Beachside in nearby Santa Cruz Beachside in nearby Santa Cruz

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Sunday, January 11, 2004 Soquel, CA.
Event Director: Jim Waite - 408.348.1282
Course Setter: Vladimir Gusiatnikov

Last Minute Update (Saturday 1/10/04)

The weather is good and the meet in on for sure. Please carpool from Los Gatos if you can.

Course Setter's Update (made Tuesday 1/6/04)

The park has granted us a permit, but there is still a chance of a cancellation in case of a certain amount of rain within a certain time period. What exactly these numbers are is not known exactly, so see the website for up-to-date info, and be prepared for the possibility of an on-site cancellation.

Most of the controls are already out there. The part of the park that has never, to my knowledge, been used before, is very similar to what we used last year: the runnability is good, the hillsides are steep, the visibility is poor, the ground cover has little PO. On all courses but the White and the Yellow, cleated shoes are strongly recommended (read if you don't wear them, you will be very sad). No dinosaurs have been spotted, but plenty of ticks.

Meet Director's Notes (posted Tuesday 1/6/04)

Please see the recently released Meet Director's notes.

Original Event Announcement

Come join the post-holiday crowds wandering the monster redwoods of Soquel Valley! For this year's event we'll be using the Mysterious Enchanted Rain Forest (the same location as last year). There will be cheerful and welcoming natives -- just don't use their boat to cross the stream! Bring some cake and cookies along with your bottle of Tecnu.

The map is just as good as it's always been (since 1987). Preliminary course statistics are:

   Brown    1.75 km    55 m climb
   Green    3.35      200
   Red      5.45      390
   Blue     6.45      480
   Black    8.30      570

In addition, White (beginner), Yellow (advanced beginner), Orange and Short Orange (intermediate) courses will also be offered. Black is the course to try if you really have a lot of time to spare: start by 11:00 am; get a tour of Hinckley Creek Basin (or some other creek basins, if you REALLY have time to spare).

Plan on a 39-minute slow walk to the start: You'll pass the finish area 1.15 km (14 minutes from the parking, with 65 m climb), crossing four small streams on your way. Your feet will get wet; you may want to consider taking shoes off. Do not use the boat in the creek -- it is privately owned. From the finish, it is a further 1.60 km walk to the start, with 150 m more climb.

Now, for some serious remarks -- Nisene Marks is an old map. It is offset printed and accurate according to 1987 standards. The scale is 1:15,000 with a 7.5-meter contour interval. The closely-spaced contours make for some steep hills. It does not contain any of the point features that we may be accustomed to on our younger maps, such as dead trees, live trees, stumps, sometimes-imaginary clearings, and vegetation/passability boundaries. The orienteering is also complicated by the fact that the terrain is 100% wooded and steep, up to a 53% incline; and by almost no catching features of any kind. This venue does not tolerate sloppy navigation. Critical thinking and constant visual contact with the terrain, in addition to the map, are essential.

The park is all relatively young redwood forest, with much madrone undergrowth that means low visibility and average runability. In some places there are expanses of ferns and other rain-forest jungle vegetation. Poison oak is low and moderate, mostly limited to ankle-high sticks that are dormant in the winter. However, this PO cover is literally everywhere; use ample Tecnu if you are sensitive, and try to stay upright (e.g., avoid sliding down banks in the interest of shaving a few seconds off your time -- depending on your sensitivity to PO, you could pay for that over the next few days).

There are some unmapped areas of debris from logging operations, which contain large logs and fragments down to mulch, all covered by a thick layer of needles. Those areas are very difficult to get through. The portion of the park we will be using gets very light use. There is one fire road and one trail. These woods are as close to wilderness as it gets in the Bay Area. If you are really, hopelessly lost, the safety bearing is NW; you'll either hit Hinckley Fire Road, or Hinckley Creek. Follow either to the west.

Finally, there is the climb. We believe the numbers above are accurate, which puts the longer courses at around 7%, which is on par with most of our other venues if climb is disclosed fairly. Come and judge for yourself.

The courses are designed to avoid the private-property areas that lie completely within the park. The boundaries of those properties, as far as we could tell from the files of Santa Cruz County, will be marked on your maps.

This year we will NOT have a shuttle from the elementary school parking lot. There is space for about 35 cars to park near the park entrance, mostly on the street. We ask that you obtain a car permit from us in advance, so that we can detect ahead of time the potential for exceeding that limit. So although you don't need to pre-register, if you would like to drive your vehicle, please let us know. If the vehicle limit is exhausted, we will suggest possibilities for carpooling with others.

Once again, parking is limited to 35 cars, so we ask that you carpool whenever possible. If you must come alone or have room for others in your car, the Event Director would like to know who you are. He may ask you to pick up a rider at the carpool location in Los Gatos at a time convenient to you -- if the number of cars grows too large. Carpools will depart from the public lot just off Highway 17 in Los Gatos at the NW corner of Highway 9 and University Avenue. Take the Los Gatos exit (first exit after Lark Avenue), travel west on Highway 9 a quarter mile, cross University Avenue, and take the next right turn into the parking lot just before Washington Mutual Bank. The lot is signed "Free Unlimited Parking". For last minute updates, please check here closer to the event or look in the BayOnet Archive.

Driving Directions (from the Los Gatos vicinity in the South Bay):

Highway 17 south 6.5 miles from downtown Los Gatos to Summit Road. South on Summit Road (cross Hwy 17) 4 miles, pass Summit Store on left. Right onto Old San Jose - Soquel Road, go 6.9 miles. Before the bridge, turn left onto Olive Springs Road, go 1.3 miles to parking near the end of the road.