Desert Map Trek, Sat. & Sun. Feb. 26-27,
Red Rock Canyon State Park




Saturday resultsSunday resultsPhotos Previsit - Setting 1 - Setting 2 - Setting 3 - Saturday - SundayOriginal Announcement

Thank You
A big thank you to Ranger Matt Williams and the staff of California State Parks for permitting our event. Ranger Matt had a few meetings with me, exchanged emails, and made helpful recommendations about the map, terrain, and facilities. It was especially very nice that he opened up the visitor's center for us on Saturday to hold registration out of the chilly wind.

Saturday help:
Checkpoint pickup - Mikhail Brushtunov, Alex Kiperman, Eugene Kiperman, Cory Zelmer, Danny Trudeau, Courtney Dietz, Casey Hare
Setup and takedown - Bud Laird

Sunday help:
Checkpoint pickup - Alex Kiperman, Eugene Kiperman, Mikhail Brushtunov, Anne Mullins, Cory Zelmer, Danny Trudeau
Setup - Bud Laird

Publicity / promotion:
Olive Kearney, Clare Durand, Don Sieveke, Cristina Luis, and everybody who told a friend!

Sunday Results - 15 checkpoints, 760 points possible - about 15 km distance

Perfect weather! You could run hard and feel warm enough, but not sweat too much. Congratulations to the Sea Donkeys for clearing the course today, getting all checkpoints with almost 30 minutes to spare. Alex Kiperman did very well for 2 hours, getting almost everything except those over the far ridge. Bud Laird had the top result among the "masters" participants and second overall. Impressive results from everybody who ventured out into terrain that was a different mix than day 1. See for yourself in the photos! I am very thankful. A great bunch of people came out both days. It was very special to me to share two awesome sides of Red Rock, and I look forward to sharing more in the future - there's 7 to 8 times more area in the park to see.

2 hour division

560 Alex Kiperman 1:50:22
440 Eugene Kiperman, Mikhail Brushtunov 1:58:45

4 hour division

760 Sea Donkeys - Cory Zelmer, Danny Trudeau 3:32:59
680 Buzzards Follow Me - Bud Laird 3:55:51
680 Marco Polo - Bill Brummond 3:57:05
680 Jason Reed 3:58:06
520 Hansel & Gretel - Steve Churchill, Terry Churchill 3:51:30
440 C2 Rox - Courtney Dietz, Casey Hare 3:52:30
360 Itamar Belisha 3:45:32
360 Control Freaks - Anne Mullins, Marie Ammerman 3:59:57
280 McKinley - Jeanette McKinley, Carl McKinley 3:29:48
280 Erika Kikuchi 3:40:48

Saturday Results - 19 checkpoints, 960 points possible - about 20 km distance

13 hardy souls came out to find out it wasn't that hardy. In fact, great weather for moving about. Mostly sunny all day. The wind made it a bit chilly to stand around. Fortunately, we got to set up and register in the visitor's center, thanks to Ranger Matt. No teams got 'em all, but a few got most of 'em. I think it was possible to get them all with a perfect performance. The terrain and map gave an interesting variety of challenges that I think were exploited by the course. There was a clear "loop" to do it, but it was not clear when and how it was best to get the ones in the middle of the loop. Most teams opted to go "counterclockwise." A few ran into the "dramatic" dropoffs and deadends and had to backtrack. Some checkpoints were not easily found, and I wish I was able to put the bags out a little more prominently - it's not a search for buried treasure. But, as I feared, a few bags "blew" in the wind - thanks to Mikhail Brushtunov for restoring two of them to their stands (one he found 100 meters upwind from the stand!)

See the Saturday photos... Hopefully, GPS tracks are coming soon that I can post...

2 hour division - Score, Team, Time (Raw score before penalty)

280 Mikhail Brushtunov 1:59:40
70 Kipermans - Alex Kiperman, Eugene Kiperman 2:09:50 (320)

4 hour division - Score, Team, Time (Raw score before penalty)

840 Sea Donkeys - Cory Zelmer, Danny Trudeau 3:57:08
760 Jason Reed 3:55:13
760 Buzzards Follow Me - Bud Laird 3:58:14
680 Clare Durand 3:59:18
365 Erika Kikuchi 4:02:06 (440)
240 C2 Rox - Courtney Dietz, Casey Hare 4:07:20 (440)

Had fun division

The McKinleys - Jeanette McKinley, Carl McKinley

Original Announcements

click on any image to visit the first photo album

tpEvent Update - February 23, 2011
As of yesterday noon, it's done. Ready to go. Once last picture... and every information section has been updated below with the latest.

