jump to navigation

Brush up on Your Navigation July 10, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, orienteering.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

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!

North American Rogaine Championships (Orienteering) May 27, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, extreme sports, Just Stuff, orienteering, team challenge.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

Ray and I decided at the last minute to enter the 8 hour Rogaine that was part of the North American Rogaine Championships put on by the Tucson Orienteering Club.  We raced as team GO Adventure Recreation.

This endurance orienteering event was held up on the Mogillion Rim northeast of Payson, Arizona.  Along with the 8 hour competition, there were also 12 and 24 hour events.

We arrived at about 8:30am and had just enough time to set out our gear and double check our supplies before maps were handed out at 9:00.  The course would open at 11:00am. This gave us 2 hours to plan our best route in order to maximize our score and still make it back by the 8 hour cut off.  We decided to stay primarily on the east side of the map in the area of Wildcat Canyon.  In looking at the topo map, we could could see that the terrain was steep, and would be slow going in some areas.  There were so many tall ponderosa pines, that we also knew that navigating would not be done by landmarks, but by bearing and distance.

When the course opened we started out to the south at a good brisk hiking pace of 6km/hr.  I had fairly new shoes, but I figured they would be fine.  We found our first control right away, then headed for the second.  On the way to it, I could already feel a little hot spot developing on my heel…..darn.

We got the second control then headed for the third.  On the way to it, I decided I had better change socks and put on a thicker pair. Too late!!  My heel already had a nickel sized blister on it.  Bummer, we were only 3 miles in, and I was already having issues.  I put on my thicker wool socks and tightened up my shoe and off we went.

For the first 3 hours, our navigation was spot-on.  We walked right to every control, until we tried to find the dreaded number 45!  We figured it to be exactly 90° and 500 meters from the intersection of two forest roads on the map, so after we found the intersection, we followed our compasses east for about 500 meters…..nothing!  We walked in big circles….nothing!  We went back up to the center of the ridge and followed it down according to the topography…..still nothing!!  We eventually decided to move on to the next control. Dang it, we had just wasted 30 minutes and missed out on 40 points!

We hiked into a very steep walled canyon that was the main part of Wildcat Canyon toward an 80 point control.  Once in the bottom, we made good time and found the control without any problem.  Our fiasco with #45 now required that we re-evaluate our proposed route.  We would not have enough time to get as many controls as we had originally planned.  So we modified (code for shortened) our intended route.

Somewhere on the way to the next control, my heel blister burst with an agonizing burning feeling and I could feel the liquid in my sock. Yuck!  Oh well, nothing I could do about it now!  And on we went.  Now you might be asking yourself, “Doesn’t he know about moleskin?”  The answer is yes, I do, however, my feet sweat so profusely when I hike that nothing, and I mean nothing will stick to them.  So moleskin is a no-go for me, neither is duct tape, or band-aids, or anything else.

In order to try and shorten this story, I will tell you that we navigated very well the remainder of our day and made it back to the Start/Finish with under five minutes to spare, having scored 790 points and hiked over 21 miles in 8 hours.

The route we took at the Rogaine

The route we took at the Rogaine

We weren’t sure where that ranked us, but have since discovered that 790 points was good enough for 5 place overall, and 1st place in the team division.  That’s right, we are the North American Rogaine Champions (in the 8 hour team event).

The profile of our 8 hour Rogaine

The profile of our 8 hour Rogaine

Adventure Racing Tidbits January 16, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, extreme sports, Just Stuff.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Here is a quick overview of the History of Adventure Racing, that I found just tag surfing this today.  While it only really covers the big expedition events, it is a decent primmer.

Wikipedia has a much more extensive article about AR, and it even has a link to a race that I am the director of, the Gilmore Adventure Race.  Speaking of Wiki, we all know not to trust it as a reliable source right?  That is because anyone can go onto it and change info at any time…so reading from it is more like saying, “Someon told me……”  Lots of good info in Wiki, just use other sources to verify it!

Also found this article called Why I love Adventure Racing, and You Should Too! This is a re-publication of an article that world class adventure racer and all around AR stud Ian Adamson wrote a while back.

Sand Storm Race was Tough! October 22, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking, orienteering, trails.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

I raced with Jonea as Team GO-AR in Tucson on Saturday.  Actually it wasn’t in Tucson, it was east of Tucson on Reddington Pass Rd.

