Availability: Dec 20, 2020 - June 30, 2021
Special Driving Directions
At this location, FLO normally stages out of the open shelter at the end of the dirt road that runs past the park HQ building. As of this writing, the dirt road is blocked off just past HQ. If you find that still the case when you arrive, park either at the horse corral near the Snow Hill Rd entrance, or at the park HQ building.
Typical COVID protocol is in effect at the iron ranger: Use the QR code to get to www.reserveamerica.com to pay the $2 Florida State Forest day use fee.
ROYO (Run On Your Own) Orienteering Events
Welcome to pandemic orienteering! After so much time in quarantine, it's time to get outdoors and satisfy your orienteering cravings! We cannot congregate at scheduled events in our usual fashion, so instead we are temporarily pivoting to a new style of "event" we're calling "Run On Your Own" (ROYO) Orienteering.
For a ROYO-style event, we set up multiple levels of semi-permanent courses at the chosen venue. Instead of the official orange & white control flags we usually use, we have placed laminated QR code tags (see photo below) which you will scan with the iOrienteering app to "punch in" as you visit each control position.
Change from prior ROYO courses: We had been hanging the QR codes from pink nylon ribbons to act as visual "flags" marking the control positions. But at other venues, we've had a number of these ribbons go MIA, either because someone saw them and pulled them down, or because some animal ate them (apparently hot pink looks delicious). So at this venue, we have hung the QR tags with neon orange paracord from dedicated bright orange waist-high wooden stakes (see photo below).
Maps will have to be self-printed. We will post PDFs of course maps on the FLO web site and links to them will be in the Rah-Rah email (see below) for you to get to them. All maps will be on standard 8.5"x11" letter-size paper and can be printed with any inkjet or color laser printer.
We will be using a smartphone app called "iOrienteering
" for participants to time themselves around their chosen course. You will need to visit iTunes or the Google Play store and install this free app on your smartphone before you go to the venue (remember, you may not have good signal out in the woods!). A new update of the iOrienteering mobile app has recently been released, so if you installed it on your phone previously go check it and make sure it has updated to the latest version.
For a video tutorial on how to use the new version of the iOrienteering mobile app for self-timing, see the following video on O-Tube:
Tutorial on new version of iOrienteering mobile app
Once you get to the venue, at the start/finish location, you will find a laminated sheet posted with instructions and QR codes (see sample photo below):
- At the top of the sheet (and also on your map), you will find SETUP QR codes for the various courses. Inside the iOrienteering app, you will scan ONE of these codes for the course you're planning to do. This loads the list of controls that the app is expecting you to "punch" in their correct order. Once your course is loaded, the app is ready to start timing you around that course. You can scan the SETUP QR code at any time prior to starting your course.
- The remaining 2 QR codes are the START and FINISH codes. Scanning these starts and stops your official clock, so don't scan them until you're ready to go or stop.
Once you have loaded your chosen course and scanned the START code to start your clock, you are ready to go. Use your map to navigate around the course, visiting all controls, in order, just as you typically do. As you find each control, "punch" in by scanning the attached QR code with the iOrienteering app. The app will verify you have found the correct control and keep track of your splits times.
When you have completed your course, return to the start and scan the "FINISH" QR code on the instructions sheet to stop your official clock. The app will calculate your total time and display your results. It will also offer you a one-click UPLOAD button to upload your results to the iO database. Please be sure to upload your results, so we can see how much use the courses are getting.
SUMMARY OF COURSES
Note that the course lengths mentioned above are measured straight-line from point to point to point. Your actual route on the ground will often be on more winding trails or diverted around obstacles like ponds or dense tickets, so your actual distance traveled will often be 25-50% longer than the stated course length.
- SHORT - For novices and casual family hikes. 2.1 km straight-line. Can be done mostly on trails. Map is 1:7,500 scale, with verbose control descriptions.
- LONG - For intermediate to advanced orienteers. 3.2 km straight-line. Most controls are off trail, and you may find yourself pushing through some vegetation to get to them. Map is 1:7,500 scale, with symbolic control descriptions.
- LONGEST - For advanced orienteers. Zig-zagging course 5.1 km straight-line, hitting most of the controls from the previous 2 courses. Many controls are off trail. Map is 1:10,000 scale, with symbolic control descriptions.
As usual, there is a 3 hour time limit on all FLO courses. If you take more than 3 hours on any course, RETIRE! Although the worst of the summer heat is behind us, fatigue and dehydration can still sneak up on you, particularly on the longer courses. Carry a CHARGED cell phone for safety.
The Safety Bearing for all courses will be printed in RED on your map - east to Snow Hill Rd.
Special Notes and Instructions for Rock Springs Run State Reserve:
Keep in mind that in the ROYO format, there will not be any on-site event management while you are running these courses.
Be sure to carry adequate water, a whistle, and a charged cell phone for safety!! We cannot stress the first point enough! Although the summer heat is behind us, fatigue and dehydration can still sneak up on you, particularly on the longer courses. CARRY MORE WATER THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL NEED, AND DRINK AT A RATIONED PACE THROUGHOUT YOUR HIKE.
