The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 153: Getting Oriented, part 2

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

You'll win this race by getting lost, least, because it's all about your navigation skills. This week on The WildeBeat; Getting Oriented, part two.

[Intro Music & SFX; 0:07.6 and under]

News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number one fifty three.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

[Intro Music: 0:04.5 ends]

STEVE: [Part 2, Intro] On the list of things you should always take into the wilderness, a map and compass always ranks high. That's great advice, but it doesn't help much if you don't know how to use them. One of the best ways to develop your navigation skills is to participate in the sport of orienteering. I'm at California's China Camp State Park.

STEVE: There's about a hundred people around me in this picnic area that serves as the headquarters of the orienteering meet. Terri Ferrah, a member of the Bay Area Orienteering Club since 2001, is setting up the check-in booth.

STEVE: So how does this work... for people to track their progress through the course?

TERRI FERRAH: And then, what's really fun is people can compare their times with their peers; and not only can they compare how long it took them to do the entire course, but they can compare splits.

STEVE: Tyler Atherton, from San Jose, California, is at the starting point for the white-level, a beginner course, with his Boy Scout troop.

STEVE: Okay, Tyler. And tell me what you're about to do.

TYLER ATHERTON: You use the lines on the map. And different symbols and the circles.

STEVE: Have you done this before?


STEVE: What Tyler calls boxes, are actually orange and white triangular tubes made of nylon fabric. These hang from tall metal stakes; the e-punch electronic boxes are mounted on top. Mikkel Conradi, from San Francisco, designed this course.

MIKKEL CONRADI: I think we started around eight a.m. and and we took until five p.m. to get everything out

STEVE: Erin Majors from Roseville, California, is an experienced orienteer. She ran one of the courses Mikkel set up.

STEVE: Tell me about the course you just went on.

ERIN MAJORS: It was yellow. It was one of the advanced beginner courses, so it's out in the woods a little bit off trail, a little bit on trail. Good challenge... I don't exercise on a super-regular basis, so anything with hills is a challenge so I think those are the ones that stick out in my mind are the ones where you look up, and you see the control, you look at your map, you think you know where you're going, you go all the way up, and you look, and it's the wrong one; and then there's one that another one and you go, "Oh, that must be it"; you check your map to double-check, you go over, you look at that one, and that one's not the right one either; so then third time's a charm, and then you find it, but by then you're pretty tired, so -- it's fun.

STEVE: Tell me about what what you did that brought you to this ...what activities did you do beforehand that that brought you to orienteering?

ERIN MAJORS: It's kind of like a big Easter egg hunt for kids.

STEVE: Tyler Atherton came back to talk to me after finishing his course.

STEVE:[P-TA-00:07] And so can you talk me through what happened along there. What'd you find?

TYLER ATHERTON: Well, the first time we thought we found a box, it was actually marker seven, then we went and found no- mark number one, which is rather easy to find -- it was right off the trail. Mark number two was easy all the way 'til five, but then six we had trouble finding it. It- we were by the road, which wasn't a very good place, since it- since it was really far from it; and once we found it, we ran back to number seven; then once we found number seven we worked together to find number eight; then we had our fastest friend -- I took his pack and he sprinted toward the finish line.

STEVE: Alright. And so you guys all worked together finding these?


STEVE: And do you think you could do it all by yourself next time?

TYLER ATHERTON: I bet I could.

DANA KOONTZ: I went on the intermediate orange course and it- it's my first experience with orienteering.

STEVE: Dana Koontz is from Larkspur, California.

DANA KOONTZ: The first few controls were in relatively open areas and so you'd take a look at the map and try to compare the features on the map to the features that you see; and then you take off and run really hard and then you stop and you look around again, and then pick up the next C.P.

[MC-4:45] You want to make it difficult enough that people feel like it is a challenge and some people will make some mistakes...

STEVE: Mikkel Conradi.

MIKKEL CONRADI: ...and that's okay, but it also needs to be fair and nothing should so difficult or so different from what the map reads that people come back and they're upset...and I'm happy to say that this year nobody nobody found a control to be too hard.

DANA KOONTZ: It takes you places that you wouldn't think to go necessarily; and if you want to get out of your normal box of running around in the gym or running around in the tennis court and really enjoy California and all that it has to offer,'s a great opportunity to do that.

STEVE: Gary Kraght, a former president of the United States Orienteering Federation, sees something for everyone in orienteering.

GARY KRAGHT: It's a very safe environment, a structured and safe environment to push yourself... to practice your navigation skills and push yourself... to learn more and to do better.

STEVE: Do you have experiences with an orienteering group? We'd like you to share them with our community, and we always want to hear your thoughts about anything else we do on the Wildebeat. You can call our toll free comment line at 866-590-7373, or e-mail us at comments at WildeBeat dot net. You can find links to more information about getting involved in orienteering, see pictures from the event, and download an an extended high-quality stereo version of both parts of this show, from our web site.

STEVE: As a free, listener-supported service, we depend on you to help support our work. You can help by making a tax-deductible membership donation to our project. Membership levels start at sixteen dollars a year, and full membership is forty eight. For a limited time, become a WildeBeat member and get a weekend's worth of meals from Alpine Aire foods, books from Wilderness Press, access to bonus audio content, and more, as thank you gifts.

[Closing Music: 0:10 and under]

Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. If we helped you get into the wilderness, could you help us do the same for others? Just click on our support link and become a member. The WildeBeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham, as a nonprofit educational project of Earth Island Insitute.

This has been The WildeBeat, program number one fifty-three. Thank you for listening.

[Closing Music: ends.]

Next time -- other people's wilderness.

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