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Desert Rage Adventure Race March 30, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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Finishing the Bike LegMy team just raced in the Desert Rage Camp Verde yesterday, and WOW
what a blast!

Our regular third couldn’t race with us, so Jonea and I asked a race
director named Jeff Hobbs to race with us as team Gilmore Adventure Race in the Masters Division.

The race started out with a 9 mile paddle down the Verde River. The
river was flowing at about 550cfs, so we had a few sets of rapids that
were a little rowdy and fun, but not enough to really scare us. Our new
partner flipped his boat about 10 minutes into the race, and we spent
some time recovering his paddle and waiting for him to make it down to
us so we could continue. The rest of the paddle was just pure fun;
water over the bow and into our laps, beautiful scenery, and a little
adrenalin too.

From the take out, we had to carry our boats up a hill and about 100
meters to the TA. Here we dried off and transitioned to the Mountain
Bike leg. I had just had a new cassette and chain put on Friday, and
started to have trouble right off the get-go. My chain was jumping
all over the cog set anytime I really pushed on the pedals, and I
couldn’t get onto my small front ring at all! Two miles into the
biking, we had to drop our bikes and trek up into a canyon. There was
a very cool waterfall and swimming hole. We scaled the rock around
the side of the swimming hole to get CP3. On the way back down, our
replacement team mate Jeff inadvertently took a dip in the swimming
hole when he slipped of the rocks. From there we climbed up a
hellacious steep rocky trail to CP4, then back down the canyon to our
bikes. The out and back trip to CP5 was on a dirt road scattered with
loose rock that went up and down across the canyons like a roller
coaster. At CP5, we hooked up a tether so I could help Jeff on the
long uphill sections on the way back. When we were almost to CP6, I
could feel myself about to bonk, and quickly ate something to help
refuel. I had to sit down for about 5 minutes in order to go on. We
got CP6, then absolutely bombed the downhill on the way back toward
the TA. I don’t think Jonea hit her brakes at all, way to go!

At the TA, we changed into our trekking shoes and headed out to get as
many of the 6 trekking points as we could before the 5:00pm deadline.
The alergy medicine that Jeff took did the job for him, and suddenly
I was the one holding us up. We figured we could get at least 4 of
the 6, and headed out to do so. When we were almost to the first one,
suddenly Jonea was on the ground, and I thought she had broken her
ankle….instead,she said she had something stuck in her foot. I took
off her shoe, and there was a piece of wood almost the diameter of a
pencil sticking through the sole of her shoe! It had given her a
puncture wound in the arch of her foot. We dug out the giant splinter
and off we went again. We got the CP (1 down) and were off the the next.

On the way to the next point, we saw a team ahead of us, but they
headed up a different wash than I thought the point was in. We went
to where we thought it was, and lo and behold! There it was! (2 down)
We decided to head up that wash to the power lines and then make a
decision based on time left from there. When we got to where the
power lines crossed the wash, we had a choice: try to get the point up
on top of a mesa about a mile away, or head out of the wash the other
way and forget about the point on the mesa. Based on the time and how
we felt at the time, we decided on the second option. We came out of
the wash along the power lines, followed them to a trail on the map, and
from there we took a compass bearing and walked (yes walked..not ran)
to within 30yds of the point we were looking for. (3 down)
Again we evaluted the time left and our physical condition and decide
that 4 would be enough and that we did not have time to get the sixth
point possible. We took another bearing, and trekked (sounds better
than walked) right to it. From there it was just a matter of making
it back to the Finish in one piece. We ran (yes ran….after all,
people were watching!) across the finish line at about 4:05.

There were several teams that managed to get all six points, and our
hats are off to them!

As it was, we ended up winning the Masters Division!

Another great day of racing!!!

