Just get out there!

We may not be having our usual in-person events right now (we’re working on it) but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out on a map. This winter, we’re offering the Winter Virtual Series, a 4-event season culminating in a possible in-person event in March.

Using the UsynligO smart phone app, you can earn points by completing a course. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you can still download and print a course map and run one or more courses (you will need to use the app to earn points).

Get more details on the Winter Virtual Series info page.

Please NOTE: Even though these are not organized events, please follow the WA state guidelines and wear a mask whenever you are approaching or passing other people or are within 6 feet of others. 

Bog Slog at Lord Hill – virtual and tagged courses

Did you miss the Bog Slog event at Lord Hill? Or do you want to do the course again? Maybe find a better route to the control you missed on?
The three courses are posted as a “virtual event” on COC’s event page from where you can get PDFs of the maps with the courses. (Note that the legend and control description are files there too). The event is also on the UsynligO orienteering app (and its website https://usynligo.no/ ) from where you also can get the course files. The Jog (Intermediate) and Slog (Advanced) courses also have streamers and tags with the control numbers posted at the controls. (However, no guarantee that they have not been removed or eaten by squirrels.) The streamers and tags will be up at least through Jan 10 but possibly until Jan 18 (depending on when it is a nice day to take them down).
If you are not familiar with the UsynligO, please check its website and the COC News post (https://cascadeoc.org/2020/11/orienteering-theres-app/ ).
Note that the courses start at the south entrance to the park off Tester Rd. (Here)
Get out and enjoy!
Ing Uhlin

“Virtual” Orienteering Courses

The Tahoma Orienteering School Team together with COC is putting on a series of virtual events on the app UsynligO (see the earlier News post about UsynligO here). This is a 5-week series of events, each with four levels of courses, White (Elementary, Beginner), Yellow (Middle School, Advanced Beginner), Orange (Junior Varsity, Intermediate), and Red (Varsity, Short Advanced). There is also a very short Warmup or Model course for each event so you can try the app before heading out on a longer course.

Nov 7: Lake Wilderness. The map for the Red course is not available on UsynligO but can be downloaded here.
Nov 14: Summit Trails
Nov 21: Fort Steilacoom Park
Dec 5: Magnuson Park
Dec 12: Hamlin Park

For instructions on how to start using UsynligO, please see the guide, and this YouTube video from OCIN (start at 6:10 into the video).

To access the maps with the courses, you can download them from the app as explained in the guide. You can also download the course maps from the website UsynligO.no. Click on All events and find the event you are looking for on the map. The first link (“Directions”) under Event Description is the Google map of the start location. Under the Directions are the links to the individual course maps.

The lowdown: This app is far from perfect. Like your phone GPS, it will work better in open areas and good weather. Sometimes the GPS and the app cannot keep up with you and you have to wait for a few seconds for the app to buzz telling you that you are in the right control location. But it is a lot better than no orienteering.

Print your map, bring your compass, head to the course at a time that works for you. Keep at least a 6-foot distance from others outside of your family. Wear a mask. Be safe.

For questions, contact tahomaorienteering@gmail.com



Orienteering – There’s an app for that!

UsynligO” is a free smartphone app that allows organizers to set up an orienteering course without setting out flags in the terrain to mark the control locations. The controls are instead located by their GPS coordinates. UsynligO uses your smartphone’s GPS to let you know when you are close to the control location and tells you with by vibrating and playing a short tune.

While most people’s smartphone GPS is not accurate enough to allow for competition-level events (results depend on weather, tree cover, and nearby buildings, as well as GPS quality), it is a great way to get out and practice your skills in the woods, especially now when we cannot have large in-person events.

UsynligO – How do you pronounce it? Try “oo-sin-lee-oh.” In Norwegian, it means “invisible orienteering” and this is what it sounds like. If you are more comfortable with saying something that you can pronounce, call it InvisibleO, or just “the App”.

How do you get started? First, download and install UsynligO from the Apple App Store or Android Play Store. Then check out these step-by-step instructions adapted from the Tahoma Orienteering Team (Thank You Tahoma!).

UsynligO is Beginner-friendly. You can ask for hints for direction and distance to the control. If you cannot find a control, or do not have time to finish the course, you can switch to Score-O (where the controls can be taken in any order and you do not have to find them all).

Although UsynligO uses only the GPS (and do not require cell service) once you have started a course, you do have to load the course into the app while you still have cell service, even if you are using a printed paper map.

To locate the controls by their real-world coordinates (i.e. latitude/longitude), UsynligO requires a “georeferenced” orienteering map. That means the orienteering map must know where in the world it is. Because many of our maps are not georeferenced, our mapping team is currently hard at work updating them with this information.

Here’s a YouTube video from Orienteering Cincinnati (thanks OCin!) that describes how to use the UsynligO app (skip to 6:00 in the video to go right to OCin information about UsynligO).

Designing your own orienteering courses

Are you itching to get out for some navigation practice? How about setting up your own course in a neighborhood park – but how to do that? We have posted a very basic step-by-step guide to using Purple Pen, the software that the COC club uses for designing courses. Many of the club’s maps are available in the club library as PDF-files. That is all you need to get started!
Here is the guide (you need to open this post for the link).
If you have any questions, email info@cascadeoc.org.

