Team Stories – Late Not Lost

April 19, 2007

Late Not Lost (A.Bruce, D.Stover, T.Polley)
1500 points
8/9 teams in SAR-8
Course Time: 1750 hours

Picture yourself in a timed scavenger hunt held in the middle of nowhere following a savage April rain storm. Please, try to remember that what you will read in this true tale is considered by many to be a fun recreational event, really good fun.

Envision yourself wearing a small back pack, boots, and perhaps rain gear as you clutch map and compass to set off on a race through pristine Nova Scotia forests. You travel down quaint dirt trails, through vast, wet, lush, marsh lands, plunging into stunningly refreshing brooks turned to torrents by the previous nights storm, loping up and down endless rolling hills, nimbly picking one’s way through the remains of steep clear-cut hillsides, (ha!) dumping soggy boots, skidding in 15 centimeter deep mud, and no doubt savor the absolute heart stopping shock of that darn rotten tree trunk choosing to give way under your feet thus plunging you into a two meter deep creek! This is considered to be both satisfying and fun by hundreds of otherwise responsible humans. What prey tell are these so-called sane people doing?

Why, E2C of course! All survived again this year and had so, so, very much fun. Let us tell you about it from the ‘late not lost’ perspective.

The day begins as you are startled to some form of wakefulness, by an alarm clock thrashing round on a night table. You are forced to rise from a warm and cozy bed while the world outside is still dark, probably very wet and cold, but quite on a peaceful Saturday morning. Stumble out to the wisely pre-packed vehicle, perhaps with a to-go-mug of tea in hand. Climb in, yawn, stretch, buckle up, and note the rivulets running down the street. One heck of a downpour took place last night. Utter a silent wish and hope for some dry weather today as you look into the rear-view mirror: you appear to look sane. That very mirror may reveal a totally different face at day’s end! Hit the road to rendezvous with your event teammates.

Team LNL meets at the Sobeys parking lot in Tantallon: Pretty well on time.

Excitement abounds as gear is hurriedly transferred and packed into one vehicle. Then, a quick pit stop in a coffee shop and hit the highway for the registration site. Well spent time on the map firming up a good plan for a best effort in the eight hour event. Wisely, allowed for an ‘escape’ route if time ran out or experienced some other misadventure. (No way) Things looked good despite a team mate having to borrow what turned out to be a wee tiny knife for her kit to compensate for the one left behind in a car at the Sobeys lot.

Are we dressed OK for the day? Gees look at the guys in little tights and shorts. There is the guy who always wins. Hell of a pair of legs on him! Yeah and look at the dinky little pack. So, it’s not raining now which is promising, but remember that the trees are holding tons of water and the usually damp ground will be sodden. Anyone going to ‘bag’ her feet? Nope, let’s go.

Drive on to the start point, laughing, still discussing just what we should actually wear! Hey guys, keep an eye out for land marks. We might figure out where 129 and 204 are. There is the little trail, this one right here on the map. Look for a stream that goes under the road…

That is one big hill up to the Command Centre and the Start / Finish point! We are greeted by two HRSAR team mates one of who good naturedly teases us about being late.
“Well, what do you know?” We shook out one of our post-event shirts with ‘late not lost’ stenciled on the back.
“We are just living up to our name.”
Apparently, almost every other eight-hour team was on site. How did that happen? Gees, it must have been all 24-hour people back there.
Time lost: Who knows!

Hurry, get parked. What about there by the pylons? Can we? Just get in there. With this vehicle we should be OK anywhere. Everyone is heading to the Command Centre. We pull in, flinging open doors and the tail gate as bags, boots and gear are tossed out.

Another HRSAR team mate arrived to dish out lots of teasing about our hasty parking job and that we were still getting dressed, again. Along comes yet another team mate on a four-wheeler, “You can not park there girls. What took you so long to get here?” He is laughing as he rolls away. Was he shaking his head!?

