meet on the trails.


I have yet to see any bears at Spooner this year, but I expect they’re around. They’ll generally run away from you or climb a tree​—​you should go the opposite way from them, too. Past that, the biggest hazards are rocks and downed logs​—​and mountain bikers at speed on the North Canyon Trail.

In sum, everyone gets to go around the lake​—​and most everyone gets to climb! The smoke may limit the views, but, even so, this remains spectacular orienteering terrain!


  1. Water is not shown on the control descriptions, but is at controls 50 and 51.
  2. Control 78 on some of the advanced courses is shown as a 1 x 1 thicket on the control description, but it should be shown as 5 x 5.

Course Details

    Course    Length   Climb  Controls
    White     2.7 km    30 m      8  
    Yellow    2.6 km    50 m      9
    Orange    3.4 km   165 m     10
    Brown     3.3 km   165 m      9
    Green     5.2 km   280 m     13
    Red       6.0 km   310 m     16
    Blue      7.1 km   420 m     16

Note that the course Length is simply the sum of the straight-line distances between controls. Your actual distance will be somewhat longer, and will depend on your route choices (and any errors you make). (A rough rule of thumb is to mentally replace "km" with "mi", so a "2.7 km" course might cover about 2.7 miles.)

Climb is an estimate of the cumulative "up" that would be encountered on the optimum route, with no regard for any "down" along the way. As with course length, the actual climb you encounter will depend on your route choices (and errors).