Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Teams Virtus, Lederhosen, and BOR
Ozark Trail Section Hike Project: Trace Creek, April 2018
I believe this was Chuck’s idea originally, but I jumped right on board. Since through-hiking was not really an option we decided to do full sections at a time. First up: Trace Creek, 26 miles, going from north to south.
We had scheduled the weekend several months ago, and as it approached watched the weather anxiously, what with the cold and rainy spring so far. As usual with Missouri it changed hourly and we never did discuss cancelling. Optimism ruled.
The plan was to meet at the Hazel Creek campground on Friday and car camp overnight, while staging a car at the Highway A trailhead for when we finished, then do the hike on Saturday and Sunday. The hikers for thisfirst section were Chuck, myself, Jessie (and her dog Ruby) and Derrick (with his dog Molly).
Chuck brought a ton of firewood for Friday night camping. But by the time we met Derrick at Hwy A and got back the thunderstorms and heavy rain nixed the campfire. I was just glad to be sleeping in my car, it made for a comfortable night, except for the worry of flash flooding.
Chuck: I was a little less than excited to head off into my tent during a ‘slight’ break in the storm. But, I ended up sleeping great and now have 100% confidence in the waterproofing on this tent.
Saturday morning we discovered that the campground roads were flooded, but not too deep for cars. Fortunately the campsite was up enough that no tents were flooded. We moved the cars over towards the trail head and got started hiking about 8:20 am.
The first creek crossing we came to was within five minutes of starting. As the water was very swift and there were large slippery rocks I opted just to cross in boots and keep camp shoes dry, especially since we would be crossing Hazel Creek very soon afterwards. I would guess we had at least twenty water crossings on Saturday, there was water in basically every reentrant. Since the water from my boots was draining I tried to do the rock/log hop over the creeks to reduce the amount of water in boots.
Chuck: I opted for the other method of using my lightweight camp shoes for the wet crossings and keep my hiking shoes dry. It worked pretty well except for all the time eaten up by shoe swapping at the many crossings that did not have a dry stepping stone or log option. Jessie opted for a much quicker change into flip-flops for the crossings.
Alane: and Jessie has now earned the trail name FLIP because of this.
When we began our hike I ended up in short sleeves for a good hour. It started raining and I took the opportunity to try out hiking with an ultralight umbrella, which actually worked great, since there was little wind in the woods.
Temps fell steadily during the day and we had very light rain for most of it. We were able to take a few minutes for a lunch break but mostly kept moving with occasional map consultation. The terrain was really hiking friendly; climbs were short and not steep and the trails mostly dirt. Lots of long stretches in valleys and on old fire and farm roads. Trail was marked really well; there was no time where we were left wondering if we were going the right direction.
Late in the afternoon the sun came out and we arrived at the connector trail for Council Bluff. We ended up going 50 yards or so up that trail to a flattish spot and made camp. Jessie and Chuck built a fire ring and despite it being so wet Chuck the Master Fire Starter got a really nice fire going. We all put our boots and socks around the campfire to dry them out some. First day mileage ended up being around 16 or so miles- longer than what the map said, due to some rerouting around creek crossings and whatnot.
We sat around the campfire til well after dark, along with some pooped pups! Jessie covered Ruby up completely with her raincoat and we didn’t see her move. Molly the GREAT DANE, crept into Derrick’s lap when he was sitting on a log, then onto the log and sprawled over Chuck’s lap as well. She was cozy even if they were not. Eventually everyone wandered to their own tent. I slept like an absolute rock, probably one of the best nights in a tent ever!
Chuck: I slept great too, and waking up to turkeys gobbling was pretty awesome!
Sunday up and puttering around and we hit the trail about 8:30 am. The temperature was not bad, I’m guessing around 40 degrees. Another grey day with the wind increasing, temps falling and we ended up having some snow spitting on us. The terrain changed this day- the climbs got longer and steeper and we had some walking along the edges of drop offs.
Jim Davis and friend Drew found us near where we were to cross Hwy 32 and we chatted for a few before getting cold and moving on. He warned us about the crossing at Ottery Creek- it had the most potential for deep and swift.
Fortunately the Friday night rains had had time to drain so although it was swift there were only a couple pockets of deeper water, nothing to get the pants wet. Jessie and Chuck spotted me at the end of the crossing just in case.
