Georgia Orienteering Club
May 2003 News

Orienteer Tries "Lite-Weight" Backpacking
Before he was an orienteer, Sam Smith was a backpacker, often carrying more than 40 pounds of traditional backpacking equipment on week-long adventures in the Smokies and along the AT.

A few months ago, Sam started planning for a multi-day backpacking trip and decided to go "lite-weight" by paring down his equipment to a mere 26 pounds. Read about Sam's adventure, the equipment he took, and how he used orienteering skills to find indistinct trails.

GAOC Extends Jr. Travel Grant Program to College Students - Laurie Searle
GAOC has added a provision in its Junior Travel Grant program for College and University Students. Now college students 23 years old or younger, may apply
to GAOC for a $50 individual travel grant. For more information, see the Student Travel Grant.

Map & Compass (Georgia & Virginia)

Launched earlier this year, after 3 years of development, ‘Map & Compass’ is poised to deliver its unique brand of experiential programs to a variety of clients around the eastern United States.

Based on the sport of orienteering, where participants are physically and intellectually challenged to navigate unknown terrain with aid from a map and compass. ‘Map & Compass’ utilizes orienteering to foster personal and team development; and this mission is echoed in the program’s motto, “what direction do you want to go in?”

Currently the staff’s efforts are focused on:


Providing the technical expertise in development of orienteering maps and programs for camps, schools & colleges, and outdoor education centers.


Facilitating corporate, team building, and instructional workshops.

bulletAnd debuting later this summer, ‘Challenge Courses and Orienteering: New Directions in Group Challenge’ is a new initiative promoting and facilitating the integration of orienteering with challenge courses.

Shawn Callahan, Director
Map & Compass: Experiential Navigation Programs

Island Ford Meet Reports

Bob Domine wrote:

What a fun day! Rick did a super job of putting out well planned, interesting courses at Island Ford yesterday. This is a real challenge as the vegetation is very dense in areas and the park is relatively small.

All legs went relatively smooth except for #9 where I raced up a steep hill only to run around on top of the hill not finding the control. Finally back down to the river for a new attack and back up the hill to finally discover it. That all took over 14 minutes. I navigated the same control correctly during control pickup. It then took me lees than 2 min. Lesson learned ~ I hope.

It was a humid day and the woods were wet. But it was so enjoyable. All had a good time and lots of laughs.

Thanks Rick for the great event! Thanks to the support volunteers Rob, Steve, Bill, Linda and to all who shared our day.


Bill Farrell wrote: We all had a great time today and the weather wasn't bad at all. It did try to sprinkle, but that just seem to make everything sparkle and shimmer. The pungent aromas of the blooming flowers was delightful. I saw and heard many wild things... the forest was alive!

Rick did a great job of placing his courses to avoid the worst of the pine beetle deadfall -- it is really hard to get through. I got trapped in the hard stuff more than once. Rick wisely cut the course lengths back and they seemed to be fine to me. It was super green, but we got through it anyway and had fun doing it. I saw a lot of new faces and some good old ones too!

Today's meet was a great way to end the season -- now the Canoe O. Be sure to put this one on your calendar, for it is also the annual meeting!

See you there, Bill.


Rick Shane wrote: Much thanks to all my volunteers today! They made it very easy on me, and I very much appreciate it.

We had very game competitors today. Conditions were tough, but I heard no complaints. I was very encouraged by the number of finishers. Three of those who didn't finish only missed one control.

I'll see you all at the Canoe-O...

Kevin Haywood's Believe it or Now

My recent mountain biking adventures landed me in the hospital for a couple of days with a shattered collar bone. I was in Utah on a wilderness mountain bike trek when a mother bear appeared in the trail right in front of me. Hitting the brakes, I swerved to avoid the snarling teeth, but hit a rock and was thrown head-first into a pile of boulders. The resulting crash broke my collar bone into splitters.
With a swipe of her paw, the bear laid open my broken shoulder. My instinct to survive gave me a boost of adrenalin, and I grabbed the pump from my bicycle and beat the bear into retreat.
 As the bear disappeared into the woods, I noticed a rattle snake emerging from the boulders with it's tail coiled and it's fangs ready to strike. In fright, I stepped back away from the snake, not realizing that cliff behind me was a 20-foot drop.
 When I awoke some hours later, I was weak, thirsty, and lost in the desert. To comfort my torn and broken shoulder, I ripped my cycling jersey into strips and made a sling to carry my broken bones.
Remembering the best of my orienteering skills, I found the trail and started the 15-mile hike back to camp. After 10 miles of walking with no water, I found a hiker who was also a ham radio operator. With his radio I called for emergency assistance, and soon a Med-Evac helicopter was on it's way.
 I'm recovering well now, and hope to be back to normal activities in a month or two.
Best wishes,

