Team Stories – Red Rock Raiders

April 19, 2003

Red Rock Raiders (P.Chan, M.Grant)
5950 points
1/19 teams in PC-24

Let me start off by saying that it was a real surprise to win. Not that we didn’t go out and try to do our best. In this type of event you never know where you stand until the awards. I’ve been asked before if we know how many points we have and the answer is, no. We don’t keep a running tally of points, nor do we sit down after we finish and figure out how many points we earned. We actually didn’t know how many points we had until it was announced at the awards. Not until the second place team was announced and we still hadn’t been called up did we begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, we had won…. or we had been forgotten.

Anyways, great fun, great course and here is a summary of our route.

Start to 243: 11:59 exactly by my watch. It looked like teams were equally split between the east and west halves of the course. We decided to do the west side first and set off at a brisk walking pace. Some groups took off running but we let them go as we knew it was going to be a long 24 hours before the event was over. Took the first road heading south to the powerline then up the powerline to the junction and the control point.

243 to 245: Followed roads and powerline until the road turned north-west. Down the road to the junction at the bottom of the hill then along old trails and through the woods to the streams. Was a bit confused at first by the directions – “East of West Stream” until we realized there were two stream branches entering the lake and went over to the west stream.

245 to 244: Found a slightly quicker way back to the road. It always seems quicker going back than going in. Followed the road toward 244 until it ended and then into the woods and swampy areas to the stream. Followed the stream to the control. Teams are spreading out now and we arrive at the control at the same time as “Lost Again”. We had talked to them on the road and they said, “don’t ask how they got that name”. It would turn out to be prescient as they would soon lost their control card and a lot of points.

244 to 202: More or less due north to the road, turned at the junction and followed the road south-west until we were almost at the lake. Then we set a course due north to 202. By not setting a direction from the junction, we avoided going up and over the intervening hill and kept a more or less level course until we reached the target hill. Caught up to a team of four in the 8-hour event at the top of the hill so with six people looking we quickly found the control. They went north and we went east.

202 to 249: We could hear other teams in the woods so we quickly left 202 and headed east toward 249. Passed another team in the woods and was trying to walk quickly and quietly when I stuck my foot between two rocks and bruised my achilles tendon. That hurt so I took some Motrin and hobbled on. Encountered the first trail to the lake and then cruised, or rather limped, over to the small bay and control 249.

249 to 232: This would turn out to be our worst leg. Not that it took very long but we certainly didn’t get there in a straightforward manner. Managed to find the old trail heading over to the next lake but upon arrival realized that it didn’t connect to the next road at the other end of the lake. Decided to go overland. Encountered a clearcut and then a new road heading in the “right” direction. Decided to take the road and our increased speed put us too far west and then north of the control. Got to the top of a hill and by looking at local features realized that we had gone past Carney Lake and had to backtrack. Three other teams showed up and we all headed down to the lake.

232 to 224: The other three teams took off ahead of us and we couldn’t keep up as I was forced to go slowly in the clearcuts and not put too much pressure on my sore foot. I was wearing ankle gaiters so I found some snow and packed snow inside my gaiter and around my achilles. Back to the top of the hill and then followed the road down off the top. Left the road and dropped down and around to the control at the end of the lake.

224 to 248: Retraced our path to the road, turned north and followed the road to the base of the hill. This control was a treat. The hill was clear and the climb was relatively easy. The control was low to the ground and easily found at the top of the hill. Did everyone else notice that most controls were in swampy areas? Were the organizers just being nice to us in preparation for things to come?

248 to 204: Set a bearing to hit the creek south of the control. Headed off down a steep and rocky slope. Partway down I called out to Marian, “I think there is a big hole here”. Sure enough I went down waist deep between two rocks. Fortunately didn’t get stuck but it took some wiggling to get out. It levelled out quickly and we reached a clearcut. There was a skidder track going north-east and I figured it would go around the hill in front of us and meet up with the road on the other side of the hill. It was much easier to follow the track around the hill and we found the road on the other side. Followed the road down to the junction and then paced off 250 metres before heading into clearcuts and woods again toward the creek. Found a good place to cross then headed upstream to the control.

204 to 215: Up the hill to the road. Didn’t see the small road that looked like it would go close to the control so we continued on to the powerline. Followed the powerline down to the stream and then along the shore to the control. Met two teams coming out. The shoreline was easy to follow and it was a quick walk in and out.

215 to 209: Back to the powerline, up to the road. Followed the old roads down and around the hill. Decided to follow the trails and hope the road with the “Y” was actually there. Turned out it was / is there although it is not shown in the right place on the map. No matter, it was actually closer to the control. Down to the end of the west branch where we met the same two teams coming out. Was their lead increasing? D#@$. Down to another swampy control but the cold water and the Motrin were beginning to make my foot feel better.

209 to 236: Still daylight and we realized that we might be able to make it to one more control before dark. Walked along the roads at a steady pace. The road down toward 236 was mostly downhill so we jogged down the hill. Encountered a team sitting in the middle of the trail. Having caught up to them was a good boost. There was a gravel pit at the end of the road and we found a trail to the shore. Quickly realized that we were too far out on the lake and followed the shore inland to the control.

236 to 229: Only 15 minutes to sunset and we figured it we stayed in the woods and along the shoreline we might make it to 229 before we had to get our lights out. We figured this might be easier than going back up the hill and then down the powerline. The woods were pretty open and we followed the shoreline when we could. Got to the control as planned and could still see without lights.