Day Hike on 392 March 20, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Mountain Biking.
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I am always scouting the local trails for my Adventure Recreation business, so I took a short hike up trail 392 from Thumb Butte this afternoon.  Man is it great to see all the water running!  There was even one spot along the trail that was like a seep or slow spring, water was just coming out of the ground and running down hill to another small creek.  For anyone that is riding in the Whiskey in April, this part of the trail actually looks really good (did a little trail maintenance with my foot as I hiked along).  There are, however, several places where (right now anyway) you cross water.  That’s cool though, you always look a little more extreme if your bike is muddy!

Anyway, it was nice to get out for a quick hike, even if it was for only an hour or so.

A Memorable Hike up the Peaks March 19, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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The San Francisco Peaks a mountain that had its center blown out over a thousand years ago in similar fashion as what happened to Mount St. Helens back in 1980, but BIGGER.

The Peaks are on the rim of the volcano, and include Doyle Peak, Fremont Peak, Agassiz Peak, and the highest point in Arizona, at 12,633′ Mt. Humphreys.
This hike is only doable as a day hike if you are in very good shape, and can carry a lot of water. We did this hike in the first week of October before the snow came, but after the threat of summer lightning storms.  This requires leaving one car at the snowbowl recreation area so you can get back to the other car that you will leave at the trailhead.

The trail #102 trailhead is at Schultz Pass on Forest Road 42o, just a few minutes north of Flagstaff. The thing that I really love about this hike is the amazing scenery changes that you encounter as you hike up and up and up through different layers of flora until you suddenly emerge at Doyle Saddle to the incredible view across the inner basin to the towering Mt. Humphreys Peak.  The hike along the inside edge of the ancient volcano where rocks have tumbled like water down the steep interior slope is quiet and peaceful. Then the trail turns and takes you up into Fremont Saddle, where you encounter the view of Flagstaff and points south.  Another reason to stop and just enjoy.  From Fremont Saddle, the hike immediately goes above the tree line as you zig-zag up the east side of the pyramid like Agassiz Peak.  After almost 9 miles and 4000 feet of climbing, you come to the unnamed saddle that sits between Agassiz and Humphreys. This is where you get two more spectacular views; one looking northeast  down into the inner basin, and the other looking west towards Williams, Ash Fork and beyond.  Take the time to rest your body and your feet, assess your water supply and remaining daylight to see if there is enough time to make a summit attempt and still make it back down to the car before dark.  The hike up to the summit is not far, but is pretty tough due to the scarcity of oxygen, and the rock scrambling  that is required.  There are several false summits on the way up, you think, “there it is!”, just to find more trail leading further up the ridge when you get “there.”  Eventually, you DO actually get to the top, where you can turn 360° and everything you see is below you.  WOW!  On a clear day, you can actually see into the Grand Canyon.  Make sure you sign the log book in the ammo box!

As if you haven’t had enough for one day, now you have to beat your knees, hips and feet to a pulp as you descend back to the unnamed pass where the Humphreys Trail takes you down almost 3000′ in 4.5 miles.  Rocks and roots, roots and rocks…..that is what I remember most about this part of the hike.  You will come out of the thick forest and stroll across a meadow toward the parking lot after completing about 15 miles and seeing some of Arizona’s most beautiful sights.

When you get to the car, all you have to do is find someone in your party that can stay awake long enough to go pick up the other car!

Prescott Arizona Mountain Biking March 16, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, ar guide, Mountain Biking.
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There are literally hundreds of miles of mtb riding available just on the outskirts of Prescott.  And if you want a variety of difficulties, we have that too.  We have the easiest of easy in part of the rails-to-trails project called the Peavine Trail. We also have a multitude of forest roads, rowdy rock gardens, superfast singletrack, and more.  Prescott will soon host the Whiskey Off Road, a ride that offers riders a sampler of what we have in the ways of trails.  As a guide, I make it my business to get out and ride as many trails as possible.  See you on the trails!

A Couple of Good Adventure Racing Blogs March 16, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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I have a couple of new Adventure Racing entries on my blogroll from blogs I found interesting.  The first is from a team that I have watched on several multiday races like Primal Quest, it is Team Racing With Giants.  The second is called the Weekend Warriors Guide to Adventure Racing, and it has got all kinds of cool tidbits in it.

