February 5, 2017

Dashing through the Ice and Snow at Willow

Katrina Wright slogged through the snow to find the one "post" control.
It was winter.  It was icy.  And it was wet.  That pretty much sums up the glorious orienteering conditions we had for the first orienteering meet of 2017.  A number of hungry, intrepid orienteers took up the gauntlet and slid their cars across the parking lot in order to find some of those orange squares and exercise their brains and bodies.  Which everyone did to great effect after the Boise Snowmaggedon that will go down in the history books.
Doug LaMott checks his Greenbelt footing finishing up.
There was just one score course to rule them all.  I adjusted the time limit slightly to 45 minutes after setting controls and seeing how slow it was going to be.  The finish times definitely reflected the challenge, and we only had a single orienteer just barely manage to eke them all (but ideally, I might have set the number just out of reach!)  Half the controls were 10 points, the other half were 20.  5 points per full minute deduced if overtime.
Ben Brock uses his minute to plan the route.

What route would you make?
In a good sign of the control placement, strategies varied far and wide, indicating no obvious ideal route to maximize the points.  In many cases it was a tough choice between the icy greenbelt or the surprisingly deep snow that greatly limited speed.  Those with studded shoes could make quick work of the ice, but nobody was saved from high stepping in the soft snow.
Innes Wright picks up his feet for the direct route home.
A number of orienteers immediately headed to the Veteran's side of the map, where a few more of the higher 20 pointers provided promise.  This included Bill, John, Ben, Todd, Jay, and Innes, and generally that strategy paid off as long as they could make good on some speed.  As it turned out, Jay was the most aggressive in leveraging every possible shortcut provided by the map and weather - he used the log in the high water to jump to the peninsula with #19 and #24 (avoiding the out/back), he gambled crossing the ice surrounding #33 and found it solid to a submerged log, and he used the drainage tunnel underneath Veteran's to save even more time.  Ben and Todd also played a couple of these cards to acquire their impressive totals.
Todd Dinkleman doesn't look that tired!
In a shared twist of fate, the far west side of the map around #20 proved to be a kind of Bermuda triangle for orienteers.  Both Melanie and Doug got confused around this corner, and went beyond the map boundaries before correcting their error, losing some time.  Jay intentionally saved this for the very last knowing his past navigational errors there, and then skipped it entirely to make the time limit.  Todd noted his attempt to take the indistinct trail back towards #21 instead of the Greenbelt cost him a precious minute or so before he realized how green it was, and he bailed off to the icy pavement instead.
Jerry and John review maps and a bit of running life for good measure.
All told it proved to be quite an adventurous day of orienteering out there in the winter wilds of Willow Lane.  I suspect most headed off to a few Super Bowl parties feeling a little more content for having oiled the rusty winter orienteering hinges in preparation for the future events on our calendar.

Many thanks to my infinitely patient co-director Dondi who got things set up as I scrambled in from course setting and started several off.  Special thanks to Ben and Todd who picked up a large number of controls for me right after they finished their rounds.

See you in a few weeks when Ben and Melanie make use of our new epunch system!

Jeff Black

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