Total hiking for the day was around eleven miles for humans and a lot more for the dogs. We were happy to be done, in the cars, and headed to Mexican food in Potosi!
What I did right: tried a new way of sleeping. My normal at home is often to sleep with covers over my head, especially when it is cold. This doesn’t work in sleeping bags/quilts as then you have condensation in the bag and it gets cold and clammy. Instead I wore a balaclava and hat. Between this and 16 miles of hiking I slept like a rock! Also the umbrella was a new and welcome addition to gear. In this sort of terrain I could hike with a hiking pole in one hand and manage the umbrella (stuck in my chest strap) with the other.
Chuck: Yes. Please continue to hike with the umbrella Ms. Poppins.
To improve: I lost the end piece of the umbrella and need to fashion something to replace it. The homemade Paleo muffins for lunches did not work out- they stuck in my throat. Go back to tortillas for now.
Chuck: My pack sucked. The belt kept loosening and sliding down my hips, causing me to make hundreds of mid stride tension adjustments. I hope I can figure out some fit issue to get it to stay put before the next section.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Starsky and Hutch do Epic Shit! by Kevin Minton
Commentary by Scott Shaw
Commentary by Scott Shaw
Scott Shaw and myself aren’t known to half ass much, especially when it comes to drinking and writing blogs. So, sit back and enjoy the drunken ramblings of an adventure racer reflecting on the epic race that was 361 adventures LBL CHALLENGE 2018!
Friday, I can’t remember the date, but it was before the race:
Scott and myself had decided we would leave at around noon to head to Kentucky Lake and a resort that I can’t remember. At about 2:00 pm we head out from STL and are headed to the resort, discussing how the flooding of the lakes was going to affect the race. As it stood Friday, the Coast Guard had cancelled the paddle due to safety concerns over the water levels in the lake, which was fine by me as I do not really like the long paddles, but Scott was beside himself in anger. Before you judge Scott, keep in mind that I think he cares very little for his own safety and well-being. I’ve heard stories of this dude sailing a boat into a tornado…… typing that makes me wonder why I even want to race with this dude? Umm...my wife warned you when she first met you. Anyway, we were not in a big hurry to get there as the pre-race meeting was not until Saturday morning and we would receive maps at that time. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried about this as I was going to navigate, but I played it cool for Scott. After a pre-race, too much margarita dinner with Team BOR's Amy Crews and Dave Beattie and a team name that I cannot remember that had our friends Super Kate and Regular Mickey we headed back to the resort to prep gear and get some sleep.
|Tanks are awesome!|
Race Day, ungodly hour:
Woke up to alarms blaring before the sun was up. Lame. COLD Scott and I loaded up the truck and proceeded to drive off to the race HQ located by the nature center off Hematite Lake. At this point we got the quick welcome speech from 361 and were given maps, UTM coordinates and clue sheets with instructions to be ready by 10:30am for the start. Scott and I setup on a piece of sidewalk in the sun to stay warm and begin plotting all 31 points (including bike drops) on our two maps. At this point it became clear to us what we were going to be up against. The first leg was 10 CPs around Hematite Lake on foot and then back to the Start/Finish/TA1. Once there we had decisions to make. There are four bike drops scattered around the area, and at each bike drop was a foot orienteering section. BD1 was south of TA1 with 4 points around it, BD 3 was south east with two points, BD 4 east with 3 points and BD 2 was north with the largest section with seven points. Scott and I figured we would be better served to hit BD2 first with its large number of CPs and hopefully finish by dark, then bike to BD4, BD3, BD1, then back to the finish. As these bike drops had less CPs much closer to the bike drop we figured we could locate them easier in the dark.
