Camp River Ranch

33300 Northeast 32nd Street, Carnation, WA 98014

 Google maps.

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Take Hwy 520 East into Redmond.
  2. As you go down the hill into Redmond, take the 202/Redmond Way exit. 
  3. Follow 202 as it changes name to NE Redmond Fall City Rd.
  4. *** After 7.7 miles, turn left onto NE Tolt Hill Road (Easy to miss. It's across from Rich Landscaping).
  5. NE Tolt Hill Road becomes Tolt-Bunker Rd and NE 32nd Street and nearly dead-ends at Camp River Ranch. Follow the signs.

Total distance from Redmond: 27 minutes (12.6 miles)


Camp River Ranch map notes

February 2015
Mike Schuh

Congratulations! By reading these map notes you will gain significant tactical advantage over those participants who blow them off. Or maybe not. Here is a gift of knowledge – how you use it is up to you.

Camp River Ranch is typical western Washington second growth forest, thick with sword fern. In terms of vegetation, it is similar to Fire Mountain Scout Reservation and Point Defiance Park. Topographically, the camp covers terraces along the Tolt River valley floor, a gently sloping portion of the Snoqualmie River flood plain, and a large moraine with kettles (such as those at Fort Ebey State Park). This moraine is composed of large gravel and has steep northern slopes. This gravel drains well and so there are no water courses on the moraine. However, over the millennia the various kettles have collected enough silt and soil in them to retain varying amounts of water, ranging from “damp mud” to “beautiful lake with cold water, suitable for swims before breakfast”.

Field work began in early November, 2014, and concluded in late January, 2015. Eric Bone created the base map (large clearings, contours, parking lots, and nearly all of the buildings) and field checked most of the trails and roads along with occasional stumps, vegetation, and rootstocks, and 20% of the boulders. Mike Schuh mapped the trails in the Land of Challenge Stations and along western Langlois Creek and all other features (including 80% of the boulders), and drew the final map.

The map is drawn with a scale of 1:10,000 and 5 meter contours, and follows the 2000 International Specification for Orienteering Maps.

Campfire rings and significant instances of benches are mapped with a black circle (ISOM 539 “Special man-made feature”). Many campfire rings have a small woodshed nearby. Most of these woodsheds are mapped with a black X (ISOM 540 “Special man made feature”) but they are omitted in areas of the map with more features than can be shown clearly.

Other features mapped with a black X are large signs, flag poles, Challenge Course stations, large propane tanks, and small (about a meter high by 4cm wide) metal fence posts. These fence posts are at seemingly random places in the forest yet might serve as dandy navigational aids. They should be easy to spot as they are painted a shade of green that is slightly darker than the surrounding sword fern (furthermore, the top ~10cm usually is faded white paint, so that'll help, too).

Two round buildings, a yurt and a large water tank, are mapped with the “Small building” symbol (ISOM 526) which is a small black square. Drawing them to shape and scale would have created round black dots about the size of the boulder symbol … (and there is a boulder only 25m from the water tank). The Small building symbol is also used for a very large standby generator behind one of the pump stations. The small (square) ruin symbol (ISOM 530) is used for a vacant (round) yurt platform and a low, flat (square) concrete structure.

Other, not-quite-pure-ISOM, symbol usage: A light brown fill was used for gravel or dirt areas (parking lots); there are a few paved parking lots which are drawn with ISOM 529 “Paved area”. The “cairn” symbol (ISOM 537) is used for survey markers, even though they rarely met the 0.5m threshold. All of these markers are on or beyond the periphery of the camp.

Rootstocks that are sufficiently gnarly are mapped with a brown X (ISOM 118 “Special land form feature”). In this context “gnarly” means “at least 2m high and exhibiting distinctive artistic qualities”. A few gnarly-impaired rootstocks slightly less than 2m high have been mapped if they scored exceptionally well in artistic interpretation.

Initially we mapped large stumps, using thresholds of 1m high and 1m wide. For most of the map, this was suitable but in several areas so many stumps met this threshold that drafting them made the map unreadable. The symbol chosen for stumps (ISOM 418 “Special vegetation feature”) is to be drawn 1.2mm tall (on 1:10:000 maps) or 1.7mm diagonally. The latter is 17m in the forest or over 55', meaning that stumps closer together than that would be drawn with overlapping symbols. So, they were left off of the current map – which is a bit of a pity, as there are some truly spectacular stumps in the camp. Perhaps a future revision of the map will include selected elite, stupendous stumps.

All five boulders found in the camp plus one outside the camp are mapped. There are no other rock features. None. Well, a group of small boulders in a remote corner of the map are mapped as a “boulder field”, but that's it.

