Semi-Profesional Orienteering

As our activity for Youth Day, two hours were allotted to Orienteering, an activity for which about half the people at the Feast of Tabernacles here in Estonia signed up for, myself included.  Although my gout tends to make walking and especially large amounts of running a less-than-enjoyable activity, I wasn’t going to let my poor feet stand in the way of enjoying some wonderful opportunities to celebrate one of the most notable leisure activities of the Baltic States [1] and getting to know our Latvian brethren better.  I would therefore like to take this opportunity to discuss how the orienteering went, and what I found most puzzling and intriguing about it.  Hopefully the text and the pictures provided here will prove to be of interest to those who are intrigued by orienteering but may not be familiar with how it is done.


About an hour or so after services ended, at 1:30PM, we met in the conference room where services are held dressed in comfortable clothes, I in blue jeans and a black shirt and a leather jacket, which I shed partway through the orienteering because I was getting a bit overheated from the hiking even though the weather was pretty chilly at around 45 degrees or so.  The people that were part of the orienteering divided into groups based on their general speed, so that people who wanted to race through the process went with others of like mind and those of us that were a bit more pokey like myself went with those of a bit more gradual of a pace.  Every group was supposed to have at least one Latvian, as those brethren were considered to be the most proficient at this particular task.  Our group had two Latvians, and along with myself there were two ladies, one a Canadian married to an Aussie and the other a friend of mine from the Pacific Northwest, all of us on the more pokey side.  With our map in hand, we were off to explore Kuressaare in order to find the various markers listed and describe where it is we saw them.

Given that the map did not have any street names and given that the markers we were looking for did not have any numbers, being able to read maps and have a good sense of direction were at a premium.  Our group decided, along with one of the other groups, to start with the more far-flung markers around the golf course, which involved hiking a bit through town, crossing a creek on a pedestrian bridge, and hiking through piney woods, where one of the markers was on a rock next to one of the greens and the other two were hidden by trucks.  After exploring this area we went to the main group of markers, which were located around the lovely castle of Kuressaare.  Even though these markers were in a more concentrated area, that did not make them easy to find.  Some of them were in hollows near buildings, one was on a stairwell, others were on rocks, and many of them involved crossing over bridges and climbing up battlements and even the hillside of a small island inside the castle moat.


It was not all hiking and searching for the often hidden or obscure locations of the various markers, though.  There was time for fun and games, as a couple of the members of our group played on a see-saw, and it was fun attempting to communicate between the English-speaking and Latvian-speaking members of our group, as none of us who spoke English knew much of any Latvian at all and the Latvians were not confident in their English.  I kept one of the maps our group used, and I cannot read much of anything from the text that was on the back of the map where the Latvian ladies wrote the rock or the boxwood tree or whatever other location we found the markers.  Due to my ability to point our group in the right direction and keep us going despite our somewhat slow pace, the Latvians considered me an almost-professional orienteer, which I took as high praise given this is an activity they do on a regular basis, sometimes even weekly during the spring and summer and early autumn months.  It is likely an activity that I would do much more often as my feet permit.  And how did we do overall?  Our group found all of the markers and ended up returning after between an hour and a half and an hour and forty-five minutes, and we were at about the middle in terms of those who had returned.  For a pokey group of people not moving very quickly, it was a job well done.


[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Semi-Profesional Orienteering

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