Race Day, 10:30 am: CP 1 - 10
GO! As all the teams tore off down the hill to the lake, I immediately regretted volunteering to navigate this race. I realized I had up to 18 hours of serious mental exhaustion in my future
and the responsibility really started closing in about how difficult this nav was going to be. This really hit home when Scott and I were the first team to branch off the pack because we had decided to do the first section in reverse. My heart was instantly in my chest as I realized that we were alone in this decision. Did we miscalculate? Have I already taken a wrong turn? Will Scott murder me in the woods and assume my identity after I get him lost? I quickly put most of those thoughts to bed and started focusing on the maps. We were quickly caught by our Friends Larry and Jay and that eased some of my fears heading to CP10. I slightly bobbled the nav here by jumping into the wrong re-entrant, but a quick recovery got us right were we needed to be, boosting my confidence. The next few CPs we leap frogged with Larry and Jay by taking slightly different routes. I can’t remember much else from this section other than getting a few points right and a few others wrong. I think we only backtracked on CP8. I think this was the same CP other teams were having issues with. I do remember going from CP6 to CP5 I dropped my left foot in a hole while going downhill and immediately felt a sharp pain in that knee. As my weight shifted forward and my leg didn’t move, and the knee started to hyper extend. Immediately I jumped in the air to take the pressure off my knee, but then fell on the landing and rolled slightly down a hill. Begin knee swelling that would continue to hurt for around a week. I thought you were seriously hurt for a few seconds. At this point we started running into all the racers that had done the section in numerical order and got to see how the field was looking. Scott and I figured we were not doing too bad and put ourselves roughly mid pack based on where we encountered everyone. This was great for our morale as we had no idea where we were relative to the rest of the pack. Fairly smooth sailing from here as Scott and I were able to knock out all the remaining CPs on this leg without too much trouble. As I later told Scott, I was very impressed with how accurate the vegetation was on the maps and that really helped with some of our navigation on this leg. We reach TA1 and do our gear check, then hop on bikes to ride to BD2.
BD2: CP 11 – 17
Super Kate had mentioned over dinner the previous night how bad all the roads were up here, so Scott and I had told ourselves to budget extra time on all the bike legs for hike-a-bike and impassable road section. I was paying close attention to our time on this section because I was going to use it as a baseline for how long the rest of our rides should take us. There is so much crap a navigator must keep track of in their head like estimated times and bailout routes while keeping involved enough in the surroundings to know when the next turn is going to be. Doing this for 18 hours was going to be brutal. Back on the bike ride things were going smoothly for us, a few creek crossings here and there until we hit a very flooded creek. There was no staying dry here, so we got wet. There is a video of my caring the bike across this creek, and to say to was cold is a huge understatement. Balls In Racing!
I think the air temperature was only just over 50 and the water felt even colder. Thankfully the instant numbing that came with that helped me forget about my swelling knee from earlier and we carried on uneventfully to the BD. Roads on this section were way better than described…… I hoped the rest of the race would continue like this. Once we got to the bike drop. Scott and I decided our best bet was to take this section 15-17-14-13-11-12-16. Looking back, it would have made more sense to do 15-17-14-13-12-11-16, but I will get to that.
We left the bike drop on foot after finding an inspirational message and candy (mmm Taffy, but my bad tooth hurt so freaking bad!)left by the race directors (thank you!) and trekked up the road to 15. It was an easy find down a re-entrant and then we made our way to 17. On the way I got us slightly confused on what re-entrant we were in, but we did end up finding Kate and Mickey in the same re-entrant, and together decided we had messed up, finding the CP in a re-entrant to the east.