There are many, many good sources of info about Adventure Racing out there, and I am sure that some of you know of great ones that I have yet to see, so if you do, please let me know!

The toughest part of the Whiskey Off Road March 16, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking.
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Several of us went on a training ride on what I consider the toughest part of the Whiskey Off Road course yesterday. We parked at the Aspen Trail Trailhead off Copper Basin Rd. and started up trail 48. It was very slow going for a bunch of reasons, We had to hike a bike (this area is generally a lot of hike a bike for me anyway) much more than usual, as I counted 17 pine trees down across the trail. It was also a bit more rocky than it is during the Whiskey.

This is all I can tell you about today as I had to stop at the top of the ridge and head up to Mt. Francis and down the road in order to make it to a noon wedding. Guys I am sorry that I couldn’t suffer through it with you!

I heard from one of the guys and he said:

It was a great ride indeed. Little hike-a-bike, lot of grinding and some brutal downhill into Copper Creek. I haven’t ridden that trail in years, but remembered right away how rocky the 260 on the south side of the ridge was. I think I saw on Hal’s trail profile that there was over 4700 ft. of elevation change.
Great ride topped off with a big greasy cheeseburger and beers!

Training Ride March 13, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking.
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For those of you that are riding in the Whiskey Off Road in April, some of us are planning a ride over part of the course on Saturday morning at 9:00am.  We will meet at the Trail 48 trailhead on Copper Basin Rd.

We will ride 48 to 260 to FR53 to Copper Basin and back to the cars.  This should take about an hour and a half.  Yeah, that might seem short, but there is a ton of vertical in it!

Come join us!

Sand Storm Race Report March 12, 2008

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The final climb to the finishTeam Gilmore AR was made up of Kent Keegan, Jonea Mounsey, and me Dave Sewell. Not sure, but I think we might have been the 3 oldest racers that day. We started out with an uphill run of about 600 yards to pickup our passport, then out into the hills to pick up 4 other CPs in any order. We jogged down part of the Arizona trail past Kentucky Camp’s old adobe buildings and out into Kentucky Gulch. There was a point high up on a ridge, and we chose to go up the ridge-line to it. Once we had the point, we bailed straight off into the gulch and then followed it about a half mile to the next point. By now, my knees couldn’t run anymore, so we fast hiked. From that point we went over the shoulder of a hill into a narrow gully that we followed uphill to the 3rd point. We climbed out onto a road and followed it for a few minutes then descended into yet another draw to get the 4th and final point. From there it was half a mile up the road to the TA.

We transitioned to bikes, remembering to pack our trail shoes for the trek we had been told would be somewhere on the bike section. We headed out down the same section of Arizona trail that we ran down before. No sooner had we turned up a rocky forest road than my back tire felt mushy. It was going flat. We stopped and began our best pit crew impression and got it changed is just a few minutes. Then back on the bikes and up into the hills. The we arrived at the next CP at the same time as 3 other teams, it was on an old piece of equipment in a field by the road. The other teams out-climbed us to the next checkpoint, but the blew right by it and we got it before they figured it out and came back to get it. Shortly after that, there was a big nasty rocky section that we had to hike-a-bike. At the top, we stopped to make a route choice decision and while we were doing that 2 teams went by us on up the forest road. 2 other teams were also looking at their maps and we all decided to to take a single track down to some hairy-steep switchbacks that went down into Gardner Canyon. We got onto Gardner Canyon Road and followed it up to the third biking checkpoint which was also our bike drop. While we were changing our shoes, the teams that had chosen to continue on the forest road arrived.

