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Discussion: Marshes at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 5, 2021 4:27 PM # 
I was looking at the red course map from a previous thread and am puzzled by the various types of marshes/ponds and the different colors and textures used to describe them. Can anyone and preferably those who have been there can make sense of it all? Which ones can be run through, which ones should be avoided and bypassed? and also, I see a lot of distinct vegetation boundaries around them (dotted lines). Are those reliable? in many instances, marshes can be quite amorphic.

*Here* is a link to the different types I could see, you can refer to their numbering in your answers.
Oct 5, 2021 6:29 PM # 
Your 9th image, I’d say avoid.

I thought the same thing which is why I posted in the, USA Masters National Championships @ Mille Lacs Kathio State Park: Tips for Navigating thread, here

“…there are several bounded areas of undergrowth and scattered bushes, or slow wet areas, etc….”

But your post above is more direct and clear.
Oct 5, 2021 7:21 PM # 
You don't need to make "sense of it all". Its not worth your time trying to figure out what marsh is runnable and what isn't. In the race, that is. If you want to do it now, go crazy.

Granted, I have only run there for 95 minutes and 35 seconds, but you can just look at the top runners' routes from the Team Trials in 2017 , there is 'almost' never a time that its worthwhile trying to cross any of those marshes.

Not only is the white forest so clear and fast that you're better off staying where its runnable, many of the marshes are in depressions, so if you have to pass one, you're better off going around in aforementioned white forest and saving the climb.

The distinct marshes are so distinct that they are visible from a distance and easy to use for navigation, as long as you are identifying the right one, directionally. But in no way would I ever try to do that by determining exactly what type of marsh it is.

That's up there with... pace counting. Or shadow-angle watching.
Oct 5, 2021 7:22 PM # 
Not an answer to the question, but I realized that there's a copy of the Team Trials Blue course from 2017 on line.

(In case anyone is interested in what sort of legs might be set in terrain like this.)

Sort of on topic, on the way from #13 to #14, just to the right of the line there's a narrow place between uncrossable marsh and lake, which was a breached beaver dam. Two steps in knee-deep water got me across no problem.
Oct 5, 2021 7:37 PM # 
Thanks for the reply W!

So, you are saying that crossing ANY marsh is not recommended? I was assuming that marshes with yellow/beige background may be dry land, flat and easy to run through when there is no water in them...what you're saying is quite surprising. Can anyone confirm or comment on that?
Oct 5, 2021 7:49 PM # 
From the course setter's notes:
Most of the small forest ponds are shallow and range from dry to shallow water.
Crossing the larger (greater than 50 m across) wetlands is not recommended.
Wetland conditions are highly variable both within and among different wetlands.
Some may have firm edges yet be much softer and wetter in the middle, while
others may be very wet and soft near the edges. The courses are designed to
make crossing large wetlands not a good route choice. Some wetlands may even
have areas of floating vegetation mats over an unknown depth of water. It is
recommended that orienteers adhere to the mappers intent when items were
marked uncrossable

Just go around.
Oct 5, 2021 8:13 PM # 
I remember crossing a short floating-mat section in 2017 (I think mapped as dashed blue + yellow), that was fun right up until I broke through into waist-deep water, then it took some work to get out.
Oct 5, 2021 11:19 PM # 
Just to confuse things, I fondly remember yolo-ing the narrowest bit of marsh 13-14 on Blue instead of going around, which was probably an objectively dumb choice but somehow yielded my best split of the day. It was waist-deep or more on a 6'2" guy though, so yeah I'd generally recommend going around.
Oct 6, 2021 2:06 AM # 
You should go around swamps there, unless you want your name to appear in a rare story about orienteering in the media

My 2012 map for reference
Oct 6, 2021 2:07 AM # 
I have no extremely local knowledge but MN as a whole has been experiencing drought recently so I would expect marshes to be dryer in general than mapped. I would still avoid them in general, even if they're mapped as rough open vegetation combined with runnable marsh (distinct or indistinct). My experience on MNOC maps somewhat to the south of MLK is that rough open in a low, relatively wet spot will usually be tall enough grass to make for pretty slow running, particularly in comparison to the fast, white woods we're being told to expect otherwise.
Oct 6, 2021 4:04 AM # 
yurets's map is worth looking at -- note that as opposed to running through marshes, he strung together routes that consisted of running over the tops of as many hills as possible. There is wisdom in this technique of sticking to the high ground (and there is no sarcasm here), for several reasons. Well done.
Oct 6, 2021 4:09 AM # 
Interesting stuff everyone. What about the vegetation boundaries around marshes (the dotted lines). Are those reliable from your experience?
Oct 6, 2021 5:04 AM # 
That reminds me of an Edmonton map used for the 2002 APOC. It had at least that many kinds of marshes.
Oct 6, 2021 1:48 PM # 
My recollection is that the marsh edges are pretty distinct at MLK.

