Team Stories – Random Walkers

April 19, 2008

Random Walkers (I. Folkins, P. Macaulay)
5400 points (1729 h)
1/12 teams in PC-8

I have done most of the 8 hour E2C events since the first in 2001. I really enjoy the way the E2C forces you to experience the woods/swamps/thickets in unusual ways. I remember beautiful mossy open stretches of big trees, crossing swampy streams with murky bottoms and being forced to slither out on your stomach by grabbing on to bushes. My partner this year was Phil MacCaulay, who had been my partner when I first entered in 2001. We had some confusion about magnetic north versus true north, and did not do very well. Looking at the map this year, Phil realized pretty quickly that the best 8 hour strategy was to go to the north-east of the start where there were lots of high value controls. Also, you are usually better off in hilly terrain than flat swampy terrain. My toughest controls have been at stream junctions, where each stream is really a long marsh with a network of streams inside, with no true intersection. Hills are usually more open, with well defined tops. The race would be won or lost on the high value controls, avoiding the big error, and escaping injury.

We planned a route of 124, 125, 175, 169, 126, 163, 139, 138, 136, 131, 130, 128, 127, 121, 122. Going along the south side of Bowsprit lake, the thin dashed trail faded in and out of existence. However, we got to what we thought was the corner of the lake and took a bearing to 124 and got it. In retracing our steps, we got disoriented. When we hit the corner of Bowsprit lake again, we weren’t sure which lake we were at. Anyway, following the vague trails along the east side of the lake, we came to what we thought was the T junction and headed east. Trails again kept appearing and disappearing, but by trying to keep headed in the right direction, we managed to hit the lake a bit to the west of 125 and get it. We then tried to follow the stream east to the road, but by some still mysterious process, hit the road quite a bit to the south of where we intended and spent 10 minutes exploring a quarry not on the map. We then realized our mistake, headed north, and left the road following the stream to 175. A lot of tough bushwacking here, and also in the bearing to 169, raspberry bushes being the worst. At 169, we had already used up 2 hours. We therefore decided to skip 126. However, 163, 139, 138, 136, 131, 130, and 129 all went very quickly for us, aside from some patches of muskeg-like terrain north of 139. I also dropped my compass on a trail during a snack and had to run 5 minutes back and find it. At 129, we had more than 3 hours left and were full of confidence. From 129, we should have retraced our steps back to the NE Safety camp. However, we tried to follow the more direct but indistinct thin red trails. The trails we were on soon disappeared in what seemed like new logging, so we had no choice but to try to keep going in the right direction back to the road. It was an extremely tough slog, and took us about 45 exhausting minutes.

After 128, we thought we would follow the trails near Sandy Lake to get 126, which we had missed on the way up. However, after getting what we thought was pretty close to 126, the trails completely disappeared. I panicked and decided to bail. This was another 30 minutes wasted. We retraced our steps to 127, and went part of the way downhill towards 121. We again panicked at the sight of more tough logged terrain, and so retraced our steps following the curvy road to 122. But instead of getting 122, at which point there was 40 minutes left, we figured we could get the 200 point bonus by coming in 30 minutes early, which we did. This is where the chocolate covered espresso beans came in handy. Overall, we lost points to tiredness and poor judgement near the end of the course – the end game always seems to be tough – but mostly kept up our momentum, and had some good luck in the middle part of the course. Thanks to the organizers for another great event!!