June 2020 Update

Dear Cascaders,


  1. Black Lives Matter. Can you join a new COC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion working group? Email President@cascadeoc.org
  2. We’re still in a pandemic. Can you help COC create and review COVID-19 operating procedures? Email President@cascadeoc.org
  3. Would you like to join any orienteering virtual training, or are you interested in sharing your skills? Fill out this survey.

Black Lives Matter. The movement for Black lives deserves your support. Cascade Orienteering Club intends to foster a community where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are welcomed and supported. I know there is more work to be done to fully achieve this, and therefore I am convening a diversity, equity, and inclusion working group to recommend concrete steps forward for COC. Can you help this effort with your time, experience, resources, or perspective? Please reach out to me via President@cascadeoc.org.

I encourage all of you to listen, learn, and engage in ways that elevate BIPOC leaders and challenge your own positions. You can learn about and get involved with local initiatives via King County Equity Now, Decriminalize Seattle, and Black Lives Matter Seattle King County. There are many more resources at https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/.

We’re all still living through the coronavirus pandemic and that means the COC event calendar continues to remain empty and uncertain. We do not have plans to host any events before the Seattle metro counties (and the event location if not in the Seattle metro) have reached at least Phase 3 of the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plan. Many land owners may choose to not grant permits for our events until Phase 4.

When COC is able to hold events, the logistics will be different from what you’ve experienced the past few years with COC. To be in compliance with state and local guidance, we’re considering changes such as no day-of registration to minimize cash transactions, assigned start times for public courses, requiring face coverings for volunteers, and much more reliance on participants to manage themselves at both start and finish. While we’ve had ideas around these topics for months, small groups are currently forming to draft detailed operational plans for event functions such as registration, start, and finish. Can you share your experience as a participant or volunteer to help us craft these plans? Contact president@cascadeoc.org and Eric will connect you. We will share details broadly as these plans are formalized and events are back on the calendar.

Looking further forward, it is too early to know what this winter may entail for the Winter League. Seattle Public Schools is expected to use at least some virtual schooling in the fall. The WIAA plans to host fall sports seasons, but is dependent on Washington DOH approvals. We hope to hold Winter League events, but this remains dependent on both permitting as well as our ability to be confident in the safety of our participants, coaches, staff, and volunteers. Thanks for your flexibility and understanding now and as we approach Winter League.

In the meantime, please do explore your local parks – there are 19 permanent courses so you likely have one or two in your local area, and we’re working on adding more unmarked maps to a map library for your (personal) use. If you’d like to learn something new (orienteering skills, coaching, course design, etc) or can volunteer some time to share your knowledge in a virtual setting, fill out this survey and we’ll do our best to connect folks.

Stay safe, recreate locally and responsibly, and we’ll see you as soon as it’s safe to do so.


Eric Jones

Cascade Orienteering Club

June Ultimate Series events rescheduled

The Ultimate Series events scheduled for June 13/14 are being rescheduled to (we hope) August 15/16. In order to allow for social distancing, we’ve also changed the format of the Jack Creek event from a Score-O (mass start) to a Middle distance (interval starts). The new dates are not final, so please check back later for updates.

The minimum requirement for even holding an event is for the state to be in Phase 3 of the Governor’s Safe Start reopening plan. Phase 3 allows non-essential travel and events of up to 50 participants. If we are in Phase 4, we can have more than 50 participants.

While you can register for the events now (currently limited to 50 participants each day), be aware that nothing is final. If you have already registered, you are still registered for the new dates. If you’d like to cancel or change your registration, please log in to your account on our registration site.

CANCELLED – Orienteering Event March 21-22 and April 4

Update: The Ultimate Orienteering Classic events on March 21-22 in Quincy WA and the Relay on April 4 at Fort Steilacoom have been cancelled. Grant County’s event guidance due to the corona virus is asking organizers to postpone events with more than twenty participants. King County allows small events only with certain guidelines.

Night navigation without the vampires

Tired of vampires stealing your hard-earned punch card? Our annual Night orienteering event is coming up on March 7. This will be Cascade’s only event of the year where you can navigate at night without worrying about those pesky vampires. Come on out to Lynndale Park in Lynnwood to kick off the 2020 Ultimate Orienteer Series season!

This event is just the first in the 2020 Ultimate Orienteer Series of events. This series allows you to try out several different orienteering formats: Night, Individual Relay, Classic, Ultralong, Goat, Score-O, and Middle.

In addition to a couple of local parks, you will have the opportunity to experience the joy of running through the woods in the open pine forests of eastern Washington and across the desert and scabland terrain of the Columbia Basin. This is orienteering at its finest!

JN2020 – Early registration closes March 1 at 11:59pm

Registration for JN2020 is now open.  Early registration closes March 1 at 11:59pm.  Overall registration closes on March 29 at 11:59pm.  Sign up to experience the fun and excitement of a large national level competition. Stay in the athlete’s village and get to know orienteers from all over the USA. 3 races, 3 venues, Movie Night, Game Night, and much, much more.  You won’t want to miss any of it.  Register now here!