229 to Scout camp: stayed in the woods rather than follow the powerline and got on the road heading toward the camp. As we were on a road we didn’t bother getting out our lights and arrived at the camp in the dark. Took a break to get more water and put on a coat.

Camp to 200: Our original plan was to go to 239 but we realized that it would be a one kilometre climb up the hill and down again in the dark. So, off to 200. Found the turn and followed the arrows. Somehow got off the track at a funny junction and had to bushwhack back to the trail and try again. Realized that one arrow was at an intersection. Obvious trails headed east and west to the shore and one more indistinct trail headed straight ahead to the control. Found the bridge and hung on to everything tightly as I was afraid we might drop something, like our control card, in the water.

200 to 220: Went back out the way we came in and walked by the camp again. Down the main road to the junction closest to the control and then along the trail and into the woods to the control.

220 to 246: Met another team and we headed in to 246. Found the cove but couldn’t find the control. It was dark and late and our plan was to be back at the start / finish area by midnight so we decided to give up and head out. Back at the road I had a closer look at the map and realized that we should have gone about another 20 metres along the shore and we probably would have found the control (This was later confirmed by Michael Haynes). Oh well, the other team went back in and still didn’t find it, nor did a team which arrived as we were leaving.

246 to Start / Finish: Brisk walk along a nice road and arrived just before midnight. Took a long break to rest our feet, change socks, get more food and water, change batteries in our flashlights, etc. Picked up our trekking poles for the night and morning sections when we would be most tired and would need the support.

Start / Finish to 137: Set out again around 12:45 am. Some raindrops starting to fall but nothing serious. Open woods made the control easy to find.

137 to 135: Followed the roads and then the powerline toward 135. Arrived a clearing on the low hill north-west of the control and set a bearing south-east to the lakeshore. Here we encountered some really thick bush. The trees were 10 – 15 years old and three metres tall. For a few hundred metres we couldn’t see more than arms length in front of us. I just pointed my compass the way we wanted to go and pushed through the trees in that direction. We had to hope for level ground because we couldn’t see our feet. Help arrived in an unexpected fashion. The Loons heard us coming and set up an awful racket so it helped to know we were still heading toward the lake. Relatively open woods near the lake and followed the shore to the control. We were only a few metres away from the control before we saw it.

135 to 155: It was now raining harder and more frequently but still nothing to worry about. We were both wearing gore-tex jackets so we were dry, or rather not wet from the rain. Followed the shoreline and then the stream out to the road. Still not easy going but easier than the trees in the “clearing”. Stayed on the roads and hoped to take the marked road back to the powerline before the houses. Fortunately the road was there and the paved portion of the road was just beyond the junction. Met a team coming the other way at the junction. Along the road to the powerline where we took a quick break to eat and change flashlight batteries again. From the end of the road under the powerline we headed almost due north to the road. This course kept us on more level ground and then we walked down the road to the control point.

155 to 167: It would be hard to hit 141 in the dark and we weren’t sure we had time to do more northern controls so we opted to go to 167. More light rain and some sleet was falling. It was getting chilly. Arrived at the stream / road junction as it was starting to get light. It was now quite cool and the wind was picking up. Stopped to put on gore-tex pants. Down the stream to find the control on a tree overhanging the stream.

167 to 156: Followed the stream east to the trail. Stayed on the trail until it started to turn and go uphill and then headed into the woods. The woods were quite open and in the daylight we could see that we were just north of the cove so headed down the hill to the end of the cove and the control. Raining steadily but dressed in full gore-tex only our hands and feet were wet.

156 to 139: Found the atv trail heading away from the cove and followed that back to the trail. Took the old unused trail south until it ended (shown on the map) and then set a compass course to intersect the logging roads shown to the south-west. Followed the logging road, turned at the junction and then paced off 500 metres before dropping off the road and down to the lake. We were just a little south of the lake but easily found the control.

139 to 133: Followed the lakeshore west to the boggy areas where we went swamp hopping yet again. Then we headed north along the shore. Figured the woods along the shore might be easy going but discovered that walking along the edge of the cut block was easier. After some time I could see the islands in the lake and knew we still had some distance to go. The lakeshore went away from our route and we lost sight of the shore but we stayed on our course. After another 20 minutes or so I figured we were far enough along to head north-east to the shore. Reached the lake at the east end of the bay and had to backtrack about 50 metres to the control.

133 to 165: Set a bearing almost due west to meet the road. Halfway along we encountered a survey trail heading north and south. We hadn’t crossed it before and I thought it might take us to a road so we followed it south. After a short time we realized that we had seen it and actually walked on it for a few minutes. It finally seemed to end and we followed a skidder trail out to the road. the skidder trail might have been the road shown between 139 and 133. We were getting quite tired and even with lots of time left weren’t sure we had the energy to run down the road to 165 and back again. Decided to give it a miss and see if we could find the road leading toward 150 instead. Should have stayed on our original bearing to the next control.

To 155: Thought we saw the north end of the loop toward 150 but weren’t sure so decided to try to find the other end. With time running short we knew we didn’t want to bushwhack down the hill and back again and risk missing the early finish bonus points. Didn’t see or missed the trail so gave up on that control as well.

To Finish: Met up with “Lost Again”, yet again and walked with them to the finish area. Arrived at 10:00 am.

Final route: 243 – 245 – 244 – 202 – 249 – 232 – 224 – 248 – 204 – 215 – 209 – 236 – 229 – 200 – 220 – 246 (not found) – 137 – 135 – 155 – 167 – 156 – 139 – 133 – Finish