Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Buenos dias. Estoy aqui para ser tu perra.

road trip!Now that's a useful phrase! That was one of the lines from last week's My Name is Earl. The episode was hilarious--it had scratch and sniff interaction AND followed the movie Rudy's theme. Genius! It just made me want to head out and buy me a copy of the movie! Okay, back to me catching up on the blog. So after the MS-150, it was back to good ol adventure race training. Tuesday was another tough practice. We started off with cals and then went on a quick trail ride down the green trail and back. A few horses, a run around the trees, and more cals. Then we did a few bike sprints where, of course, Jackie and I were paired with the Warship. Wonderful. So I was able to keep up with him for a couple of the sprints, but my heart felt like it was about to burst. I had nothing for the last sprint. I limped back to the group and we were off doing more cals, bear/low crawls and an assortment of other painful things. Like I said, another tough practice, which is good.

Wednesday I went for my usual lunch swim and then, in preparation for Spread Your Wings, we went to the Texas Rock Gym for some rope instruction. It was me, Tracie, and Weihan. It turned out to be a lot of fun--we started with the basics of rappelling, like fireman's belay, using an ATC, and making up prussiks. After doing a couple of drills on the short wall, we moved onto the big wall! Yipes! Yipes because I have never actually climbed a rock wall before, so this was a new experience for me. I was the last to go, so I was able to watch their routes. It didn't matter--I was a bit nervous so I immediately forgot what I saw. I just went and did it. It was going okay until I got close to the top of the wall--I just couldn't figure it out for some reason. I went for a hold and it slipped--thank goodness for my belay! :) I climbed back on and finally figured it out. I switched off the climbing rope and onto the rappel line. That was the fun part! I was so nervous on the climb, my hands were slippery with sweat and that's how I lost my grip. The rappel lesson was over, so we went on a quick climbing lesson. Again, I had issues with my sweaty grip and right near the top I lost hold again! Man, I need to chalk up more! In all, it was a good time and very valuable to me and Tracie who have the least experience with ropes.

lotsa climbingThursday I just went for a weights session during lunch and skipped practice because we had planned a recon mission of Camp Eagle that weekend I had yet to pack. To build on our 48hr expedition camp experience, I decided it would be cool to do something like that at Camp Eagle and make it a long training session. Oddly enough, everyone agreed! So I had to pack as if we were going on an expedition race for the first part of our training weekend. We left during the day on Friday since it was about a 6-hr drive and we wanted to start right away that evening. We got into Kerville and decided to buy food supplies and go for our last warm meal before the long training session. It was a nice italian restaurant, which used to be a pizza parlour (Monty noticed the old drive thru). We continued on and arrived at Camp Eagle right before dusk. Right away we were greeted by smiles and good naturedness! We signed in and noticed that the Willies were there too, most likely scouting for SYW as well. We drove in and claimed a TA spot and started right away preparing for our overnight trek.

Mancation!Since Monty and Jackie had already done the race last year and we were planning just to do the course again that night, they let me navigate while they snickered at my route choices. :) Night navigation is always a bit harder since you cannot terrain-associate as well, but it is always good practice. Right before we headed out for our trek, we ran into Chris McWatters, one of the camp counselors and the race director for the Xterra coming up in August there at the camp. He was very nice and gave us a few tips. Shortly after our talk, we headed north for our first CP. It was the "mineshaft" and I had a bit of trouble with this one. I missed a branch-off point in the draw (the brush was thick and it was hard to see in the dark), so we had to backtrack a little. Eventually found it and then we did the same special test as in last year's race. The 2nd CP was probably the easiest as it was at the main landmark of the camp, a windmill on top of a hill. The 3rd CP was relatively easy too, in a "bowl", plus the marker was still up from last year! It was great to have that validation! Along the way to the 4th CP, we ran into a rattler! Of course, since I was navigating, I almost stepped right on it! Thankfully it wasn't too perturbed as it just slithered away. The next CP was in a grove a trees. No marker, but Monty thought we were in the right place.

