Sunday, March 1, 2009

Night-O at Lake Johnson (Feb 28, 2009)

As some of you may know, end of February is not only a time when BOK has an annual Night-O event, but also a time when Russian speaking community celebrates Maslenitsa.

Maslenitsa is a Russian religious and folk holiday also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week. Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian.
In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.

The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is
bliny (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods: butter, eggs, and milk.
Maslenitsa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of
sleigh rides.

So that's what I was doing all day prior to the event. Feasting: making pancakes and consuming them in a company of good friends. And then I got my share of masquerades, mud slides and belly rides in the night woods around the Johnson lake.

I stepped out from the feast to participate in the event and when I returned back soaked and muddy, one of my friends asked me:

-- How many people where there?
-- About 30
-- Wow, I had no idea there so many crazy people in the area! Was is successful?
-- Oh, yes! No one got injured, which for this kind of event means it was 100% successful!

And that sums it up pretty well, I think. The event was an extreme fun (with emphasis on extreme).
Cold rain, swollen creeks and slippery muddy slopes - you get the picture. Surprisingly it wasn't pitch dark. As Charles mentioned in his email, the city's lights were reflecting from the low clouds, so the visibility wasn't bad at all. I ended up running more that half of a distance with my flashlight turned off (this way you can distinguish elevation features much easier).

Mihai decided to make a life of advanced orienteerers even harder by making them follow odd/even control routes. I knew I wasn't going to take all controls anyway and opted for the "middle" class, where I could take controls in any order. But Mihai still succeeded in adding extra difficulty to the course by making a few "killer" controls as well as by misplacing two others. But it was perfectly inline with the weather and overall event atmosphere, so I won't grudge, it was fun.

Here is how I ran:

#43: my plan wasn't very original. I was going to take everything on the other side of the road, then return back and take a few additional controls if time permits. So I went down to the parking lot taking #43 along the way.

#66: that was one of the "killer" controls... I got injured last year on this one and was very lucky not to do it again this time. The control was down by the creek, well hidden and runners had to go down/up a very steep and slippery slope to get there and back. What can I say, one a way up it took me 3 attempts to get there - I was constantly sliding back to the creek...

#75: I ran back, crossed the creek and followed the slope to get to the control

#74: continued on the same slope, then realized that the control is actually on the other side of the creek; crossed the creek, noticed the road on the left and took the control

#73: took compass bearing, went up the hill and down to the re-entrant with the control

#68: continued down the re-entrant. The area around #68 had too many features, so I couldn't quite figure out how to attack it. I ended up decided just going there and looking around. I remember crossing several swollen creeks along the way as well as some trails. Then I saw flashlights in the area I was going too and ran straight - there was indeed a control.

#69: reached the trail and followed trails until #69. It wasn't hard to do. At #69 I noticed a small depression on the road and used it as an attack point.

#70: easy, back to the road and up the re-entrant

#71: used the road for as long as I could, then caught a glimpse of the control using my flashlight, crossed the creek and took the control

#72: took a compass bearing, watched a re-entrant on my left, reached the trail and saw the control from it.

#67: I was going to take it, but couldn't find it... Spend several extra minutes there. From #72 I cat straight to the trail and used trails to get to #67, but didn't see it (apparently it was well hidden), then I continued down the trail and checked another re-entrant on the left just in case (of course, nothing was there). Finally, I decided to forget about #67 and get across the road.

#41: I reached the parking lot with 25 minutes left. I thought about taking controls along the shore till #51 and then return back taking controls along the road. I clearly didn't have time to go to the far side beyond #51. Well, I ended up doing exactly that except for missing #42 and #47... Which I partially attribute to the fact that #41 and #42 were misplaced.
Actually, I found #41. I just took a trail up from the parking lot and the control was there. I didn't realize it was misplaced.

#42: So I took a compass bearing from #41 and went for #42. I reached a re-entrant with #42 thinking it was a re-entrant north from there and proceed south to the next re-entrant without looking for #42. Ironically, I would surely found #42 anyway, but it was also misplaced and was positioned closer to the shore than it should have been, so I didn't see it from the top of the re-entrant.

#47: So I reached the re-entrant with #47 thinking it was the one with #42. Of course, didn't find either one and decided that I am sufficiently lost and need to re-group. Went up the re-entrant and reached the road close to the start.

#48: I was still kind of dizzy at that point and ended up taking wrong road to #48 and spent some time figuring up what has happened before finally correcting the mistake.

#49: another "killer" control with steep slippery slope going down to it...

#50: went back to the road, wanted to use a trail to get down to the control, but turned left before the trail, it wasn't hard anyway

#51: followed the trails to get there. There I checked time. I had 10 minutes left. Thought about taking #52 but was afraid of ending up late and decided to simply turn back.

#46: followed the road

#45: again followed the road and went across the creek and into a deep gully. Apparently it wasn't the correct one. Got out of it, went further east and took the control.

#44: back to the road and took it. Then used roads to get to the finish. I had an extra minute at the end, but didn't think I can take #47 in one minute, so stayed there.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Three colors represent three stages on the course.

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