Team Disoriented and Team Lil’ Disoriented headed out to Oak Mountain State Park, AL for some orienteering practice on their permanent O-courses. As proven in the last AR, we’re in need of some orienteering practice. We probably need some canoe practice as well, but that’s another issue.
Lil’ Disoriented with their game faces on!
There are currently two O-courses maintained by the Vulcan Orienteering Club, the beginner course and the advanced course. Since we’re from Florida and not used to hilly terrain, our first stop was the beginner course. Looking at the beginner course map you can see that the checkpoints are all on major trails and rather easy to find. But, by doing this course first, we were able to get some practice trying to match the terrain to the map. Surprisingly, there was a lot of variation in terrain.
In the picture above, you can get a feel for the landscape, open forest with many hills and small creeks. We hit CP1, 2, and 3 rather quickly by following the trail. But once we hit CP3, we decided to put our nav skills to the test and left the trail and bushwhacked on a bearing straight to CP4. We came upon CP4 easily so we did the same thing for CP5 and CP6, heading off-trail and bushwhacking straight to their locations. Again, both were easy to find and it was a lot of fun taking the course at a leisurely pace. After CP6, there wasn’t much reason to bushwhack so we stayed on trail and finished out the course.
It was getting late in the afternoon so we knew we wouldn’t be able to finish the advanced course, but we wanted to check it out and see if we could find a few CPs before heading home. So, after a short break on a conveniently placed stump, reading material in hand, we pushed on.
Taking a look at the Advanced Course Map you can see that these CPs are not on trails, but require a little bushwhacking to get to. We decided to attempt CP5, 6, and 7 and leave the rest for another day. CP5 was at the summit of a small but steep hill and we had a lot of fun trying to maintain our footing and not slip on all the leaves covering the forest floor.
We returned to the trail and tried to find CP6, but failed. I’m sure the marker is there and I would liked to have stayed to find it, but the kids were ready to move on. When I got home and checked my GPS track, it looks like we were about 50 yards away from it. Oh well. CP7 was easy to find and by that time we were all starting to feel pretty good about our map reading skills but it was time to start heading back. We had a 4-hour drive home and I needed some coffee.
Oak Mountain State Park is amazing and a great place to practice for an adventure race. There are miles of running and mountain biking trails as well as the o-courses. There is even a nice lake for canoeing. We plan on coming up here in the next month or two without the boys and having a long training day. I can’t wait! And now for the fun part, I’m off to check Ana for ticks 😉