Dukes Creek Inaugural Meet

Robb Stanek wrote -

Now that was some good ol' orienteering fun! Thanks to Sam, Bill, Laurie and whomever else helped put this together.

I took off from the start down the road when it dawned on me I was going to have a real wet crossing. So back, and up the small dirt road that petered out way too soon. Man the going up was steep and thick, found number 1 and contoured over to 2. Finally found my cliff stuck way on "up there" and on to 3.

Knolls galore, but 3 wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Really neat terrain, can't wait for winter. Up the trail to the falls, a steep climb and then up the creek to 4. Started contouring along that ditch thingy, found where they met, shot a bearing and started for 5.

Dropped in way too soon, but found a creek and an old roadbed just where 5 ought to be. It all looked like 5, fork in the creek, etc, but geez it was steep, and no knoll thingys. After about 40 minutes of wasted time, started for what I thought was tower road. Within minutes I saw water, and then the Start shelter, damn, wrong creek. So up the correct creek, and bam, there it was, right where it was supposed to be (unusual for Mr. Farrell, I know) and 6 was not hard.

By this time I was pooped, and was thinking my day was about over, saw Guido, said hi and we lumbered to the road and the water stop. Saw EE (Eastern European) who was none to happy about the lack of green color on the map, and the 3 of us dropped in on 7. Did a little ditch run, man that was useful, dropped down and UP to 8!

Little meandering to 9 and then my old friend the road bed (who screwed me royally looking for 5) was a savior as I jogged to 10 and the knolls.

Now, I had about 20 minutes left on the clock and 11 looked like it was a hair too far for my liking. And knowing those o-meet folks hate it when you miss your bedtime, I decided to follow the dirt road to the real road and get to the tent just as my time was up.

So, I skipped 11 and 12 (and 13 just didn't seem worth it as I walked past it), but I had a big grin on my face because THIS was a terrific map and some great terrain! Can't wait to come back.

Thanks again for an incredible map and a fun, fun time.


Bill Farrell wrote - Hey All,

First, I wish to thank all those "Brave Souls" who helped us check the new map and it's potential for courses.

Second, it seems that I was able to give life to the old Southern expression: "You can't get there from here"!

I did get plenty of feedback from my friends... all of whom showed great kindness... most ending with "Bless his heart"! This is another Southern expression that we use to soften and explain behavior related to diminished capacity!

It was complex, steep and GREEN! It was a beautiful day... but warm for and extended "Walk about"!

Everyone did get a look at the area that is like nothing we have ever seen before. I was so excited to show off Sam's mapping efforts, I over did it on the upper level courses. We also are being plagued by those nasty pine beetles and the associated logging. It is hard to believe how fast those guys can cut an area,

We will now be able to put our heads together and offer much improved courses for the summer A-meet in 2004.

Thanks again, Bill.


Martha Carr wrote -

Charlie Brown and I felt the same way about the Green course yesterday. GOOD GRIEF! All I could think on my very long leg from Green 5 directly to the Finish tent was--we must limit Bill Farrell to 3 controls on the Green course here!

I heard some slight criticism of the map and some less than slight criticism of the courses, but let's be fair and place this blame where it belongs--those gold gettin'-out people. Yesterday would have been a perfectly lovely day had it not been for them! But it might have been a perfectly boring day too. I'm guessing that no one was BORED.

This was a good and needed "dry-run" for the A-meet next year. We've never had a map where the "runnability factor" weighed so heavily on finishing/not finishing times. It looks like 12 of the 17 who went out on the advanced courses received a DNF or OVT.

And those who did finish all came pretty darned close to the three hour limit. That's pretty rough even for our Billie-Bob. It's a little creepy to think what all that would have been like, adding 20 or 30 degrees, some real summer vegetation and a few more snakes. I think we now have some hard "data" to work with so we can adjust accordingly for the A-meet. The vegetation mapping, for instance, is a difficult problem that we can continue to discuss.

It sounds a little ridiculous to say, but looking at everyone's times, probably cutting the course lengths in half would have still been challenging in this park. Sam suggested that there were a couple of areas that we might chose to stay away from for the A-meet, but I think most areas should be "fair-game". The place is just too cool not to let everyone get a look at it. I think everyone will have a great time visiting all the totally wacked-out unnatural topo features on this map.

There's no two ways about it. Sam did an incredible job producing the most complex map we have ever used. Although I can't claim that I saw the whole area, since I took a "just couldn't do it anymore withdrawal", everything I saw was right-as-rain.

Bill, for all the "constructive criticism" he gets, worked pretty doggone hard on putting those courses together and out with Sam. I know Bill likes to give our "little gray cells" a workout--but I think many little red cells were put to the test too!

Thanks Bill and Sam for giving us an A-meet preview peek at the map and terrain.


Sam Smith wrote - Looking at the results is not encouraging. The dense vegetation and the steep terrain slowed everyone down, but I think the difficult navigation also played a part. It makes me wonder if we can pull it off (the convention A meets).

The courses had 4% climb (except the blue, which had 5%). We shortened Bill's courses twice but didn't really eliminate any climb. Starting in the same location, I believe that we can run north a little ways, then back south almost to the start again to get around Hamby mountain. Put in a spectator control/waterstop in the little field at the start. The ditch is cool, but there's no need to climb that high if we want to avoid killing our visitors. Then we can run up the next big reentrant, which has trails and is a lot less severe. Cross the mt at the saddle near the fence and go back to the start. That will get the climb down to about 2%.

Also there is no need to run anyone but the blue down to Martin's Mine. The rest of the courses would be better off zig-zagging up the reentrant with the trails. Keep the white/yellow like they were. Run the brown parallel to white/yellow. Keep the orange like it was. Let white/yellow/brown cross the mountain at the gap with the road.

As far as the complaining goes, I can take the abuse - I'm used to it. There are those who take the sport very seriously. We can do reasonable things to please them, but we can only do our best. Keep in mind that without those of use who are "doers", those who are serious would have nowhere to compete...


Mike Ferguson wrote -

I thought the courses were great! I didn't have a problem with the navigation I just ran out of steam due to my route choices. the map was superb, my hats off to Sam for the effort it took to make the map we ran on.

It should be an interesting a-meet to say the least.


Joey Ciza wrote -

Thank you (and all the helpers) for the chance to orienteer at Hamby Ditch. I think I learned a great deal about orienteering on Sunday.  Sam has done a very good job with the map.  It is difficult to understand the intricate contour lines and ditches until you experience them.  I now remember why I don't do much orienteering in the summer at Oak Mtn.  I just walk the trails, do a little map updating and enjoy the outdoors in the summer.  

Hamby Ditch  - Red: A morning wakeup at 4:00am and 230 mile drive to northeast Georgia to go orienteering.  Cross the AL/GA state line as the sun breaks the horizon at 6am (or is it 7am).  Arriving at Dukes Creek around 9:30am. A short walk over to the visitor  center to pay for a parking pass. Temperature on the outdoor thermometer was 50 degrees.  Back to the registration table to complete the registration forms, pick up a score card and a 8.5"x11" map case.

After registering, I went to sit near the vans that would transport everyone to the start.  I talked with one of the park rangers for a while.  He told me about the history of the park and about the fishing.  Dukes Creek is one of the top 100 trout fishing streams in the U.S.  It is all catch and release and must use barb-less hooks.  I had decided to take my water pack with me based on some of the e-mail comments I had heard about the terrain being a little difficult.  This was probably the smartest thing I did all day.  Now it was  a van ride to the start (about 2km). 

I talked with Rob on the ride to the start.  I had not seen him in quite a while.  He was trying to get an early start so he could get back home to his 6 month old.  The rest of the van was full of JROTC cadets.  We get to the start and Sam was there waiting on us.  

