Saturday, April 19, 2008


Our family went on an orienteering adventure today. The weather forecast said that we were going to have showers. Not ideal weather, but nothing we haven't done before. The last 2 times we've went to this particular park for orienteering, we've been rained on. We got all of our raingear on, piled into our cars, and took off.

I took a look at the maps when we got there. The last time we came here, we did the easiest course (the 'White' course). It was too easy. I think it was a total of less than a mile. We finished and the boys (especially LilKat2) were itching for more. But this year's maps were much longer. The White course was a little over 3km. I thought it would be a good challenge for us.

It worked out pretty well! We had some rain, but our raincoats protected us (PrincessKat was in the stroller with a raincover, so she stayed the driest of all of us). Towards the end, we even got a little sun! LilKat1 had a good time, but he got a bit tired towards the end. LilKat2 said he had a 'great' time! He just loves orienteering. He takes off sprinting whenever he sees the controls.

After we were done, I decided that I was going to stick around and try the expert (Green) course by myself. We had taken separate cars, so Mrs. BigKat took the kids home while I stayed for another round. I was the last one to start for the day, so I had to get going pretty quickly.

It started out pretty well. The first 2 controls were not too bad to find. The sun was still peeking out, so the weather was good.

It all went downhill from there...

It started with control 3. Control 3 was near the south end of a small river. The small river was surrounded by prickly plants. Very prickly plants! And those very prickly plants were surrounded by other very prickly plants. And of course, I wore shorts because...well, I always wear shorts. As a result, my legs got a bit bloodies as I tried to fight my way through all of the prickles. Actually, you know what? Calling them prickles really doesn't do them justice. They were more like spikey razor claws. I had to fight my way through a field of spikey razor claws. In fact, later in the course, I had to crawl through a barbed wire fence. The barbed wire fence was less prickly than the spikey razor claws. Well, it took a while, but I finally got to control 3.

Control 4 looked pretty easy. But I took a slight wrong turn and wasted about 10 minutes looking for it. Not too bad, but not great for my time.

From that point on, things went pretty smoothly until control 9. I could not find control 9! I looked all over the place. I triple checked the map to make sure I was in the right place. I spent probably a good 20 minutes there looking for it. I started wondering, since I was the last person to start, did someone not know that I was still running and started taking all of the controls down? Well, I backtracked a little bit and tried one last time. This time, I looked a bit to the left, even though it wasn't the spot that the map was pointing too. Sure enough, there it was, plain as day, right out in the open. I felt dumb.

Control 10 was easy. And control 11 wasn't too far from control 10. It was right in the middle of a small water channel. I punched my card and checked the map for control 12. Control 12 was on the other side of the water channel. The channel wasn't very wide, maybe 3 or 4 feet. I took a standing broad jump, cleared the channel and...CRAAAAAACKKKKKKKKK!

OW! That would be my ankle making that sound. I rolled it pretty good. I only had 2 controls left, though, so it wasn't too bad. I just took it a little slower. I tried running a little, but it wasn't going to happen. So I tried hobbling. Ahh...much better.

So here I was hobbling through an open field. When suddenly...Ow...Ow...OW...OW-OW!!! Someone's throwing rocks at me! Little white rocks about the size of peas! Wait...those aren't rocks...that's hail! Here I am in this open field with nowhere to hide and it's hailing on me. I looked around to see if it was hailing everywhere. Over to my left, it was really bad. It looked almost like a snowy tv set with bad reception. I mean it was really dumping. Well, it's a good thing that I wasn't over...


Ok, now I was getting bombarded by sheets of white ice rocks. I put my head down to protect my face and just hoped that I was hobbling (in an open field at approximately 6 hours per mile) in something resembling the right direction since I couldn't see where I was going.

It took a while, but I finally made it to the trail. Only 2 controls to go. By now, everything was covered in white. Which made things a bit slippery, something that my ankle didn't really appreciate. I followed the map to control 12. It was pretty easy to find. But the problem was, it was halfway down a steep slope heading towards the river. This would normally not be a problem, but now, it was covered with slippery ice rocks, and my ankle wasn't working properly.

I somehow managed to make my way down to the control without killing myself. I started to punch my scorecard when...hmmm...where's my scorecard? Not in my pockets...Not in my hands...uh, oh...

I lost my scorecard. Without my scorecard, I won't get an official score. Even if I find all of the controls and finish, my score will be recorded as 'Did not finish' or something like that. My hands were really cold. I must've dropped it and not noticed it. Well, it can't be too hard to find a scorecard, right? A big white card stands out pretty well on the ground...unless the ground is covered in white ice rocks! Then it's impossible!

I searched for a few minutes and gave up. I just moved on to the last control, took a good look at it, and headed towards the finish line. When I got there, there wasn't even a finish line. Just one of the orienteering helpers packing away a bunch of stuff. Turns out that the officials had all already left. They thought that no one was left on the course. When I registered for the Green Course, the guy told me not to fill out another registration form. He told me that they would just use my first original number. I'm guessing that they assumed that since they had my scorecard from the White Course, I was all done. So even if I hadn't lost my scorecard, it wouldn't have mattered.

Fortunately, I had my stopwatch running, so I could check my time, even though I couldn't get an official score. My time was 2 hours 8 minutes. Hopefully good enough for 2nd to last place...but probably not. Maybe it was good that I didn't have an official score...

I headed back to my truck. My socks and shoes were soaked. My legs, back, and sides ached. My legs were covered with spikey razor claw wounds. But did I have a good time? YOU BETCHA! I love orienteering! I guess it just goes to show that if you're doing something you love, even if everything goes wrong, you can still have a great time!

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