Before I start I want to apologize for a course setter’s error on the Brown course.  Rather than recognizing the error and correcting it, I forged ahead and made the situation even worse on the Green course.

I have learned to always start orienteering course planning with the most advanced course.  As I fill in the less difficult courses, plenty of opportunities will surface to spot short comings and problems with the initial hard course design.  This meet, I focused on the beginner course, because I felt the publicity that the Town generated would drive better participation on the introductory event. Again, I apologize.

To add to the folly, no one including myself realized that part of the Towpath Trail (the route of choice between 11 and 12 on the Brown course and 13 and 14 on Green) had been washed out during the winter.  The washout was under water so it is not apparent unless you are wading the wet portion of the trail and suddenly sink into the washout.

With all this in mind I offer the results for what they are worth.


White    Sheil/Smith team        Gr         --          38:30
(2)      Denbeaux group          Gr        EMPO       1:08:00

Orange   Bagnato group           Gr        EMPO       1:14:30
(3)      Tobin group             Gr         --        1:25:00
         Peters/Peachin group    Gr        EMPO       1:28:00

Brown    Sue Hawkes-Teeter       F         EMPO       2:05:55
(2)      Sheil/Smith team        Gr         --        3:21:45

Green    Doug Swank              M         EMPO       1:09:30
(10)     Andy Chillrud           M         EMPO       1:19:30
         David Hunter            M         EMPO       1:20:00
         Janet Findlay           F         EMPO       1:20:20
         Bruce Shenker           M         EMPO       1:38:00
         David Harnett           M         EMPO       1:41:00
         Bob Lange               M         EMPO       1:57:20
         Friddle group           Gr        EMPO       2:28:30
         Phil Hawkes-Teeter      M         EMPO       partial course
         Candi Raines            F         EMPO       partial course

Four basic lessons learned:
  1. There are places that Mother Nature just does not want humans to go.  The thick vegetation and wet area between the “first road trail” and the “deer yard copse” is one of them.
  2. There are also very fertile areas in the flood plain that must have been quite attractive to Native Peoples. The area south of the “deer yard copse” is a good example.
  3. How labor intensive the maintenance of the early canals must have been to keep 400 miles of an artificial river and towpath in shape before dozers, graders, and mechanical shovels.
  4. Don’t start a person in one direction if you don’t want him or her to continue in that direction even if there is an alternative or two.
I intend to update the orienteering map and return a corrected copy to the EMPO library as I understand it today. I also intend to provide the Vischer Ferry Fire Company and the Town’s CERT with an updated copy of the trails in the preserve on maps that are usable to those groups. Each of these groups should be aware that the Preserve is a very biologically productive area and changes in the landscape will occur in this geologically dynamic area even by next year when we pull out the maps again.

-- Eric Hamilton
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