LNL promises to move once dressed. He rides away and he was shaking his head. Two of LNL rapidly don quick dry long johns for which they shall always be darn glad. As one of LNL moved the vehicle, the others ran zipping up and or slinging on packs to pep talk and last minute directions. Somewhere here is where everyone also had to have a quick safety check for the few required items. The tiny borrowed knife was accepted. At last LNL got the Tyvek punch card for the check points. “Don’t forget to zip your map pouch shut,” one of us suggests to the punch card holder. “Oh! It’s OK, I never close it.” Well then, everything else looked very promising. LNL was so pumped and so excited to get on the trail.

About sixty usually presumed sane individuals attended the pre-eight hour event talk. We are all clearly advised to be back on site by 1810 hrs, no later or be prepared to forfeit points for every minute late. Yikes! No way that we were going to see that happen. The start signal went and every single team took off down the trial from in front of the Centre, all in a mad stampede. All, but LNL that is. Despite having conferred on their choice of take off positions, LNL had apparently somehow decided on a different strategy from the masses. Their route took them out behind the Command Centre in the opposite direction from everyone else. Well, for some unknown reason someone, perhaps one of ‘late not last’ also known as ‘LNL’ yelled, “Quickly guys, run like hell up that hill.” and run they did! It must have been an impressive sight as they tore up that trial, wet dirt flying as they ascended the short steep hill and then came to a sudden halt, in a huddle.

The hill went up to the North East as opposed to South where all the rest had gone and not West Northwest as LAN had determined would be the start. They reached the top quite quickly, stopped, looked at each other agreeing that this had been a colossal error! Oops! Now, how on earth would they make it past all the gang on the Command Centre? There was no choice but to bow heads and run down the hill behind the thing hoping like hell not to be noticed.

Ha! But of course everyone was wondering what on earth they had in mind, everyone had watched and then waited to see if the wayward team would reappear. Some walked out behind the Centre to tease and heckle good-naturedly as LNL passed. Apparently, someone was also on the roof photo-documenting the dash past as well! One could not blame them. Anyone would have had do the same had they been among the group who had worked to set this site up. Why not? It was their job to try to get all of the teams safely on the trail. No doubt they were wondering something like, ‘What are those three goofy blonde women up to?’

Meanwhile on the hill top LNL conferred and agreed that there was little or no choice but to descend and re-start the course. No one wanted to take the suggestion that a group might at least sneak across the top of the hill out of sight and re-start. A plan was made: LNL loped down the hill with a decrease the pain strategy. One of the team called out, “Are you sure it is in the car?” to one or both of the others!
One called back, “Sure, it has to be. Look on the front seat.” And LNL loped past a cheering crowd who took photos and howled in fits of laughter as someone called out: “Are you sure that you want to do this?”
Time lost: Ten minutes give or take a minute or two!

LNL did make a token stop at the car. Then they took off on their own route, the originally planned one which was still not the same as any of the others. So be it!
Time lost: Five minutes, maybe!

Now LNL has a huge handicap for which they shall be tormented and teased forever. Of that LNL is quite certain.

Here is where the story gets really good. It is about 35 minutes later. LNL is approaching what should have been the last eight or ten minutes to the first check point. They had just scrambled down a very steep, wet game path. One member happened to be a couple of minutes ahead bushwhacking through a dirty area of tall, dense, soggy softwood growth when she reached the predetermined navigation point. She was lolling about listening to the girls as they approached. The sky had brightened and the day looked more promising. Soon they emerged from the bush. It was then that somewhat shocked one realized that she did not have the team’s punch card and hells bells, no map either!

A short discussion revealed that no one could recall how long it had been since anyone had noticed the map case hanging from her pack shoulder strap. “It must have ripped free in this dense crap that we have just beaten our way through.” Going against the rules LNL decided that two team mates would retrace their steps while one would remain at the point, not that it was going to change! But surely, the back track could not take too long? No sense in all of them going back through that wet stuff.

