No crises, just one extra thing after another. Computer problems, car problems, dental problems plus more than the usual number of aches & pains elsewhere, friends & family needing help, looming deadlines, and more! No time left for writing here. Hopefully, eventually, I’ll manage to report here some of the metal-clay accomplishments buried in there. For the moment, however, here’s something I did last weekend: the return of Spring brings the return of Orienteering season too.
Orienteering is a sport where entrants gather at a specific site (usually, but not always, a public park) and receive a map with a series of “control” locations along with a score-card. You head out in search of the controls and, as you reach each one, you mark the scorecard appropriately to verify that you’ve been there. (This differs from searching for geocaches, where folks use latitude and longitude with GPS devices. Orienteering uses actual maps and compasses….) There are several basic types of meets: in one, your goal is to find all the controls and the results are ranked by how quickly you do so; in another, your goal is to return to the base within a specific time and the results are ranked by how many control-points you are able to earn in that time. (There can be all sorts of other variations: courses or controls ranked by difficulty, penalties for various things (like returning late or for missing or mis-recording a control), but I’m not trying to write a complete description here.)
Although the obvious question for the first photo here is, “What IS Alexis wearing?!” (and, since he’d set the course for this event, that should have been a clue of what we were about to be in for!) (plus, it’s a shame that Jim’s paper is hiding his nice orienteering club sweatshirt), the reason I include this photo is to illustrate what a “control” looks like: Note the White & Orange “flag” with its dangling red “punch.” That is what one is trying to find!
The first event for this year was a “score” event, and was limited to 150 participants. Two friends and I went out as a team in the 3-hour version, to see how many controls we could find. There was a 6-hour option too, but we decided against that one. We are part of a variable group (different ones of us manage to make different meets) who attend these for fun, as pleasant exercise. We try to keep up a reasonable pace, but we are not among those who “race” the course. If someone wants to stop and take a photo, that’s fine. If someone needs to stop and rest a bit, that’s OK too. For us, it’s more important to enjoy the day in the country than it is to win the meet. Local meets are fairly inexpensive: the entry fee covers the cost of the map and a bit towards maintenance of the necessary supplies. Rarely are there any actual awards other than the personal satisfaction of seeing where you ranked.
This course had 50 controls, 10 each worth 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 points, spread across a park that covers around 7,500 acres. We set ourselves a route that included a handful of 10 and 20 point controls that we thought we could complete in the 3-hour slot: we could see that they were relatively close to the base, and we figured they wouldn’t require too much scrambling to reach.
All I can say is: Control #5 should have been worth more than 10 points!!! Yeah, it wasn’t that far from the “base” site, but it was a challenge to even spot and, once identified, a real scramble to get to. We reached 20-point controls that were far, far easier!
The second (small) photo shows a crossed pair of trees on the side of a path, and a hillside that’s farther off. It shows NONE of: the drop-off beyond those crossed trees, the stream, nor opposite bank one had to cross before starting up the hill. It DOES show Joan punching our scorecard at this control. You say you can’t see either her or it?
That’s my point!
For a clue where they are, I include a slightly larger image on which I’ve added an orange arrow pointing to the orange and white control flag, and a blue arrow pointing to Joan who was wearing a blue jacket and purple pants. Still can’t see either it or her?
Yes, that’s my point! (You can click on the photo for a slightly larger version, but even that won’t help much. They are _just barely_ visible on my high-res original photo, which I used to add the arrows … because I knew exactly where to look for them, but they almost disappear on web-resolution ones.)
Control #5 should have been worth more than 10 points!!! The 20-point controls we did find, ones that were only slightly farther from the base, were far easier than this to simply see, let alone to reach… We found out that many other entrants either gave up looking for this one or, having seen it, figured they’d still do better by just moving on to another control. Since we weren’t that concerned about points, however, we decided to take it as a challenge: could we get those particular ten measly points. Despite my having pulled a hamstring ligament simply trying to find this one (which led to all sorts of complications the following week, though at last it seems to be on the mend), and with a big THANKS to our youngest member, Joan, we did! (Technically, only one team member has to actually reach the control and punch the score-card. Since Joan’s age pulled us down into a younger category, she was kind enough to volunteer to punch this one while we kept an eye on her for safety.) Every one we spoke with who did find that one agreed it was far and away the most challenging of those in its category. Since we didn’t even try to reach all of the 20-pointers, I can’t compare it to those with any authority; but, compared to the ones we did reach, I’d say this one should have been worth 30! Changing that point-value would not have changed our team’s ranking, so I’m arguing its value on principle only.
And, yes, it’s “backwards” in this photograph. But there was only one ornament per category: Barbara got our “official” one, while Joan and I got ones that have the wrong label. But that’s OK…
We actually each got a prize! Silly as it is, I’m delighted. Now, it’s time to get back to claying and blogging and such. And, ummm, with knee on the mend, hopefully to my little, urban garden too.