I think this was the CP we looked for the longest. We parted ways and both teams took differing routes to CP14. Kate and Mickey up into the woods and Scott and myself taking the trail to the road. About a half mile down the trail, Kate and Mickey pop out and turn towards us. Mickey talks a little trash but both teams continue in opposite directions. This really got in my head. Was I going the right way? I must have done a map and compass check 20 times in the next 2 minutes until Scott told me to put it away and trust my gut. I knew you were correct. So, we continued until we came to the road. I was right! Mini victory dance on the road, and it was glorious. Bagged 14 and continued to 13. We came down a nice spur that took us right up to a powerline cut. I remarked again, how good the vegetation on the map was because it was clear for what seemed like miles in either direction on that cut, so I made a mental note of that for later. We got in some nasty thorns on the way into 13 but found it easily. Then came the what can only be described as the kilometer from hell. Understatement. I decided to keep us low and go straight west back to the powerline cut. This would involve us pushing through some thorns but would get us to that nice powerline cut and we would use that to get us to the road. In my head it was easy, clean and bloodless. The reality of this though, was dirty, explicative filled and had us swimming for about 300 yards. Once we fought our way to the powerline, we encountered walls of some of the worst thorns I have ever encountered. The bushes were as tall as I am and so thick we found ourselves crawling on the ground following small game trails trying to get through. After what seemed like an eternity, I could see there was a gap in the thorns ahead perpendicular to the direction we were traveling. Finally, we would intersect the road and be out of this hell hole. Except it wasn’t a road, it was a flooded creek that could almost be called a river at this point. The opposite bank was nothing but thorns,
behind us was nothing but thorns and everywhere that wasn’t water was nothing but thorns. So as the road was about 300 yards up the creek we decided to swim it. We jumped in the freezing cold water, and immediately regretted the decision when we discovered it was over our heads for most of the way. I wasn't going back the way we came, the swim was so much better, but if there was room to prepare, which there wasn't, we could have better prepared ourselves by dry bagging our gear and clothes and removing our shoes. It also got deep so fast that I still had my camera in my hand, which made swimming more fun. Too bad there is no video of our breathing and cussing as that's all I could hear. It sucked watching Mickey and Kate walk by on the road as I swam. When we finally reached the road, my extremities were so cold that pulling myself up on the road was a challenge, but I was so happy to see that fucking road… At this point we knew where we were and where we had to get to, so we easily navigated to CP11 laughing at our stupid selves for the swim we had to do. After finding 11 Scott had a grim realization: we were wet and cold, and we didn’t have much sun left. It was mid 50s during the day on the race, but projected lows were in the low 30’s. This was not good. Everything we were wearing was wet and everything we had in our packs we didn’t put in dry bags. We ended up putting on all our wet gear on the way to CP12 and decided all we could do was run from here on out to try and dry our clothes out before it got really cold. We pass Mickey and Kate again, make quick mention that we may die of hypothermia and continue. It was good we stopped to wring out our clothes. We take a round about way to CP16, so that we can run on roads for as long as possible and avoid crossing anymore creeks. We run across Dave and Amy who had been having mechanical problems on the way to BD2 and had just recently arrived, making an already long race even longer. Scott and I grab CP16 and head back to BD2 and get there sometime between 6 and 6:30. We barely did it, but we completed this section before sundown. Both of us though had some major issues to deal with. I couldn’t use my fingers well enough to plug my main bike light in or to refold my maps. I didn’t want to tell Scott how bad off I was, so I went to Mickey who was just about to leave the bike drop and asked him to refold my map. I think he knew how bad off I was, and he wasn’t his typical asshole self and just did it. I knew if we got on the bikes I would heat up and I had stashed spare, dry gloves for the ride. Scott and I didn’t talk much the first part of the ride, both probably fighting internal demons and wondering if the actual risk of hypothermia was as real as we thought, but eventually we warmed up. Wet gloves sucked. This was thankfully on of the longer bike legs, with some decent hills and the only single track of the race. We arrived at BD4.
BD4: CP 18-20
Our route 18-20-19. My first real night nav section! I wasn’t really that excited about it at the time. I knew we had 9 more CPs to go and every single one of them was going to be in the dark. I have never done a night nav before, but I figured if we didn’t have to swim again I was going to call it a victory. Scott and I changed over to trek shoes, shut down bike lights and set off to CP 18. Oh, I forgot another inspirational message and candy at the bike drop! Taffy Tooth Pain! Mickey and Kate were there as well and headed off in an odd direction from here. 18 was down the road some ways and off a small side road that did not appear on the map. The road was headed the right direction, in the right spot I needed to jump down the spur, so I followed it and it led us right to the CP. We trekked back out and passed Mickey and Kate headed into 18. Scott and I were really confused about their tactics here. We finally assumed that they had corrected the earlier mistake and were making good time. NO; I kept saying there was no way they got the CPs! We had to go about 1.5k past the bike drop to get to our attack point for CP20. Once we got there we decided pace count and holding a bearing was the only way we could do this one in the dark. So, I gave