Running In Circles
Saturday, January 10th -- Shoreview Park Orienteering
It seems that whenever I go orienteering, I do pretty well until I make a huge blunder that costs me way too much time. Sometimes it's a couple minutes, sometimes it's a couple dozen. I've decided to outline went wrong at today's event by plotting my actual course in red on the map segment below and commenting on my blunders.
Things started going awry on the lead-up to Control 13. I plainly saw a control flag at Point A, but it seemed too close to the gravel road I was sprinting down. I glanced at my description sheet and saw the control number should be 119. I glanced at the at the number on flag and saw 110--it was wrong.
Sprinting into the trees, I scanned for an orange and white flag. I arrived at the trail junction at Point B and realized I'd gone way past my control. Checking my description sheet, I saw number 119 was for Control 14. Number 110 was for Control 13 after all. D'oh! I'd sprinted right by it without breaking stride.
The run back to the missed control was, of course, uphill. I lost an easy 30 seconds committing possibly the stupidest navigational error I've ever made.
On my way to Control 14, I should have just turned onto the trail at Point B, but the trail up to Point C looked shorter, if more indistinct. With all the storm damage in the woods, though, the trail I had already found would have been the safer bet.
I found an indistinct trail and started up it. I'm not sure if it was the one marked on the map or not. All I know is I stumbled upon a raggedy tent hidden in the trees. It looked like a hobo camp to me. I didn't feel like getting stabbed with a broken beer bottle, so I turned around and headed back to the main trail, progressing until I reached Point D.
At Point D, I knew for sure where I was--the distinct trail leading down to the stream bed was a dead giveaway. I decided it wouldn't take any longer to keeping going forward than to turn back, so I pressed on, heading to Point E. Point E is where disaster struck.
There was a huge pit right before the trail intersection, so I knew I was in the right spot. (I had a little bit of doubt because the trail I came up wasn't in the greatest of shape and I'd already gone astray once.) From here it was pretty obvious all I had to do was turn left and run until I saw the flag on the vegetation boundary just before the four-way trail intersection.
But I didn't turn left. For some inexplicable reason, I went straight. I reached the trail intersection at Point F and pulled up in confusion. The trail wasn't supposed to T, it should have been a four-way intersection.
Thinking maybe a trail was obscured, I made a right turn and started scanning for the control. I wasn't seeing any open forest, but I knew the map was old, so I paid it little mind. Finally, I stumbled upon a flag--but it was on a fallen tree and only about a foot off the trail. I checked the number. It was for Control 17. Oops.
I ran back up the trail and turned towards Control 16. It looked like the shortest route. Now that I knew where I was, I hoped to find Control 14 quickly.
Passing a marker, I checked the number to make sure it was Control 16. It was. I was finally back on track. I continued up the trail and made all the correct turns. Spotting a marker at the edge of clearing from a good distance out, I made a beeline for it.
I checked the number and gave a small sigh of relief when it was indeed Control 14. I turned and headed back the way I'd come to get Control 15.
Finding it quickly, I punched it and started to move off. From below, it had looked like there was a small trail through the blackberries that would dump me right on the path to Control 16. Trying to find it, I poked around the edge of the clearing. Nothing looked promising, so I retraced my route out and pounded to 16. I lost a few seconds, but it was nothing compared to what I'd already lost.
Since I already knew where 16 and 17 were, I collected them quickly. From there I had little trouble with the rest of the course, but it was damage done, so I didn't fare nearly as well as I would have liked.