By Bruce Greenhalgh

About suffering they were never wrong
The Old Masters, how well they understood

 –  from W.H.Auden’s  Musee des Beaux Arts

About control locations they were sometimes wrong
The Super Vets, how badly they misunderstood

 – yours truly ruminating on the event

Yep, that’s right. The Oladdie rogaine wasn’t our finest fifteen hours. At one point my teammate, Steve, remarked that while you often forget the controls you visited successfully you always remember the controls you fail to find. I know we’ll long remember control 82 or at least trying to find it and, in the process, blowing three hours. Oh dear.

It wasn’t our only mistake. We were guilty of not thinking well about our scheduling regarding daylight and Hash Houses and such and were a bit too ambitious with our route choice, compounding that mistake by making a real meal of finding a few of the controls in the difficult eastern part of the map.

If we were novices all could be forgiven, but we’re not. From time to time during rogaines I get an ‘earworm’ (‘a song or tune that runs continually through a person’s mind’) and it was slightly ironic that my earworm du jour was Patti Smith’s version of Jimi Hendrix’s Are you experienced? Well, at rogaining, yes, but our store of experience wasn’t evident in our decision making. Control 82, for instance, was a bad choice to attempt in the dark, before the moon was up. Creek networks, as mapped – which is what we were relying on – are unreliable at the best of times. It would have been bad enough missing the points but not finding the control meant that getting to our next planned control (63) was a bit of a lottery. We decided to cut our losses and head straight to the Hash House – no points and three hours wasted. If there was any consolation to be had it was that we were not alone as Des, Meredith and Erica Norman joined us for a while in our futile search and lost similar time.

On the subject of earworms, I might add that they can be a good thing. An up-tempo tune has, in the past, given me a slight boost. Unfortunately, Are you experienced? doesn’t fit that bill, but I’m not blaming myself for poor tune selection. Out of my control.

While my musical periods came and went Steve was entertained by the claim that the area was ‘geologically interesting’. As a geologist he was of the opinion that this wasn’t the case. I did point out to him that the statement was made from a lay perspective. And I thought the rocks were of some interest, and thanks to Steve I now know more about varves* and probably will be able to identify pencil shale when I see it next.

If our Saturday was chalk (or maybe talc as there was talk of there being a talc mine on the property) our Sunday was cheese. We had a plan and executed it near perfectly. Why am I always so surprised that navigating in open country in daylight is so much easier than the thick bush at night? D’oh! We did have one moment though, when approaching control 67 (77?)  and I have to confess to it as Evelyn Colwell and Lewis Carter witnessed our only lapse. We were staring down into a gully bewildered but convinced that it was where the control was, yet we couldn’t see it. An amused Evelyn and Lewis, approaching from a different angle, went straight for the tree that held the control and hid it from our view.

Not only was our planning and navigation much better on the Sunday but I surprised myself by not being destroyed by the previous day. I was eating and drinking as I should, which is always a good sign. At W2 I picked up an apple and on first bite was reminded of the following William Carlos Williams’ poem.

This is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

My apple was delicious, sweet, cold and went down easily making me wonder whether taking fresh fruit in my backpack might be a good idea.

What undoubtedly would be good, would be to thank the organizers and volunteers in an original way so as to highlight my gratitude. Alas, my invention fails me and I can come up with nothing better than saying thank you so much for a job well done.

*A varve is an annual layer of sediment or sedimentary rock. There was a varve formation near control 75.