Orienteering 3:13:42  7.7 mi (25:09 / mi) +1378ft 21:31 / mi
shoes: Ruby Red Slippers
Patapsco/Granite - Blue
18 controls; 9.3 km
Actual Distance Traveled: 12.4 km
Actual Climb: 420 m
All in all I had a good day of orienteering with one exception.
I lost a fair amount of time looking for the second control flag (195). I made a number of mistakes in the search for 195.
Mistake #1: I mistook one trail for another. Leaving the second control I headed west. I skirted the open field to the northwest of the first control flag (174). My plan was to take the trail which starts at the southwest edge of the field and that heads south and then turns southwest most of the way to 195. I found a trail and thought it was the right one. Instead of heading south-southwest I was heading west. It took me close to 161, which I found rather quickly.
Mistake #2: I didn’t check to see if 161 was part of the blue course. I assumed that it was too close to 195 to be also part of the blue course. I headed further west and circled around looking for 195, without success.
Mistake #3: I mistook the trail and the stream to the southwest of 161 to be the trail and stream to the southeast of 195. I circled around, wound up back at 161. For a moment before I reached it for the second time I thought it might be 195. I headed west again still believing I was close to 195.
Mistake #4: I took me quite a while to deduce that the big east-west open area to the north of 161 was mapped as more than just a trail. At first I thought it was the northeast-southwest trail to the northwest of 195. Once I figured out it wasn’t, it occurred to me that I might not be in the right place and to check if 161 was the 6th control on the blue course. The light bulb finally went off and I knew that I wasn’t where I originally thought I was on the map, where I needed to go and how to get there.
As painful as it was to go through this process it also boosted my confidence. The ability to recover from mistakes is as important if not more important that the ability to get things right on the first try.
After the ordeal of 195 it was more or less smooth sailing the rest of the way. I had to search around a little bit for some of the controls but not for long. I passed the 13th (159) and 14th (171) controls on my way to the 8th control (167). This made finding them that much easier later on. There were some long legs, but there were enough handrails (trails, streams, etc.) that I didn’t have trouble navigating the long distances.
I didn’t take the direct route from the 17th (169) control flag to the 18th (187). My intention was to head east and then turn south once I crossed the stream. I headed more east-northeast (than east) and wound up at the bend in the stream. From there the 18th control was more or less due south. It worked out well enough although I might have saved a little bit of time if I had headed east-southeast from the bend in the trail instead of opting for the route I took.
The weather was great. Cool and crisp but not below freezing. I started off wearing a wool cap but I took it off after 10-20 minutes. I put it back on a couple times when it got a little breezy. I ate half of the pro bar I brought with me while I was on the course. I wasn’t hungry but I know from experience that under conditions like these I need some sustenance in order to keep myself from making bad decisions.
After finishing the blue course I rested for about 20 minutes before going back out to pickup controls. I was given a fairly easy batch of 6 controls. There was supposed to be water at one of them but I didn’t find anything other than the control flag and punch box when I got there.
After orienteering I went to dinner with Dan and Jon at The Woodlands in Langley Park.