Chuck Millsaps, Minister of Culture

The faster I ran the more lost I felt.  Not that panic lost feeling that causes you to measure gorp and ration water.  Just that nagging sense that my destination was somewhere other than straight ahead.  This was my first outing with the Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK) and the exhilaration of adventure distracted me from sticking close to the map.  The BOK was founded in 1978 and has been venturing thru the woods for over 30 years. Fortunately I was only “momentarily confused” for a few hours.

This particular event was held at the Reedy Creek entrance of Umstead State Park where BOK volunteers welcomed all and even offered a beginner’s class to newcomers.  Everyone is welcome to join the BOK.  Registration for a course is free for members and only $5 for non-members.   Compass, whistle, map are among the essentials and can be rented at the event.   Each of the klub’s regularly scheduled events offers a range of courses of varying difficulty.  My son & I teamed up with an experienced friend, Ryan Stagner, from here at the shop to take on a 5.7km course that wound up delivering at least 12km of exercise.

Ryan and his wife Beth showed us the ropes before we set off.  Using the “finger stick” we clocked in at the start control and took off for Control # 1 which lay somewhere to the northwest of the picnic shelter.  The entire course covered beautiful never-before-seen sections of Umstead.  The cold, bleak winter conditions framed the beauty like an Ansel Adams negative.  Running through the ruins of Camp Craggy felt like a page from James Fenimore Cooper’s account of Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans.   The map came to life as we reconciled the details of the map topography with the landscape around us.

At the end of the event my 11 year old son summed it up perfectly.  “Dad, that was really fun.  Can we do this again?” Absolutely.    If you are interested in getting lost for an afternoon and experiencing the fun of becoming found then check out  for the schedule of events.