Orienteering 3:19:34  7.6 mi (26:16 / mi) +1020ft 23:18 / mi
shoes: Ruby Red Slippers
Prince William Forest/North Fork - Blue
25 controls; 8.4 km; 310 m
Actual Distance Traveled: 12.2 km
Actual Climb: 311 m
I forgot to start my Garmin until after I was on the way to the first control. Using Garmin Basecamp I estimate that I was 0.3 miles from the start at that point. I turned it on and checked periodically to make sure it was still running. At Cabin John my Garmin stopped tracking my progress a couple minutes in; I'm not sure why that happened.
I screwed up my approach to the first control (101) but I managed to recover, eventually. I think I was distracted by all the other people around me. I was headed in the right direction (northeast) when I decided that 101 was east of my position at the time. I should have continued to head northeast, instead I turned east and wound up at the creek. Realizing where I was, more or less, I turned around. I headed west-northwest until I was able to deduce that I was one hilltop over from the one where 101 was located.
The sun was shining brilliantly, and in my eyes for most of the second half of the course. I forgot to bring my brimmed hat. I shaded my eyes frequently with the map. It helped some but I think the bright sunlight contributed in large part to the amount of time is took me to find 115.
As I approached 115 the first time I was wide right but not by a huge amount. Once I was in the area I chose to circle to my right but it wasn't there. I turned back to search to the left and walked right past it without finding it. I wandered around for a while without finding it. I didn't see any one else in the area. I started to wonder if I was in the wrong area. I crossed the creek and looked back up in the area where I thought it was. It was a little easier to see in that direction because the sun was at my back but I still didn't see it. Then I saw three other people pass through the area where I had looked and believed the control to be. I saw them all pass through a particular spot and move along. I didn't see them punch a control but they all took off as if they had found it. So I headed over there and found it very easily. It was very low to the ground.
I was a little concerned that I would have trouble finding 118. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about. There were several other people looking for it at the same time as I. In addition to those near me, combing through the woods looking for 118, there were 5-6 people standing right next to it when I found it. I dubbed it O-Con. It didn't end there. I saw many of those people at, near, or on my way to the next couple controls as well.
The weather was beautiful. It was cool and crisp but not too cold. I was wearing a hat and a buff when I started but I took them off within less than a half hour and didn't feel the need to put them back on until I finished.
I stopped on the way home and had dinner at THAI in Shirlington with Dan and Jon.