The first trekking point was back down the road we had just ridden up about a mile then up a canyon to the mouth of a cave. Only one team member was required to go into the cave to punch the passport, but all three of us wanted to see the cave! So we probably gave up about 5 minutes so we could enjoy the experience. After that, the next point was back on the other side of the bike drop at the very peak of a mountain. We decided to to go to the drop and get rid of our helmets (they were required in the cave). From the bike drop it was about a mile and a half of up hill, and more up hill on a seemingly never ending rocky forest road. We encountered teams coming back down as we were going up, and vice versa. One the way up, Kent said he saw something in the road ahead of us, and then it was gone. A minute later he saw it again (hallucinations?), nope he did see something, it was a grey fox trotting a few yards ahead of us up the road. It had a huge bottle brush tail. We got several good looks at it until it left the roadway on a bend and disappeared into the tall dry grass. Coming down was hard work, it was steep, and hard on the knees and feet.

We got back on our bikes and had to ride another 3 miles up Gardner Canyon Rd. At the 4th bike CP we had to take a hike-a-bike trail up a creek-bed then switchback up through a fairly recent burn area to a junction with another forest road on the spine of ridge. We road down the forest road and crossed the creek several times, getting another CP along the creek. Then we followed the road back around the mountain to the Gardner Canyon Rd again. Here we followed it back down to the base of the same hairy-steep switchbacks we had descended earlier in the day. Now, we pushed our bikes up them. We got to ride about 5 miles of the Arizona Trail on our way back to the TA, and it wound through some beautiful country. The final hill up to the finish was enough to put me over the top, as my legs had turned to silly putty. We finished in 6 hours and 12 minutes though, not bad for a team whose combined age is 136 years!

Adventure Racing is Hard to Beat March 10, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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Our team just raced on the long course of the Sand Storm II Adventure Race in southern Arizona, and boy oh boy was it cool!

This race was put on by a company called Monsoon Adventures, 2 guys that have raced in the Gilmore Adventure Race the last few years under the name of Team Chupacabra. They did a super job of organizing and hosting this race. It was very challenging (for our team anyway), and took us through some very scenic country.

When most people think of Arizona, especially southern Arizona, they think of flat, hot desert. Well this was anything but that. We started at a place called Kentucky Camp at an elevation of about 5200′. The terrain there is rolling hills leading up to steep mountains that still held snow on the NE face. At one point in the race we were up as high as 6000′.

Once I get my photos sorted out, I will post a complete race report, but until then, I will just say that our team comprised of 2 forty-five yr olds and a forty-six year old were very proud of our finish.

Arizona Adventure Racing March 6, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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The sport of Adventure Racing has introduced me to a really wonderful group of people.  Back in 2001 when we opened the Gilmore Adventure Race up to the public, I got my first taste of who and what Adventure Racers are really about.Now 7 years later, I can tell you that being both a racer and a race director has allowed me the privilege of becoming a member of the Arizona Adventure Racing Family.  I say “Family,” because that’s what it feels like, both out on the course in the heat an event, and any other time that I am around other Adventure Racers.

I have never seen another sport where your direct competitors cheer you on or even help you during the event!  It is amazing how you can be running up a rockstrewn canyon in the middle of nowhere when another team passes you, and as they do, they say, “Good job!, Keep it up!”  Don’t get me wrong, teams are competitive, but never it seems, so competitive that they would ever wish bad luck on their opponents.

Another great thing about this adopted family of mine, is that without exception, every location I have ever either raced, or hosted a race, has been picked up and left cleaner than before the event took place.  Adventure Racers don’t wait for someone else to clean up after them, in fact, they take the initiative and clean up after both themselves, and those other users of our great outdoors that seem to throw things anywhere they want to.

I am very proud of my Arizona Adventure Racing Family.

Heading Down to the Sand Storm AR March 5, 2008

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This weekend my two team mates and I will be driving the 265 miles down to Kentucky Camp to compete in the Sand Storm II Adventure Race.

We have done very well the last 12 months in the co-ed division on the short courses of the Desert Rage Series, so we are going to move up and try our luck on the long course this time.  They promise us 30+ miles to be comprised of mountain biking and overland trekking with some surprises thrown in to boot.  We (or should I say “I”) don’t run very well, so on the trekking legs we have to depend on good navigation and smart route choice.  We usually do fairly well on the mtb legs.

