Often there are tedious tasks that seem endless, but with the appropriate planning, they can become entertaining and swift.
Let us suppose we are assigned the task to check a series of points spread in a 50 – 80 Ha area distanced approximately 100 m between each other. Only the ones near the main roads are accessible by car, the rest will have to be reached on foot (Figure 1).
The first option would be to do an east-west or north-south sweep. However, we can easily observe that it is not a smooth terrain, and the strong steepness in some areas would make it too tiring and time-consuming. This would mean going slowly and the work will seem endless, when what we are proposing is to move as agilely and quickly as possible. Therefore, a good route design is crucial.
As can be seen in Figure 2, we spent some time studying the possible routes as if it was a Rogaine. A Rogaine is an orientation race where a certain amount of time is given to the participants to prepare the optimal path in order to finish attempting to pass by the maximum number of landmarks as fast as possible. In our case, we have to go through all of them. Routes have been marked with a green marker dividing the points in sectors, putting together those that are either closer, easier to access, have similar altitude or whether they can be accessed by car.
In Figure 3 we can see the resulting final route taken after a 4 h sweep, where we have travelled around 12 km with an ascent of 200 m. The straight lines belong to the vehicle trips we have taken to move between each of the predefined zones, while the rest of the lines belong to the circuits we proposed in the Figure 2.
We know that we are not in an orientation race and the main differences are that we are the only participant and, as we said before, we have to go through all the points. In orientation races, landmarks have bright colors and come accompanied by a description, but we have encountered that spring has already blossomed and the vegetation has hidden the landmarks (Figure 4).
Since we are working, we are not dressed as lightly as we would want, but to compensate we have a double frequency GPS that is connected by radio-link and has a precision of under a centimetre and that will guide us until we locate the landmarks, as hidden as they may be.
Once all the points are mapped, our job is done. Following effectively planning the route by studying the terrain, the resulting fieldwork is efficient, swift and entertaining. However, there are no badges, and back to the office we go.