Decided to go out and christen the Coop Sawmill courses by running brown this afternoon, but got to the start and saw another car with an O-flag hanging from the rearview mirror. So I would not be the first apparently. On down the first hill following snowshoe tracks where one of the trails ran, got to the bottom and saw the snowshoe tracks headed straight up the hill rather than going R or L where the trail ran. Yup... must be orienteers. Lost the snowshoe tracks on top, but found Jim's footprints from yesterday headed right in to the control where the snowshoe tracks rejoined. Down the hill in the snowshoe tracks, but where they turned N at the second trail, I went down further knowing the next trail was well packed out since I ran back in it yesterday. Into the control from the bend and over the wall. Snowshoe tracks coming in from the opposite direction.
Headed N toward #3, crossed trail and ran into Rick & Suzie - owners of said snowshoe tracks. Chatted for a couple minutes, then I trudged on staying on the west side of the narrow marsh most of the way before crossing over on a snowshoe track. There are no trails in this area, so someone else just out for a random jaunt it would seem. They didn't go to the control, so not an orienteer.
I was running on the red map, but brown course, so almost headed from #3 to #5 since my map didn't show the course, but remembered I still needed to head to #4 which I had hung yesterday, albeit from the other direction. No problems aside from climbing in deep snow - overheat on the climbs, chill on the descents - clothing must have been just right. Then on to #5 up the bigger hill. Noticed a prominent boulder just before I got to the control that I couldn't match to the map and got concerned until I realized it was under the control circle. I guess I should figure out how to cut the circles in Purple Pen going forward.
Opted to go north of the green and as luck would have it the trail on the east side of the hill was packed out so a nice easy run down the hill to the big trail. Normally I might have gone straight from here, but the packed trail was pretty sweet and much easier running, so I went wide left to make as much use of the trail as I could before cutting into the woods. Got to #6 which was one of two controls Jim & I had penciled in on the maps for setting and Jim hung it on the east side of the hill on a cliff but since I had set the description as north side I moved the flag to match the description sheet.
Jim had mentioned yesterday that he wasn't 100% confident on #7 and thought it seemed further from the marsh than mapped and sure enough it had been hung on the contour knoll further up the hill and not the dot knoll lower down which, with the snow, was pretty indiscernible from higher up. So moved that flag down to the correct spot as well.
(EDIT: Turns out I screwed up and moved it from the correct spot to the location I had in my head when designing the courses - which was the form line spur, not the dot knoll. Bonehead error, now corrected - its back up on the dot knoll.)
And then headed for the truck... Got most of the way up the hill before remembering that the course finished at the gate on the powerline and not where I parked the truck, so a couple hundred more meters of slogging in the snow to the finish. Then walked back up the road to the truck.
It was certainly a ballbuster trying to run in the deep snow, especially in areas where I knew it was rocky underneath as I would occasionally catch a deeper pocket and stumble, but I didn't fall down thankfully. I figured an hour for the 3.8km course should be about right given the conditions and subtracting the time I spent chatting with R&S and moving the last two flags, looks like I was right on the money. Felt really good to be running in the woods again, its been too long, but it really beats the road to the lake and back that has become my routine of late.RouteGadget