Farmdale Recreation Area is near Peoria, IL on the east side of the Illinois River. This event served as several first time for me. This was my first time to do orienteering at the same place for two days. This was also my first time to do a night-O and a special “orienteering”, which turned out to be something that tested my pace counting. This was also my first to see people doing bike-O.
1. Day 1: night-score-O
It was a chilly Friday night. There was no snow on the ground, but the temperature was below freezing. Before the event, the club advised us to use headlamp for illumination, but I did not have one, so I brought a flashlight to go for night-O.
The night-score-O map was as follows. The time limit was two hours. All the controls were 1 point except 1, 2, 4, and 8, which had 2 points.
Notice that my route was terrible, so here was the story. The summary was: I lost the flashlight at the very beginning of the race.
My original plan was to find controls in the clockwise direction. My aim was to grab control 2 and then 1. After control 1, depending on time, I would select some of the controls on the south to grab before going back to the start/finish point.
Therefore, I started from control 14 first, since the navigation looked easier. I had not done a night-O, so I had a concern whether I could see the controls at all by the flashlight. On the way to control 14, I had to cross a river that inevitably made my feet wet. Control 14 did take me some time to find, since it was inside the forest, but I finally found it, with a price…
The batteries in the flashlight suddenly fell off, which turned off the light. I searched the batteries inside the forest for a while, but with no success. The flashlight also had to be thrown away in the end because the lid that held the batteries fell off.
This was really bad and sad. Now I knew why flashlight was not a good option for night-O. I thought whether I should go back to the start and end the course, or I should move on without the light. In the end, I chose to move on because it was a full moon light, and I felt I could find some of the controls under moonlight, since there were several open areas in the map that had controls.`
Starting my moonlight orienteering trip, I went for control 11 by using the paths in the open area.
The control was at the cliff by the river.
|Control 11 location (in day time)|
Then I made use of the path in the open land again to get to control 10. I tried to look into the forest for a re-entrant. Fortunately, I identified to correct one.
I went uphill to another open area and went for control 9. After control 9, I saw some fellow orienteering people running in the opposite direction. He asked me if I was okay or not, and I said I was okay. I felt my mission to be challenging. If in emergency, I still had a whistle. Wow! I was so adventurous.
I went for control 5 using the open area path again. Then, I started going inside the forest, feeling that I had already got accustomed to the dark, so I went to control 7 using the re-entrant system. Then, I proceeded my way to control 2. Here I started to feel the effect of inadequate light. I found difficult to read the location of the controls under dark forest. Eventually I located the power line that ran north-south. Then I used to path to try to get close to control 2. However, the forest was too dark that I could not read the map well. Therefore, I did not find the control in the end. By that time, an hour was passed and I had only another hour left. If I could do that leg again, I would use the river to guide me to the control, paying attention to the river that bends from east to northeast. The river was not a small one, and the river area was quite open without trees.
Being discouraged, I forfeited the valuable control 2 and 1, and headed to control 3, which I could reach by following the path system and locating the path bend. Then, I walked uphill and would like to reach the open land again. I used the path to get close to control 5. I got into forest and followed the re-entrant to find control 5.
Then I decided to forget about the controls in the south, which were mostly in the woods. My remaining controls to reach were 12, 17, and then 19. For control 12, I used to path in the open area again for moonlight. In control 17, I walked down the hill to meet the path, and used to path to reach control 17. It took me some time to find control 17 because it was within the woods, but it turned out to be not as difficult because I had to find a structure, and the structure turned out to be a huge one. Then, I went for control 19 because I saw open land.
|Control 17 location (in daytime)|
On the southwest of control 19 was a dam. By that time I suddenly saw control 20. I did not see the control on the map until now. Seeing that I still had about 10 minutes left, I went for this control. I had to go up the dam and then go down, though. I used the road to guide me back to the start, and I did not get late!
|The dam in day time|
When I went back to the start/finish line and used the light there to read the map again, I saw control 4 in the green area, which was south and not far away from control 5. I did not see this control on the map until by that time. I thought if I saw control 4 on the map, I might consider finding it, since it had 2 points.
In summary, this was an unique night-O experience and I was amazed that I could still find some controls without the flashlight. After this event, I bought a headlight from Wal-mart for about $15. This would be used in the future night outdoor events. As it turned out, I used this to find geocaches in the dark, too.
That evening, I would really like to thank those people who organized this event allowed me to stay at their place overnight in Peoria so that we could do orienteering in the next day without driving back and forth. I got great air bed, comforter, and pillow to sleep and some croissant and orange juice for the breakfast next day.
2. Day 2: mystery-O
There were actually several events on the same day. People could do traditional foot-O, although there were only white (beginner), yellow (advanced beginner), and orange (intermediate) courses. Some people brought mountain bikes, for there were two sets of MTBO (Mountain Trek Bike Orienteering) available. This one actually looked interesting, since I had not seen such events before.
For me who did not have a mountain bike, I chose another choice of foot-O called the mystery-O. I did not know the format of it until that day. The rule was that instead of giving a map, I only got the bearing and distance to each control. I still got a clue sheet that had control number and feature description, but no map was given. I guessed orienteering purist would not consider this as orienteering because there was no map involved. Still, I liked this course because I learned my distance of pace since this event (e.g. 1 step = ~1 m for me). I learned pace counting after this course. However, I could not use my thumb compass because that was no marking of angles at all.
The clue sheet and distance/bearing descriptions were shown below:
Since I did not know my pace in the beginning, the greatest trouble was in control 1. I went way far away then the clue was stated. I felt like I found control 1 just by luck. Therefore, I estimated my approximate distance of a step and used the estimate to guess how many steps I had to use for going to control 2. I thought one step = 0.5 m. Then I found I stepped about half of my estimate to reach a marker. Therefore, I knew one step = 1 m, and used this for the rest of the course, since using this pace rate did estimate the control location quite accurately. Then, I had no trouble in finding the rest of the controls.
Below shows the locations of the controls that I thought in the mystery-O, as well as the route that I thought I took.
While running the mystery-O, I saw some bikers doing a MTBO course, so I took some pictures too. This picture was taken near control 3.
As well as some control locations (control 6):
3. Day 2: Geocaching
I did geocaching right after finishing the orienteering course, as usual. There were only two caches that were within the map area, but one of them was a mystery cache that had a 5-star difficulty rating. The other one was a typical ammo box cache, but the cache was close to night-O control 4. Therefore, both of the caches took me a lot of walking. In fact, I walked for geocaches farther than running for orienteering.
I needed to do some homework before finding the mystery cache, but the clue from homework only took me to the first stage of the cache, which was near control 18. There, I found a cache that had a piece of paper showing 4 sets of GPS coordinates. One of them was exactly at control 17. Another one was near control 4, which means I could also find the other cache along the way. One of them was uphill of control 3. The last one was about 250 m north of control 1. Each location did have something to tell you that you were at the right location. One of them had a further clue in the small bottle, while two of the others had a plate fixed on something and one of them was craved on a rock. The further clues on each of the points were not the next coordinates, but in various form of clues. For example, one said +xxx to north – xxx to south, while the other one had a description that seemed to guide a person to another place. In the beginning, I thought I just needed to collect all the clues together to find out where the final location was. However, it appeared to me that the clue in each of the 4 places directed to another location for each place. Since this cache took me too much walking, I stopped solving the mystery here.
The map below shows the approximate locations of the mega-mystery cache in each stage and the other traditional cache.