There's been a discussion
about the best orienteering areas in each state (and Canadian province). I've been thinking I should put together my own list.
So I think I will start. It may take me a while, in part because I want to give links to all the maps so someone can see what I'm talking about, and that means I've got to scan them, and to do that I've first got to find them.
It may also take a while because I think I'll also try to figure out the worst areas in each state/province. I'm not trying to dis anyone. It just seems like a good way to dredge up some old memories. And if you take offense, well, no one forced you to read this.
So let's start with New England, my home territory for the past 35 years. Interesting that in 35 years I have managed to run on just 2 maps in 3 of the 6 states, so my whole experience in those 3 states will be on display.
And for anyone concerned about the propriety of naming the worst areas, maybe you'll feel better if you realize that in at least 3 states it's just another way of saying second best. (Which reminds me of the t-shirt I saw once on what looked to be a former marine -- on the first line it said "Southeast Asia War Games," on the second line it gave the dates of the Vietnam War, and on the third line it said "Second Place.") :-)
Maine. Been there twice for orienteering, once at Thorncrag
near Bates College in Lewiston for the first-ever A meet in the state, once to the second-ever A meet at Pineland Farms, site of the 2004 relay champs. Both were decent area, good events. Thorncrag gets the nod for best in the state (and Pinelands the worst) only because my main memory of Pinelands is wrenching my hamstring part of the way around the course on Saturday and sitting out the rest of the weekend, and how can you have good feelings about an area after that? Not fair, but true....
New Hampshire. This one is pretty easy. Pawtuckaway
is the best, first used for a World Cup race in 1992. Sure, it has some bad places, sure it has had to survive an epidemic of excess form lines, but when it is good it is wonderful.
And the worst? Old-timers will remember Smarts Brook
up in the White Mountains, used one weekend when the convention was in nearby Plymouth in 1985 and wisely never used again. The vegetation was atrocious, the terrain was severe, and, what the hell, might as well say it, it didn't help things that the first day's start was misplaced by 400 meters.
Vermont. Another case of having only been orienteering there twice, but here the decision is easy. The best, and it was very fine, is Beaver Brook Farm
, site of the 2002 relay champs.
The worst is an area that I would venture to guess that at most one or two other AttackPointers have run on, if that. It is Indian Flats and Mountains of the Moon
, just south of Brattleboro between I-91 and the Connecticut River. The reason for the map, used just once, and for the event, was to celebrate the publishing of Orienteering for Sport and Pleasure
, written by Hans Bengtsson and George Atkinson, the publisher Stephen Green Press being located in Brattleboro, on the edge of the map. It was a pro-am competition. The orienteers were the pros. The amateurs were various folks from other parts of the universe (publishing, marketing, other sports), the most well-known being XC skier Bill Koch. I think my partner and I won. Being a "pro," the prize was cash, 5 dollars to be precise. Silver dollars. I believe I still have them.
And for anyone complaining about the quality of mapping these days, or the quality of printing, this is a fine example of what I learned to orienteer on.
Massachusetts. Lots of possibilities here. I like Mt. Tom, I like parts of Quabbin, though it hasn't been used for years. The best award almost goes to an area that is clearly no longer the best because the woods have gotten a whole lot thicker, and clearly never had the best map, or even a very good map, but it was wonderful terrain. I'm talking about Boxford, NW of Boston. Maybe I have a soft spot in my heart for Boxford because I won the US Champs there in 1978, coming from behind on the second day to nip George Tuthill. But honesty prevails, and the best goes to Baldwin Hill
in the north central part of the state near Ashburnham. Just a nice place, though it may have suffered from last winter's ice storm.
And now the worst. So many candidates. One out in my part of the state, Holyoke Community College, steep and full of miserable sharp rocks. Lots in the eastern part of the state, mainly because of thick woods, such as Powisset, and High Rock, and Wrenthem. I've stayed away from them for years. But the winner is one I've been to many a time, the lure is the event and not the map or terrain, yup, it's Blue Hills East
. Truly awful. Rocky, hilly, crappy woods. It's used for the first part of the Traverse most years, and the strategy seems to be to get the orienteers over to Blue Hills West (not that BHW is that much better) as fast as possible. I've run there maybe 20 times, and probably haven't visited over half the map because you just don't want to go there. The only reason to go is because the Traverse is a cool event.
I've heard talk of remapping BHW and BHE and holding the US Champs there. Is someone insane?
Rhode Island. Again, only two choices, and here the choice is which is worse. And the winner for the worst is Diamond Hill
, lots of scruffy terrain and crappy woods, and scene of the control being defended by the guy with a gun, since it appeared that it was on his land and he took exception to that. Needless to say, the results that day were tossed.
By default the best is George Washington SF
, site of the 1987 US Champs, shaky map, nice in a few places but lots of knee-high (or higher) blueberry/huckleberry bushes. Only in Rhode Island would this take first place.
Connecticut. Lots of great areas in the state, the best being Ansonia Nature Center
(site of day 1 of the WCOC A meet in May) by a narrow margin over Trout Brook Valley
. Ansonia is so sweet, good woods, good terrain, not too hilly, not too rocky, just right.
And the worst is Brooksvale
, a place that fortunately not many have been exposed to. A lot more crappy woods than desired, and it could use a map. Well, it has a map, but that map just needs to be tossed and things started over from scratch.
To be continued....