O Anytime At The Campbell Creek Science Center
The Arctic Orienteering Club’s Permanent Course at the Campbell Creek Science Center can be used at any time for fun group outings or training purposes.
The Permanent Course contains checkpoints (“controls”) set up in the woods on specific geographic features surrounding the Science Center. The control locations are marked on the orienteering maps (below). The controls are orange and white signs, usually attached to a post of some kind (see image below). The control indicates that you have found the correct geographic feature marked on the map. Please note that these controls are different from the three-dimensional fabric controls that we use at our regular meets.
The objective is to locate all the controls on the course of your choosing, in the order listed on the map. The challenge comes from not knowing their locations ahead of time and determining the best route between them. The fun, of course, is the satisfaction of finding all the checkpoints you set out to visit!
Important: Be sure to check with the Campbell Creek Science Center to make sure the road gate is open the entire time you are orienteering. You don’t want your vehicle to get locked in for the night!
Also, though none of the courses will lead you onto the runway, STAY OFF THE RUNWAY AT ALL TIMES. Although it may not appear to be used very often, it IS an ACTIVE runway and could be used at any time without warning – so take heed!
Finally, Anchorage and the BLM tract are in “bear country” so safe travel practices are essential. The Science Center has brochures on this topic. Before doing any of these courses, always check for trail closures due to bear activity.
How To Use Our Permanent Orienteering Course
- Download a map. We offer three different ready-made courses and one ‘do-it-yourself’ course:
- White – Easiest
1.6 kilometers (1 mile) minimum distance, actual length will be longer depending on the route you choose. This course is recommended for everyone who has never orienteered before. It goes closest of all courses to the creek–but always be “bear aware” on all courses.
- Yellow – Slightly more challenging than white
2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) minimum distance, actual length will be longer depending on the route you choose. This course offers the opportunity to go off-trail, although it can be completed almost entirely on-trail if you desire.
- Orange – Medium difficulty
3.4 kilometers (2 miles) minimum distance, actual length will be longer depending on the route you choose. This course encourages off-trail travel. A compass is recommended.
- All Controls
You can also download a map of all the controls and use it to create your own course.
- White – Easiest
- Download a clue sheet. The clue sheet will tell you the type of geographic features you are looking for. It will also give you the number code and the letter code that is printed on each control. This will help you confirm that you have, indeed, found the control you were looking for. The clue sheet PDF file includes the clues for all courses. Make sure you use the correct clues for the course you choose. (NOTE: there are no “punches” at these controls so you don’t need to fill out or bring a control card for these courses.)
Clue sheet with text descriptions
Clue sheet with symbol descriptions
- Arrive at the Campbell Creek Science Center wearing sturdy shoes. If you plan on doing the Yellow or Orange course you will also want to wear long pants or gaiters to protect your legs. If you have a compass, use it to help you keep your map oriented correctly. You most likely will not need one for the White or Yellow course.
- Familiarize yourself with the map and its symbols before you begin. Start at the entrance to the Science Center building, on the east side facing the mountains. The start location is identified on the map with a triangle. Hold the map flat in front of you at waist level, and rotate it until it is “oriented” to the terrain, roads, and other features. Magnetic North is the top of the map. The blue lines that run the length of the map align with magnetic north. This means that the declination of your compass should be zero. If you don’t know what that means, you are likely okay.
- Set out to visit the controls in sequence. Be sure to keep your map oriented to the features around you and/or magnetic north as you change direction going from point to point. You may change your direction of travel between controls, but north will always be in the same place!
- At the control location, you will find a 4″x4″ orange and white marker mounted to a nearby tree or post. This is the control. The number and/or the letters on the control will correspond to the number and/or letters on your clue sheet. If you’ve found the correct control, head off in search of the next one. (NOTE: there are no “punches” at these controls so you don’t need to fill out or bring a control card for these courses.)
Tips for Successful Orienteering:
- SAFETY NOTE: On the chance that you become hopelessly “disoriented,” use your compass to head EAST. This will bring you to the Campbell Airstrip. Follow the edge of the airstrip Northeast to its end, then take a left on the gravel road that will bring you back to the Science Center. Make sure you stay on the trail at the edge of the airstrip – do NOT walk on the airstrip itself.
- Orienteering is a great group or family activity. But, if you go by yourself, tell someone where you are going or leave a note on the inside windshield of your car.
- “Orient” the map every time you look at it. That is, turn the map so that the north arrow points toward magnetic north as shown by your compass.
- Have a plan in mind for which features to follow to get to the control, such as a road, trail or stream.
- Hold the map in your hand with your thumb firmly planted on your current location. Fold the map smaller to make this easier. When you next look at the map, it will be easier to “locate” yourself.
- The controls are small, only four inches square, and flat, so you may have to look carefully to see some of them.
- Keep in mind that the map might not show very recent changes in vegetation or trails. Trails that are not frequently used may be overgrown. Do not be surprised if you come across new features which are not shown on the map.
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