Marauder’s Maze – Mounted Orienteering

January 28, 2021

Looking back to November, a couple of us decided to try out mounted orienteering. This event was Harry Potter themed and held at Fair Hill in Maryland. Since it is quite a hike for both Jenny and myself, we went up the night before and camped at Fair Hill.

I got set up in time to take Simon for a ride, although I did not want to go too far so only adventured through the grounds near the camping/stables, checking out some of the cross country jumps, viewing the track, and enjoying a few jaunts in the woods and fields. The stalls were nice. They require the use of straw bedding only, which was a little out of the norm, but no big deal. The camping spots are limited but nice and we enjoyed meeting and chatting with our neighbors. Each spot had water and electric and a picnic table.

The next morning we packed back up, stripped stalls, and headed over to another part of the park, about a five minute drive away, to where our first mounted orienteering event was being held. Rebekah and her friend Linz met up with us there and we all got tacked up and outfitted, with lots of excited yelling back and forth.

Fully geared up we each had on our own Harry Potter school robes, scarves for ponies, some unicorn horns, some HP neck ties, and we went to check in and head out. I will say that we were expecting more people to be dressed the part, but had no qualms being the sole group in costume. And it did feel cool riding off in a pack with school robes flapping behind us, while looking for golden snitches, and silver worm tails.

Explained in inexperienced terms, we had 5 items to find. There were three points giving for each clue. You stand at those points and then using the degrees given and a compass you are turned in a direction. You triangulate those three points and they should intersect where your item is. Each item was simply a word that you needed to write down (or take a photo of) to prove you found it.

In retrospect, I know we would have been a heck of a lot more successful if we had ever done this before. And after we found the final of five items we finally realized how difficult they could be to see.

We found the first three points pretty easily. A small stream crossing, a blue tree tag and a Dementor (which was tucked into some grass). We found where these intersected and spent what felt like forever looking in that spot, but did not find an item. We moved on.

The second three points were a crash site, a wooden bridge, and godrick hallow graveyard. We again found these points with some riding back and forth, and this time we did find the item hung on a tree!

The third item had points that were a bit tougher. A 90 degree turn in the trail, a golden snitch, and a 4′ log on the north side of the trail. There were about 100 places in the trail that were 90 degrees and how long is 4′ really? It seemed like every log on the side of the trail could have been 4′. We rode around and around in this area and never found a snitch, or which 90 degree turn or 4′ log we needed. wa wa.

The fourth item was a success. The points included “dusk”, baby acromantula, and a trail opening into the field. Score! Two items collected (well photographed).

The final item also kept us scratching our heads. We found the Y fork 10′ up the south side of the trail. We found the blue rectangle, and then eagle eyed Jenny spotted the silver worm tail. It was a rather small silver paper cut out of a rat hanging in a tree. We triangulated and dang nab it, no item. We went round and round, and were about to give us when Jenny managed to spot the clue, on the back of a tree, down by the ground, that would not have been visible without some real looking.

As mentioned earlier, after we found this item, which was tucked in so well and hidden from the trail, we realized that the first item was probably right where we thought it was but behind a tree trunk where we could not see it. The instructions had said everything would be viewable mounted from the trail, which we took literally to the word. Technically you had to step off the trail, lean forward, and stretch to see this fifth item. So its quite possible the first item was set up very similar.

We had been out for hours by this point and were all thristy and hungry and done. So we called it good and headed on back. We checked back in and were told we won the award for the best team due to our dressing the part. This came with a bucket of cool goodies we divided up before heading out. When we saw the final results later we were even more pleased to see we actually did quite well. We missed two items but only one team got them all, and only one other team got four. After that placement was dependent on your time, and we admittedly went slow, but not the slowest. I think we finished fourth, or something close to that.

It was a really good time and all of us enjoyed ourselves. We would enjoy doing it again, and next time, we will bring a stronger game!

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