But of course I would rather be ready, so I went on a quest to find markers. My night navigation test is coming up in just over a week so I'm doing what I can to prepare, however finding one's way in the daytime is nothing like finding one's way in the dark. I have no idea what my test route will be until just prior to the event so even if I find all the markers ahead of time, it doesn't help much once I'm given my coordinates (I could be running from 6, to 13, to 23, etc.), but this does allow me to practice using real skills. Off I went!
The sun was shining, the temps rose to 42 degrees and the woods smelled heavenly of cedar and pine. Oh my...lots and lots of bird calls, and even though I heard the Sandhill Cranes, loud and boisterous, I couldn't find them on the lake. The only one I did see was flying far overhead. Noisy little buggers, kind of creepy sounding too. They sound like what I imagine Pterodactyls sound like, right before they attack you. *grins*
There was still a fair amount of snow on the trails and they were quite slippery. I was wishing I had brought along the Yak Trax.
What a gorgeous color of red, all rich and damp and humus-like.
Still snow and ice left on the North side of hills and valleys.
I approached this one from the easy side without knowing it. I would not have wanted to come through the backside and fight all those prickly vines. I must be doing something right because I walked right up to this marker even though I was off trail and bushwhacking to get here. Then again, that's the point of orienteering, to get where you're supposed to be.
This one was tough! I had to adjust and then correct my route several times because I couldn't get through the scrub. It also seriously messed with my pace count, but when I realized I had a rise on my right and a swamp on my left, which were both on the map, I knew the marker had to be close. It was, 10 feet to my right, which makes perfect sense since I started about 10 feet out from #9 to get around all those pricker bushes. After this, I cut back through the woods to pick up the trail as it was time to call it a day, it was getting late and the woods were noticably colder. Brrr....time to head home. I was very chipper on my walk back to the car and felt pretty darned good that I had found 8 out of the 29 markers. A girlfriend and I are going back out to find more of the markers and this time we'll stay out after dark for real practice and to see how we do. I'm saving a couple really tough ones to try in the dark. That should be interesting. Perhaps I'll do another post to show you the tools I'm using. I've got a sweet flashlight that will light up the forest like a champ with a super long beam and 520 lumins. It's an amazing tool!
I have to tell you about a feeling I had out there in the middle of the woods with no trail in sight. In the past, when I've found myself off trail and not knowing quite where I was, I would get a tightness inside my belly, a sort of low-grade panic feeling. This time, armed with a compass, map and skills, I had not a bit of worry. I laughed out loud when I realized I felt as comfortable out there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by scrub and swamp and forest, as I would be walking around my own yard at home. Being prepared sure feels good!