April 16, 2016

Queen's Gambit: April Meet Report

Several of our experienced orienteers came to play chess on the new map, arriving slightly warmed up after the hike in and smiling in the brilliant Idaho spring sun.  There was still a bit of water out there in the creeks, the grass was lush, and the sky was blue.  The board was set, and the queen awaited the first move.

Jerry plays a strong game.
On intermediate, Jerry Stewart leveraged much of his recent A meet experience and finished his course in plenty of time and we watched him make a good run in from the brutal descent on the final control and into the finish.  He set the bar with grace and aplomb.

Mike and Linda started off up the valley well enough, but found their knees were not fully cooperative on the first steep climb and decided to call it before they got in too deep into the game.  On the way out they got to greet the red tailed hawk flying overhead - looked like he had a nest in the valley.

Red tailed hawk watching us play.  Photo:  Dondi
Notably, while John Murray and Norma explored a bit of intermediate, they spent some time observing the board and a few pieces in play from a large boulder pile above the next valley on the intermediate course.  As John was the prime mover in the map creation, he surely enjoyed seeing the fruits of his labor in action while teaching his favorite sport in tandem.  It is surely not their last visit to our meets.

Whoa!  No need for a control here.
The advanced course had many takers who had some longer moves to play out while reaching for the opposite side.  As it turned out, a rattlesnake den was active and occupied where control #10 was intended to be on a distinct boulder and so was moved post haste the day before and maps tweaked.  (Other than that no other snakes were observed out there.)  Many orienteers skirted the boulder anyway in their elaborate contour journey to the spot.

After a careful taping session, Sergey made good time and proceeded methodically through the course with only a single apparent glitch on #18, contouring around a little too high in hopes of minimizing his effort.  As we would expect for his caliber, he handily won the class and gave everyone a sense of what could be done.
Bill pauses to let the wildlife punch first.
Bill Leahy had a few moments after starting to admire the antelope skirting around the first control on the steep uphill climb.  He chunked off the first two controls well enough but struggled to track contours from 2 to 3 given the steep terrain and subtlety of each re-entrant.  His feet were also in tough shape yet given his PR mileage at a 24 hour last weekend (66 miles!).  He made a good go of it in the time he had.  Jay Morgan also found himself struggling to stay oriented so they ended up largely teaming up to get back and finish shortly after the main cutoff while skipping some controls.  The Queen won her round with them this time in a bit of checkmate.  Always another game!

Ole climbs for #1.
Ole Bergset left no pawn unturned out there and found a few intermediate controls along his way, and even punched at least one for insurance, but finished his course ably in the same spirit at Jerry did.  His A meet experience also shows benefits I think.

David Murray and Alecia couldn't resist the pull of the long advanced course (actually I think they wanted to look at the snakes), but bailed a little early to meet another timeline back in Boise.  They finished running and smiling, not too much worse for the wear.  I think they will be back to play again.

Mike, Bill, and Jay finish their game in the last reentrant.  Photo:  Dondi
Mike Bading arrived with eyes glowing at the hills all around and launched himself up the hill with poles in full swing.  While he navigated cleanly for most he did lose quite a lot of time coming out far south on the road near #10 and it took him a good 20 minutes to get back on track.  He came in a shade over the time limit but managed all controls despite huge blisters on both feet that required the first aid kit.  As meet director I'm keeping him on the finisher list given what a tough day it proved to be and his persistence in finishing his game.

One minor factor was the very rough fieldwork around #1 (advanced) or #15 (intermediate).  Given the open terrain everyone did find the control sooner or later, but John realized later this area was never field checked with corrections to distinguish between the many boulders and cliffs of various sizes there.  Since this control was in full view of the finish, much time was spent studying it.  John went back the day after and fixed this for future meets.

My great appreciation goes out to those who picked up any number of controls out there, saving me much time on pickup.  Bill and Jay grabbed the last post on their way in, John collected the troublesome #1/#15 way up the hill.  Ole and Jerry grabbed their legs once more and picked up all the others in the start/finish valley!  Everyone helped carry supplies back out to our car.  My co-director and wife Dondi was essential to keeping this a low stress event for me.  She handled starts and finishes, helped packed the car, took some photos, and gave me early opportunity to start pickup before everyone was in.  Thank you!

More photos are on our yahoogroups page here:

Our next meet will see us return to our perennial favorite terrain and oasis in the desert at Rabbit Creek, courtesy of Bill Pilcher.  Melanie Schuster and Greg Davidson will direct this round.  We look forward to seeing you there, where beginners will have some flat ground and shade to enjoy!

Sunny finish photos:  Dondi

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