We were bussed from the parking area at Blue Ridge Lake to the actual start location. The remote start was a really cool working mill. The first few controls were easy trail and woods running. We ran into our first challenge at CP3. We went up the trail past a road intersection (as show on map). I was suspicious as the map show the trail heading in a different direction than the trail actually went. We followed it for the correct distance and then attacked where we thought the control would be. quickly realized (which I should have done from before) that the trail was drawn in by hand and did not actually match reality. We bailed to the road, re-attacked it from road - and found it quickly. At the same time we also pointed it out to the half dozen or so teams looking for it.
The next leg was a paddle down the Toccoa River with a few controls for good measure. Caryn was going to get to do rapids for the first time in a canoe. I had no plans of going in the water - and she was hilarious after our first little whitewater - about a 1 foot drop over a ledge. She yelped, held her paddle in the air, and nearly leaped out of the boat. A few more rapids an she was gaining confidence and starting to enjoy the bumps.
Just after shooting the rapids near the swinging bridge we had a complex rapid that I had lined up to cross from right to left to right to run. We dropped through 2 hydraulics and she started sliding in her seat as I was twisting the boat hard to make the turns. We started to tip left and I correct hard right, she slipped hard left in her seat,grabbed the right gunnel (as whitewater paddlers will know - that is the kiss of death) and pulled the boat over.
The water was pretty cold, but we had left the worst of the rapids, so I had no problem grabbing her, attaching her to the boat, grabbing the paddles which I had put floaties on in case we tipped, and swimming the boat to the right shore. Junos swam out to help me (actually he could have cared less about me, he swam out to help Caryn) get the boat to shore. We dumped the water - all the gear was in dry bags and attached - so we hopped in and headed downstream.
We got all the checkpoints along the paddle, they were fairly easy, though they were not visible from shore. Caryn was a little cautious after tipping, though she did just fine. She had done quite well considering it was her first time paddling in rapids.
Bike CP13-CP20 an CP21-CP23
The next leg was a bike, which was nice and relatively flat. The course took us to the Stanley TA which was a good distance. From there teams would put on wrist-bands and do the last three bike points having all members punch their bands. Good plan as this entailed a lot climbing (all the climbing we had avoided in the first part was bunched into this part). Caryn had struggled a bit on the first bike leg - and I decided that we would skip these 3 points (21,22, and 23).
Long Trek CP24-CP29
This next leg was the one that would decide the fate of most teams. This was a night trek with challenging navigation. There was a continuous threat of rain and it had been raining (but not hard) off and on during the day. We started well heading to CP32 first. After CP31 I decided we would go for the tough control - CP26. We had been warned in pre-race this was a challenging control and only a fraction of the teams that attempted it, got it. After about 90 minutes of searching in incredibly thick brush, on a very steep rocky hillside - I finally called it quits. Before I did, I found an old cross trail that took me over the spur to the next re-entrant east. I went over and then back (which was relatively easy since I had found the old trail) - I almost decided to give it another try (which would have meant climbing back up the steep rocky re-entrant) - but decided to save my energy for a later control.
Here is the track from my tracker:
After this we headed out to CP30 which was pretty easy. We skipped CP27 - and headed back to do CP29, CP24, and CP25. We chose to do CP29 first - this one was pretty easy, but the trail was a lot longer than it appeared to be on the map - as the mapper had chosen to cut out nearly all of the odd bends and switchbacks on the trail. Once we got back to the base of the trailhead at CP29 - we decided to head in. It was starting to rain pretty hard, and Junos was bleeding on his thighs from friction rub from walking in wet pants. Caryn was having some bad knee pain and they did look swollen. Junos was worried about his ability to finish. As we approached the Stanley TA the skies started to open up and give us some intense rain. I decided to rest the team and that we would head out after daylight (6:30 AM) - it was currently 4:30. I was a bit anxious at first as I really wanted to snag CP24 and CP25, but pushing the team too hard here would have potentially been race ending.
Once in the main TA, we had 12 checkpoints that we had to transfer from a master map, onto our map - and then essentially paddle and trek to visit. They all looked pretty easy (and they were) except that I copied one down wrong off the master map - and had to go back (with the entire team) to the Main TA to recopy. luckily it was not one that was far away. Many teams at this point had had enough dealing with rain and cold - and the 12 checkpoints were good enough to put us in 6th place.
Caryn had completed her first long (and overnight) race. They team overcame a lot of problems that could have stopped us. But we pushed through and did quite well. Here is a little video of some scenes from the adventure: