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Best Orienteering Map in North America?

Clark Maxfield, Editor

What is the best orienteering map in the U.S? The national magazine
Orienteering/North America is taking a survey, and you're invited to participate!

In defining the word "Best" you can be very subjective: the best terrain; the most open forests; the most fun running; the best times you ever ran; the best job of mapping, or fond memories of an event there.... You decide for yourself what the title "Best map" should mean.

My own nominations from nearby maps in the Midwest and Heartland Regions would include: Cap Sauer's Holding (CAOC map), Telemark (Minnesota OC), Cuivre River (St Louis OC), Yankee Springs (Southern Michigan), Kellings Lake s (Wisconsin's Badger OC), Blue and Gray Park (Kansas City OC), The Map Formerly Known as Blue Mountain (Rocky Mountain OC), Hawn State Park (St Louis OC), Camp Ripley (Minnesota OC).

Cap Sauer's Holding is my number one choice because it is nearby, unblemished by man-made buildings, roads or parking lots, and contains a variety of terrain and vegetation: ridge-and-valley, glacial deposits (remember the long, snake-like esker [ridge-line] that winds through the center of the map?), marshes, lakes, and stretches of open white oak forests. And for good measure, some very thick green briars that punish the careless orienteer who doesn't plan his route very carefully through the three degrees of green. The advanced courses on our March 23 meet will plunge into Cap Sauers for those interested in seeing one of the country's best orienteering maps.

As a matter of fact, most of the maps on our list feature glacial terrain. Telemark is the second map on our list because it is covered in a disorganized jumble of small depressions, knolls, spurs and reentrants—terrain created as a mile-thick glacier sat on the landscape for 50,000 years. All significant detail was scraped away by the glacier, and redeposited in small heaps and grooves known as "glacial terrain."

Orienteering on the Telemark map or any other glacial terrain can be the worst experience of your life, if you allow yourself to lose contact with the map even for one minute. Because there are few large recognizable features, you can wander for hours without relocating successfully. The best strategy on glacial terrain is to admit early that you are lost and return on a reciprocal bearing, back the way you came, until you reconnect to the map. By plunging ahead hoping to see the control, you'll only make you situation more dire, and harder to fix. The Telemark map will be presented in a 2-day A-meet in October 2004.

But you don't have to drive all the way north to Telemark, Wisconsin to find glacial terrain. Closer maps which also offer that challenging orienteering experience also include Yankee Springs Recreation Area, Middleton, Michigan; Kellings Lakes, Dundee, Wisconsin; and Camp Ripley, Brainerd, Minnesota.

If you want to participate in O/NA's survey, you have until April 10 to mail your nominations to jjcote@juno.com, or to:

Orienteering/North America
DMB Publishing, LLC
488 Thayer Pond Road
Wilton, CT 06897

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