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Brush up on Your Navigation July 10, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, orienteering.
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There is a new product available to help you brush up on your navigation skills when you can’t get outside to do it for real.

It is billed as a “Table Top Adventure Race and Navigation Challenge”  and is available from ARNavSupplies.com

Check it out!

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Orienteering Meet at Coon Bluff October 13, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Events, orienteering.
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Yesterday Tracie and I went to the Coon Bluff Score-O that the Greater Phoenix Orienteering Club hosted.

I have only ever been to one O-meet, and Tracie had never done it before.  We got there and saw our friends Rick and Kim were there too, so were Jonea (my AR teammate) and her son Brock.  Tracie and I got our map and headed out with thoughts of trying to get to some of the 50 pointers as quickly as possible while picking up some others on the way.  We got the first 10 pointer in about 2 minutes, then headed up a steep gully toward another control on the top of a ridge overlooking the Salt River.  We hadn’t done anything to warm up, so the sudden load of intense cardio was tough as we trudged up the steep gully.  One we got the next point, we realized that it had already been 20 minutes (we were only allowed to be out on the course for 2 hours), so we modified our plan and decided to stay a little closer to the start/finish.

We headed up the ridge and over into a little saddle.  We went down one side of the ridge about 100 yards to aquire another point, then back and off the other side down to a deep trench where there was another control.  Tracie wanted to learn to navigate, so we spent time at each control looking at the map, orienting the map, and getting a bearing toward the next control point.  Tracie was doing well at reading the map, but having a hard time determining the bearings.  I told her to not worry about it, that I have to remind myself how to do it almost every time I am out.

We headed down a wash then around some big boulders and over into another re-entrant to the next control.  5 down with one hour to go.  We headed up to a marked trail then followed that all the way up to the highest point on Coon Bluff where we found our next point.  On the way down the other side, we crossed paths with Ron the race director who was running it solo (no, he didn’t know where the points were, as someone else set the course).

We picked up our 7th point in another re-entrant partway down the hill.  Then we crossed over into a wider flatter valley and found another control.  We now had only 40 minutes left, so we looked at how we could maximize our effort and still make it back in time.  We skirted around the side of a hill and located our 9th control in a narrow gully.  Then further yet around the same hill to get another.   We had only 22 minutes left now……oh the pressure!

From there we went up and over the next ridge to point 11. We hiked down a narrow wash that was filled with big boulders to get our last control point, we now had only 8 minutes to make it back without incurring any penalties.  We made it down to the wash that paralleled the road and followed it down until we could cross the fence and get onto the roadway. We jogged across the parking area and made it back to the timing station with 37 seconds to spare!

We ended up with 300 total points out of 750 possible, but felt good about the experience.  We had a nice hike together, and Tracie got to see what navigation and orienteering is all about.  It was a great way to spend a day with the one I love.

Rocks Lurk Below September 15, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, orienteering.
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Kent and I were joined by our buddy Pat yesterday as we vetted the freestyle navigation portion of the GAR.  It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon. The sky was a bright blue doom from horizon to horizon and the temperature was about 75°F.

The grass and weeds that have grown so well this year due to all our monsoon rains are now turning from green to yellow-brown.  What looks like a nice smooth hillside as you approach it is really a rock strewn, ankle-twisting nightmare masked by the grass.  Not only are there rocks lurking below the “surface”, but there are also shin high catclaw bushes that grab at your legs, ankles and shoes with every step.

Now that I am done whining about the hiking conditions, I can tell you that despite a few scratches and pokes, we had a great time on our walkabout.  We spent the better part of the afternoon on hilltops, in canyons and amongst the trees, spotting several deer and other creatures as we hiked.

It will be interesting to see if any teams can actually clear the freestyle nav. portion of this course.  It will require someone that is good with a topo map and compass. It is pretty spread out, and in some tough terrain.  We will know on Saturday!

Is PQ watering down Adventure Racing? June 18, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation.
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The Primal Quest directors sent out a message to team captains this week that could lead a watering down of what Adventure Racing is all about. It reads:

Important Message for Captains

Primal Quest Race Management has made the decision NOT to prohibit the use of GPS units in PQ Montana. This decision was made due to the fact that the course still has a great deal of snow covering trail and road markings, and we need to ensure that competitors do not wander into avalanche and cornice hazard areas.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about safety, BUT this is Adventure Racing for God’s sake! The participants know the dangers, they know how to navigate, and they know what kind of epic event the PQ is!

I am sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish the PQ, and I know I am armchair quarterbacking this, but won’t it be like a 10 day Hi-Tech or Balance Bar race if GPS receivers are used? My 4 year old grand daughter can follow the arrow on my GPSr.

My personal feeling (in case you couldn’t tell) is that Adventure Racing is about using a map and compass to navigate. Pure and simple. If you have an area on your map that racers are not allowed to go into, mark it in red crosshatch, and let that be enough. They know at any given time where they are, and where they need to go, especially at PQ!! These are the best of the best!

My Rant is done.

Arizona Adventure Racing February 25, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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Whenever I meet new people, in the course of discussion they almost always end up asking me, “What is Adventure Racing?” Well, here is the Wiki definition. Here in Arizona, we have a very active AR community. Most races are what fall under the “sprint race” category, meaning that they are less than 12 hours in duration, however, contrary to the Wiki definition, several of the Arizona races require teams to be very good at navigation and UTM point plotting.