A portion of the event proceeds, roughly 20%, will benefit the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association (this one, not the one in Nevada near Las Vegas!)

Event Update - February 21, 2011
Almost all done setting the courses and putting out checkpoints, and both days are going to be out of this world awesome! Lots of variety in these courses. 

See the photos from day 1 | day 2.

Event Update - January 16, 2011
A fabulous 65 degree day with great sunlight. Check out my
pictures. You can really move through this terrain, unless you hit some impassable cliffs! The "crow flies" direct-line distance between all checkpoints is about 15 kilometers each day. While this doesn't sound like enough for some 4 hour teams, the rugged terrain and cliff barriers add a lot of time and distance to the course. Saturday's course has less ups and downs but more cliffs. Sunday's course has less cliffs, but the difference between the high and low points on the course is about 700 feet.

What's it all about
Given 2 or 4 hours, find as many mapped checkpoints as you desire, on foot, in the rugged, scenic desert of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Plan your route and execute it as best you can. Teams of 1 to 5. You can come Saturday only, Sunday only, or both days; each day, there will be a different course offered in a different area.

Custom Map
1:15000 scale on 11" x 17" paper (Saturday) and 8.5" x 14" paper (Sunday), 20 foot contours, based on the USGS topo., with a few enhancements. Map case provided.

Sandy, rocky, desert terrain with washes, and some rugged cliffs. Some spiky vegetation to avoid, but no huge swaths of it.

Course Information:
Saturday: 19 checkpoints, the "flatter" of the two days - the flatness being between the rugged sections. About 20 km to get all checkpoints. 500 m of climb.
Sunday: 15 checkpoints, a flattish section of 5 checkpoints near the start, the rest are "up in the mountains." About 15 km to get all checkpoints. 700 m of climb.

The courses offer "easier to get to" but interesting checkpoints, as well as "difficult to navigate to" checkpoints, so experienced navigators will be challenged to get them all in the time limit, but developing navigators will be also find the right level of challenge.

Is this for me?
Navigation experience with topographic maps is recommended. You should know how to use a compass to set a bearing. You should be able to relocate. If you have questions about the navigation skills, contact Rex. Update from Feb. 23: Checkpoints features on the courses: hilltop, saddle (between two hilltops), reentrant (gully), spur (well defined hillside "jutting out"), and ruin. Sometimes the features will be at a junction (like a reentrant junction, where two gullies join into one) or a bend (where a wash/stream turns a corner.)

Checkpoint Verification:
Standard orange and white orienteering markers with pin punch verification. You'll get a punchcard which acts as your "passport."

Checkpoints numbers will indicate the score attained by finding them; simply round the number down to the nearest 10. Checkpoint 83 would be 80 points, a lot of points, so it must be challenging to find, or far from the start / finish. There is a penalty for every minute (and fraction thereof) overtime of 25 points a minute. So if you're 4 hour time is 4 hours and 1 second, then your score is reduced by 25 points.

Event Schedule:
The reason for doing 2 days: the area is large enough for an 8 hour course, but it is cut in half by a state highway with a high speed limit; so the Saturday course uses only the west side of the highway, and the Sunday course the east side.

Saturday February 26 schedule
11:00 Registration open, maps available.
11:40 Course briefing, 4 hour teams
12:00 4 hour teams start
12:40 Course briefing, 2 hour teams
01:00 2 hour teams start
03:00 2 hour course closes
04:00 4 hour course closes
04:20 Search and rescue initiated if any team has not returned

Sunday February 27 schedule
09:00 Registration open, maps available.
09:40 Course briefing, 4 hour teams
10:00 4 hour teams start
10:40 Course briefing, 2 hour teams
11:00 2 hour teams start
01:00 2 hour course closes
02:00 4 hour course closes
02:20 Search and rescue initiated if any team has not returned

We have a first aid kit and can treat standard first aid kinds of things, and we will poll participants to see who could also provide medical assistance. If the medical situation requires transport to a hospital (but is not a medical evacuation) then the nearest hospitals are in Ridgecrest and the Antelope Valley Medical Center in Lancaster (further away, but it has a real trauma care center.)