Regarding mapping vegetation, I (Mike) found it a challenge to consistently classify the undergrowth. The extremes were easy: nothing on the forest floor except minor deadfall = ISOM 405 “Forest: easy running” (aka “open forest” or “white”), while impenetrable thickets = ISOM 409 “Vegetation: very difficult to run, impassable”. The stuff in between … well, mostly it is sword fern, in shades of green. Generally, the presence of salmon berry elevated (?) the symbol choice to at least ISOM 408 “Forest: difficult to run” (“medium green”). If the vegetation is just sword fern, however, it will be mapped as either ISOM 406 Forest: easy running (“light green”) or ISOM 408 (“medium”); a very few areas of sword fern were mapped as “white” if it is possible to run between the ferns. What we discovered is that many areas that appeared to be nice, gentle forest covered with shallow, soft, soothingly green sword fern were actually areas of thigh- to waist-deep ferns hiding all manner of thick deadfall and miscellaneous small (or not so small) pits. It is possible to walk/wade across the latter so they are mapped as “medium green”.

When in doubt, we chose to portray the vegetation as the darker/slower of two possibilities. Call us pessimists. My intent was to assure participants that “white” or “light green” areas really can be crossed with reasonable speed and without unreasonable suffering.

No, I'm not going to attempt to define, in an orienteering context, what might constitute “reasonable suffering”.

There are a few small clearings, mostly in the southern portion of the map, that are overlain with the “undergrowth” green stripe symbols (ISOM 407 and ISOM 409). Visibility across these clearings is good, but the running ain't.

Occasional devil's club patches that are sparse and do not have undergrowth are mapped as “easy running”. This is not to say that running through them won't be painful – the ISOM does not explicitly address pain, just running speed.

We also found a few trees with numbers on them. Our conjecture is that an attempt was made to enumerate the trees in the camp but the effort was underfunded and ceased after a few trees. These are not mapped.

Old roads, typically 2-3m wide and overgrown, were mapped as 'rides' (ISOM 509). These are readily visible in the terrain, and thus usable as navigational aids, but rarely are faster running than the surrounding forest.

Blue Xs (ISOM 314) represent fire hydrants. Most of them are painted yellow and range in height from less than half a meter to over a meter. Most are about 10cm (that is, 4 inches) in diameter and simply are pipes with hose connections; others are shorter and thicker (however, a few look like real fire hydrants – one is even red).

There are a few areas (landscaping and gardens) mapped with ISOM 528 (“Settlement”, olive green); – these are out of bounds. Other out of bounds areas are marked in purple (some camp areas, in particular the entire horse facilities) and black (adjoining private property). The county road along the eastern and southern edges of the map is not out of bounds but has traffic – use with caution!

There are a few shallow reentrants in the flat area east of the North Entrance, just south of the Tolt River, that are mapped with contour lines. These reentrants are not 5 meters deep. A few distinctive shallow depressions (ISOM 115) are mapped.

The Tolt River flooding of January 5th carved a new minor side channel just north of the Ranch House. This channel continues to grow as the river meander just upstream of the camp shifts downstream. Even though this and adjacent channels are outside the competition area, they could be used as navigation aids. However, the should not be relied upon. The symbol for “Open sandy ground” (ISOM 211) was used to illustrate the gravel shores of the river.

Scattered throughout the northern portions of the camp area are small (10cm x 10cm) metal signs, painted red and white with the words “Trim” and “orienteering” on them. Some of these are in good shape, others are covered with moss, and many are illegible (even after the moss is scraped off). We have not found anyone who knows where they came from – no one in Cascade OC or the larger Pacific Northwest orienteering community, nor anyone on the camp staff. We conclude that they are from a former civilization and most likely had some religious significance. These have not been mapped but are mentioned here for the eerie similarity they have to the control markers we use and the confusion they might cause. However, based on the different sizes of the two objects – the metal signs and our control markers – they easily can be distinguished from one another. In addition to their smaller size, these alien signs are made of metal, not cloth, are just one flat piece, not a “prism”, and they are attached to either a building, a pole, or the top of a ca. 15cm x 15cm white 0.5m high concrete post, instead of on top of a sleek, modern metal stand. Oh! And they have no means for punching, certainly not electronically.

Camp River Ranch is a wonderful venue for orienteering, one that I hope we can return to many times in years to come. I hope you enjoy this year's championship.

My thanks to Pete Iverson and the Camp River Ranch staff for their assistance and hospitality during my visits to the camp for field-checking. Their support is greatly appreciated.

- Mike Schuh