Lessons Learned on my First Solo Green.
I started Orienteering in May 2002, and was immediately hooked!
I've read a couple of books and participated as a duo each month ever since - until now.
This time I went solo. And being fairly new to the sport, I am learning so much with each run.
Below is my run along with comments of the things I did right and what I did wrong. The course and my best guess at my route are marked on the map.
Start to Control 1
Game plan: My main goal is to get to the first control accurately & quickly to build my confidence for the rest of the course. My attack point is the trail where it heads due south. Get there by cutting straight across the field to the "Y" in the trail; follow it until it turns south. Then, cut across at a slight angle toward the earth wall; follow it to the bend.
What I do: My angle off of the trail took me slightly south of the earth wall and I see the 'thumb' in the river. This is my catching feature. I know to go northwest, and I find the control. Whew! Not perfectly clean, but I followed a plan.
Control 1 to Control 2
Game plan: Head northeast, pick up the hiking trail, follow the trail to the 4-way intersection, just after the bridge. At that point, take the trail heading south until I see the manmade object (my attack point), then cut in 50 meters. What I do: Unfortunately, as I follow the trail south of the 4-way intersection, I start to lose track of it. Not sure of how far I have gone, I decide to go back to the intersection and head south again, this time counting paces and keeping the compass pointing south. I see the manmade object (boards) and head west into the woods. I come across several depressions and go back and forth a little until I find several very distinct depressions, (The 2 eastern-most). I go west and find the control at the 3rd depression.
Control 2 to Control 3
Game plan: Hit the trail to the west and take it toward the control. My attack point is the bend in the trail that goes southeast, at which point I will go south until I am in the re-entrant (small valley) I see a little spur trail on the map, but I have seen several unmapped spurs, and decide not to use that feature.
What I do: I reach my attack point and head south. I get a little confused by some of the elevation changes, ending up at the edge of a re-entrant, and do not see the control. Realizing I am not far enough south, I go a little further. I enter another re-entrant and look for the control. Not seeing it, I double-check the map and the feature codes again. I have been looking for an EASTERN tip, and it should be a WESTERN tip! I find the control right away after that.
Lesson learned: Look for the control FEATURE more than the control flag.
Control 3 to Control 4
Game plan: Get on the hiking trail heading northeast and just GO!
What I do: Okay, so that isn't the best idea. :) Had I actually looked for an attack point, I would have followed the hiking trail that went east, not the one that went northest, but I am trying to avoid another participant. Anyway, I am making this one up as I go, and run along the trail until I reach a stream. I follow the stream south, and hit a marsh that seems to be quite a bit larger than the map indicates. I press on and reach a clearing. There are other participants here who look pretty flustered, so I don't think this is the correct location. I re-check the map and realize I have not crossed the seasonal stream so I go further south. I cross a stream into a clearing (scare a deer), but the shape isn't correct. (Man are there lots of clearings!) I then notice a dry-ish streambed that runs east-west. Since I am not sure exactly where I am, I decide to follow it to see if it turns toward the southeast (as it does on the map). I go a ways and it isn't turning. I am getting worried now. It seems as though I have gone pretty far, so now I am thinking I am on the wrong seasonal stream. To verify my location, I follow the streambed west. If it dead-ends, I am in the correct place. If it comes to a T, I am at the wrong streambed. It dead-ends! I head back to the east and the streambed does indeed turn southeast. I find the control easily.
Lesson learned: Don't be distracted by other participants, and ALWAYS have an attack point!
Control 4 to Control 5
Game plan: Take a bearing until I have a visual on the middle clump of vegetation, then head for it's east side.
What I do: Nail it dead on! Get nailed by a few briars along the way.
Control 5 to Control 6
Game plan: Use the vegetation boundary as a handrail to get me to the equestrian trail. Follow the trail to the stream, and then jog north to pick up the other equestrian trail. That's as far as I plan ahead, thinking this will be a piece of cake.
What I do: I get to the first equestrian trail and follow it to the stream. I cross the stream and go north, eyeing some lone trees in the distance. What I don't realize is that I am already on the northern equestrian trail (there is a new path between the two trails). Note: this connecting path is indicated on the full color map by a barely visible bright yellow line. Since I am not expecting a new trail, I cross the river and go north, not west. So, I look at the control code sheet and head for the nearest "lone tree". Nope, not at that one. Nope, not at that one either. Hmmm, looking at my trusty map again, I realize that the "lone tree" is in an area fully surrounded by rough open vegetation. Drat! Following plow trenches in the field to dodge the briars, I head west toward the clumps of trees/vegetation that are in a north-south row. I reach one of the middle ones and go north. The control is easily visible under the tree.
Lesson learned: Always thumb my location, looking for parallel features that could cause confusion; use ALL clues (map and the feature codes) to get to the correct location, and Have an attack point!
Control 6 to Control 7
Game plan: Aim in the south-westerly direction, pick up the trail and follow it to the building. Backtrack about 25m and go south to the control.
What I do: As I run, I contemplate cutting down and following the seasonal stream, but the vegetation is a little thick and Control #4 is still on my mind, so I play it safe with the building. Don't find it right away, but don't take too long. I'm happy with this leg.
Control 7 to Control 8
Game plan: Attack point is where the stream crosses the road. I plan to take the trail until it starts to curve to the south. At that point cut across the field to the vegetative boundary, climb over the barbed wire fence, and go along the road.
What I do: Goes as planned aside from a small lapse where I trudge through the corner of the forest to get to the road.
Control 8 to Finish
Game plan: Not to backtrack to the road.
What I do: I head southwest toward the hiking trail and to the finish.
Final time: 126:32, for 3rd place out of 9 finishers.