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Here's some irony for you: When I tried to contact representatives from the City of Trees Orienteering Club, they were nowhere to be found.

If I'd had GPS coordinates or maybe just a general direction, I may have been able to track them down, but alas, my phone messages proved fruitless, and I was left to wander through the quagmire of orienteering information on my own.

Trail wandering is something I have, unfortunately, done quite a bit. More than once, I've stood at the point where the formerly clear trail seems to dissolve into the hard-packed ground and there's nary a trailmarker to be seen. Even if there are bright orange arrows marking the trail, there is no guarantee I'll actually see them, or if I do, that I'll follow the correct trail. At one point, I actually started carrying a map with me, but unfortunately, even that doesn't promise a clear journey from point A to point B. Usually, I'm left standing somewhere in the woods, trying to convince myself the noise I heard wasn't a hungry mountain lion, ravenous bear, pissed-off moose or grumpy Sasquatch.

Inevitably I end up backtracking, trying not to break out in a full run and instead doing that slightly awkward fast walk while glancing over my shoulder since I've managed to psych myself out.

I can't help but think things would be a whole lot easier if I just knew how to get where I was going. Hence, my quest for the Orienteering Club, which I couldn't find.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, orienteering is a "competitive sport in which runners have to find their way across rough country with the aid of a compass and map."

That sounds about right; I often find myself running from imaginary hordes of beasts through the woods with a map and compass tucked safely in my bag. The key would be learning how to use said map and compass.

While I can't seem to find the Orienteering Club on my own, it is (supposedly) hosting an event in celebration of National Orienteering Day on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of State Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The public is invited to swing by the park any time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to learn the basics of orienteering or to test their skills. Club members will offer beginners some instruction and send them out on one of several courses set up throughout the park.

Organizers will place a series of markers throughout the park to create a variety of courses, ranging from beginner to advanced. Participants will be given a map and compass and will have to come up with the best route to each marker, mark a scorecard at each stop, complete the course and return to the start as quickly as possible. There's no word on whether they will have search parties ready to go for the hopelessly disoriented.

There is a small cost for participating—$5 per person or $7 for a group—so go with cash and possibly signal flares.

For more information, the club directs the curious to its Web site,

Who knows, maybe I'll head over and see if I can improve my orientation skills—if I can find the park.


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