One of the first signs of things to come was Sam saying that the map cases we had were not big enough.  The map was 11"x17".  Sam was prepared and issued map cases big enough to hold the map.  A group of cadets decided they wanted to go first and they started out on the green course. They almost got it right. They took off in a full run but failed to wait until they were totally out of sight before they started to walk.  Rob then took off on the red course.  Another group of cadets took off on the orange course.  I waited a couple of minutes and then took off on the red course.  I was hoping to catch up to Rob in the first couple of controls. 

From the start, follow the trail across the marsh and along the edge of the field.  I was having a little difficulty trying to identify the big reentrant  NW of control 1.  The vegetation was very green and it was had to see any distance. I managed to miss the reentrant to the right and climbed until I  found the hill and the ditch. I dropped down a few contours on the other side and headed northeast until I dropped right in on the control.

Now getting to #2 looked to be a little bit of a challenge but after looking at the map, down to the creek, find the big rock faces and climb to problem.  Ran down the reentrant towards the creek, cut the corner and followed the big creek, found the big rock faces with no problem.  Began the  climb up the hill.  I kept winding up in some pretty dense and fallen  stuff. Just could not find the control.  I know I sent up and down the hill at least three times.  I finally figured out that I was in the reentrant system just west of the control, moved east a little ways and stumbled across the control. It had taken me 30+ minutes from control #1.  Right after I punched #2, Guido showed up. I decided to be a little more conservative and take a straight line compass bearing to #3. I took off and pushed my way through the green stuff.  Next there was a big ditch.  Climbed down it and up the other side only to find another one.  Climbed down it and up the other side only to find another one. I kept drifting to the South every time I crossed one of these monster ditches. This was not a good choice. Finally after crossing several of these things, I could see a small building  to the south of me and a trail.  Forget that original plan. 

Follow the trail to the southeast through the small split it the finger, found the  trail to the north and worked my way north.  I was hoping to be able to see the control on top of one of these knolls. That would have been too easy. First, the vegetation was so green that you could not see very far, and  finally the control was hung between two 3m knolls at ground level. Only 13 minutes to this one. Not too bad. Now head east and find the trail. Run along the trail noticing the zigzag in the trail and then the bridge across the stream and another bridge back across the stream and continue following the trail. Things began to look wrong here.  A little check of the map revealed that I had missed the trail to the northwest and had taken the trail to Martin's Mine. Back to the trail junction. Now I saw the problem. The trail entrance was overgrown somewhat. Followed the trail to the beautiful water fall. Climbed up the eastern side and crossed the stream at the very top of the falls.  Navigated along the stream to the cluster of knolls. The rootstock at the first knoll helped.  Sixteen minutes here. Not too bad considering the wrong turn and the climb past the waterfall.

Now what?  I sat there for 4 or 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do to  get to #5.  Do I follow the road just east of #4?  If so where do I leave the road (before or after the overgrown clearing?).  I even thought about taking the road south and then back to the start and attack it from that direction (or even catching the van back from the start and quit). Finally decided to follow the stream.  Went through the marshy area. It was not too bad here, lots of ferns in places. Tended to stay to the west just a little to stay out of the wet stuff. Still could not make to fast a pace due to the vegetation. Not real dense, definitely could not run fast here. Finally made it to the area where the two parallel streams are. Decided that I would go to the top of the ridge to the west. Found the ditch along the ridge and decided to head northwest to the next ridge. I did not realize how big a drop that was in between these two ridges. Pay close attention to the contour lines here!  I basically fell into the ditch and it was all I could do to climb out of this monster.

Worked my way through the dense vegetation down into the big reentrant. Followed the reentrant down most of the way and cut over the lower part of the spur. Stood on a knoll at the stream and figured out where I was. Moved over and found the rock pile to further confirm my location. Up and down to the north until the control was found.  28 minutes from #4 to #5. I was just happy to have found #5.  From  here, just started north. 

