Reported by Tom Merrow
Eleven people including CM members Roger Fox, Aaron Lish, Jill Kellogg, Rick Bestwick, Dave Schneider, Tom Merrow and Jane Merrow met at 9AM at the Wind Cave parking area. Wind Cave is about 12 miles southeast of Bend off China Hat Road. The surrounding area is classic Central Oregon high desert: wide open but with enough brush and low hills to make finding things deceptively challenging. On a clear day, of course, you can use the Cascades as reference points but March 16 was cloudy with occasional snow flurries.
Roger had set the orienteering course prior to our arrival. Our goal was to visit eight markers scattered over approximately 1.5 square miles. We were equipped with topo maps, declination-adjusted compasses and watches. Roger also measured a practice track that we used to time how fast we moved in this terrain. This prepared us to estimate distance traveled and, when combined with compass bearings, current position.
After fortifying ourselves for the cold and blustery conditions with coffee and donuts provided by Roger and partner Laura, we sorted into six teams of one, two or three people each. The teams started at three-minute intervals. We ran 100 yards to a table, copied marker locations from a master map, and calculated bearings to our chosen first marker. The teams scattered in all directions, each hoping to find the best route to all the markers. Roger stayed at base camp and tracked progress using FRS radios.
Our team (Tom and Jane) spent about three hours on the quest. We met other teams but much of the time we were on our own, following bearings and looking for the sometimes elusive markers. Roger had tied white plastic bags to trees and on this grey day they were not visible from very far away. We discovered that a little inaccuracy following a bearing or estimating walking pace really added up over several thousand feet! Luckily Roger had selected great locations (e.g., near caves and old roadbeds) and we could usually home in once we got close. We ended up finding six of the eight markers before we declared success and headed back to the cars.
Aaron ran the whole route and, although no official determination was made, he probably set the course record. Jill and Rick brought their dog Rondo and combined orienteering with tracking their wayward pet. Jenny and Christy, two students in Aaron’s orienteering class at COCC, unerringly computed direct lines between markers. Everyone seemed to enjoy (and perhaps learn from) this outing.