On the fifteenth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist events, I convinced Mike B to help me during my first orienteering event. This was held at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center in Cornwall, New York. There were three courses-white, yellow and orange plus. Since the orange plus was the longest, 3.46 km, and had the most checkpoints on it, we chose that one. We were given a map on which we had to draw some circles for fourteen different checkpoints. The course traveled through fields, wooded areas and some slight uphills on a small mountain. We were told that the course could be completed without a compass as long as you were able to orient yourself somewhat to north which was indicated on the map. You had to read the terrain and make estimates of distance based upon the scale legend. We had to plot the best way to get to the checkpoint location without following any established path. We were given a clue sheet which identified the checkpoints by a number on a marker and then, as we located each checkpoint in order, we used a unique hole punch device, which was hanging from the marker, to punch our orienteering card in a certain box as proof we had followed the correct course. Thank goodness I was teamed with Mike since he seemed to understand the techniques right off the bat. The format of the event was all new me to me. I got us off course at one point when I missed a turn and caused us to have trouble finding one particular checkpoint. It was the tenth marker and the clue given was ” 2 m boulder, W side”. We kept going back and forth until we finally found this huge boulder which hid the marker from view unless you walked around it to the correct area. This caused about a twenty minute delay thanks to my incorrect reading of the map. The provided map had been reduced on a photocopy machine so some of the markings were tiny for a 64 year old set of eyes. I had brought a magnifying glass in my day pack. This helped me see some of the tiny print. Of course, Mike B didn’t need any glasses to help him read the map. But for this one marker, I thought we did well finding the other thirteen markers.
According to HVOrienteering.com which facilitated the event, 53 people in 31 starts participated in the courses. The white and yellow courses were for beginners.We finished in 9th place for the intermediate course. Four other teams either finished later than us or did not finish the orange plus course in the maximum time allowed which was three hours. We completed the course in 2 hrs and 21 minutes.
Thanks Mike for the help. I had a wonderful time. I think I want to try another event with you in the future. Perhaps I can pull my weight a little better the next time.