We arrived at the race site at about 6:00am and began to get our gear together.  At the 6:15 pre-race meeting the race directors Aaron and Rick told us that those of us doing the long course would be doing things in the following order:  A short “scramble” to two points to pick up our checkpoint card at one, and a ziplock baggie for trash at another, then a mountain biking leg with a bike drop in it, at the bike drop there was going to be an orienteering section, then biking back to the TA, then a final trekking section.

Looking around, I noticed that the terrain was going to be a challenge.  It was rocky with lots of grass that had cat-claw and cactus hiding in it, and it most certainly was not flat!  The directors had suggested that racers have slimed tubes, and now I could see why.

The first two points on the scramble could be retrieved in any order, so at the start teams went two different directions.  We chose to run down the road, and let the uphill be on jeep trail.  Within about 100 yards, teams were already spreading out, and the white and yellow streak ahead of us was the last sign of Dave and Windy on Team Big Fish Creative that we saw all day! Not far behind them were 6 racers all racing as 3 different Adventure Racing Concepts teams.  We picked up our ziplock baggie (this was to help us control our snack and goo wrappers) and headed around a hill toward the next point.  The map we were using was an USGS topo that was old and did not show all the roads that were actually there now, and instead of trusting my sense of direction, when I saw another team coming down a road toward us from the point, I just assumed (yes, I know about that word) that was the right way to go….oops. It actually did take us there eventually, but not until we had gone half a mile farther than we needed to.  The silver lining behind this cloud is that two other teams that have great navigators on them (Rick Eastman on Sierra Adventure Sports, and Ron Birks on Team Tubac) both made the same mistake, so I was in good company in my errant route choice.  We got the checkpoint card and headed back to the TA to transition to mountain biking.

Rather than actually plot the biking points, I just looked at the coordinates and eyeballed the point locations so we could get to pedaling.  We biked a couple of miles up Reddington Pass Rd. to B1, then took a nice piece of single track that was part of the Arizona Trail down a long ridge.  We got B2 then continued down to a jeep trail that started back up the next ridge over.  Jonea had something weird going on with her breathing in that she was panting and out of breath, and 4 teams passed us as we headed for then found B3.  When the jeep trail hit Reddington Pass Rd. we crossed over and back onto more single track that was part of the AZ Trail again.  This trail climbed up, and up some more to B4 where another 2 teams passed us.  Then we started a descent that was filled with water bars and rocks, with a very tight hairpin thrown in for fun.  Right after the hairpin, we came upon a “rec course” team of two girls, and one of them was hurt.  She must have gone over her bars, because she had scraped up the knuckles on one hand, torn loose a fingernail on the other, and had a huge dent right in to top of her brand new helmet!  We stopped and checked on them, asking if she could see ok, and if she could move everything.  Once we were sure that they didn’t require emergency help, we continued down the trail.  Let me tell you, this single track was very challenging because not only was it filled with obsticles, but the grass on both sides of it was knee high.  When the trail ahead of you is straight, no problem….but when there are turns in it, you can’t see the trail ahead because of the tall grass. There was also a section that was thick with puncture vine and cat-claw on the trail, boy am I glad we listened about the slime! We got B5, then B6 was where the trail dropped us out on a ranch road.  As we turned onto the ranch road, we saw Team Tubac stopped and stretching out Brad’s leg cramps.  We asked if they were ok, and then headed toward the bike drop.  On the way there, we saw one of the teams that had passed us heading back toward us.  As we passed, he asked if we was sure that we were going the right direction. When I said “absolutely!”, they turned back around and passed us again….they didn’t know where it was!  Meanwhile, it appeared that Jonea had recovered and was breathing fine again.

At the bike drop, we were given a map and punch card for the orienteering section.  The Tucson Orienteering Club was going to have an O-meet the next day, so Monsoon Adventures had collaberated with them on this section, pretty cool idea!  We found O1 right away, then somehow on the way to O2 we lost the punch card!  While we backtracked to find it, Team Tubac passed us again.  Luckily, I found the card that had blown into some grass by the side of the jeep trail we were following, and we continued on toward O2.  On the way to O3 we caught back up with Tubac, and then dropped down into the wash that the point was in, then followed it up to the point.  We got there about 30 seconds before Tubac!  We headed up the wash again toward O4.  I took us too far up the wash, and we had to go up a different canyon than I had planned to get to the saddle that O4 was on, so we were pretty sure that Tubac was ahead of us again.  As we traversed a hillside on the way to O5 we could see a team ahead of us, but it wasn’t Tubac, it was someone else. Both our camelbaks were out of water, but I was carrying a small bottle in my hand, so we sipped on that the rest of the way.  We got O5 and headed down across a valley toward O6.  Now we could see the other team and ahead of them, we could see the guys of Team Freedom.  We went up over another ridge to get O7, then back to the bike drop.  The volunteers told us that Tubac had not come in yet. They also had lots of water there, so we refilled our camelbaks, and changed shoes again for the ride back to the TA.  We had done the 4 mile orienteering section in a little over an hour and a half.

