Wilderness Traverse 17:40:00 
Wilderness Traverse – 2013
Wilderness Traverse was our teams first foray into the overnight racing world. We had been using most of the races so far this year as training opportunities for this one… here we go…
First leg started on bikes at 8am on Saturday morning. The bike trail leading up to the hydro cut was fairly simple, we made one small navigation error at a trail split but were quickly back on track (we also had a chain break 20 minutes into the race). Got to the hydro cut in good time and headed north. This is great trail, really enjoyed riding it. Made it to CP1 without any problems and headed off to CP2. Teammate had a pretty good fall somewhere between these CP’s and was riding the rest of the bike section with a very wobbly front wheel, but it didn’t seem to slow him down any. Checked in at CP2, took a quick rest to eat some food, offered the guy on the ATV a million dollars for a ride… he demanded to see the money first. Finished the bike leg in about 9 hours, and I’m pretty sure my other teammate would have won the noisiest bike award had there been one.
Took a good while at TA1 to eat some food, get our stuff sorted and recharge the legs before heading out on foot. I think most teams decided to swim across Harris Lake and we were no different. Once on the southern shoreline however we couldn’t find the trail network that was on the map. This caused us to zig-zag a little bit before deciding to head east to find the shoreline of the southern tip of Harris Lake. Once we got there, we took a bearing to get us to the trail, which was a little better defined the further south it went. We followed this trail south until it split then headed east towards CP4. As soon as this trail headed north to go around Gordon Lake we took a bearing to get us the closest point on the peninsula for our second swim of the day. Across we went to see John Yipp at CP4, his campfire was a welcome source of heat! So far, so good… a few minor navigational issues, resulting primarily from ghost trails, fresh beaver ponds, etc, but all is going well at this point (foreshadowing).
We struggled to find the trails heading east a few kilometres from CP4, got lost in the woods for a bit, came across a few other teams having the same issue. Eventually we found the trails and took them as far east as we could, from here we got lost in and around the Lake Wassagami area. From there we took a bearing to get us to the southern tip of Timber Wolf Lake, some rough topography and bushwhacking here, so the going was fairly slow. The next goal was to take a bearing to get to the north shore of Horseshoe Lake, knowing that we would encounter some water along the way and have to go around. At this point it was 2am, and we were very lost. The two other teams we were with had decided to call Bob and get advice on how to get out of the race, we had a decision to make at this point, do we continue on or go with the other teams and quit the race? Our team discussed it, and with Patrick and Chris’ high enthusiasm levels we continued on the race.
We seemed to encounter a lot more and a lot larger bodies of water than expected and I think this pushed us a lot further west than expected, we finally found a massive beaver damn (maybe 100 feet in length) to cross the western end of Lone Tree Lake. From here it was a long bushwhack to Horseshoe Lake, followed the shoreline east and finally found CP5. Once again the campfire was a great sight! Our team was at a low point here, it was exactly 6am, we had spent 10 hours finding CP5 (average time for all teams between CP4 and CP5 was 3 hours 12 minutes), but once again Patrick and Chris lifted everyone’s spirits and we continued on…
An easy trek along the north shorelines of Horseshoe Lake and Little Wilson Lake before crossing another broken beaver damn to reach the southern shore of Wilson Lake. From here we followed the shoreline to an old logging road which joined up with the road leading all the way South West to CP6/TA2. We entered TA2 knowing we were almost home, and with time to spare, we decided to take a nice relaxing transition before heading off on the bikes for a final 30km all-road path home. No sooner had Patrick and myself taken our shoes off and began cleaning our feet in the lake than another team (Whisky Tango Foxtrot #31) rolled into TA2, they struck up a conversation and we found out they were the only other rookie team left in the race, so instead of a nice relaxing transition we upped the pace as now it was a race to the finish for the rookie team title!
WTF #31 didn’t have all of their bikes at TA2, so it wouldn’t be a head-to-head race to the finish. They were assigned a time credit equal to the time between when they were ready to take off on the bike section and when their bikes were delivered. Our team rushed our transition and headed off knowing that team WTF #31 would have a rest before their final bike leg, we got into line formation and hammered for home. Our legs were like jelly, but we managed to average about 22km/h on the bikes which was enough for the rookie title as we finished that leg approx 8 minutes faster than WTF #31.
An incredible race, an incredible course, and some incredible teammates made for an incredible first overnight race. Bob Miller puts on a really well organized event!
Note: we were able to win the rookie team category, and as a show of how tough Bob designs courses, this year was the first year EVER that more than one rookie team have completed the course.