Getting started is easy! Orienteering is all about looking closely, really noticing what’s in the landscape, and comparing it to your map as you go along to keep track of your current location. See our Orienteering FAQs for things like what to wear, how long you can expect to be on the course, etc. Before you head out, take a few minutes to look at the map legend to familiarize yourself with the special symbols and man-made features shown on our maps (some are different than the standard international orienteering symbols because of the software used to create the maps). Once you’re comfortable interpreting the map, orient your map, keep the following hints in mind, and go!
- HINT – Turn the map as you go so that your direction of travel is “up” or “facing away from you” on the map; this eliminates the need to mentally “flip” the map to make turns in the correct direction or watch for a feature on one side of the trail… a right turn on the map will be a right turn on the land, too. It really is OK for the words to be upside down!
- HINT – Constantly compare your actual location to features on the map. Practice on the way up the hill. Say to yourself, “Now I’m passing the first culvert, now the sharp bend in the trail, crossing the ATV trail, there’s the boulder line, etc.”
- HINT – “Thumb” the map! As you go along, fold the map so that you can keep your thumb on your last definite location. As you pass each new feature, move your thumb to that spot. This way, each time you check the map you don’t have to stop and figure out where you are on the map and how to orient the map to your direction of travel. Remember to turn your map as needed to keep it oriented to your direction of travel.
- HINT – Put your map in a plastic gallon-size zip-top bag. This is definitely optional, but your map will fold more easily, and if you drop it on damp ground, or it rains a bit, you can still read it! If you put the answer boxes at the zip end, you can open it easily to write the letters in the boxes; the bag can also hold your pencil/pen.
So… pick your course, print your map, dress appropriately, and get out there and explore Libby Hill!
Still not sure about orienteering? See the article from the Gray New Gloucester Independent by Tracy Ross on “Orienteering, The Thinking Sport”