Monday, January 11, 2010

Arctic Orienteering

The North Texas Orienteering Association held the first meet of the new year this past Saturday. Earlier in the week an Arctic cold front moved in. We saw the lowest temperature we’ve seen in thirteen years. Typically at this meet, there would be upwards of 400 people. I’m not sure we had 100. Most of the school districts prohibited outdoor events, so the schools had to cancel.
So at 7:30 AM Saturday, I was picking up Mr. G and Mr.T. No, not that Mr.T.

It was somewhere between 8 and 13 degrees. We loaded up orienteering clothes, warm clothes to change into, multiple coats, lunches and such. We headed north. Yes, North. The orienteering event was held at Camp James Ray Boy Scout ranch near Pottsboro Texas. The camp is just to the south of Lake Texoma on the Texas – Oklahoma border. We were glad that there wasn’t much of a north wind!
We arrived at the camp about 9:15. We headed to a pavilion to use the restroom and checked the temperature. It read 22 degrees, but it was lying. We were surprised the bathroom was open and warm! We ran into the head ranger and he said they had lost power that morning but it was back on. He said he was heading out to see how the campers had fared overnight.
We headed to the old dining hall to see about registering. Usually there is a line for registration. This meet with hardly anyone there, there was zero line. We could have started competition early, but choose 10:15. That would give us time to put on some Arctic clothes and use the restroom one last time before venturing out into the frigid woods.
So at the start it was strangely quiet. Not the normal hoard of people, just a few in each class heading out.
I took my start and took about two hours on the course. I had trouble with only a few of the controls, and not near the trouble I could have had! By about the one-third point, I actually took off my hat. I left my gloves on, as my hands were warm but not hot. I was wearing some cotton Jersey type gloves from the hardware store. I had cut off about half of the left thumb so my thumb compass would fit. I’d also cut off half the left index finger. That way I could feel the map and work the compass.
I got back and Mr G and T were both finishing up their lunches. We were sitting in the scout medical trailer, which was comfortable with coats on. I went ahead and changed into regular non-sweaty clothes. We headed into the dinning hall again and talked with some other people who were thawing out.

But first I took a photo of the frozen BS swimming pool.

About 2 PM, Mr. G asked someone if they might move up the awards from 2:30. They were planning to do that but then asked us if we could help out with retrieving all the orienteering control bags and electronics out in the woods. They usually have a school help out with registration and they also retrieve all the control bags out in the woods. Since there were three of us, they sent us to the farthest control points! We decided to leave right away, as they would just hold any medals we might win for us to return.
We drove out to one point. Then parked my truck at one of the gates and headed off cross country to find the controls and retrieve the equipment. We take a NTOA backpack with us to stash the gear in as we retrieve it.
We hit most of the controls with only small issues. But the fifth point was something! We attempted to follow a fence line, but then failed to find the ruined fence off it that we needed to follow. It took over an hour to find the one point!
By the time we got back, it was 4 PM, the sun was getting awful low on the horizon and the temperature was dropping again. Down in the forest, it never warmed above freezing.

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