First Orienteering Adventure

I have always loved maps! Maps. Traveling. Finding my way around. I was never one of those people who relies on a GPS. Yeah GPS is cool and all. I remember as a 12 year old, one of the 'toys' I had was a handheld GPS unit that my dad got me. Very cool! I spent many hours marking shallow rocks out in the boat in Stoney Lake, and recording my journeys on my bicycle, chasing fire trucks. Not only did I mark those rocks, but I had also purchased nautical charts and compared the rocks I found with what was on the chart!

Anyhow. Yes, I love maps! I am nerdy like that.

So when my dear friend, or dare I say 'my love', 'Whisperin' had told me all about these Orienteering adventures she did, I was all ears. What a great way to get back into shape and make use of my love for maps.

I recently registered on the local Buffalo group, and this past weekend I did my first adventure. It was at Hunters Creek Park, which is a forested park outside of East Aurora, NY. This event was a Solo run, and I did the short (4km) course. The course was also marked as an Advanced course, but I figured with my history with reading maps it shouldn't be too hard.

It was a beautiful morning! I got out there quite early, and it was still cool. I got right to it. I did come across some cool abandoned farm equipment in the park almost right away.

I barely had anything to eat, and had slept kind of restlessly the night before, so it was a little slow to start. I felt heavy and labored for the first while. But I pressed on. The Coffee really wasn't doing the trick. For a moment, I had thought to myself that I should of stopped and watched the trains that I saw on the way to the park. I saw some Norfork Southern crews flat-switching a yard! But I am glad I didn't. It sure got hot that day.

I got to the point where the first Marker was supposed to be. Now, I know from YouTube that Orienteering markers had a special flag. But who knows? Maybe the Buffalo group was cheap? I saw an orange survey flag in the ground, and figured okay, well this must be it, because I hadn't seen such a survey flag yet in my travels through the woods.

But upon getting to the second flag, I had realized my mistake. This was indeed a proper flag, and I imagine the first one was hidden behind the fallen tree. Shoot. Well I'll call the first one a mulligan on the count that it was my first time.

Navigating to the 3rd flag took a bit of time. I traversed boardwalks which had wire mesh on them for traction which I thought was a great idea. The third flag took me quite a ways off of the trail, and I had to double back a little bit to find it in sort of a ravine.

The 5th Flag took me the longest to find. The closest trail on the map was now abandoned and overgrown. I did take it none the less, but ended up being in vain. I rejoined another trail and backtracked again from a reference point in the terrain, and eventually found it. Point 6 wasn't too bad.

At this point I was feeling great. My blood was flowing, I had marked my territory and my legs were no longer heavy. My only real concern was navigating the forest floor without running into poison ivy, or ticks.

Point 7 very much relied on my compass. The terrain actually seemed to rise a lot more than the contour lines indicated on the map. But I held my course and eventually was rewarded by the sight of a flag in the distance.

After that, Point 8 and 9 were easy. And after 2 hours and 4 minutes I was back at my car in the parking lot.

Very fun! I am excited to do this again! Thanks my dear, for suggesting this. I hope one day we can do this together.