Team Stories – Ex-Piercey’s Adventure League

April 19, 2002

Ex-Pierceys Adventure League (M.Hogg, P.Garnhum, K.Griffon, D.MacDonald)
4100 points
2/10 teams in Rec-24

What better way to wind up for another hiking season than to dive in head first. This year was the second time that Kris, Peter, Dave and I participated in the Eco-Endurance Challenge organized by the Halifax Regional Search & Rescue. We’re given more than 100 square kilometres sprinkled with 40 control points and only 24 hours to find as many as we can. Unfortunately we didn’t finish last year due to Peter’s injury, so we were eager to give it another try.

Things started out easily enough. The crowd heads out from the starting line in a tight group. The further we go the more the group starts to split up as each team’s strategy is different. We find the first control point (190) easily enough, using the map and clues provided by the Challenge organizers. From here our strategy was to head north along the region’s many dirt roads. The roads allowed for very fast travel from CP to CP, and we wanted to cover this area during the day, as we had spent our time further south last year and didn’t want to be too lost at night.

We followed the Pockwock Lake road north, jumping off it only when a control point was near. We were careful not to waste too much energy bushwhacking when it wasn’t necessary. We only really began bushwhacking after collecting CPs 198, 186 and 197.

We left the comfort of the road soon after in an effort to reach CP 243 at the top of a hill. The push was a tough uphill climb through some thick brush. We reached shortly after another team who approaching opposite us. Rather than backtrack, we continued through the woods in the direction of CP 241. I was amazed at the time we were making while bushwhacking. Given the conditions, we were still covering about a kilometre every 15-20 minutes.

We were back on dirt roads for awhile after that and made our way towards CP 248. It was here we bumped into another team from Quebec. This challenge was much more popular this year and had participants from many different places.

After a short break and a water refill we geared up for another bushwhack to CP 249, on the shore of Granite Lake. We need to get this one for a valuable 600 points. We were hoping it would be easy as the sun was low in the sky and we intended to get back onto roads on the other side of the course before dusk. We were reassured by the terrain: thin forest with a soft, mossy floor. After punching our punch card we carried on towards CP 242. For some time the going was just as easy as before, but that soon changed. The trees became extremely thick, forcing us to push through with all out weight. We couldn’t have fallen over if we had tried– too many branches. We emerged in a bog with some bloody arms and legs. I was glad to be clear of it. It was not far to the control point so we punched our card and continued around the lake to meet up with another road. After hitting the road we took another break, glad to be out the woods for a while. The sun was just setting and the temperature was beginning to drop.

From here it was a long walk down a winding road, our next destination was CP 239, a significant distance out of our way but worth 500 points. By the time we approached it nightfall was in full swing. It was time to leave the road and bushwhack in the dark. We got out our lights and made our way in. After some confusion we were still no closer to finding it. We bumped into a couple from New Brunswick who were having trouble finding it as well. With our combined efforts we finally found it and were back out on the road to continue south.

By this time my feet were really starting to feel the strain. The pain was beginning to affect the way I was walking. The distance we had covered was starting to catch up with me. I took my time ambling down the road and we soon caught up with the New Brunswickers at CP 232.

As we kept on south the pain in my feet increased. I had serious doubts if I should keep going much further. Last year we had to be driven out and disqualified when Peter could no longer walk. I didn’ t want that to happen again, and I wasn’t sure I could keep doing much more and still be able to make back to the Event Centre.

Luckily we were on our way to the campfire at CP 185 and we stayed there for while. It was our longest break yet and I was just glad to be off my feet, hoping they would recover a little if I wasn’t using them. I reluctantly made the choice to return to the Event Centre. I felt bad, but I knew that once there, my team could still continue as 3. They just had to come back with me to do that.

Even still, it was another 7 or 8 kilometres back to the Event Centre from the campfire. I had to muster just enough energy for this last leg. On our way back we took time to visit CP 199. I took every opportunity to sit down and get off my feet while my team searched for the flag. From there we pressed on, going at a slower and slower pace as we went. The road seemed infinite and we took many breaks, stopping and sitting wherever we felt the need. I think the others were starting to get weary by this time as well. Fortunately for Peter it wasn’t him that stopped our effort short this year. But on the other hand we were going to return under our own power and receive an official score. As the sounds of the Event Centre’s generators hummed louder and louder, we finally arrived. Our day was over.

17 hours out in the woods, 45 kilometres covered and 4100 points earned. We turned in our punch card, had ourselves some hot food and headed out at 5:00 am. We may not be the winners but I get great satisfaction from just completing the damn thing.

Matthew Hogg