Saturday, 10 January 2015

Night Navigation Practice Part 2

I headed out for a night navigation practice (Strava log) and a kit shakedown on Ilkley Moor orienteering course in prep for our upcoming entry in the Marmot Dark Mountains Marathon.

First off was trying to fit everything in to my new Haglofs Gram 25 rucksack as there's quite a comprehensive mandatory kit list of stuff to take with you for the event. It all seemed to go in OK and thankfully doesn't weigh much either. It's a nice pack and sits well on my back, in fact I hardly noticed it all the way round this evening on the tops.

Ilkley Moor makes for a great orienteering spot as it has loads of paths and features, some easy to find and some not! There's a permanent orienteering course set out with wooden posts hammered into the moss and wet at various points.

I went for a high level course starting at the Cow and Calf car park doing controls B, E, G, K, Z, Y, W and T before picking up the Millennium Way at White Wells back up through Rocky Valley and back to the car. The pace was strictly walking to try and get an idea of how accurate my pacing and timing estimates were.

I had the slight advantage of knowing where the first two controls were from going up there with the kids so I ticked them off quickly. Taking a bearing from B to E, I drifted slightly to the right - following a bearing at night with snow blowing in your face is pretty hard work.

E to G was a bit of a mess. I planned to head up the path counting paces until I got to the faint stream line to the ruined building. Then on to the depression where G was.

However, I wasn't sure I'd reached the stream so I continued further up the path (further than my pacing and timing suggested, and came across a faint stream coming in from the right. A different, unmarked stream!

As you can see from my Strava track, I got the direction and distance about right but just set off from the wrong place. This was compounded by the fact that the map I had printed out had lost the dashes on the paths meaning the paths I could have used as attack points weren't shown. Grrrrr!

Anyway as the snow was driving in my eyes at this point I stopped, put my clear ski goggles on (awesome for when the snow is driving in your face e.g. in the Cairngorms!) and sacked off G, heading west to pick up the main path network again. Navigating to K was OK, picked up the right paths and paced/timed my progress to a stream/path junction. I found the one, went on a bit further just to make sure it was correct, doubled back to the junction and then took a bearing on the control... and ended up walking straight to it, boom!

The rest of the controls were all found fairly easily. Distance measurement by pacing and timing is not at all straightforward as the terrain makes such a difference. More practice required.

I was going to make notes of predicted and actual pace/timings but I was having trouble with my chinagraph pencil refusing to write on the shiny laminated route card I'd made up once it got wet. Might need to look at getting some waterproof paper to make some note cards with.

I wore my Buffalo Mountain Shirt and it was perfect given the conditions, no need for extra layers. Any colder and I might have put my water proof trousers on over my winter running tights. For the race I'll probably stick to this system with an extra primaloft layer in the bag just in case. 

I'm fairly happy with this as a first stab at pacing/timing night nav but I'd like some more data to refine my estimations.

Geek out.

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