Pine Bluffs Night-O, Stow, MA
November 7, 2015
Meet Director: Aims Coney
Pine Bluffs is a 31 acre town park behind my house bordered by Lake Boon on one side and a row of houses, including mine, on the other. About two thirds is a second-generation pine and oak forest. The remainder includes the town beach, some recreational buildings and several playing fields. Except for a six-meter bluff along the lake the ground is dead flat. Hidden in the forest though are a pair of deep kettleholes, with one below lake level which keeps it perpetually wet.
In daylight the orienteering difficulty would be fairly trivial yet at night and by headlight, tiny Pine Bluffs can feel huge and mysterious. Furthermore, a fresh fall of oak leaves almost completely obscured the network of faint trails. The range of finishing times reveals the difficulty some encountered.
The long course had a map exchange so I could route the runners through the hidden kettleholes a couple of times. On his first trip through, Bob Lux ignored the blue hatching on his map and found himself suddenly thigh high in cold muck when he ran across the fresh leaves hiding the bottom of the deeper one.
The lake is drawn down for the winter and the lower level opened other route choices. Between several controls the short, level and inviting route seemed to be the exposed lake bottom, at least as it appeared in the dim light of headlights. However, that shoreline route had only a narrow dry strip, overhung in places by branches and interrupted by fallen trees. Ian Smith and others waded around those obstacles while others later argued the prudent and faster route was to climb to the top of the bluff and descend again at the next control. Difficult to dispute Ian’s time though.
Perhaps the hardest control for many was one shared by medium and long, a rootstock amid mountain bike loops, obscured by oak leaves, and near an obtuse property line corner. The lights from a neighbor’s garage were distracting and the jumble of hard to distinguish trails plus the presence of two rootstocks on the map, and the thick brush around those blowdowns, caused many to take a long time.
The new night-o controls made by Pete Lane are a huge improvement, quite visible at night and easy to spot in daylight. Many thanks too to Paul Bourget and Mary Spinoza who arrived at just the right time to sit by the fire and run the finish table expertly.
This meet used traditional "pin-punching"—no splits or RouteGadget.
|Long Course - 1 Map Exchange - 3.7 K|
|9||Keith Durand & Vilas Rodriguez||1:17:40|
|11||Jeanne & Mark Hummel||1:31:17|
|Medium Course - 2.8 K|
|3||Boyd Potts/Gail DeRuzzo||0:59:15|
|4||Bill & Sarah Binette||1:06:35|
|5||David & Andy Baumel||1:11:11|
|Short Course - 0.8 K|
|1||Doug, Vilanha, Sophie & Noah Turner||0:37:18|
|2||Bruce & Judy Wester||0:38:02|