As soon as they vanished, the remaining team mate dug out a snack and some survey tape. Just as she was preparing to mark her place and have a look over the big ridge they had just come to her cell phone rang. She was going to set the next course of direction and be ready when they returned. Her cell phone continued to ring but she could not answer it on time! It was the girls. They were 10 minutes back on the course with no sign of the map case. LNL agreed that they would move back just a little more and call the Command Centre for confirmation of being able to obtain a duplicate punch card. Soon they called the remaining member back to affirm this and inform that all of the team had to return to the Centre! The lounging member would have to catch them. She suggested that they take the road which was not far to the West. Low and behold, it appeared to go a lot farther than they had earlier realized so why not use it to return to the Centre. But not everyone wanted to use the road yet. Once all were together again they eventually did go to the road which quickly and much more smoothly took LNL back to the Start / Finish point.

Simple words can not easily describe be the teasing that greeted LNL upon their arrival back at the Command Centre! It remains mostly a big blur, blanked by their wish to forget the torment. Why, there was even a ceremonial presentation of the new card complete with photos, cheers, laughter and shaking heads. LNL raided the treat supplies for those who had been working on site the previous day /night and hit the road again, running.
Time lost: About 1 hour.

When LNL finally got back to the sodden, muddy point that they had left behind they dashed ahead cheering one another to the stream edge and point number 124, their first marker! Chomp! The first punch was made on the new card! It was then safely tucked into a small zip-lock bag and zipped into a pack pocket to await the next punch.

Of course LNL had a photo finish for the heck of it. Each member had a turn and a short video was shot as well. LNL was there for fun and the experience so why not take a photo or two? Suddenly, a noise, voices called out from the nearby hillside. LNL became acutely aware that they were no longer alone on the trail!

Now more fun really began as LNL tried to sneak out of that check point without being seen by the ‘big guns’! In no time, they were over run by two 24-hour teams who had started an hour after them! LNL began to run, caught up in the frenzy as several teams sought point number 128, the next logical point.

No event of this nature is complete without a water-obstacle or two. LNL’s first water obstacle came along en route to point number 212! A very swollen brook, cum river! Quickly the shores of the murky, tannin tainted waters were littered with groups almost frantic trying to find the best way to cross and not get too wet. Some appeared to plunge in, thrashing and howling as they made their way across to an equally wet and sloppy far side. It made this person think of a steeple chase as runners hit the water! The opposite side was really not much of a shoreline as it was full of watery sink holes; but remember, this is a fun event.

The first LNL member to cross blindly or bravely tottered out on the fallen tree which probably met the other shore prior to the rain. She did not last long as she became the first of LNL to take a dive into the water. The next one took ‘the crawl slowly as far as possible, then pop up, and jump method.’ This was not much better but she did have a team mate to help pull her back to her feet as she too crashed, splashing into the water. Not quite as wet, but still wet to the knees. By then, there were several teams on the shore. Some began to try to knock down rotten tress, while others dragged in fallen bits and pieces to make a bridge. A couple of men made it half way and took the plunge. LNL number three made it, almost in tact, wet only to the knees. Not too bad.

From that point on all who took this route were soaked. Two of LNL were wet from feet to knees, and the first one to venture out on half of a broken tree was soaked to her waist. No one could blame them as they took videos of a guy who fell off the skinny rotten log that they had crept via hands and knees over the cold, deep waters. SPLASH! One down! Splash! Another from the shore! CRACK, YOW! Splash! In went a guy with a tree. It fell over him and suddenly two more people were trying to pull him out, log and all. It looked so darn funny as his arms were plucked up by well meaning individuals who somehow appeared oblivious to the log across the poor fallen fellow’s lap. One of them hit the water too. Then suddenly from the desired side a guy in hip waders dove in as he fell from the growing log pile over the water! He swam quite well wearing the big boots! It was pandemonium and darn funny. LNL captured a good bit of that water obstacle in a video! LNL was there for the fun of it and that was one funny water-obstacle.
Time lost: 15 minutes, all worth it!

