After a few months pent up without any athletic activity, some folks in town may be getting a bit stir-crazy. Fortunately, Inuvik resident Faye d’Eon-Eggertson has taken it upon herself to set up an Orienteering Course in along the Boot Lake trail.
Orienteering is a sport where competitors use a map and sometimes a compass to navigate between check points on a route.
Normally a course set up as a race with a set starting point and time and seeing who can navigate the course the fasted, though d’Eon-Eggertson noted with the current physical distancing requirements doing the race-portion of the sport wasn’t possible.
Eight flags (called controls) have been set up around the lake. The object is to find all of them and record the letter written on each one. Once you have all eight, you can enter the code onto the website for a secret message.
“Orienteering uses big hanging flags so they’re easy to see. I made little three by three squares and stuck them to the backs of trees and such so that people wouldn’t take them down. So there’s definitely more of a scavenger hunt element than normal,” said d’Eon-Eggertson. “Normally it’s a running and map-reading race that has to be done in a specific order. So, if you want an extra running challenge, start and end at the trailhead signpost and hit up the stations in the given order. The route is 5.3 km as the crow flies.
“Nothing on the course involves going too far off trail, so there’s no crazy bushwhacking involved, this time…”
To run the course, all you need is a copy of the map. A compass is helpful but not needed and dressing for the weather with waterproof footwear is essential. The course can be run in any order. d’Eon-Eggertson noted bears were waking up so bear safety precautions are also advised.
“I had thought of making maps for Inuvik when I moved here, but didn’t get around to it for a long time,” said d’Eon-Eggertson. “The maps are hard part to set up, the course itself is pretty easy. Setting up a course is just a matter of sticking up some flags and recording where you put them. Making the maps involved learning some new software, downloading a bunch of spatial files, referencing the maps against satellite imagery and running around with a GPS to check the maps.”
She constructed the maps using open-source software called OpenOrienteering Mapper and pulled in map data from the NWT Atlas website to map out the larger features and trails. Benches, smaller trails and features had to be mapped out in person.
“Satellite imagery is good for open areas and large developments, but there are a lot of little things that are good to have on an orienteering map that you can only find by going out there,” said d’Eon-Eggertson.
This is only the beginning. d’Eon-Eggertson said she was working on a map for Twin Lakes and for the Ski Trail, though she noted that might have to wait until next season.
She added if physical distancing restrictions are lifted over the summer, she was contemplating setting up a more formal orienteering competition.