Good morning orienteers, glad you got started without me
First off, let me preface the whole gear issue by saying you can be, but don't need
to be a gear slut. (whatever makes you a happy camper!)
I really can't find my way out of a paper bag on my own and had never done this before. We rented the $1 compasses they had through the club. Very basic and set only to magnetic north (which is what the topo maps they use are drawn to) They gave us the 5 minute run down on how it works and sent us off on the easy course. It only took 30 minutes or so and we did it as a group of 3, with three other "teams" from our adventure club. Totally not competitive because we had no clue what we were doing. Well, as we came to find out, it's not rocket science and armed with a map and a compass, I can actually find my way and quite acurately, I might add. There were folks of all levels there from my group of newbies up to the 3 time Canadian National champ and her hubby who rocked. If you look at the times on the website, you'll see a WIDE variety. So we finished the easy course and got a little ballsy and decided to skip the level 2 course and go for the level three, which was considerably longer and more technically challenging. That was where the fun began and the competition sort of ended...mostly because we were really slow (but slow and steady and we finished unlike some of the other teams!) and 126 minutes later we crossed the finish!
The top competitors seemed to go at it alone and they ran up and down the hills in their superfly nylon orienteering "costumes" and spiked cleats for digging in up the hills. Yeah, they could have finished the course 4 times by the time we came in. We did it in teams of three, but you can do it how ever you want. They also set up 6 (I think) different courses of different lengths and levels, so you can work up to the big competitions. It also add some element of difficulty because the checkpoints are close enough to each other that you could navigate 20 feet off and end up at the wrong one, it's quite emotional when you realise you are in the wrong place. My team "Team Strawberry" (formerly know as "three chicks with a map") was really only in competition with ourselves, we really wanted to finish, that's all. We did try to get competitive against the other teams from our club, but we made a crucial mistake that slowed us way down...better to go AROUND the mountain then OVER the mountain (when you are hungry and out of water
) Who knew??
To answer your questions...
When orienteering, do you dead reckon with the compass the entire time, use terrain features, or both?
...As far as "dead reckoning with the compass" I am not sure I understand the question to give you an answer.
Which compasses do most people use? I'm used to the bulky but bombproof military ones which have a crosshair sight and a mirror which lets you sight an object and see your azimuth at the same time. I don't know if you can even buy this type or if they are simply overkill.
... my understanding is that the compasses that are that accurate are acutally a hinderance in these competitions, it seems like "pretty close" actually works and since you have the map and general directions. It worked for us and we didn't really know what we were doing.
Are most people hikers or runners?
...I'd say both. You don't really need to be either if you can climb the side of a hill, unless you are going to be super competitive.
All in all it was a really fun experience and I am sure I'll do it again. We should meet up at one of the upcoming meets and have a go at it. You could be our token male strawberry
Deep yogic breaths...
[This message has been edited by SkiMinker (edited May 22, 2001).]</FONT>