Tom from Two-Heel Drive posted some thoughts on an orienteering competition that he attended over the weekend put on by the Bay Area Orienteering Club. As an avid and experienced hiker, his insights on the activity are quite humorous at times. (Bonus points for the Bearded Spock/Alternate Universe reference!)
For those who aren’t familiar with orienteering, this is a good introduction to the sport. Essentially, you are given a map and compass, and told to head out into the backcountry to find a series of O-points, or orienteering points. Who ever finds the most points and returns to the start first is the winner of the competition. Obviously you have to be good with a compass, be able to spot landmarks, and move quickly in the field to be good in the competitions, but some people just enjoy going out in the woods, using their skills to find the points, and having fun with their friends.
The competition that Tom attended was the “O in the Oaks” event, and his photos that accompany his article help to give a general sense of what one can expect when orienteering for the first time. He even sums up the experience with some spot on “first impressions” that I wholeheartedly agree with.
Personally, I think orienteering is a great, alternative activity to get you outside and playing in the woods. It can also help you build some good skills, strengthening your map reading and compass use in the process. Those translate very well into other outdoor activities such as hiking and adventure racing, where navigation can play an integral role. Besides, what are you going to do when the batteries die on your fancy GPS device?
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