LNL remained in the pack, so to speak, for an hour or two cheering all others on along the way.

It was agreed that jogging flat trails and some down hill sections would be best. No lunch or rest stops were taken. No one seemed to notice or mind. The gals of LNL are generally moderately competitive in the rest of their life endeavors but agreed to try very hard to control that for E2C. It appeared to work well, most of the time. Consensus was required when any plan change was made and as time began to slip away. Never the less, spirits remained high throughout the whole event.

As they approached the turn for point number 195, one of LNL commented on the traffic circle in the woods. The trails were cut with a very large triangle shaped patch of woods in the middle. Just then a 24-hour team came by as one of the men smoked a cigar. He offered to give LNL one when next them met. It never happed; the meeting, that is.

Point number 195, which despite having a very wet approach, was boldly attacked. Following that back on the dirt road LNL took a half assed break. Sox were rung out, boots dumped, mole skin applied, and a few snacks unpacked for the trek to the next point. A nice couple with a GPS and a fuzzy wet dog stopped to chat before vanishing into the woods for that point. Perhaps it was idle prate, the munchies, or a combination as LNL made their way back to the intersection and the road to the next point, but somehow they managed to miss a short cut. As they sped along, out of nowhere appeared the couple with ‘fuzzy’.
”Gee guys, we missed that one! Here comes the couple with the dog!”
“That was the traffic circle.”
Time lost: Five minutes.

LNL turned up the speed and left fuzzy and his people in the dust, well perhaps flying mud clods. This part of the road was one of those high hills that comes at a walker / runner in steep stair steps. Just as one reaches what appears to be the top, darn, there is another step. There were three steps. A few teams passed going in the opposite direction. One was a Mom and son team which LNL admired and praised and another team had a member sporting a big leg brace. Such admirable tenacity!

Eventually, LNL realized that despite their pacing being consistent and accurate, somehow they had missed the mark to get them down a steep mangled clear-cut hillside to a long narrow lake and then a brook doubling as a little river thanks to the previous day’s rain. Eureka! Someone noted a few tracks to the left. “Lets run,” and the team attempted to scamper down the stump and debris scattered hill and into the woods.
“Mmm Mmm, it smells so good.”
“How girlie is that?”
“It smells like Christmas.”
“Mmm Mmm.” Those are the sounds of LNL savoring the fresh scent of chewed up soft wood as they pick their way, not running, down the hill.

The last river crossing was somewhat challenging as it was deep, fast and appeared to present no reasonable bridge building material. As one of LNL explored a cluster of large rocks for a possible route another hissed: “Shhhhh. There is the guy with the white hat from Crape. Look up the river on the other side.”

Sure enough they were attempting a crossing on what looked like a fallen tree. One of LNL called out hello. “Hey Crape! How’s it going?”
“Great! How about you,” came the reply as more of the big team joined him on the water’s edge.
“Ask him if he got 121?” whispered one of LNL.
“Hey Crape, is it right across from us?”
“Yes, really close, but you can not get across there.” He called back. No kidding!
Like a flash one of LNL was off. She tore through more dense, deep wet brush and met the Crape team as they cautiously made their way over what turned out to be a bit of a log jam. The rest of LNL appeared along the rugged but beautiful shore. Again, pleasantries were exchanged and teams went their ways.

The move up the little river worked well for LNL who made their way over the water and on to locate two more points. In retrospect, it is ironic how both teams had tried to stay out of the water considering how wet they had been just two points earlier.

