Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Orienteering Monster

I've created a monster.  Not just any monster, but an orienteering monster.
You see, Sunday there was an O meet being run by two friends who used to work with me (Rick and Uday) and it was all of 20 minutes from the house.  So, of course I was going to go.  I'd said something about going hiking Sunday Saturday afternoon after Boo and I picked up Gak and we were talking about the rest of the weekend.  Boo pipes up that he wants to go hiking too.
So, I said sure!  I finally got around to getting the frame kid carrier backpack from Kat, so I knew he'd be able to ride in style and comfort.  I half expected him to say no the next morning, but he asked me about it before I could ask him.
We left the house around 9:00 (I actually had to go pick up said backpack from Kat's porch.) and after a bit of going in circles because I thought I'd made a wrong turn but I hadn't so had to back track back to the road I was on... we get to the park a little before 10.  Actually, it was a Boy Scout camp ground. 
Uday and Mary were working the start, so I caught up with them a bit and got Boo situated in the pack.  He's a funny boy.  He loves splashing in puddles, but not mud puddles.  There were lots of mud puddles in the parking lot with the rain late last week.  He also doesn't want to ride in the pack until you actually put him in it and get it on and start out.  Then he doesn't want to get out.
Now, a few things to remember.  Boo now weighs about 30 lb, so about 32 lb with the weight of the pack as well.  I haven't done much orienteering in 3 years and it's been just about a year since I last went.  I'd already been having a bit of one of "those" mornings with things not quite going right.  And I'm stubborn, did I mention that before?

Anyhow, looking at the stats and knowing my normal skill level is about at Orange, I decide to go with the Yellow course.  The white just sounded too short and there was no way I was going to do an orange with Boo on my back!
The first challenge is heading up the hill to where the start is.  Rick is working start so I catch up with him for a few moments as I catch my breath.  The path to the first control is marked with streamers because... well... the path doesn't really exist as well as it does on the map.
This should have been my first (okay, maybe 2nd or third by now) clue that it wasn't going to be an easy walk in the park.  I do just fine getting to the first control.  I catch up with a mom and her teenage son doing white (their second control) and "help" them out.  Yeah, I helped both of us in the wrong direction.  So, after about 20 minutes of walking around in circles around a building that wasn't the one I thought it was, I finally head in the right direction.
Everything continues fairly well after that.  I spend a lot of my time walking and talking with Boo.  I show him the map and the trails (some are not as nice as they are on the map... and there's a lot more marshy ground than is marked on the map... since there isn't really any on the map...).  We talk about what we're seeing and where we're going and what we're hearing.  I catch sight of a deer, but he misses it by the time he turns his head.  He only asked a few times "are we there yet" and that was at the beginning when I was getting frustrated and walking in circles.
This course had 10 controls.  Other than my debacle getting turned around leaving the first one, things go well until number 6.  I pass right past it about 4 times before a scout master who was cleaning up the fire pit it was near (they'd used it the night before) pointed it out to me.  (It was slightly down a hill and on the far side of the boulder so not easily seen...)  I made it to number 7 spot on.  Unfortunately, I should have actually taken the long way.  I never did find the trail that would lead me right to number 8.
Oh, did I mention that 7 to 8 is the longest leg of the course and that it's right on the edge of the map?  Not the edge of the camp property, just the edge of the map.  So, on one side I had a lot of vague things that I couldn't really place on the map and on the other side I had landmarks, but no map.  To make a long story short, I missed number 8, thought I was near number 9 but couldn't find it and came across a father/son team looking for number 9.  They pointed me to number 8.  I never did find 8, but I did find 9.  So, after a little more wandering and making Boo climb around a bit too because by now my back was killing me, I misspunched and headed for 10.  I never found 10, but I did find the finish.  Good enough!

I've been reminded of a few things with this little adventure.  I don't do well on long legs between controls.  Even if it's along a path.  I don't do well in camp ground areas where there are lots of little trails not on the maps because they're not official trails, just worn places where people have gone between buildings for years.  I was also reminded how much fun it can be to do this with someone.

After 2 hours and 20 minutes (from start to finish, probably more like 2.5 hours all told) Boo and I get back to check in.  I get some help getting Boo off my back, as I'm sure he didn't really want to be half dropped again like I'd done earlier.  I chat with Uday and Jerry (another friend from work) for a bit and we head home.  Boo and I did just about 5 miles of trail walking, boulder scrambling and just enjoying the outdoors.

And how do I know I created a monster?  Because this morning as we were cuddling on the sofa he asked if I was going to "do a yellow" today.  It took me a minute to figure out what he was referring to.  Once I understood what he meant and asked if he wanted to go hiking again, I got a very enthusiastic yes!.
So, it looks like if my boy-o has his way, I'll be walking 3-5 miles every Sunday.  I'm not really complaining, but Gak and my shoulders might.... I've got to readjust that pack so more of his weight ends up on my hips instead of my shoulders and with Gak's knee, there's no way he can join us often unless we go for a hike on level, paved ground.
Yes, Boo is my son.  I have created a monster, and I'm actually kinda happy about that.

Alas, I have to get back to work.  I'll have to write more again later as there is a lot buzzing around in my head.

Peace to all and may all your monsters be good, healthy ones.

No comments: