October 9, 2023


 I'm not a golfer, so I don't have any personal experience with Mulligans. I had a vague notion of the rules affording a redeeming do-over and the attendant humiliation, but nothing really solid. And, long before I associated the word with golf, I associated it with stew. That's stew where the only requisite ingredient (or should I say non-ingredient) was the kitchen sink. As in “everything but the kitchen sink”. As I pondered the Snowbank Meadows Meet, it seemed to have some of each version of Mulligan.

If there was something needed to redeem a meet of arguably dubious success, it was the weather. Saturday was a glorious sunny day with comfortable temperatures complemented by the absence of mosquitoes and the recent removal of cattle to lower elevations. Throw the recent grading of the notoriously washboard Snowbank Mountain Road, and you have the base into which to mix the other ingredients of a Mulligan stew.

Accommodations and Restroom
The meet was a Mulligan stew. Unlike almost all of our meets it required a memorable walk down an unstable slope to the start in the meadow (named Wilson Meadow on the USGS map). Most of us prefer not to remember the climb back up to the parking area after navigating the Intermediate Course (or part of it—more on that later). There were sumptuous accommodations (Notably, the accommodations were secured with a chain and padlock.) and unparalleled restroom facilities ( well, not entirely unparalleled if you consider horizontal to be parallel to the ground). Sergey had the latest start ever. He didn't start the Advanced Course until after 3 o'clock, an hour after the course closed and three hours after the last start time. The map had some “inconsistencies” and some missing features that should have been there, even though it had not been drafted to a professional quality, a prominent creek being a glaring example.

I sent out a pre-meet message with my mapper's notes and course setter's notes. I had the intention to impart useful information to the participants. John Siebold, a man of estimable intelligence and accomplishment, uncharacteristically ( I might add “incomprehensibly”.) interpreted my description of the northernmost four controls on the Advanced Course as an option to bypass the northernmost four controls on his Intermediate Course. I've often been accused of and probably am guilty of too much information, this meet report serving as evidence to support the accusation. John found the option to be an elegant solution to optimizing his performance. It wasn't strictly a Mulligan in the golf meaning, but it did very much reduce John's strokes.

Christy and Scott blew it on the very first control. They assured me the error was theirs. Whether that's true or not, they graciously omitted mention of my misplacement on the map of a line of fence posts leading directly to Control 1. Eventually, the found the boulder and went on to successfully navigate the course.

I know better than to hide controls. Controls 5 and 6 were hidden. They also were found by every orienteer, but not without some aggravation. In each case the control was exactly where indicated on the map and in the control description. Those facts do not exonerate the course setter. Perhaps a photo courtesy of Torin Ford will illustrate my blunder. If you look closely, you can see the control bag hanging off the tree wedged between the two boulders of the boulder cluster. If you stand at just the correct angle, you can see the control bag. If you don't, and you are within a couple of meters, you can't. I don't have a photo to illustrate the problem with Control 5. I won't explain except to say it was a somewhat similar blunder on my part.

Looking at the results you might conclude that Sergey completed the Advanced Course in an excellent time to capture first place. Or, you might conclude that Sergey was first because he was only. Here's my Mulligan: I don't know what Sergey's time was. The posted time is just a typical time for Sergey. He didn't start until the meet was over. He shouldn't even have a time. Sergey called me and told me he'd be late because he had to pick up his wife at the airport. One time I actually do know is that he arrived at the start at 2:44, 44 minutes after the course closed and 44 minutes after the time he told me he would arrive. Sergey gets a Mulligan because he's Sergey and, thankfully, because he picked up all of the 17 controls. Sometimes we earn our Mulligans. As he always does, Sergey sent his map with his route inscribed. Examining the map you'll see he overshot on Control 2 and circled the notorious Control 6.

It really was a good day. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beautiful venue and the courses in spite of my errors. 2023 has been a year of four good new maps beginning with Blackrock Canyon in the winter and including the spectacular world class Granite Peak. We should have some more new venues for 2024 including Sergey's new Warm Lake map. But, before we get to 2024,  Christie will add next month's Simplot Complex on November 18 to her string of first rate urban meets.

John Murray

Meet Director

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