Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Challenges of Navigating the Freedom Trail

In response to a question from Eddie Leggo where he asks "Mike how do you navigate the ride is the route marked or do you follow GPS cords."
Hi Ed. The route is neither marked or GPS navigable. If you want to be disqualified arrive at the start line with a GPS loaded with the route. Freedom Challenge navigation is achieved via maps marked with the route in conjunction with supplied narratives. A compass comes in handy at times, particularly at night when it's overcast or you are unable to determine your bearing by the stars. It's always a bit tricky for novices as the narrative says things like, "a short while after crossing the stream you will see a jeep track heading off into the forest". That "short while" is very loose. At times it could mean 20 metres and at other times it could mean a few kilometers give or take a few kilometers. The narrative also uses terminology unfamiliar to some such as "head up the spur", "make your way up the watershed" or "you will cross several seeps". The prospect of passing a Spur Steak Ranch or happening upon a shed serving fresh chilled water is a thought quickly dealt a hash blow.
Compounding the challenge are narrative descriptions like "after crossing the river you want to make your way onto the spur and head up the watershed to pick up a jeep track on the left hand side of the stand of trees just to the right of the nek." Perfectly clear narrative IF it isn't pitch black. In that case the narrative is useless.
The most common mistake is to navigate from just the narrative as it is too easy to skip a line or even a whole page. Ideally you should be navigating off a combination of maps and narratives. The other challenge is to understand the maps. There is a highlighted path which is sometimes mandatory and at other times indicative. The method of marking the maps has improved. Previously the digital magic marker used to mark the route dropped dashes that looked like a path when often no path actually existed.
Half the challenge of the race is to make sense of the maps and narratives.

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