My copy of the map doesn't have any credits on it, but I think this place was fieldchecked by a single person. This is in contrast to the map used for the 1990 NAOC, south of Calgary. One section of the map had a lot of uncrossable marshes, another had open crossable marshes, and a third part had a lot of small ponds. There was no difference out in the terrain, it was just three different mappers.
Oct 6, 2021 6:20 PM # 
I have many days of experience at MLK as a course setter, vetter and runner .The map was initially field checked and drawn by Kevin Teschendorf . The marsh edges are pretty distinct. The comments above are all good . The published map notes are good. It has been dry this summer in MN but this didn't seem to affect the water levels in the bigger marshes when I was there in late August. Unfortunately I won't be at the event ; enjoy the terrain and woods !
Oct 6, 2021 10:28 PM # 
It's worthwhile tp take a look at the area on GoogleMaps satellite view to get a sense of how disctinct the marsh edges might be. If you poke around in StreetView, you can see a few marshes from ground level.
Oct 10, 2021 10:10 PM # 
I think the map was good but a question from a first time orienteerer in MN - What do the different marsh colors mean?
Oct 11, 2021 12:04 AM # 
I'd say they represent what the vegetation would be considered if the marsh we're dried up.
Oct 11, 2021 12:35 PM # 
@Howsuedeitis Marsh colour is always blue. Lines are always horizontal: dashes - stripes- solid blue tells you how wet it is.

The blue lines are printed OVER another colour. White means woods, yellow means open, green means thick vegetation (in practice, almost always bushes). Vertical green stripe on horizontal blue means undergrowth and/or deadfall in the marsh.

I find the combinations of blues, greens and yellows hard to distinguish. If there's lots of colour, I read it as "you may not see this coming, but stay out".
Oct 11, 2021 10:57 PM # 
Now that many of you have had a chance to run at MLK what are your comments about the marshes? The first postings on Route Gadget show few venturing through but in fairness the course setting seemed to invite channeling between the marshes.
Oct 11, 2021 11:35 PM # 
Almost never a good idea to go through. I did go through a few, at narrow spots, but only in vain attempts to make up for errors I had already committed.
Oct 12, 2021 3:39 PM # 
I saw Rainbow Unicorn sink in, caught up and stood by that marsh's edge until he conclusively made it out. Attackpoint tells me I lost 46 seconds on the leg, but it doesn't think the Unicorn lost anything.
Oct 12, 2021 7:00 PM # 
On the first day I took one step into one that looked crossable - immediately went in to above my knee and fell face first into the muck. I avoided them from that point forward. It was not difficult to avoid them as the woods had great visibility. You just had to decide which way around would be faster.
Oct 12, 2021 7:09 PM # 
Sounds like formidable marshes, but no one has suggested the uncrossable symbol?
Oct 12, 2021 7:33 PM # 
I successfully crossed a few that were mapped as crossable without going in more than ankle-deep, but they were slow.
Oct 13, 2021 8:18 PM # 
From my ‘armchair’ it looks fairly straightforward as long as you keep map contact all the time?

I’m sure it’s a fantastic place to run in though, especially in the autumn.
Oct 14, 2021 1:01 AM # 
Yes, if you kept contact, it definitely was straightforward.
If you got off ... well, those marshes & depressions all looked similar.
The woods were gloriously open and so fun to run through!
Oct 14, 2021 11:03 AM # 
Mille Lacs Lake? Is that what you get with a 1:1000 map scale?
Oct 22, 2021 2:04 AM # 
I guess it boils down to: are you lost? Or, found? Lost, the details might be useful. Found, ignore the minutiae and move on.

(A little oblique to the subject) on map #5 the trail passes through green. Should I assume that the trail is clear through the green? Or, should I assume that the trail is compromised by the vegetation somehow?
Oct 22, 2021 1:59 PM # 
Francis, in general I'd expect a trail through green to be a clear, normal trail. If it was overgrown enough to significantly slow your passage, I would expect the mapper to change symbols for that segment of trail, using the indistinct path symbol with one or more longer gaps.
Oct 22, 2021 2:23 PM # 
The trail was definitely fine. Turns out the green wasn't that bad, either.

This discussion thread is closed.