Lake Louisa State Park
opportunity to take a break from the crummy November weather here in
Ottawa to work on a map near Orlando, Florida was too good to pass up.
Gord Hunter, who is now spending winters down there, needed help to complete enough of
the 24 sq. Km park to stage an orienteering event in the early spring. We
concentrated on the west side of the park where there is a good trail
network and some runnable forest. Much of the east side is open land
with few usable features.
NW corner of the park is dominated by Lake Louisa, with a long public
beach along the south side. We saw many kayakers on the lake when it
was calm. The large parking lot there will probably be the main staging
point for orienteering and Rogaine events by the Florida Orienteers (FLO).
so much of Florida, there is only gentle topography and virtually no
in the park. So one of the challenges was to find enough
mappable details for some precision orienteering. Many areas of
the park that have been reforested with pine look like the far left
part of this sample. Slow and featureless. However, there were several
extensive open areas with distinct clusters of trees that will provide
some navigational choices. Good resolution Google photos enabled us to
plot most of these copses and trees before heading out to the map.
typical terrain: Fast woods, but watch out for those cacti in the open
areas! Many of the larger trees are laden with Spanish moss. Yeah, yeah, like
some "old man's beard".
Every once in a while I would come across a lone fruit tree in the middle of the forest. Not really a surprise, as the park used to be full of orange and lemon groves.
a little surprising were the herds of wild pigs in the forest. Gord
managed to snap a quick photo of one while running
backwards! They can be aggressive. We
saw herds of huge wild turkeys, many white-tail deer, lots of big box turtles,
and "flocks" of vultures with wings so broad you could hear them swooping. Gord was the only one to see a 'gator at the edge of a big marsh.
then there were the groves of palmetto bushes. The "saw palmetto" to be exact -
with tiny barbs on the edges of the leaves so any inclination to rush through them
is quickly suppressed. We decided to map them with the darkest green
for "fight" or impassable. For the open areas covered with impassable palmettos we used a dark green cross hatch to indicate that yes, its open, but you don't want to go there!
was a surprise to find a fast flowing stream in this flat terrain.
It runs up the middle of the map and the water is almost black from
natural minerals. It is also fairly deep in many places so we decided
to show it with a bank line for safety.
this map snippet you will find examples of special symbols we have
used. At left is a semi-open area covered with impassable palmetto. The
very dark green dots are single palmetto bushes at least 2 metres high.
We had to set a height limit as there were hundreds of widely spaced
single bushes. I like to white-out the middle of a large distinct tree symbol for
readability. The open areas are often sandy with a bit of grass
and cactus so we used the open land (401) symbol for readability. Yes, the vegetation detail is almost to a sprint map
standard but there are only a few "precision" areas like this on the map.
boardwalk to the beach from the main parking lot was bordered with an
"impassable" railing. What symbol(s) would you use? A path with an
uncrossable fence on either side? That combination doesn't really
describe the actual object so a new special symbol was suggested by FLO. You can see it at right. Maybe it should be filled with
the light brown? But then it would look like shallow stairs?
Maybe we should use the sprint path symbol but with heavier black borders to indicate the "impassibility"? What's
important is that all these special symbols are prominently displayed
on the map and the course setters don't use the boardwalk to "trap" competitors on a leg of a course.
my last day of field checking I revisited a wooded area I had passed
through very quickly the week before. I came across this immense
spreading tree - a species of oak I think. Anyway, just a distinct tree
symbol didn't do it justice and neither does the photo because the
branches spread out to almost 30 metres. I am not a big fan of
extraneous "distinct boundary" symbols but I deemed it necessary in
this case. : )
I stayed with Gord and Lise in Kissammee but I
never went to Disneyworld because virtually every day was great
for mapping. Thank-you to Gord and FLO for inviting
me. I am looking forward to another winter break in the future!