Orienteering, or are we just totally lost?

3 September 2013

When you're trying to find Number 3 and you stumble across Number 12, then you know you are totally lost!  Seriously lost.  But, in finding Number 12, we found our mojo and completed the entire track ... backwards.

What, you ask, am I raving about? Orienteering ... of course.  Doesn't everyone go orienteering on a beautiful September morning on the Gold Coast? No ... Well, I suppose not, but I was visiting my pineapple-infatuated friend, Linda, and, for Fathers' Day she thought it would be a great idea to try orienteering.

Neal, her dutiful husband and father of her two amazing sons, had, unbeknownst to me, been a gun orienteering youngster in his days of non-grey hair, Scouts and woggle wearing.  Linda and I, well, let's say we were orienteering virgins.  Short skirt, white T-shirt ... I did at least sport my walking shoes.  How was I to know it would mean scaling fences, wandering through overly moist, not-quite-swamp-land, tackling spider webs, weaving through pine forests AND heaps of FUN?  Yep, capital letters, F-U-N!

After some, in hindsight, meaningful instructions from the organising orienteering guru, we set off. Neal on his own: Linda and I together. We had a map, a pretty and colourful map, with a legend on the side which we were meant to be able to comprehend AND use ... apparently.

Our colourful and pretty map.

We felt secure with two minds and two opinions ... that was until we hit our nemesis ... Number 3.  Prior to Number 3 we had learnt a lot.
  1. We were looking for little orange and white box-kitey-type things hanging in trees or on whatever

and that we must clip the control card at each checkpoint.

     2. These white and orange box-kitey-type things had numbers on them that were important ... apparently ... This meant the Number 1 that we had clicked was wrong. It did NOT have 31 on it! Oh, well. We were beginners after all.
     3. The other pieces of paper (legend and control sheet) were also important and helpful ... apparently.  

Our apparently helpful legend.
But, by Number 3, we came to realise that we were bad map readers, VERY bad map readers and very bad users of the other apparently-helpful pieces of paper ... because we stumbled across ... Number 12!  Yeah! At least we found something.  The fact that this proved we were nowhere near where we thought we were on the map did not deter us. Oh no!   (Look closely at the map up above and you'll agree!)  We simply decided that we would henceforth complete the course backwards ... and, at times, sideways ... but, we were determined, zealously determined that WE WOULD FINISH and have all 18 checkpoints clicked.

We soldiered on. 

And on ...

And into the forest ... there it is!!!

Until, at last, 100 minutes later, all 18 check points had been clicked off correctly. (Yes, we redid Number 1 so it was correctly clicked.)  We were triumphant! We had walked over 7kms without thinking about it! We were no longer orienteering virgins and we'd had a ball!

Mark, the organising-orienteering guru, wanted to debrief.  How did we go?  Strangely, he covered his ears and groaned when we mentioned covering the track backwards and sideways and that we had redone Number 1.  He became catatonic when we mentioned finding Number 12 when in search of Number 3.  Yet, he was euphoric when we announced how much fun we'd had and enquired about when it might be on again.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the 20 year old apprentice-guru completed the course in 30 minutes and 40 seconds and that Neal completed it in 70 ... but we laughed more!  They obviously didn't fall head first over the fence or scream around crazily in a spider's web.

So, should you want to have 100 minutes of fun ... or 70 ... or 30 and 40 seconds, catch up with Mark at his next event at Musgrave Hill on September 29.  It's cheap.  It's fun.  It gets friends and family out in the fresh air exercising without even realising it. (More info on their Facebook page and on oq.asn.au, Paradise Lost Orienteers.) 

Orienteering was a hoot!  We'd never met Mark before or heard of Paradise Lost Orienteers, but we'd do it again for sure.

Have you had a go at orienteering?  Are you as good as Linda and I are at map reading?  Tell me your stories. 

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