Wilderness Traverse 27:06:00  150.0 km (10:50 / km)
Wilderness Traverse 2022!
For Don and I this will be our 7th Adventure through one of Bobs epic courses. Actually 8 for me, if you count Logs Rocks and Steel Adventure course back in 2014..
We were joined by Nick (2nd Traverse) and Riley a complete newbie to AR period.
Also quite the diversity in Ages Riley @ 26 years and Me the old timer at 48! With Don and Nick landing in the middle.
This could be interesting!
I have to say it was so awesome to have a mass start and social atmosphere again this year.
We have met so many awesome likeminded people over the years and it is great to catch up before and after the race.
Also the Charles Stockey Center was so impressive, what a cool venue!
Okay so we received the maps at 7am and the course looked great.
Don and I were pumped about the Trek as it was nearly a reversal of the 2016 Trek where we had some difficulties and low moments. (Growing pains!) We needed some redemption!
Prologue and Bike:
So quick trip on the buses to the Georgian Nordic Center and we were ready to go!
It didn’t take long, and with a 5-4-3-2-1.. Gooo!! We were off!
This is when the adrenaline is through the roof and the masses poured out onto the quick Prologue Trek. Teams running in all different directions.
This didn’t take long and we were onto the bikes, and what an awesome bike it was!
There were a lot of trails and we missed a turn once and also headed down a short cut that we had to back track on but we were feeling the rush!
The riding was amazing, best section of biking I can think of from Traverse, it was slightly technical and super fun!
We did see quite a few crashes, if you weren’t a Mtn biker this would have been challenging, luckily everyone was okay and they carried on.
Made our way out to the road and got in a good pace line and passed a few teams on route to the trek.
It was hot and I was trying to be conscious about not pushing too hard in the heat.
We made it the Trek and as soon as we stopped the heat just poured on, we needed to get rolling and into some shade and some of that Cool Georgian Bay water!
Headed North out of the TA only to find one of the WT Uhaul’s stuck directly across the road. We asked and there wasn’t much we could do so off we went.
Trek went well, with a mix of inland and coasteering routes had us in the good ole Junipers and wading through the water at times. With the heat of the day I was surprised we didn’t see any Massassauga rattlers. Def kept one eye open as we kept a steady pace towards CP6.
Riley and I both felt really low on energy and I was feeling nauseous in the early stages of the trek. Eating food made me want to puke, but I knew not eating would be worse in the end so forced down calories and water and eventually we both came around. (After talking with a fellow racer after the race, I bet this was a slight heat stroke) so glad we could recover!
We nabbed CP6 and headed off towards Grouse lake and the swampy area to the North east.
It didn’t take long before we found the ATV trail heading to the lake and we jogged a little, until we hit the lake.
We jumped on our bearing which should bypass the majority of the large swamps. We had calculated fairly well, and only had one little swamp channel crossing and a large beaver dam and we were clear. BTW, If anyone found some F’Oakley Hollbrooks in that swamp you are welcome to keep them!
We hit the road and were feeling a bit flat, we walked the ups and jogged the downs and some of the flats.. keeping our eyes peeled for the next bushwack section.
Got back into the woods and made it the Shawanaga River Crossing. It was pretty cool as we swam across a Drone caught some footage of us. Guess we know we are on course!
We didn’t waste any time after the swim and the team was feeling energized as we headed toward CP8.
We still had about 1hr of light at this point and wanted to get as close to CP8 as possible before it got dark.
We pushed it and made into 8 around 9:30. We were happy and felt we got some redemption on the cursed trek from 2016!
Riley decided we had all worked hard enough and bought us all a burger at the BBQ! This TA had a different feel! We def lounged here a little too long and spent something like 40min prepping to get out on the water… We racing? or just on an adventure?
Grabbed a couple of 16’ boats and headed out into the night.
It was soooo dark, the light rain and overcast sky made it very difficult to see, we ended up missing the Shawanaga River inlet and headed too far south.. We finally figured out the error of our ways and we found our way back onto the river!
And oooh what a river it was… The portages (What portages?) mixed with the light rain sure made things super slick and treacherous! I can’t recall the exact order, but I think it may have been the first portage we got out on river left and Riley instantly slid fully in to the water! We traversed up a long angled slab rock and managed to not slip as we wound through the rocks and trees.. Another portage we got out and bushwacked on river right up a big rocky hill. Other portages, wading, lining and carrying the canoes through the slick rock beds was very challenging. You really had to be fully engaged on the portages to not twist an ankle or worse..
In my past I have a bit of reputation for falling asleep on night paddles, it has to be the hardest discipline to stay awake.
However the difficulty of the section had us wide awake! As things calmed and the paddling sections stretched out the yawns were starting for all.
Well, between the random banter and the Caffeine pills. We managed to stay awake and paddling towards CP9.
Stopped into Cp9 and saw some familiar faces and had some soup broth, it was heavenly! Thanks Bent!
Made our way towards CP10, fairly uneventfully, had a good laugh right before the hydro line portage when Riley and I both saw “People in the distance jumping up and down and throwing colored balloons or something in the air” We both couldn’t make sense of what we were seeing, and after sometime we finally determined it was just another team paddling and the paddles flashing colored blades in the air. We couldn’t stop laughing in our overtired state! Good times!
We missed the cut off for the final trek by 12minutes, it would have been nice to tackle it as well, but I don’t think anyone’s feelings were too hurt at the time..
Portaged up the hydro line for awhile until we hit 9 mile lake and got settled in for the final paddle section.
Time went by pretty well for a 10km straight paddle at this point in the race, and before we knew it we pulled into the South end of Nine mile lake and got ready to get back on our bikes for a shorter 17km final leg to the remote finish.
We got to enjoy the rocky technical trail again through the Georgian Nordic Center, although being “not quite as fresh” as the first go round, we were extra cautious to ensure we would all get to the finish line together.
We got out on the road and cruised our way to the remote finish. Punched the final CP @27hrs 6min. Challenge Course completed!
I REALLY enjoyed this year’s course.
Prologue was a fun exciting way to start things, an awesome bike leg, almost devoid of Bob’s famous Muddy hike a bike sections.. a Gorgeous “Out there” Trek , an Epic Paddling Leg and a short bike to finish it off was perfect. Amazing Job Mr. Millar and Team.
Thanks to all the volunteers, that help make this race run so well. Always so nice to see the smiling faces throughout the race course.
Finally to our Team, Donnie your nav was great, you nailed the big redemption trek and really kept us on track through the night paddle which is so difficult. Nick, strong throughout the course again, also your media presence getting some great shots of the team throughout the course. So great to have these pics to look back on. Riley, first race ever! You rocked it man. Strong, never complained, listened and learned throughout the race. Was a pleasure racing with this crew.
Ready for 2023!