The best way to get help is to find a ranger in the park, most likely near the campground or visitor's center, as there is no cell phone coverage in the park. To call 911 emergency dispatch, the closest place with cell phone coverage is Jawbone Station on State Highway 14, six miles south of the entrance to the park's visitor center.

Search and rescue: in the uncommon event that there's a team that hasn't returned within 20 minutes of course closure, we will use available participants to help with search and rescue. Before you go on your course, you will fill out a "route plan" called an intention sheet on a smaller map, the order you expect to visit the checkpoints. I will also ask people to introduce themselves to each other briefly. If you see someone on your course, say hi, remind each other your names, and make a note of when and where you saw each other. That way, if someone ends up lost later, we will have the route plan and hopefully a "last spotted time and place" to guide us. Park authorities will also be notified if a search and rescue is initiated.

If you are having a hard time relocating on the course, take a compass safety bearing of East towards State Highway 14 on Saturday or West towards State Highway 14 on Sunday.

All participants will receive a copy of an event bulletin with a more detailed version of the emergency safety plan, and pertinent information will be printed on each day's course map.

Food and drink:
You are welcome to the supplies of fruit and carbohydrates we will have, before, during, or after your course (and you can take some to go.) But it's recommended you bring food or energy supplements, and of course, water. For the 4 hour teams, it is recommended you add an electrolyte supplement to your water that replaces the sodium you lose in your sweat.

There will be a remote cache of water - half of it plain, half of it with an electrolyte supplement - on each day's course, marked on the map.

When you're done each day: There will be a hearty feast of good post-event food.

Necessary gear:
1. Compass
2. Clothing appropriate to weather conditions (expected to be in the 60s or 70s, but could be hotter or colder.)
3. 1 to 2 liters of water carrying capacity
4. First aid kit (min. one per team)
5. Watch

Optional gear:
1. GPS (for recording a track, not aiding navigation.)

Weather could be a factor - check the online forecast in the days preceding the event. Temperatures could be in the 80s or in the 50s, but probably in the 60s or 70s. It's exposed, so sunscreen and body cover are needed. Conditions can be significantly windy. You will be dealing with rocks and scattered prickly vegetation. There are steep drops in the terrain... be smart about your routes. Known hazardous areas of the map will be marked using the "dangerous area" symbol (purple lines) you would see on an orienteering map. Sometimes better to go around than try to go over. "OHVs," which are off-highway vehicles, will be using portions of the area, although traffic should not be high.

Updates from Feb. 23 follow:
Weather: Looks to be high 40's, maybe low 50's Saturday with a chance of precipitation. Sunday looks to be partly sunny and low 50's. No matter what the temperature is, wind is very common, especially over ridgetops and saddles.

Getting up and down: The ground composition varies - sandy, rocky, polished mud, gravelly, and various mixes. Be particularly careful with "polished mud" which has a whitish-creamy color and is very slippery. Also, be careful with sandy or sand & gravel slopes, easy to slip. Shoes with good traction are recommended. If climbing or descending a slope, presence of vegetation is a helpful clue for gauging its stability - where plants grow, it's easier to get up or down. Some slopes are so sheer it's impossible to negotiate them - you can tell where the contour lines are close together, or even merge! on the map.

Vegetation: Not until my last day did I discover an area with sparsely distributed jumping cholla on the southern fringe of Saturday's course map. Easily avoidable. Some catclaw out there. From 3 days out there, I did not get scratched up. In some areas that are very flat near main washes, there can be broad swaths of vegetation such that you can't cross rapidly and directly, requiring zig-zagging through the open spaces and holes in the maze of vegetation.

Map: Contours are generally good, and it's helpful to have the 20 ft. interval rather than 40 ft.! On Sunday, there are two checkpoints across the "border" between the 20 ft. and 40 ft. contours, and this will be marked on the map. It's easy to see - half as many contours - the other half dead end at the border. Sometimes there's more detail than the 20 ft. contours can represent, very subtle reentrants and spurs and hilltops will be missing. Or in the rockier sections, it looks more jagged than can be depicted on the map. But the main things are very apparent. Make sure you orient first off major reentrants, peaks, etc., and then focus in on the detail. In some areas, Sunday especially in the hills, there's much opportunity for "parallel errors" where you have the same sorts of landforms in parallel. On Saturday's course / map, there's a few unmapped, easily crossable fences in the southern portion, and an unmapped barbed wire fence paralleling the power line trail at the western edge of the map.