Our female team mate broke her foot not long ago, but swears she is ready to go.  I am sure she is because she is one tough cookie.  Our other male is strong on the bike and on the treks, but has had some problem keeping fueled well enough on longer outings, but he too swears he is ready to go.  After writing about my two team mates, it occurs to me that I am definitely the weakest link on our team.  The must just keep me around out of pity.

Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I will live to tell you all about how it went.

Everyday Outdoor Adventures March 5, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Just Stuff.
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Even the busiest of folks can have an outdoor adventure every day. I just discovered that this applies to me too!

Today, I got home from a busy day of work, and decided to throw the frisbee for my dog for a few minutes. Gypsy is a New Zealand Collie, and she is mad about playing catch. Anyway, on one of the tosses, I inadvertently made the disc sail over our fence and into the backyard. The dog looked confused, then put out. We went through the gate and I sent her into the bushes to find the missing frisbee. After a few minutes (it felt like it anyway) of her muffing around in the brush, she came back empty handed….er, mouthed.

So I started hiking up the hill to get a better view of where it could have landed. While up there, I noticed that I had a perfect view across the driveway and into a pine tree where two ravens were trying to build a nest. I stood and watched them put sticks together and attempt to get them to stay put. Sometimes the sticks fell and bounced through the branches like a steel ball in a pachinko machine, and occasionally the would actually stay where they put them.

By now, Gypsy was upset with me and dove into the bushes again. Eventually she came out with the frisbee, ending my bird watching time by dropping it at my feet and barking like crazy. We hiked back down the hill and continued our game before heading inside to get a drink of water.

And that is how I stumbled into my own mini outdoor adventure.

Granite Basin Trails March 4, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking.
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The decomposed granite trails in near Granite Basin Lake were absolutely perfect for mountain biking this week.  While most of the other trails around Prescott were still somewhat muddy (some even still have snow on them!), trails 349, 350 & 351 are in super shape.  They are tacky enough that you can really feel the grip of your tires on them.

Seven of us went out for about an hour and a half of medium paced riding the other day.  We climbed up 350 and took 349 to the west.  That portion of 349 is a ton of fun.  The singletrack swoops and scoops down through the pines, where you sometimes feel the bark of a tree graze against your shoulder as you pass.  From there we took the 351 across and back up to the east end of 349 at Cayuse.  We followed the 349 back up to the top where we came into it off the 350 earlier, then pointed our bikes back down the 350 and back to our cars.

Getting out for even a brief  outdoor adventure on my bike is always such a treat!

Bad Astronomy March 4, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Just Stuff.
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One of my favorite blogs out there on the interweb is written by Phil Plait, who is becoming quite famous as both an author and a Wil Wheaton fan…seriously though, he is a scientist that makes learning about science fun and interesting. Phil debunks all kinds of whacked-out “theories” that are out there using facts; scientific facts. His web site is appropriately called Bad Astronomy, and it is definitely worth looking at. He often provides links to some of the most amazing space photos you will ever see (I am using one right now as a wallpaper on this computer).

Primal Quest 2008 and more… March 2, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
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I have just added the PQ blog to my blogroll.  They just announced that Primal Quest has also decided to put on a PQ Sprint Series.  They will host two races in 2008 and 8 races in 2009.  The most exciting aspect of it from my point of view is that it will undoubtedly bring more attention to the sport of Adventure Racing.  As a racer and a race promoter, this is good news all around!

Phoenix Urban Adventure Race March 1, 2008

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Tracie and I just got back from a fun day as volunteers at the Phoenix Urban Adventure Race that is put on annually by Rick Eastman of Sierra Adventure Sports.  I race in AR several times a year, and am the Race Director of the Gilmore Adventure Race in Prescott every September, but I don’t find the time to volunteer very often.  We had a great time out there.  We manned two different CP’s, one one the mountain biking section, and another on the scooter or skate section (remember it is urban!).  There were several first-timers, and they all did very well!