Bug spray on your shoes, gaiters, and pants is also essential for going off-trail. Ticks and especially chiggers are still a possible hazard even at this time of year, so wear leg protection sprayed with chemical protectant, and do a thorough tick check when you come out of the woods and when you shower after getting home.
Little Big Econ consists of the Econ River, surrounding wetlands and drainages, and drier territory including current or past pine plantation areas. Rain runoff from the entire area drains to the Econ River through a series of permanent and seasonal drainages which occasionally spread out into swampy lowland areas. Networks of multi-use trails crisscross the park and intersect with the feeder streams in numerous places. Some of these crossings have small wooden bridges, but most don't. In the wet season, much of the area can be quite wet, but in the winter less so. Areas surrounding the river and drainages will still be damp/muddy and will often be thick with vegetation, and the drier areas will be a more grassy mix of whitewoods and rough open terrain. Note however that the grasses can still be quite tall & thick - including up to shoulder high in some areas off-trail. Occasional briars are present as well, so watch your legs.
While out in the park, watch for deer, hogs, wild turkey, and the occasional gopher tortoise. Keep your eyes open for tortoise burrows, as you don't want to turn an ankle in one. Speaking of animal life, please note that there is horseback riding in LBE, and you will sometimes encounter riders while out in the park. Running toward or past a horse can spook it, leading to highly unfortunate events (or at the very least, angry riders who will complain to park officials). If you encounter horses, STOP RUNNING, yield right-of-way, and be courteous. Play nice in the sandbox.
Although we very much miss connecting socially with our orienteering friends at our usual in-person events, one silver lining of the ROYO events is that you will have the woods much more to yourselves as you enjoy your course. Without a pile of people to make them get scarce, the local wildlife are often much more on display. We saw wild turkeys, deer, gopher tortoises, and evidence of recent hog activity while vetting and setting the courses. Keep your eyes peeled for park residents you might not otherwise get the opportunity to see!
Flip side of course: there will not be the usual pile of people around to rely on for help in case of an issue. As a precaution, if you are competing alone, let someone know where you are going, and how long you plan to be out there. We also suggest that you leave a copy of the map in your car, or with a friend, in case someone needs to come out to find/help you.
PARKS CONTAIN HAZARDS NOT NORMALLY ENCOUNTERED
In case of emergency you should call 911.
Printing your map(s):
By printing the map for any of these courses you are agreeing to the following Waiver of Liability:
As a condition for participating in this orienteering event, you hereby release Florida Orienteering, also known as FLO, and each of its officers and member and others who have planned or participated in this event from liability for any personal injury or property damage that may occur to you or any member of your group as a result of your participation at this event whether caused by negligence or otherwise, and you hereby indemnify Florida Orienteering (FLO), its officers and any organizations or authorities sponsoring the event from any liability for injury or damage or expense caused by yourself or other members of your group.
iOrienteering Instructions, SETUP/START/FINISH QR Codes
To display the map of your chosen course, click on the appropriate link in the list of courses below, then use your browser to download or print it. If your print menu offers the choice, make sure the "Actual Size" option is selected.
A suggested donation of $7 for FLO members, or $9 for non members, may be made through Zelle. In order to use Zelle you will need to register for Zelle through your bank's website. Alternatively go to www.zellepay.com/get-started for guided instructions.
Once you have registered for Zelle, through your bank, you can send a donation to firstname.lastname@example.org and then select the 'Florida Orienteering' account.
Park day use fees of $3 per vehicle to be paid as usual at the iron ranger when you drive into the park. They have also set up a QR code linking to Reserve America if you prefer to pay your day use fee in touchless electronic fashion.
A Note About Directions for ROYO events:
As with all ROYO events, there won't be a pile of cars/people or a FLO registration tent to guide you in to the proper START/FINISH location. For this reason, the best way by far to get to the right place is to use the what3words addresses at the top of the email. If you haven't yet embraced the what3words smartphone application, NOW IS THE TIME!
Remember once again to be courteous to other users of the venue, particularly the horse riders, and disturb them as little as possible. They will be out there and on the same trails we will be using, and we want to play nice in the sandbox. :-)
We hope you enjoy these courses as a way to relieve a little COVID-related stress with some awesome woods time! While you're out there:
If you haven't already, watch the 2 linked O-Tube videos to understand what what3words is and how it works, and how to use the 3-word address to obtain turn-by-turn driving directions to that exact spot from your favorite navigation app. This will get you to the right spot with minimal fuss. Once you get to the parking area, if you don't immediately see the kiosk where the iOrienteering QR codes are kept, use the w3w app's Navigate via Compass feature to get a directional pointer to the correct spot.
Course Availability Window:
The courses are in place and ready to be used as of December 20, and will be out there until further notice.
Be Safe! Be careful! Be Smart! Remember, because this is a ROYO event, there will be no one on site to call for help.