Scott a bearing and we calculated a distance and away we went. While he let me know every time we did 100 meters, I was making sure to compare the topo I could see and feel with the map. 100 meters at the bottom, 200 on side of spur etc. When we hit out distance, we didn’t see the CP. However, because we had worked so well together I knew we were on a hilltop and were within 50 ft of the CP. Boom, easy score. We then got a bearing and distance and walked within 50 ft of CP19 as well. Scotts pace counting and bearing holding really saved us on these two CPs. We then shot a bearing due south and marched to the road and then back to BD4. When we got back there was a surprising lack of bikes. Most notably the bikes of Kate and Mickey. I'll take this time to fill you in on why I mention them so much. I wanted to beat Mickey. I wanted to beat him badly. Me too! While Mickey is my teammate he tends to talk a lot of trash and the only way to silence him, if only briefly, is to out perform him. It is also just friendly competition, but in a race situation its serious stuff! We had been leap frogging all day and I could not figure out how they got so far ahead of us in this section. Did he find a secret line? Did they unlock teleportation? HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS TO ME!?! Scott and I loaded up on our bikes and headed to BD3 bewildered. This should have been a nice easy single-track ride with no places to make errors for a good long time. So, I was getting excited to drop the map and enjoy some single-track bliss. I was worried though, based on how flooded the lakes were that some places would be flooded nightmares, but figured we'd deal with that if/when we got there. When we got to where the trail dropped off from the road we encountered a trail closed sign. Crap. Thankfully there wasn’t much back tracking to get to were we needed to be to follow the road the very long way around to BD3. This road had us riding in some low areas for most of the ride and very rutted and muddy road filled with low water and creek crossings as well as giant man eater holes. I knew the only confusing part of this nav was going to be in the last 1K where there were some very tough intersections all lined up one after another. I got us a little turned around in here, half due to inexperience and half to needing to eat something. Thankfully every time the map started to look foreign to me Scott was able to help me get it sorted back out.
BD3: CP21 and 22
Just two CPs, we can bang this thing out in like an hour! Reality is that didn’t happen quite as fast as we had liked. We decided to take these in the easy routes and do CP22 first then come back and get CP21. We walked right up on CP22, raising spirits. As we came back through the bike drop we made our turn for CP21. This one threw not only us, but another two-man co-ed we were battling back and forth with for a loop. It took us at least 3 tries on this one before we finally found it. The area was very congested with re-entrants and we just kept getting in the wrong ones. We had to be within 100ft of that CP for most of the time, but the placement of the CP was such that you couldn’t see it unless you approached from the east, and we kept approaching from the west until we finally stumbled on it. Also, the clue had us perplexed. As we headed out to the BD. From here we had a decently long ride to BD1. It was 12:00am and we had until 4:30am to be back at the finish, or risk losing CPs. While Scott got ready I started doing some math and figured if we could make it to the last BD by 1:00 am we would have time to try for 3 of the 4 CPs before we needed to decide on our bailout route. We geared up and rode towards BD1, for what seemed like an eternity. We eventually arrived at BD1 as frost was starting to settle in and I was so glad that we had warmed up.
BD1: CP 23-27
We got to this BD at around 12:30am, 15 minutes ahead of plan. I will come to regret that push later though. We change into trek gear while I put a plan together for us that is 24-23-27-25? 25 was my possible point to drop. Somewhere along this we had seen Mickey and Kate and they informed us that they had dropped two points in BD4, so I knew that we didn’t need 25, but I really wanted to clear the course if time allowed. We ventured out on foot for the trek to CP24. Located it right where it should be but there was something different about this one. It was HUGE.
After a good laugh, we trekked on to CP23. Had to battle a couple thorns on this one but was an easy find and we went back to the road. My plan to get CP 25 had us going right past the bikes to follow the pipeline cut down into a creek and then the creek for about a half k to the CP. We found this one after a little looking around. Now, it was 2:15am. We had just gotten enough CPs to secure victory over Mickey and Scott was tired. My cracked tooth was really killing me. I was trying to eat and drink, but it was so painful. I also was worried about running out of water so I was conserving some for the last push. Looking back I wish I would have drank it all no matter the pain. The cold had really started to settle in and I honestly had no idea what the roads were like on the way back. Kate’s description of the roads last year had me worried about making it back and I knew I didn’t want to push any harder than we needed as that had drained Scott when I did that on the way to BD1. So, we made the decision to leave CP25 out there and head back to the bikes. With the information we had at the time, I think we made the right call. I was doing great on the treks, but the bike was killing me. I also didn't want to re-visit my Fig experience of coming in super late and losing all our CPs. We loaded up on bikes, took some candy from the BD and hit the road to the finish. As we were riding I saw some tail lights ahead of us. Thinking these were Kate and Mickey I began ratcheting up the pace, kind of forgetting about Scott. As we caught the team that sadly wasn’t who I thought it was, I heard a small “can we slow down” from behind me. Oh Shit…. I killed Scott. He was flying! I thought we were road biking! Thankfully he dug deep inside himself and we could power through to the finish at 3:09am.
