May 26, 2022

Golden Day for an Orienteering Event


Some days we are just out there for the adventure. Gold Rush Middle stood up to the championship level challenge this past weekend, but it was a beautiful weekend to be momentarily lost in the woods! With 46 folks starting out on the course it was a big weekend. The terrain was big too with lots of reentrants, ridges, and hydro-mining craziness in a short distance. 

I choose to direct this meet because it seemed like a neat area and is an hour from home, however I had never done an event on this map. Luckily, with so many new members to the club I also had the support of the club leadership to reuse the courses from the 2015 championship. With a variety of course levels to choose from I had to start by acknowledging that 4 courses by myself with over 50 controls was beyond my reach. Even with these head starts, I spent a beautiful early May day hitting as many of the controls as I could, spending a good 7+ hours wandering the woods and whittling the list down to 36 controls and three maps. 

Father and son pointing at found control
Happy orienteers. Photo: Ole B.

While "reusing" courses has its advantages, trying to recreate a course has its own challenges also - you have to make sure you actually put the controls in the correct place! I had doubts in my ability the first day I went out, using every trick in the book- maps, compass, and yes, even GPS - to flag the correct locations. Even then the subtleties were tricky in such tricky terrain and I got much more practice with the control description symbols - they really are worth looking at closely (Need to study up? click here). The day before the meet while I was setting controls I had a little bit more confidence working my way back to the same locations, often from a different direction. It was a good exercise in locating different features on the map from which to navigate to the same location using different routes. (I heard stories on meet day of participants doing this same things in an attempt to locate a particular the control.) Despite all my efforts it was an amazing relief to have Margene, Elsa, and Erik finish up the sport course, followed by John on the intermediate course, and Ole on the Advanced. All my controls were close enough to the right place that they were findable!! Hooray! 

However, findable didn't always mean exactly where participants where looking! One determined participant asked mid run if one of the controls was in the correct place ?!? - minor moment of panic! - but yes, John M. had run that course early and ensured they were. Nonetheless, the determination for this particular participant paid off and the course was eventually completed, albeit to them in an unsatisfactory time. For many on this map, even a completion time was out of reach this day. The steep slopes and complexity of terrain was a challenge too great in the time frames folks had allotted themselves and many did not finish. Despite the challenges faced on the courses everyone returned with giant smiles of gold. This was the best part of the day for me. Everyone had a good time and no injuries where reported beyond a small finger cut. 

Course Terrain

Karin had a good showing in the middle of a long drive between Twin Falls and McCall. Melanie and Ole as regulars on the advanced coursed had good showings as well. Jennifer had a great event beating the team of Torin, Angela, and Jackson by less than a minute. The first finishers of the day, Margene, Elsa, and Erik, were also first on the sport course. 

Gold Rush was a family affair this year. It was great to see so many kids out with a few of them trying out the course on their own. John M was joined on the course by his son David and his family. John's grandson Sam was shadowed by his dad David on the intermediate course, while the the ladies of the family, Alecia, Belen, and Eloise took on the Sport course coming in second. Erik, along with his youngest daughters Sophia, & Julia had a short, but fun try at the spot course, while his older two, Audrey & Jonah, tried out the first few controls of the intermediate. Jeremy, Madison, Carter, Reagan returned with big smiles as well. Anne, up from Logan, Utah, and her 85 year old mother took it easy on the sport course, but can't wait to come out again. A few groups were the type of family you choose, friends that you can get lost in the woods with and still have a great day like Ashley, Mattie, and Grace or James and Pete. Plenty of other family groups and pairs where out as well which is fun to see.
Control bag hanging on a tree
When I went to this location while doing recon, I was surprised to find a control bag handing from a previous event and missed on pickup. 

Despite all the smiles, there were a few complaints. Since it wasn't all my course design to begin with though, I could pass blame for a few of those along to the previous mappers and course setters. There was a complaint about too much brush 😉 - sorry John S, careful what you say, as next month's Castle Rock is 10 times worse. I could pretend to understand the complaint about the highway noise, however, I appreciated the goodbye honking that the Wrights sent after they picked up a few controls and I was picking up a few near the highway. I heard you!! No one complained about the perfect weather, the abundance of wildflowers, or the unique wildlife finds. Christy, as first on the course, caught a glimpse and picture of a deer, and Carrie took some bone pictures. (I'd seen them too - elk maybe, they seemed large.) I found a wild turkey egg shell mostly still intact, and got scolded by some red-tail parents when I passed near an unseen nest location. While there were no reports of gold found in them thar hills, I'd say it was golden day for an orienteering meet.

Thank you to John, Melanie, Innes, and Katrina (Happy Graduation!) for helping with control pick up. 
Meet Results Table

Thank you everyone! Hope to see you June 18th for Castle Rock Traverse.

John M and Kirsten at the start desk. Hi Zach! Phot: Jennifer S.