twilight and shadow

Notes from the forest

A head full of shadows. And all the sunlight in the world won't drive them away.
- Otherland: City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams

It was the Auckland Orienteering Champs in the weekend and it was filled with the usual madness and mayhem I've come to expect. I also picked up a few tips along the way I thought I'd share with you all.

The Auckland Orienteering Club flag flying proudly.

Plantation Forest: Middle Distance Champs

  • it's dark in the forest as the trees have been planted close together and the lower branches have not been trimmed.
  • a distinctive tree in a thick bush is very difficult to see unless you stumble directly upon it.
  • blackberry growing along the steep banks of streams should be avoided at all costs.
  • a control site on a very steep re-entrant is not a good idea if there is the chance the terrain is going to send your runners slidding down the bank (directly towards those blackberry bushes I mentioned earlier) unable to stop.
  • the start triangle directly at the start is terribly unnerving and potentially embarrassing if you can't find the start triangle on the map.
  • 180s are never a good idea especially if you head down hill when you were supposed to be going up.
  • barbwire fences will tear your pants eventually, no matter how tight they are.

Waiuku South: Long Distance Champs

  • never trust the person at the start when they say all electric fences are off.
  • full body cover IS recommended unless you want to look like you've been slashed to pieces.
  • yes, cutty grass cuts do hurt, especially on the eye.
  • don't trust those green stripes on the map especially when the forest looked clearer there than in the bits of forest mapped white (but don't go near the dark green bits 'cause you might never make it out alive).
  • do some nimble footwork training before running on this map so you can dodge all the cuttings and fallen logs.
  • your compass is always right but you are not always right so you may think you're following your bearing correctly but chances are, you aren't.
  • if you can't find the control, keep's probably only about 1 metre away but hidden by all that cutty grass.
  • you can try and make the map fit to the features around you but you're just kidding yourself (unless, of course, you ARE actually where you think you are).