There was a very interesting spur/ridge here.  It was dangerously steep on both sides and just wide enough to walk on while holding onto bushes and trees.  At one point there was a large tree on it that was difficult to get around.  I do not know how it was able to stay there.  Finally dropped down off of it and found the stream.  Headed up the smaller reentrant system and stayed west on purpose and then began to move  east checking reentrants until I found the control. Eight minutes from #5  to #6.  I finally had a split that was in single digit minutes. Now for a  climb.  I managed to find a fallen tree across the ditch that saved me  from  climbing down into the ditch and then back out again. Up, up, up. I did  manage to find a small animal trail that headed up the hill in the  direction  I was headed.  It helped some.

Now the road. I sat on the road and tried  to make a decision..take the road back to the start location and hope I  can  catch a ride to the finish, or continue on.  Well, #7 is very close.  I'll  continue on. Cross the road and into the woods. Why is the map not dark  green here?  It was a lot thicker here than the map indicates. Visibility  was very poor, but I did stumble upon the control.  Where is the water?  I  did not realize that the water was back up at the road.  I guess I dropped  off the road a few meters before the water stop.  Oops! Part of my punch  card is now missing.  There is no way to retrace my steps back to the  road.  I have about 80% of the card. How do I get to #8? Back to the dirt road  and up Hamby Mtn and down the big reentrant or down the spur.  Way too  many  contours to climb, even if it was a road.  Straight line was way too much  up  and down.  And then I finally figured it out. Use the ditch!  I alternated  running in the ditch and along the berm depending upon which was more  open.  In the ditch would have been great it not for the some bushes and some  fallen trees.  It still seemed to be quicker than most of the terrain I  had  travel up to this point.  I finally left the ditch at a point 150m  southeast  of the control and followed the spur contouring around.  I should have  left  the ditch a little sooner. This area was very open with good visibility. From across the stream I could see the rootstocks.  Went straight to them  and to the control. 

Now for #9.  Go southeast and find the trail, north  through the green or go north through the green and follow the stream.  I  decided to go northwest, dropped into the reentrant and then headed  southwest.  Found the rocky area and ditches and dropped right in on the  knoll with the control.  I could hear someone coming so I just remained  crouching on the ground studying the map. Yuriy then popped over the  knoll.  We exchanged a few words and I took off before he punched.  I saw the  trail  headed southwest and decided to take it.  I was able to make good time  here  and followed it until the 3 knoll cluster and then just continued  southwest  and came right on the control.  I could hear someone off on the thick  stuff  to the east but never saw them. 

Now what?  Time is running out.  I am not  sure if I can finish in the 3 hour limit.  I have not given up on a red  course in many year, so I decided to stick this out.  It sure was tempting  to take the trail south to the road and back to the finish.  Took off  north  on the trail.  Took the turn to the west and continued on.  The trail  turned  to the west and began a large uphill climb.  By this point I was beginning  to run low on water.  I don't know why I was worried about that at this  point since I was breathing too hard to get any water in me. Blisters on  my  feet were getting painful on uphill portions.  Finally up the hill, found  the sharp bend in the trail and followed the ridge over a small saddle and  up to the hilltop with a small trail.  Went south and then downhill to the  west and dropped right in on #11. 

Running out of time now.  No way I want  to get into the dark green stuff. Head east back up the hill to the trail  and  run the trail south and then to the west.  When the trail began to loose  elevation, turned off to look for the large reentrant headed west..oops! I  left the trail too late and had to fight my way through a green area.  Finally busted out of the green and there was the trail.  Took off on a  run  and kept going straight when the trail turned.  I ran across a reentrant  and  thought it would be the next one.  looked back and saw that I had just  pasted  about 30 meters below the control and went back and punched it.  I looked  at  my watch and I had been out about 175 minutes. 

Time to sprint this one  out.  Down the reentrant and to the end of the field for the last control.  Across  the open field to the finish.  > 

Suggestions:  1. the helicopter pick-up and drop-off points need to be clearly marked on  the map.  I seemed to have missed a few of them (especially between 4 and  5) 

2. every control should be a water stop.  I never use my water pack during  orienteering meets.  I made an exception this time based on comments about  the course difficulty.  I made a wise choice.  I drank it dry by the end  of  the course. 

3. Add more green.. the only open areas I saw on the course were the  start,  in the vicinity of control #8 and at the finish. (actually Sam has done a  pretty good job if you remember that it is all relative..  around control  #7  appeared to be a little more dense and wide spread than shown...) 

