I think by any reasonable interpretation of "near the trail" one would expect to be able to see the control from the trail. How did you ever decide to just start looking "in the forest"? That strikes me less as being vague but more as being wrong. I'm probably being an O snob though.
Good job staying at it for 5 hours. That's a long time to be working.
It was "near the road." You could see if from the road, but it wasn't easy to see it. After I'd been biking around on the road a bit, two others arrived and looked around without seeing it. Then I caught sight of some orange and found it.
For me it is hard to make the shift from orienteering. In O', you can actually navigate right to the marker. In the AR events I've done you can navigate to near the control and then have to hunt around a bit. Most of the features they used were not actually on the map - things like a farm pond that wasn't on the map but you could get near it from the shape of the USGS contours.
Around here the adventure race organizers they like to use USGS maps from a place called myTopo.com. That makes it easy for them. But with a little bit of work at the desktop, they could create much better maps. I don't think the organizers know how to do it.
Maybe OK should host an adventure race (skipping any paddling) and use a decent, but AR specific, map.
Staying at it for 5 hours was tough. The main thing that kept me going was knowing it would keep cristina-bot quiet for a while.
Sounds a lot like our adventure run experience yesterday.
The control circles were usually not on the feature they hung on -- eg, in one case the circle was of a reentrant, when the control was on top of a huge knoll. Apparently the organizers used gps to get coordinates and plotted the points using the coordinates, when the old USGS map wasn't accurate enough. My thinking is you should put the circle on the feature and don't worry about accurate coordinates (I don't have anything on my watch to find coordinates ...).
But yeah, everything is definitely vaguer. I was trying hard not to be an o' snob but it was hard sometimes!