Because they had been very close to the more Southerly point LNL went for it first. Time was running close if they wanted a couple more points on the return route. That point was easily snagged, so LNL decided to sleuth out the remnants of an old trail just to the East. They would run it back to the missed point. All agreed that it was close enough so why not? Two members began to run as the third took a gem of a fall. Silently, she realized that she had stumbled and was going down on the hard packed coarse sand and rock trail. She tucked and rolled, popping up before the others knew what had happened. Down a beautiful steep hillside toward the brook they raced.
”Let’s kind of do a grid search as we advance,” someone called out.
“Hey! You can cross down the brook about 100 meters from there,” one of them called to a couple who looked pensive as the gazed at the fast running waters from the other side.
In no time, the point was located and LNL reversed direction, now back on course.
Time lost: Fifteen minutes.

LNL should have a good spirit award in the next world! They gave directions to several teams who appeared hopelessly confused or very concerned about water crossings, admired Nature at almost every point, helped at water crossings, petted dogs, praised kids, and encouraged GPS carrying teams. All three of LNL agreed that this was OK as they were there for the fun and they would really appreciate the same if / when necessary. Hells bells! LNL began with a genius move and survived the torment. Life should have a few good laughs and this was an excellent experience for Competitive Nature Control Management Therapy. (CNCMRx)

“How are we doing for time?”
“Good, really good. We should be able to get two more points on the way back. We can do it in 40 minutes, right? All of LNL agreed, even the one with the blister. ”Yeah, these boots are no good for running,” shot back the quick response.

They speed walked out to the main road and pressed on up another big hill. Turning on to the main road a young couple jogged past. They slowed to speak and the gal waged a bet that she could beat the guy up the hill. ”Well look at the sneakers they are wearing,” stated one of LNL. The couple dashed off slowing to walk in no time.

In a few minutes more vehicles full of smiling, waving, competitors began to pass those still on the road. Success for them and probably bonus points for being early too. LNL will be on time even with the huge handicap.

“OK, it says it is behind a gravel pit.” LNL had just passed what turned out to be that very location. Someone had taken really poetic license to describe that one! The team turned and two members moved ahead to the pit. Quickly came sweet success and LNL ran down that hill for a second time.
“One more point guys.”
“Yep, but no bonus points for being early.”
Once again, hindsight may show that it could possibly have been an easier point accumulation had LNL skipped the ‘gravel pit’ point and gone for the early arrival. Who could know and at that point and who really cared!

More vehicles passed with more smiling faces en route to dinner. LNL noted a group of men coming on to the road from the South. “That’s it! 204 has to be right there. Let’s run!”

Just as they hit the last point one of LNL spotted the marker behind a very full fir tree just a few meters up a hill. (They are all on a hill top or in water!)
“Quick, get the card and let’s get it punched. See it, behind the tree?”
One of the team led the charge to the marker then cried out: “Oh shit guys! Oh, we have a problem. You won’t believe this. I can not find the punch card! I’ll run. I’ll go back to the last point. Oh shit.”
Just then two fellows passed below on the road and one of LNL called out to ask if they had seen anything on the road. No. Blood pressures rise.

While two of LNL rifled packs the third grabbed another map and dragged her sorry butt up the little hill and punched the map muttering, “At least we will have one darn point!”

The missing card re-appeared and it too was hastily punched and safely packed away as the team ran to the road below. LNL hit the last long steep hill to the Command Centre praising each other for a day well done.
“Turkey! Here we come.”
“I can not wait to get these boots off.” “Mmm.”
“There is a team just back there behind us. Come on. Let’s move it. So much for CNCMRx.
Time lost: Seven long minutes.

A few minutes and several passing vehicles later, LNL handed in the elusive punch card amid cheers, laughter and photos.

Bottom line was that LNL got lots of points, got back on time, and had a just wonderful time. No arguments, no problems. And all of LNL are keen to run again next yr!

Picture yourself in a timed scavenger hunt held in the middle of nowhere following a savage April rain storm. Now, try to remember that what you have just read was considered by many to be a fun recreational event, really good fun.

Late not Lost