4. flagging should be added between all controls except for the BLUE  course. 

5. GPS tracking devices on all orienteers.  If someone gets lost, you will  never find them.  It would be very entertaining to watch the real-time  track  of the orienteers as they wander through the woods....microphones on them  would also add to the entertainment however the FCC would not appreciate  the  language mumbled by the orienteers. 

6. mandatory equipment should include climbing gear to get into and out of  the ditches along with machetes to clear the way 

7. fix typo on the RED clue sheet.  Climb should have been 2700 meters not  270 meters.  >  >  Here are my split times:  1 10:45 just slow trying to get adjusted to the map...  2 32:28 (just plain lost here)  3 13:26 (should have aimed for the building  - would have saved several  minutes)  4 15:54 (turn down wrong path cost about 3 or 4 minutes)  5 28:46 (I sat at the know for 5 minutes trying to figure out what to  do.  really! I was not trying to be in a big hurry here.  I knew if I made a  mistake, I would have to quit.  When I dropped right in on #5, I felt I  had  really accomplished something!)  6  7:53 (no problem here)  7 10:42 tough climb. I missed the water stop.  I thought it was supposed  to  be at #7  8 14:39 run the ditch, drop out earlier to save time  9 5:28  good choice heading nw and then following stream to sw  10 6:07 trail run  11 16:37 tough trail run - I had some bad blisters by here that slowed the  uphill climb  12 11:41 should have dropped of the trail a little sooner to miss the  green  (or maybe the green is a little higher here..  13/finish 2:44  just a sprint to the last control and finish.  total 177:15  >  >  Joey Ciza  


Bob Domine wrote -

What a memorable, wonderful day! From our backpacking past it always appeared that it would be exciting and challenging to go off trail in the North Georgia Mountains. This past weekend proved that to be true.

I lost my mind on the first 300 meter leg to #1 control. Up the road to the boulder for an easy attack. I sprinted up the hill and headed right down Hamby ditch. My mind was looking for a gully rather than a pit. Like I said, I lost my mind. Up the ditch, around the ditch and down the ditch. I ran down to the stream, old road bed junctions to re-attack with no success. Finally, after one more re-attack from the big gully after 31 plus minutes I spotted it in the pit.

In 21 minutes I made it up the ditch to #2. It was thick, but the map tracked excellent. What an exciting ridge between 2 gullies. Down the hill northwest to the stream junction and then west to the pile was not great, but not bad at 17 minutes for #3.

Probably my best leg was to #4 in 6 minutes. By this time I felt like I was connecting better. Then I insisted in climbing straight up to the road, I'm not sure why. I ran down to the water stop and then somehow fumbled around in the brush and the wrong reentrants for another 31 minutes until I relocated of the West end of the clearing and found #5.

The "run" to #6 was nice using the stream as my handrail. It took 22 minutes as I made one backtrack to locate at the stream quick bend. The run down the stream was relatively fast with 9 minutes to #7 and 11 minutes to #8. What a difference no real climb, descent and thick vegetation make. Around the road and straight in at the bee hives to #9. Follow the fence to the road to the trail to the boulder and straight to the reentrant. Too happy at #9 to punch! I made it from 8 to 10 in 24 minutes. I made it down to the "GO" control in a little over 3 minutes though it was as long as to the #1 control which took over. My time was recorded a little off on the results. It was 2 hours 59 minutes and 36 seconds!!

It is as everyone described. It was thicker than our normal, but just as north Georgia is in May. It was steeper that normal, though the calculated climb was not all that bad if you did it once and took the good route choices. Bill Farrell told me that the number in the right column was not the meters of climb, but rather the number of tree you would need to grab to get up the hills. I'm not sure how he figured that, but he was just about right at 165.

This was a super experience and I marvel at how good this map is. Sam has done an outstanding job putting such complexity together. I did quite well when I was paying attention.

Bill and Sam did a great job on the courses, challenging us and giving us a great expose to this fascinating area. For our A meet we will need to shorten the courses a little more and lower the number of controls 2 or 3.

But that is okay. As long as they are fair, challenging, fun and fall into the time limits everyone should be happy. Again thanks to all who put on this fun and memorable event.

Thanks to all of you for all you do to support our club.