I arrived at control I (as in Indigo) the same way you did, coming directly down the hill from the bridge. Another fellow arrived at the same time as me. I espied the cluster of conifers, and sure enough the control was in their midst, but I observed aloud that "The clue sheet is wrong! These aren't pines, they're spruces." The other guy said something like, "Uh, sure." Not a botanist or horticulturalist, I said to myself.
Then moments later, as the two of us stepped out of the spruce grove, who should stride up the trail but Mr. Horticulturalist himself, Clint Morse. And he exclaimed, "Those aren't pines, they're spruces!" The first guy looked bemused and pointed to me saying, "That's what he just said!"
You can't fool all of the horticulturalists all of the time; maybe not even some of the horticulturalists some of the time.
Well yes but.
Spruce and pine are evergreens, but so is mountain laurel. Pine and spruce are conifers, but mountain laurel is not, it is broad leaved. Larch (a.k.a. hackmatack and tamarack) and baldcypress and dawn redwood are conifers but are deciduous like oak and maple, not evergreen like spruce and fir and pine.
The official IOF terminology is (due in part to a suggestion by me)(I think) "needle-leaved" or "broad-leaved". Tony Federer suggested that the best choice would be gymnosperm vs. angiosperm, but that wouldn't help most people.
There is (or was) a ski run at Alta named Lone Pine, where the most distinguishing feature is a single and very large subalpine fir in the middle of the run. Pine seems to be a very generic term to a lot of folks.
It's kind of like "bee".
"Ow! I got stung by a bee!"
"That wasn't a bee, it was a wasp."
"Whatever. Shut up. Ow."