|The start took me by surprise. I passed quite a few people on the trail, despite looking at the map pretty hard to try and identify appealing skips. I decided that my short list was 14, 23, and 33, and I'd decide later (I was confused by the butterfly on 23, which actually makes no sense, I think I was considering going from 17 to 24).
|Tucked in behind Peter for the wander though the laurel.
|With a big gang of folks, didn't need to pay too close attention.
|Out in front with Tim Parson, lost a few seconds getting up around the cliff.
|In the front of the pack, I went NE while most people went N to the trail, which was about even. Got to the control with Peter.
|Following Peter on the trail route to the right. Our group went up by the marsh, and I got ahead of him in an area of bad footing. Another group including Ernst and Nadim was coming in from our right (I guess they went further around on the trail) and just about ran past the cliff, lucky for them that we were there.
|Out front, I went left around the hill, and got there first.
|Leading for the first half of the leg past the little ponds, left around the marsh, then some others had caught up by the control.
|More right than the others, to avoid the green and get to the trail earlier. Worked okay. Alex was in the gang by this point (we caught her after she had skipped 2)
|Out front with Alex.
|NE out of the control, out in front, easy leg, big boulder!
|This was my first potential skip, but I decided that it didn't look too bad, so I went for 14. Out to the road, where people started passing me, but I did a better job getting back into the woods cleanly and was one of the first to arrive.
|Behind Alex and Ernst, and I think it was somewhere around here that Becky caught up, saying that she had just made a huge error. I managed to twist my ankle really hard on the way up the hill, no problem.
|Trudge up the hill with everybody, and it was easy to find the control because Zac Barker really "telegraphs his punches". When I saw him running like crazy perpendicular to my direction of travel, I knew he had spotted the control in the pit.
|A bit of an error, but not too bad. I angled much further left than most people, and lost a lot of altitude. I think only Karl Alhlswede went with me. I wound up directly south of the control, south of the trail junction, and attacked from below as if I had skipped 16. Instead of being at the front of the pack, I was in the middle or the back, but it wasn't a big loss.
|Death trudge up the ride, then on the descent, I let fly and passed everybody, which lasted until I ran out of momentum on the next climb. When we topped out the second time, I couldn't stand it any more and headed into the woods probably near 31. I was pretty fuzzy as to where we were for the rest of the leg, and hoped that the folks ahead of me, incuding Ernst, and Kseniya (who had been around for quite a while) knew where were were going. Pretty gratified to see the tent up ahead.
|I wanted to get my Ethan-All, but I didn't see it anywhere, and my queries about where the special bottles were did not seem to be understood by the aid station crew. I spotted the backpack that I had seen Lou Pataki with behind the table, and dumped it out -- there it was. Drank half of it and left the bottle on a rock by the control.
|Bob Lux was now my companion, with Alex and Becky up ahead.
|Pulling away from Bob.
|Closing the gap to Alex and Becky.
|I started getting glimpses up ahead of the gang who I had lost while looking for my drink. Saved time at the control because my bottle was now easy to find. Drank what was left.
|Nobody with me on this leg. Nice orienteering, and I went around the rock blob to the left -- maybe a couple of extra steps, but it made the control easy to spot.
|Lots of elephant tracks, glimpses of people up ahead, and a sense that a crowd was behind me.
|Very sweet leg, gorgeous woods, and really spiked it. Ernst got there about the same time, I hadn't seen him since 19.
|Starting to reel in the main pack.
|Fully caught up here, I was at the back of a serious crowd 2/3 of the way though the leg. My memory of the rest of the leg is very dim, not sure how we got there, and I certainly wasn't navigating.
|Our route choice out of the control wsa poor, we went NNE though a lot of laurel. Eventually we got to trails, and it looked to me like the people ahead of me had no idea where we were. I was pretty sure that I did, and took charge, moving into the front again. I wasn't really able to read the details in the circle very well, and as I climbed up into the mining area, I briefly got a sense that I might be screwing up badly, but I lucked out and did the approach perfectly. Sweet spot.
|A bit of an error here, too far to the right, drawn off by the larger marsh, but things didn't look right and I realized we had to go left into the next valley.
|I think I was with Nadim on this leg, and Tony Muffati, who we had just caught back up to. We also picked up Balter in here. Moving pretty fast with this crowd, too fast to read the map. I had a sense that we were heading for the ride, and kept looking up ahead for it. Then I spotted a control, and figured that if I could get a look at the code, I could look at the cluesheet and figure out where we were. Of course, it soon dawned on me that it was control 31. I really had no idea that we were close to our control.
|Jumped out ahead while the others drank. I made good time going down the hill, and when we got close I was joined by Tony and Balter, who got ahead of me.
|I didn't know who around me had already skipped, and I got a notion in my head that I needed to be aggressive and take this leg straight to make the most of it. Which was entirely dumb. When we hit the trail, everybody turned right, and I went stright into the woods up the hill. I presumably went close to 6, then across the trail and up the next hill through the laurel and presumably close to 2. I drifted a bit to the left, and hesitated when I crossed the next trail, but cut the corner, ran to the cairns, and took the small trail to the junction directly east of the control, and straight in. The people from my group who had skipped 33 had made much better time, and had come and gone, but there was a new crowd here, people who had skipped earlier, including Peter and Hannah. Since I was coming in at right angles, the control was where we intersected.
|I kept the heat on and went had through the diffuse marshes, reading the watercourses to get as close as I could, and when I spotted the stone wall up above I was pretty sure I had it. Ben was with me, Hannah close behind, and Ernst was returning from the error he had made with Tim and Nadim.
|Heading up the hill, some people crossed the wall and got into the fight, but some of us followed it up through the lighter green and got out to the trail cleanly. Hannah and Ernst were just ahead of me, and I figured they'd leave me in the dust, but I tried to keep going.
|Uphill is not that great for my talents, but partway up the chute I turned on the turbo and realized that I still had some adrenalin speed left. Ernst tried to stay ahead, but he was cramping and couldn't go any faster. I don't know if I could have caught Hannah if I had started the kick earlier, but I didn't realize that I could. Pretty pleased with the result, 23rd place, and no serious errors.
Total Time Lost - 00:00:00