Finding the checkpoints: In general, marker bag placement is low - usual close to the bottom of a bush. Not to make it unfair. Actually, to make it fairer - in some cases, you can still see the bag from very far away. And the number one reason is to keep them safe from being lifted by other visitors or the wind that can flare up. Very specific locations were used. The checkpoints on subtler, more technical features are worth larger amounts of points. That is the sole factor in determining point values, because I wanted to make it very clear to participants what's more straightforward to find.

Getting around: Flatter is usally better. Sometimes ridgelines work well. Ridgelines or washes usually work better than contouring hillsides. Wash runnability varies, and when they are narrow and rockier they become slower. Above a certain elevation threshold on Sunday's course map in the El Paso mountains they become like freeways!

Other stuff: I found some broken glass in a few areas. One ruined barbed wire fence that was flat on the ground. There's a few relics from past mining days - rusted cans, abandoned equipment, a few ruined vehicles. I saw a fenced-off cave. Various birds, and the most common animal I saw was the desert hare - they escape fast! ATV's and dirt bikes are not that common, but you can hear them far off sometimes. More importantly, if they are near, you will hear them for sure before you see them! I did not encounter any while trekking on Sunday and Monday (President's Day weekend) or Tuesday.

Directions to Event Site:
Red Rock Canyon State Park is located north of the town of Mojave on State Highway 14, about a 2 hours' drive from Los Angeles. Traveling north on 14, you will see a sign that you are entering the state park just north of California city. About 3 miles after that point, there's a clearly labeled left turn into the park's visitor center. On Saturday, make that left turn and follow the road to the entrance booth, where you will pay $6 per vehicle (unless you are camping, payment includes parking for the first vehicle.) Make an immediate left after the booth into the vistior's center parking lot.

On Sunday, the directions are similar, except you turn off of State Highway 14 earlier. This time, go about 2.5 miles into the park, and you will see a signed right turn. Make the right turn into a large parking area and park as close to the eastern edge of the lot as you can. This is the Red Cliffs Natural Preserve.

Google map link to the park


Signup online:

2 hour price, per day

4 hour price, per day

by Friday, February 11th
by Friday, February 18th
on or after Saturday, February 19th

Registration Instructions:
Signups will be limited to 100 individual participants per day.

1. Sign up: and lock in your price per day by filling out a simple online form. Also gives you priority "dibs" if we reach our attendance limit of 100 per day.

2. Payment: online payments will be opened on Saturday, February 19th. Email invoices will be sent out with instructions on how to pay. You may pay online with the Google Checkout system using a credit card. Or you may mail a check. Or you may pay cash or check the day of the event. If you are unable to make the event, but paid in advance, you will get a refund or your check returned.

3. At the event, fill out the terraloco registration form and waiver. You can also print it and fill it out ahead of time and bring it completed to the event.

You can be on a team of 1 to 5, but it need not be declared until the event day. It is, however, helpful if you indicate likely teammates when you sign up. If you would like a teammate but cannot find one, you could post to SCONET (available on Yahoo! groups.) Also, please let me know and I may be able to help find probable matches from the sign up list.


Camping: First come, first serve camping is available within the park, at $25 per campsite per night, for up to 8 people. Extra vehicles are $6 each. Average low temperature is in the high 30's, but could be as low as the teens.

It's not likely that the campground will fill up, but I'd like participants to share campsites so that we don't crowd out other campers and visitors. I will contact those interested in camping from the signups about plans to coordinate campsite sharing. (The weekend before the event, a holiday weekend, two thirds of the sites were available.)

Note: Camping at Red Rock Canyon State Park is only allowed in designated sites in the Ricardo Campground - you are not allowed to set up camp elsewhere within the state park. North of the park boundary is BLM land where you are allowed to camp, check the BLM website for information about backcountry camping.

Nearby towns like Mojave and Lancaster have motels and hotels.

Google Map of Mojave motels

Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association

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