Adventure Racing 24:00:00 
We woke up after 3.5 hours. I slept so well that I could not believe Kate that it was time to wake up. We packed up and were out within the hour, back on the trail. We had been stopped for less than 5 hours and gotten plenty of rest, so we were very happy about it. When we geared up again I took the opportunity to lube my feet, something that I hadn't done the night before because I wanted them nice and dry for the sleep. My feet felt great after a nice elevated rest. We got to 23 simply, and then began working towards 22. My stomach was a bit funny feeling around this time, but I recognized the feeling as race-hunger. I broke open a bag of Doritos, promised to share with my teammates, and then devoured the entire bag by myself. I spent the rest of the race in a better place than I was the moment before my first Dorito.
Approaching 22 gave us our first real big decision of the race. E7 was to be our next point, but it was out of the way and we were tight on our time estimates. We had a long team discussion about what we should do and what our priorities were, but we agreed in the end to skip it for now and come back to it later in the race if things went well for us. Our team goal was to finish as high in the rankings as possible, and we were getting the feeling that not many teams would be getting all of the CPs.
The sun began rising as we bushwhacked downhill to 24, where we grabbed some more water and decided how to approach 25. The trip down to 24 had been really thick, and the team agreed that a steep bushwhack up to 25 could be really simple, or could get so thick that it cost us hours. As a team, we decided to move around on trails to 25 - lots of extra distance but mostly on trail and no scary unknowns. The trip there was simple, but I think this is where we (from my perspective) dropped some efficiency. There were lots of stops, and the day was starting to heat up which would only make things harder from there.
Our approach to 25 from the top was calculated but not overly complex. We headed in a general direction towards the point from a semi-known spot on the trail. Our real goal was to get caught in the funnel of topography and get pushed towards the CP. I was interested in catching the high point, and Scott was keeping an eye on the northwest to catch the cliffs. The ground was pretty travelable, with only a few thick sections. As we got closer, we were able to pick out the distinct high point and worked around to the north of it. We dipped back below the highest levels of elevation and planned to track south along the cliff edge to find the flag. Scott had a feeling that we were close, and he was correct - the flag was just above his head! This point proved to be incredibly frustrating for many teams, but we found it just where we expected it to be, using all of the information given to our advantage to spike it. We backtracked to the trail, where we ran into Adventure Enablers again, and learned that they had bushwhacked straight up, nearly stepped on a rattlesnake, and located the CP in only 30 minutes. This was a buzzkill to me, because it took us more than 2 hours to travel around and then back out. Oh well - nothing we could do at that point but keep moving. The day was getting away from us, it was getting hotter, and time was ticking super quickly.
I refilled water again at 26 where Bend was taking a purposeful break. We moved south from there to 28, where the heat was really noticeable for the first time. We had planned on taking a stop there, but ended up backtracking to a good water source with some shade nearby. Here we changed socks and dealt with some small body and foot issues before moving on to 27. I was super happy that I had managed to keep my feet almost 100% dry up to that point, and I had only one tiny hotspot to deal with. As we neared 27 we passed Rootstock, who looked incredibly tired and loopy and were way to happy to see me. We passed Untamed just a minute or two after that, and they looked less loopy but pretty exhausted. They confirmed that the latter half of the trek was just as brutal as the first half. We also observed some expert sunscreen use from both teams. Our new plan was to put on more than was required and only superficially rub it in.
If 25 was the terrible point for other teams, 27 was that for us. The trek to it was hot, hot, hot and the terrain was desert-like, with absolutely no wind and very little canopy cover. The point itself gave us a few minutes of frustration as our altimeters were a bit off, but it was on a nice cool stream that we took advantage of. The return trip through the arid wasteland was even worse. Hotter and drier and the air was thicker. We had passed a bunch of teams on the way in but only 1 on the way out. As we turned south towards E9 (we had decided to drop E11, E12, and E13 due to the heat), our teams goals shifted from "doing really well" to "get to cool water so Kate doesn't overheat". The travel took almost an hour, but we finally got to Wykoff Run, where we spent 45 minutes dousing Kate with cold water, rehydrating ourselves, and making sure that we understood just how hot it was and how dangerous the heat could be. I felt such deep levels of empathy for her here, knowing that I had been in the same place the previous day where nothing that I could do would stop my insides from heating up. I was so happy with how the team worked together to get ourselves back on track and how we were able to safely take care of ourselves.