I would have liked to have gone for that extra point looking back on it, but I don’t regret leaving it out there. I wish we would have cleared too, but looking at the results it would have made no difference to our standings. Kevin's nav was solid! Scott and I raced a good race, nav was about 80% (a learning experience for me) clean and we fought through almost getting hypothermia with a positive attitude. All in all, it was a great race put on by 361 Adventures and I am glad to have finally gotten to race the LBL and race with my friend Scott again. Waited a long time to get that race in...well worth it! Also, so worth it getting that tooth pulled two days later.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Meramec Orienteering Meet, February, 2018 by Alane Wolins
February weather impacted attendance on this one. There had been some freezing rain overnight and it was a little dicey getting to the “base camp” shelter, what with the slippery downhill drive. It helped having David Beattie and daughter along as passengers, as well as my dog Kelly Kapowski, an English Pointer mix (her first orienteering escapade).
|Kelly Kapowski's animal spirit. Same sassy look.|
I overshot the path that led towards #1, but back tracked through the woods and got to the power line about the time the Beatties were coming down the cleared area, finding the CP just adjacent to the power line clear cut.
For #2 I had seen on the map that it was just off an old abandoned fence line, and knowing where the fence line was, I decided to go back to it, then follow it downhill to the checkpoint. I looked and looked, up and down, restarting from the road above to no avail. Then Dave came by and they had already been to the checkpoint, heading on to the third. Turns out #2 was actually not particularly near the fence after all. Dave pointed me in the right direction and I scrutinized the map to find it.
Lesson number one for the day: don’t trust man-made objects on the map. Go by terrain first. If I had navigated by terrain, #2 would have been easy, what with the reentrant it was near.
So after that, it’s what I did. For #3 I contoured around another reentrant and hillside, continually comparing the map to where I thought I was, catching up with the Beatties, coming upon the abandoned road which led to the checkpoint. All in all, easy peasy.
Then I hoofed it uphill and over the paved road, down the other side to a reentrant for #4, with frequent stops for map consultation. Another easy one! #5 was further down the reentrant, to the side in a ditch. Also according to the topo map.
By this time I was feeling pretty confident. I decided to contour around the hillside, trying to stay at approximately the same elevation and around to what looked like an open-ish area, with the checkpoint on the side. Which is, of course, not how it turned out. Back and forth through that open area I went, even so far as to get within sight of a pond which should have helped me to backtrack to the checkpoint.
Hmmm… cp #7 was right at the edge of said pond, so I decided to go there instead. Around the pond I went through the stickers and brambles and phew, #7 bagged. But then I realized the map was no longer in my hand. Dang it! Wearing gloves and having a dog leash made it hard to keep track of what I was holding. I back tracked and looked for it, but couldn’t tell exactly where I had been, so unfortunately I littered in the state park.
Far in the distance I heard the chatter of boys. The Scouts were coming, so I knew at least I could walk out with someone. It took quite awhile as they were scrambling downhill on very icy/slippery rocks. One of the gracious leaders gave me his map, and helped me decipher the location of #6. Which was decidedly not in the green/open area of the map.
So lesson number two for the day, don’t trust the green. Uphill I went, climbing the slippery rocks to #6.
So lesson number two for the day, don’t trust the green. Uphill I went, climbing the slippery rocks to #6.
All during this time, Kelly was having great fun. Since it was cold I had put a coat on her because of the possibility of a lot of time spent standing around looking at maps, and she was quite cozy but not overheated. So much to sniff and see! Keeping her out of the pond was a bit of an issue. The thin layer of ice could have cause quite a problem. It was definitely a better day to be on four legs than two. She had zero issues with slipperiness.
After #6 it was time to get back to the start/finish. Fairly straightforward, except for the path on the map which didn’t exist in real life- lesson already learned, so I didn’t look to hard for it. The fire in the fireplace of the shelter was a welcome sight.
