Map Navigation Training, Santa Teresa County Park, Wednesday 6/17/2009

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Event Update 6/15:

Enjoy a special treat in the hills south of San Jose - there's no park quite like it I know. The rocks are something else. Although the area used is mostly open, navigation is suitably challenging. Only the second time this map has been used since I created it in November. The forecast high for Wednesday is 80 degrees, so it should not be too hot; check the weather updates and plan accordingly.

I've come up with a menu of courses which should keep you busy, so I'm not designing a course on the aerial photo portion. However, if this sort of challenge interests you, I will have the maps from last fall's event and you can try it out. You can also use the other portion of those fall maps. Since it's training, feel free to experiment, take the new and old maps and design an exercise to suit your needs. You might also want to collaborate with others who show up.

The Trail course is a White course that's a tad longer than a standard White. All controls are on the trail, but there are a variety of features to find. The Ultra Sprint course is a good warmup that takes you out to the starting point of the X course. It's flat, fast, and fun, with lots of changes of direction, in the meadow area adjacent to the parking lot. The X course is comparable to an orienteering Brown course. You'll go to rock features, pits, and vegetation features.

Course Statistics:

Trail Course: 10 controls, 2.8 km distance, 120 m climb
Ultra Sprint Course: 9 controls, 1.6 km distance, 20 m climb
X Course: 10 controls, 3.3 km distance, 160 m climb

The Map

1:10000 scale, 40 foot contours from a USGS topo.

Vegetation is pretty accurate, and so are most point features. The large contour interval hides some subtler landforms, occasionally, those have been added to the map.

The rocks were the trickiest thing to map - so many of them! Stony ground is epidemic here. To avoid map clutter, I focused on mapping the more prominent boulders and clusters that stood out from the field. Sometimes you'll find unmapped 1 meter boulders. Also, it was difficult to place all the rocks totally accurately. When rock features are used as checkpoint sites, they will be pretty solid. But, in general, be wary of fine navigation with the rocks.

The Hazards

Don't trip on the rocks - seriously - they can be covered by grass pretty well. Watch your footing. I've seen turkeys and wild hogs in the park, so be mindful of the wildlife. As in any bay area park, it's possible to encounter a mountain lion too. There may be a human or two riding horseback - please don't spook the horses by coming up rapidly on one. Only the X course ventures near poison oak and there's actually not that much, but know to avoid it. Occasionally, you'll find some broken barbed-wire fence fragments off trail. Please stay out of the marked out-of-bounds areas. In general, anything with a bunch of buildings, and the canal, are not good places to go. To do the Trail or the X course you will have to cross Bernal Rd. twice, and you must do so at the signed crosswalks, which is marked on the map with the crossing symbol.

Gear Up

If going off trail at all, you need cleated shoes, and pants are highly recommended. It's pretty exposed, so waterproof, sweat resistant sunscreen is recommended. And a hat. No water on the course, so pack your own.

Original Announcement:

Santa Teresa has a bit of every kind of terrain, except redwood forest. It's similar to other parks, but also different and unique. It's quite rocky, making orienteering in open areas interesting. Enjoy a fun, ~1 km sprint course in the meadow by the picnic area; then run a ~3 km course among the rocks and small patches of forest on the west half of the map. On the way back, try navigating to a couple of photo checkpoints on the eastern half of the map, which is mostly an aerial photo. That might add another 3 km to your training. Pick and choose what you want to do, and go out with a partner and try training together if you feel like.

Start anytime from 6:00 to 7:15; courses close at 8:00. Cost is $5. Social option afterwards nearby - perhaps Tony DiMaggio's Pizza on Monterey Highway? Anybody want to split a stromboli?


Take US Hightway 101 or CA Highway 85 to the Bernal Road exit. Proceed west 1.3 miles on Bernal Road and cross Santa Teresa Boulevard toward the Santa Teresa Hills. Bernal Road continues past the park's Santa Teresa Golf Club, winding up into the hills. The Pueblo Day Use Area is located off Bernal Road in a small open valley in the hills. (make a left turn.) There is a $6 per vehicle parking fee - pay at the first turnout on the way to the picnic area. Then park in the next lot after the pay machine.

Public Transit:

From Downtown San Jose, get on the VTA 68 bus southbound, and get off at Santa Teresa and Bernal Rd. It's about 2 miles up Bernal into the park.

VTA website

Santa Teresa County Park website, County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Dept.

Event Contact: Rex, 5 1 0 - 6 8 1 - 6 1 8 1,