E9 was a simple point but was again in the heat. We were able to manage it much better this time. We made the call from there to drop E10, more for time management than anything else. We headed west to E1-E6, which were packed in a small zone that offered a lot of points for less travel then the rest of the stage. On the way, Kit commented that she thought she heard thunder...
We nabbed E6 easily, just as the late afternoon/evening was setting in and the heat was finished for the day. We began moving uphill towards E5 when we started to feel rain, then hear thunder, then see loads of lightening. We were so close to the CP when the storm smashed all around us, but we hadn't punched the flag so we couldn't descend yet. We waited below the tree line for 30 minutes before popping up to grab the CP and then scurrying down the hill as the storm had clearly passed us. After staying dry for the start of this trek, we had become fully drenched from the rain, which made the decision to trek through the creek itself very simple. Mosquito Creek was very pretty but was also rather brown and smelled a bit funny. It was close to the old Nuclear Reactor site, but was upstream of it, so I'm still unsure about the cause of the stench. E3 and E4 went really smoothly for us, but we did a little faffing about before nailing the exact location for E1. The climb to E2 was rather pretty with the setting sun, and we set off on a bushwhack away from E2 just as darkness began to fall.
The bushwhack was unlike anything that I've experienced before. It seemed as though no human had ever been there before. Thick blueberry fields over large rocks, a field of Patagonia turbal that was GLOWING in the evening sky, and just enough rocky crevasses to make me fear for my lower limbs. I was very purposeful about catching a reentrant to find our trail out, as there was no backstop and a long way to go after the trail if we missed it. Thankfully I found it, but it was super sketchy. I only recognized it because I stopped in a tiny clearing and noticed a yellow blaze! Had we come in just 10 meters in either direction I think we would have struggled to find it. It appeared that we were the first team to have traveled the trail that day, as we had trouble following it even with the blazes. Night had fallen, it was dark outside, and I was feeling rather lonely. Looking at the tracker, there had been teams all around us, but that certainly didn't feel like the case. We hadn't seen another team in almost 10 hours, and I was convinced that every other team was clearing the section. Further I was convinced that we were the only team using this trail because of how poorly we were doing - the mind can play some serious games when tired! After a few scares of not being able to find the trail blazes, we ended up right where we wanted to be near CP 21, where we finally saw another team - Rib! They told us in passing that they had been out there for a long time - more than 36 hours! While I was sure they had gotten all of the CPs, it was nice to hear that another team had some issues too. After 23, we worked our way back towards TA, mostly on roads. We passed Untamed here, offering as much sympathy and empathy for their sore feet as we could. We were also in quite a spot of bother, both physically from the long trek (~30 hours) and emotionally from the hard work.
We arrived in TA just after midnight, super excited to be off of our feet. Our plans had been a bit up the air for this TA and sleep, but after hearing the tragic news about Peter, we agreed that we needed to sleep here. This TA was a bit funny for me: I got a bunch of my own stuff ready before trying to lay down, but I just couldn't get to sleep. I tossed and turned for an hour or two before changing locations, eating a grilled cheese, and then getting a hair more sleep. In the 4 hours we were laid down, I probably got only 45-60 minutes. I was able to see a bunch of teams come into TA, clearly suffering more than we were. Stage E was rough for a lot of teams, and we were fortunate to have made it out as well as we did - super thankful for my teammates! We got up at dusk and TA's before making a plan for the day. I overheard Eric Olsen talking with Abby, and I took the opportunity to get the same info confirmed - F1 and F2 were crazy far out of the way and were the simple drops for our team. We were still technically on time for our estimates for the last two legs, but we were hurting and interested in a break from the pain. After striking an unspoken agreement with a few of the short course teams around us, it made no sense to go get those two if no one else was going to. We set off just after sunrise with full bellies from our TA bins and some words of encouragement from Brent - there were elk to be seen!!