Orienteering: Hamilton Island

A few weeks ago, we went on a treasure hunt. Sort of. There was no actual treasure at the end, unless you count the granola bars in my Dad’s car, but it was an “x” marks the spot game.  Or in one case, a tire marks the spot.

We were at an orienteering meet, which is a map reading sport. This one was pretty small, so we just used the topography on the map, but usually a compass is required. No GPS allowed! Ohh the humanity!

Here’s how the whole thing works: you are given a map with a series of points on it. Each one is numbered. Once the race begins we walk (or some run) to each of the points in the order they are listed on the map. At each point there is a little box with an electronic reader inside. We register that we’ve been there then proceed to the next point. It’s really pretty fun. Sometimes the points are easy to find, others you’ll have to search around a bit.

The day we did this meet in the Columbia River Gorge as just gorgeous. We were out on Hamilton Island,which is owned by PGE and very close to Beacon Rock.  The skies were blue and the ground was dry.  The terrain was kind of tough, when we weren’t on trails, I was worried about twisting an ankle in the very uneven ground.

Spike was allowed to come along although he had a tough time walking in the tall grass.  1 foot tall dog and 2 foot tall grass don’t work well, but he made it.  He actually had a great time, once we were away from the roads we let him off leash and he loved it.

The group hosting the event was the Columbia River Orienteering Club.  My Dad is a member.  They have a bunch of meets throughout the year, some span entire weekends, others just a couple of hours. I’m still pretty new to the sport, so I don’t know if I’d be comfortable doing one of the longer ones alone. My compass skills are not that great, but Id like to get better.  It’s a good skill plus it’s really fun to track stuff down.

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