We knew it was going to be a long climb, so we hooked up a towing system so I could help Jonea go a little faster up the hills.  When we were almost to the top, I could feel the toll that running out of water earlier and the hot mid-day sun was taking on me.  Nauseous and dizzy, I was about to bonk!  We unhooked the tow strap, and walked up the last steep hill slowly while I tried to get some electrolytes and water back into my system.  We rode into the TA, having done 16.6 miles on the bikes, and I sat in the shade beside the truck while I changed shoes again and then plotted the points for the upcoming trekking leg. We ate some bagels, and again topped off our packs with water.

As we headed out toward T1 I could feel the beginning twinges of a cramp in my left quad….bummer.  We got up to T1 when I tried to unzip the pocket of my shorts to get the checkpoint card, it was jammed.  I even broke the pull off of it trying to unzip it!  We need that card!  I had to take out my knife and cut my pocket open so we could punch T1 and continue.  We went down and across a small valley to a saddle where we got T2.  In looking at the map, I figured that the best way to get to T3 was to go across to the top of the canyon that it was in and just go down the drainage to it.  As it turned out, this descision probably cost us about 10 minutes, because the canyon was chocked full of manzanita and oak brush!  We battled through the thick brush and made it to T3 eventually.  We then continued down the canyon and across another wash to the bottom end of a ridge that would take us to T4.  We climbed for what felt like forever up this interminably long ridge, and caught up with another team just as we topped out and found T4.  It turns out that this other team was also a “rec course” team on their trekking leg.  I found myself feeling sorry for anyone who was using this “rec course” as their very first race!  At T4, we rested in the little spot of shade we found before our assault on the 5th trekking point that the race directors had labelled BFM.  They said that stood for Beg For Mercy, but after plotting it on top of a mountain, we knew that it stood for something else entirely!  We made the climb up to BFM by just putting one foot in front of another the whole way up.  I plotted our course on my MapTech topo program this week, and found out that the hill we climbed straight up to BFM was a 56% grade.  My cramping quad was killing me on this ascent.  At the top, we took a minute to high-five and look around at the amazing view of all the territory we had covered since the start of the race.  This was a very beautiful venue for an event.  The last point was on top of a smaller hill between us and the finish line, so we headed back down the other side of the mountain toward T6.  We picked up T6 and made the short trek to the road where we ran (barely) in to cross the finish line 7 hours and 43 minutes after we started.

We finished 3rd in the 2 person Co-ed division to ARC (Jim and Jane) and Big Fish (Dave and Windy), and figured that anytime you can podeum with those 2 teams, you are doing something right!  We were just glad to finish the entire race.

Orienteering Meet at Coon Bluff October 13, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Events, orienteering.
Tags: , , , , ,
comments closed

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.

Busy Weekend Ahead! October 9, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, Events, orienteering, trails.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

This weekend, one of my adventure racing teammates and I are going to race in the Extreme Heat Night Race in Phoenix on Saturday night, and then on Sunday my wife Tracie and I are going to take part in the Orienteering Meet that the Phoenix O Club is putting on at Coon Bluff!

I will return with full reports of both activities.

The GAR is Almost Here! September 14, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing, Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking.
Tags: , , , , , ,
comments closed

Less than a week now to the Gilmore Adventure Race near Prescott, Arizona.  Kent and Bob and I did a mountain bike ride on the short course yesterday, and everything is looking good.

Teams are coming from all over the state and southern California to be a part in the what has become the largest (in attendance) and longest running (in years) adventure race in Arizona.

They will begin to arrive on Friday about mid-day, by Saturday at sunrise, we will have almost 200 people revved up and ready to go.

This year’s event will send teams of 2 or 3 persons out into the mountains where they will mountain bike, trek, hike, complete mystery events and finish up with a freestyle navigation leg that is very similar to an orienteering meet.

The weather gurus (yeah right!) are predicting perfect weather for the day.

I can’t wait!