The last time I helped organize an orienteering event at Grafton Lakes State Park was in 1995 - the Billygoat Run. That was back in the days when the course setter had no choice but to use the map as presented. If the map was not good enough where you hoped to put a control, you - the virtuous course-setter - would put the control somewhere else. With the advent of OCAD and cheap, high quality inkjet printers (and waterproof ink), I found myself unable to resist trying to fix the map as I field checked my courses. So what should have been one day in the field hanging streamers for the five courses of the Columbus Day, 2006 Grafton Lakes Orienteering Meet, turned into three days spent mostly with colored pencils and mylar - mapping new trails, reworking contours, removing cliffs and boulders, adding knolls, etc. Three days wasn't enough. Not by a long shot! Grafton is a wonderful area to orienteer, but the map has not aged well. (I wish I could make a clone of myself that has all the time in the world, and send him out to do a proper job of mapping Grafton!)
Columbus Day comes at a time of year when the weather can present just about anything. Regular attendees at the annual Grafton Lakes event know to bring warm clothing for the frequently very chill gusts that blow off Long Pond, under leaden-gray and wet clouds. Usually such weather is preceded, and followed, in quick succession, by its opposite. So if you have good course-setting weather, you will most likely have nasty, cold, wet weather for the meet itself. So it is somewhat remarkable that this year we had clear, mild days for several days before the meet, and a clear warm day for the meet itself! The fall foliage was very nice, especially under a crystal-clear blue fall sky.
There is a down-side to beautiful fall foliage however, which is that the fallen leaves can make trails difficult to see! Grafton has a lot of trails that aren't real distinct at the best of times, and with a sprinkling of fall leaves, can be close to invisible. The result was that courses that should have been quite easy for White and Yellow (beginner and advanced beginner) were more challenging than they should have been. So the times on the lower-level courses were pretty spread out, depending in large part on how well people managed to deal with the tricky trails.
The fine weather attracted 62 orienteers, including a number of first-timers. Glen Tryson provided instruction to all who needed it, in his laid-back "folksy" style. At one point as I was managing the start/finish, I was asked by the leader of a group who were preparing to start on the White course about adjusting declination on a standard protractor orienteering compass. This lead to something of a debate about what the purpose of the rotating bezel was, what declination was, etc. We were not connecting on basic concepts at all. Noticing Glen out of the corner of my eye, I said "I'll tell you what. Go talk to that guy over there!" I'm always grateful to have Glen around, but that moment reminded me of what a priceless asset he is. But not the only one - Janet Tryson leaped into the breach to run the registration, while Glen, Janet, Phil and Sue Hawkes-Teeter all helped pick up controls afterwards.None of this was by pre-arrangement. They just saw the need and responded. Always first to arrive, always last to leave. We do not appreciate the Trysons and the Hawkes-Teeters enough! Thank all of you very much!
-- Pat Dunlavey
last updated: --Wed Oct 11 2006 07:29:40 PM EDT--