Winter O' at the Valles Caldera

Last weekend the New Mexico Orienteers held our third annual Winter O' event. The first year it was held at the Valles Caldera and there was not enough snow, so it became a foot O'. We had about 80 people attend that one. Last year we held the event at the Pajarito XC area, but nearly noone showed up. This year we were again at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. We had about 33 folks participate, which is fairly average for our events.

Skiers heading out on a course in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

It was a perfect day. There was plenty of snow this time and the courses were rated as "fantastic" by many of the competitors. Lots of folks went out twice on different courses. Rourke McDermott, of the Valles Staff was a great assist in getting everything setup for the event. We also worked with Dennis Trujillo and Rob Dixon for many months of planning in order to make this event possible. Thanks go out to all of them.


Snowshoers search for a control flag.

Here is meet director Judy Opsahl's report on the event:

Despite weather conditions that eventually turned cloudy, windy with flurries, 33 people came out for our ski and snowshoe meet. It is hard to say how many skiers vs snowshoers we had because some people snowshoed the ski courses (some may have skied the snowshoe courses, too), which was certainly permitted. Snow conditions, after last weeks snow and wind, were plentiful, with some really deep areas piled up by the wind, especially near South Mountain, which people discovered when they tried to take a short cut off a beaten track to a control.

Greg providing beginners training to Irene Powell. Robi Mulford checks her map. Marilyn Yeamans tracking the start/finish times.

Generally, though, skiing and snowshoeing was super and people returned to the finish in good spirits. I can't say enough how grateful I am for all the people who came forth to help out after I notified you that Dick had broken his wrist, leaving me without the help I had counted on. Rick Kelley and Greg and Karen Kendall came out Saturday, Jan 26th to help me hang the controls. Then, after all the snow and wind of Jan 28 & 29 (gusts up to 75 miles per hour) made the entrance road to the Valles impassable, Rourke McDermott of the Valles staff arranged for the road to be plowed Friday morning (their usual practice is to plow it Friday night so it doesn't have a chance to drift over again before opening for skiers Sat AM) so we could get in Friday noon to check to be sure all the controls were still there.

Judy checks in two competitors.

Don Siebe and Dave and Marilyn Yeamans came out and plodded through the ungroomed snow to the closer in controls while Rourke even took me around to the most distant controls by snowmobile. With that help we got them all checked Friday afternoon. For the meet, Greg Kendall helped with instructing the newcomers to orienteering, Karen Kendall and Irene Powell helped with registration, Dave and Marilyn Yeamans and Garth Reader helped with starts, Don Siebe made himself useful wherever he was needed, and Garth Reader, Don Siebe, Robi Mulford, Dave Yeamans, Marilyn Yeamans, and Irene Powell helped pick up controls. Full credit also goes to Jan Bear and Tami Martinson who also volunteered to help. It turned out we didn't need them, but I am deeply appreciative of everyone who volunteered. It made the meet, which I no way could have done without a lot of help, possible, and I went from wondering how I was ever going to get the meet together to knowing, with all the help and offers of help, that we would put on a successful meet. The other miracle was that only one control, a control stand, disappeared in all that wind, and that one we easily replaced on Friday. The missing control will no doubt turn up somewhere in the Valles when the snow melts.

Judy Opsahl

Don Siebe assigning start/finish times.

Next Event:
A Night O' at Bayo Canyon in Los Alamos on the newly extended map of Upper Bayo Canyon. Date: April 12th with starts from 8-8:30 PM. The Night O' will be run as a Score O' with an hour and a half time limit. Join in a potluck after you return. Start and Finish will be at the Opsahl House on Barranca Mesa in Los Alamos.