Slackers

Man, have we been slacking.  We haven’t raced since the Atomic and haven’t really been training either.  I guess everyone needs some down time.  We were supposed to race the Luminescent, and I was really looking forward to it.  But, this thing called work got in the way.  Once I get this money thing figured out, there will be no more excuses for missing races.

Since we couldn’t make the Luminescent, we decided to do some lazy-man training by going to Oak Mountain and hitting their permanent O-course.  On the way, we also decided to go to the Coosa River and try out their Class II rapids.  We called ahead to reserve a canoe from the Coosa Outdoor Center and made the 3.5 hr drive north to Wetumpka, AL.  The last departure time was at 2PM and we were supposed to be there by 1:30PM to sign our paperwork and get our safety briefing.  We were running late, imagine that, and so called to let them know we wouldn’t make it until 2PM.  But they were super cool and told us to come up and they would wait for us, which they did.

We rushed there, signed our paperwork and were whisked off to the launching point.  Along the way, we chickened out with the canoe and decided on a tandem sit on top kayak instead.

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The Coosa River was flowing and it took a little getting use to the eddies and currents pushing the kayak around.  The trip starts off on flat, flowing river and then you hit a couple of small rapids to get you warmed up to the idea.  This is a great first trip for those that have never done any rapids.  The river is very wide and there aren’t any sweepers or hidden trees in the water to be concerned about.  As you approached the rapids, you could definitely hear the water rushing over the rocks and the sound would get us a little worked up thinking we were going into some major whitewater action.   But, we found that our canoeing on Choctawhatchee Bay prepared us well to handle these small rapids.

At one point, we approached a large island just prior to some rapids where a lot of kayakers had stopped.  We also stopped because the rapids looked impressive on the approach.

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From the island, we could decide on how best to approach the rapids.  There was a little deliberation on whether we should take the bigger rapids to the right of the island, or the smaller rapids on the left.  We knew we’d regret not haven taken the bigger ones and the worst that could happen is that we’d dump and get wet–since we’re experts at that, we decided to go big.  We took the line we wanted and ended up making it through without dumping and I think we even got a hoot from the spectators.

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The rapids here are fairly short and the total trip took us about 2-2.5 hrs.  If you’ve never done rapids before, this is the place you want to go.  And if you are looking to rent a canoe or kayak, check out Coosa Outdoor Center, they were really awesome.

After the rapids, we headed up to Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham AL to do their permanent Orienteering Course.  I did  a short write up on it for the first trip we took there (https://teamdisoriented.com/tag/oak-mountain-state-park/).  The park is amazing with tons of bike and hiking trails.  But best of all there are two permanent orienteering courses with maps, which are maintained by the Vulcan Orienteering Club.

Beginner Course Map

Advanced Course Map

This time we found the elusive CP#6.  Oh, and that little stick pointing move, well let me tell you that is no stick but a rather magical wand we found.  With it, we attempted many new spells such as: Eradicus Arachnius; Eradicus Reptilius, and my favorite Eradicus Ursus.  It worked miracles keeping away the snakes and bears, but it didn’t work so well on the spiders.

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I’m going to throw one more picture in here just because it’s so damn pretty, kinda like me…

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We didn’t finish the advanced course due to our leisurely stroll speed, but we did find CP5-CP10 on the advanced course and we already found all of the CPs for the beginner’s course, so we know they are all there.  I think the course organizers did a great job putting the markers in interesting locations that are not the easiest to find.  The posts blend into their surroundings and there is only a small metal placard designating it as the marker, so you have to look closely to see them especially if there is much undergrowth.  Here is one marker they placed in between to very large boulders.  Ana is practicing her Spider Wall Climb so she can be the next American Ninja Warrior.

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So, if you’re feeling lazy but still want to get out and claim a day of fun as adventure race training, go hit up the Coosa River and Oak Mountain State Park, you won’t be disappointed at all.

Oak Mountain State Park Orienteering Course

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!

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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.

Alabaster-Helena-20140126-00343In 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.

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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 😉

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