1. Don’t count on a trail indicated on a map as actually being there
2. Go by topographical information rather than man-made objects such as fences whenever possible
3. The green/open area isn’t always there
4. You gotta still look around a lot
Something else of note – whenever I have heard veterans discussing various checkpoints in regards to orienteering or adventure racing, they are able to talk about check point this and checkpoint that and I wondered how they kept it all straight in their minds afterwards. Now that I have done the actual navigation by myself I understand it better. I’m writing this blog a full week after the event and can still trace it back in my mind. Maybe it amounts to all the consideration and ability to be present in the moment that needs to happen to be successful in such an event.
All in all a very enjoyable day, minus the slippery driving. There’s a big learning curve for me in this new endeavor of Orienteering and I am really intrigued with the challenge. Can’t wait til the next one!
Friday, January 26, 2018
Thoughts from an Orienteering Newbie - Alane Wolins
This is not going to be a blog full of the nitty gritty details, as it’s been a few weeks now and my memory is fuzzy.
I consider the January Babler Cold Nose-O to be my first real orienteering meet. Last fall I went with Amy and Jessie to the event in Grafton but that consisted of me following them around, as they are much more versed in map and compass reading than I am. And lots quicker.
It was a cold and crisp sunny January morning at Babler
State Park and fun to see familiar faces there- Yvonne, who designed the course, Kate, Chuck and others.
State Park and fun to see familiar faces there- Yvonne, who designed the course, Kate, Chuck and others.
|Yvonne running the show|
|Kate in her SLOC jersey|
As I considered my plan, Scott very generously offered to follow me around to help out as needed and I eagerly accepted. Getting lost is not high on my list of fun things. I decided to try the beginner course and see what happened. My expectations on how hard this would be were based on three adventure races as a team member, and as I learned, adventure races are a huge level of difficulty higher than what I was attempting.
This orienteering differed from the adventure racing I have done in that there was a master map and participants copied the location points from that onto their own map rather than using coordinates to plot. So it was kind of a relief as plotting from coordinates is a foreign language to me at the moment.
I decided on the white course, which is the most beginner course, and copied the points from the master map onto my own map. The checkpoints are all set up to be easy to find, no tromping off road or off trail into the deep woods. The flags to mark the locations look sort of like a very small box kite, in white and orange, and have a hole punch tool with a specific pattern of holes. You punch your card with this and then there is a record of you finding the checkpoint.
|Alane's MS-2 OutThere pack and her yellow balls|
Scott followed along with helpful advice and I cleared the course in 38 minutes. Not fast by any means, but a great confidence builder. The checkpoints were located along well-travelled trails as well as in a park shelter, at the edge of a field, right along a paved road and finally next to a statue, making them very easy to find.
We got back to the start and I had already decided to go out on the orange course, which was the next level in difficulty. The checkpoints in this case could be off trail but not too awfully far, and in locations that were relatively easy to find by using the contours of the map. I only pulled out the compass once, to make sure of a direction.
|Alane finding an easy check point|
I’m really glad of Scott’s advice - suggestions as to how to increase speed transitioning from one checkpoint to going on to the next, reading the contour lines to more precisely locate a checkpoint on the map, seeing the contour lines in person and comparing to the map, using landmarks such as old structures. And I learned not to take the map as 100% gospel when we were looking for a trail marked on the map that didn’t (or no longer) exist in real life. We left one checkpoint and I headed the wrong way, pointed out by Scott by his asking what my plan was, and he helped me with deciding on the correct route. Planning out loud was very helpful and seeing how Scott read the map vs how I did was a good learning experience.
This second course took around an hour 45 minutes for me to complete. Scott would generally see the checkpoint first, but not tell me, so I was truly finding them on my own.
|Alane cleared two courses and took down the white course|
The experience of orienteering reminded me of my hikes in the Grand Canyon. I was already planning to go to next event before even completing this first one. It was that fun and it amazes me that I had never done it before.
For my next outing I’m going to change up a couple things. No Scott following me around, I need to do this by myself. Wearing trail running shoes is a way better idea than hiking boots. I now know that I will actually be able to run the white course, which also means lighter clothes are in order- I was way overdressed, even for a 15 or so degree start.
This fun adventure would probably not have happened had I not met and joined Team BOR. It’s great to have supportive teammates! Now on to the next event!