Red Bluff Training Weekend
Date: Apr. 24 - 26, 2009
Location: Red Bluff, CA
Event Director: - 541.401.7595
Course Setter: Ben Legg
Type: Training; A great training opportunity in Northern California. Spaces are limited, RSVP is required.
A relatively small group turned out for this year's training campout in Red Bluff, but those who managed to make the trip were treated to perfect weather and a great time. About 18 people gathered from all around Northern California, from San Jose and Sacramento to Chico and Redding. Well, I'm kind of stretching the truth. There was really only 16 of us, unless you count our canine friends.
We tried a couple of different training drills. The first activity of the day was a three-kilometer Orange-level course with 15 controls. This was quite a challenge for the beginners, but most everybody was able to find their way around. The experienced orienteers had an especially tough challenge though, because their maps started as a blank sheet of paper. I made them draw their entire map on the clock! This is a pretty cool training, because it forces you to simplify very quickly and carefully. It's amazing how little information you need to get around, but sometimes you kick yourself for ignoring an important detail. The maps that people sketched looked great, reminding me of the old drawings by explorers like Lewis and Clark. We were eventually upstaged in that department though. Later that morning, a small division of Union Cavalry road by on horseback, flying the stars and stripes!
For the afternoon training, everybody pitched in and set a couple controls. We strung these together to create a variety of courses that covered all the skill levels. I was especially excited about this, because I finally got to run a course on my own map! This time we went in groups, and did a relocation drill. One orienteer would navigate halfway to the control while veering slightly off course. When sufficiently lost, we would switch maps, and another orienteer had to bring us into the checkpoint. I did this drill with a couple of tough runners (Mikkel Conradi and Tom Thomas). It was super fun, but I'm still a touch sore.
A whole bunch of folks helped out afterward to pick up controls. That sort of willingness to pitch in and help was great. It made this week really fun, and easy to put together. It was also great to see the experienced orienteers and adventure racers sharing skills and stories with the first timers. I'd like to think some friendships were made. This atmosphere extended back to the campground that evening, where we shared a great BBQ potluck dinner. It was a relaxing end to a great day, with more food than we could possibly eat!
Those of use from the Bay Area drove back home via Sacramento to attend a GCO meet on Sunday. I'd really like to thank the folks at GCO, who put on a great little meet at River Bend Park. They are in the process of updating that map with LIDAR contours. Although there is still quite a bit work to do, I think it's on the way toward becoming a really fun map!
That's pretty much the story for this event, but I'll be doing more training some other day. Be sure to join in next time!
For those who missed Ben's training weekend, try to go if he does it again. The area he mapped along some bends of the Sacramento River is terrific—lots of moderate hills, a variety of vegetation, some scenic views—a pleasure to orienteer upon. I would say the weekend was a bit like a mini-Laramie. Fun and challenging training, and no killer BAOC hills and re-entrants.
Jennifer Kerr, GCO