Team Stories – Red Rock Raiders

April 19, 2002

Red Rock Raiders (P.Chan, M.Grant)
5700 points
3/12 teams in PC-24

Michael Haynes said he thought the top teams would all head north first. I guess we’re a bit contrarian because we went south. We went that way partly because we knew that it would probably be much wetter in the south end and we wanted to get wet and have a chance to dry out before dark. Secondly, we looked at the controls and points and decided that by doing all the “200″ level controls (leaving out control 229 in the dreaded swamp) in the south we could get 2800 points. Going north and leaving out control 248 would get 3100 points. Given that there would be much more bushwhacking in the north we figured it would take longer to cover all the points.

In hindsight and with the aid of a map wheel, the distance from the Event Centre to the last of the 200 level controls would have been the same, about 23 km on the map, much longer on the ground. (190, 191, 192, 196, 224, 220, 204, 202, 201, 200 215, 209, 225 = 3400 points) (190, 198, 187, 246, 241, 243, 236, 233, 242, 249, 239, 232 = 3700 points). Also, it turned out that our final route caused us to spend more time in clearcuts and scrambling over old branches and logs during the daytime and in uncut woodlands during the night. I much prefer to travel through cut blocks in daylight when I can see where my feet are going to land.

So, our final route went as follows:

190 – Avoided the lineup and left it for the homeward journey.

191 – Trail over the hill to the control. quick and easy.

192 – Followed an old trail then the streambed down to the stream junction where we encountered a small pond with the control on the other side. Lots of rock scrambling. Remembering the admonition to not swim and knowing it was too early to go wading, we went down below the pond and came back up to the control.

196 – Off through the woods where we lucked into a bit of a trail near the powerline which took within 100 m of the control. Punched our control card and started snacking.

224 – Is it my imagination or have the roads changed in this area since last year. They didn’t look familiar and turns shown on the map weren’t in their proper places. I was pacing here and the distances were somewhat confusing. Went past the stream and around the corner and tried to “drop in” on the control. Spent half an hour in a swamp and couldn’t find the control so gave up and left. Also decided to pass on 220 because we were now on the wrong side of the hill.

204 – Nice and easy with a little path along the stream to follow.

202 – Easy to find this one. Saw quite a few cars and atv’s in this area including two or three atv’s in the sensitive area where the bank swallows nest.

201 – Very bushy at first in and near the old gravel pit but easy going once into the woods. Stayed just above the shoreline. Stayed a bit higher coming out and ran into thicker woods which slowed us down.

200 – Visible from the road. Headed back toward 202 and encountered some other teams on the road. Stopped for water and a tantalizing whiff of steak and potatoes at the aid station.

215 – Looked pretty bushy along the road but headed into the woods by a clearing. Immediately encountered thick trees and slash then some rough going in a clearcut. Hit the lake north of the control and followed the shoreline to the control. Pushed through thick new growth going back and came out on the road not far from where we went into the woods.

209 – followed a skidder track for a short distance and then carefully made our way through old cut trees and slash. Into the woods and down a hillside. Saw the cove and headed directly to it. We probably would have run into the control if we had stayed on our original line. Decided to head almost due north to the road away from the control. Slightly more time in the cleared areas but less road. Made it to the road in only 20 minutes.

225 – Headed NW from the road into an old logged area. Reasonably easy going as the young trees were well spaced but occasional pockets of old branches and slash made travelling a little difficult. Into thicker woods down to the lakeshore where we rock-hopped along the shore to the control. Much easier to rock-hop than walk in the woods. Followed the shoreline to the powerline and the road heading NE to the main road.

181 – Got here just about sunset.

199 – Could still see reasonably well as we headed up the trail but hard to make out the side trails. Found the cut line at the top and got out our headlamps and flashlights. Up the cut to the top and then it was easy to find the control at the top of the hill.

185 – Arrived around 9:30 and sat around the fire to warm up, eat, change socks, fill our water bladders and put on fleece and coats. Tried to figure out where the control was, that took a few minutes, thanked our hosts for a warm fire and headed off into the night around 10:30 pm. Good view of Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter in the evening sky.

232 – Nice and easy but my feet were now hurting badly. Overall tiredness and some blisters making life difficult. Encountered three teams coming south from the top controls.

239 – Dropped off the road on a line toward the stream with the intent of following the stream down to the shore. Encountered a small stream and followed that thinking it might be the intended stream. It wasn’t and we were a little confused when we encountered a much larger stream. Followed it downstream to the lake and then took a very quick direct route back to the road.

249 – Left the “bend” in the road at 1:30 am for the cross-country trek to 249. Only took us two hours in the dark but it was quite bushy and we could rarely pick a landmark more than 5 or 10 metres away. Reached the stream about 25 m from the control. It was confounded by the fact that all those trees look the same in the dark. After a brief rest we scrambled through the trees above the stream heading toward the road. Wasted time trying to find easier and more open woods to follow but encountered lots of thick new growth. Took us about an hour longer than expected to reach the road.

241 – The lost hour and my sore feet convinced us to skip this control. Knees were now hurting from walking funny. Had one trekking pole so that helped although I had to keep switching hands to give each knee a break. Walked along the road and enjoyed the sunrise. Breakfast of bacon and egg flavoured Boost (actually it was strawberry be we were dreaming) and candies. About this time we saw a tent on the side of the road that turned into a large boulder …. and we weren’t even hallucinating.

246 – I laid on the ground and put my feet up while my teammate punched our card. I could see her all the time so we weren’t too far apart.

187 – Stopped to chat with volunteers and another team that we had been running into since the race started. Shuffled off to 186. Had to stop and perform an emergency blisterectomy on one of my feet.

198 – Took the first road at the top of the hill and spent 30 minutes following blind leads. Three teams looking. Finally we all gave up, walked another 50 m up the hill and went in to the control on the correct road. Lots of footprints on the trail and lack of them on the other trail should have been a clue. It was now about 9:15 am and we were a little more than 3 km from the event centre, slightly more than a one hour walk at my current pace. Decided to shuffle a bit and got going almost as fast as my teammate could walk. Saved about 10 minutes doing this from time to time.

190 – Last control, no lineup anymore.

Final route: 191, 192, 196, 204, 202, 201, 200, 215, 209, 225, 181, 199, 185, 232, 239, 249, 246, 187, 186, 198, 190 plus bonus of 300 = 5700 points.