rappel on!5th CP was along a fenceline. We had to climb a steep ravine to get to this one. Got it. Then we just followed the fenceline down back to the main camp and briefly stopped by our TA to refill. We then headed north again for the next set of trekking points. Again, had trouble with the first one as it was a lot farther than I thought. I had trouble staying in the right draw(s), so that might have added to my confusion. But eventually we got to the point--thankfully the CP was still up again. 2nd CP was the toughest for me as I got turned around in the cedars as they seemed to block my every move. I was looking for a point, but seemed to always miss it. And then when I was on the right one, again it seemed to take a lot longer to get to it. I gotta remember that pacing will be important in this thick brush! We then made our way back to main backbone trail along the hilltops and then headed down west to a draw next to a prairie. Found it. We then decided it was a good time to bed down and that prairie was a good place to bed down in. It was about 5am. Additionally, it seemed like someone was expecting as as there was a tarp covering up some wooden planks, pretty much making up a lean-to. The Bludworths were the first to make use of the tarp while Tracie and I tried out the open field.

this is the lifeIt didn't take long for it to get cold. There was a mild breeze that made it a bit cooler than expected. I then suddenly heard a loud rustling noise--moose?!? No, just Tracie's emergency blanket flying off in the breeze. I was awake and a bit chilled, so I decided to lay down under the tarp lean-to and that kept the wind at bay. 2hrs later, it was daylight and we were up again. I'm still amazed at how a mere couple hours of sleep can make such a huge difference. Feeling fresh, we headed back out, south this time, close to a windmill, hoping to refill Tracie's pack with water. Unfortunately the windmill was on the other side of the property fence and we didn't feel like scaling it, so we just shared our water and kept on trekking. The last point on our overnight trek was relatively easy as a jeep trail pretty much lead all the way up to it. Again, there was a marker here. Now we just trekked back to TA to switch into rappelling mode.

rocky descentAll throughout the weekend, the camp had other guests. They were there for an event called "Man-cation", which we translated into Manly Vacation. We were worried that we would ruin their mancation since half of our team was female, so we made sure to keep our distance. :) During our stay, we heard singing, music, so we knew they were having a good time. We were then warned by the Camp staff that throughout the day they would be using the camp facilities, including the ropes, bike trails, AND skeet shooting! So we were told to keep clear of a certain section of trail after lunch. Since we wanted to do all the trails, we got going right away. We first did the rappel work since we wanted to be relatively fresh for that since it was a learning experience for Tracie and I. Monty took charge here and made sure our rappel was nice and safe. It was so much fun and the view was great! As we finished, we walked over to a newly-built observation deck and that's when we ran into the Willies. They were having fun scouting the water. We chatted for a bit and then headed back so that we could have enough time to ride.

Camp BrushySummary: these trails are FUN!! When Too Cool says its sweet, sweet single track, they aint lyin! Its pretty typical of hillcoutry trails--nothing but sharp rocks. But the trails were cut in a way that they were exciting and flowed very well! Then the last part we did was the Armadillo, which ended up following a creekbed for the last stretch. Awesome! I can't wait to do the trails again during the race! We made our way back to TA and quickly switched into paddling gear. The water looked nice and cool, so I was looking forward to this. We started out by the kayak launch and then paddled upstream. It wasn't long before we were stopped by one of their dams. We had to portage over it. No prob. Then, after a minute or two of paddling, we were stopped again as the water was too shallow. I took the bow line and towed it along the slippery rock up to the next dam portage. I'm not sure why I volunteered to do this job as I'm those clumsy of the group, but still it was fun! We got to the next dam and over we went. Two strokes of paddling (okay, maybe a few more) and we were at another dam. There was a guy there with his kayak, asking us how many more dams there were upstream. We didn't know and I was thinking, "why don't you go and find out?" LOL. Anyway, we kept going, paddled a few meters, then crossed a dam/road. After this portage, we actually got a good stretch of paddling in. Now I can't remember if there was another dam or if the river just dried up, but we eventually turned back around and did the course backwards.

mmm, breakfast!We went as far as the last dam right before the ropes section and where the bridge to the armadillo trail was washed away then we turned back around and headed to dock. Along the way, a couple of kids in their sit on top wanted to race us. We figured, "what the heck." So we started digging hard. It took a while for the titanic to get up to speed, but eventually we started to pull away. They started complaining that we had two more people than they did, etc, but we all laughed--good times, good times. We lugged the canoe back to TA and started loading up all of our stuff. It was a great training session! By that time we were ready for real food, so we quickly finished up loading the GMC and then drove out to the Bludworth's ranch. Its a really nice piece of land...definitely a secret gem with all the gates you have to cross (plus the gate locks are PhD-proof)! :) We got set up and cooked up a fajita dinner, then shortly after a couple hours of chatting, we turned in...heck, once it gets dark out there there's nothing much else to do!

sweet, sweet hominy!The next morning we cooked up breakfast, which included my first taste of hominy. Doesn't really have a distinct taste, but I liked it. It went very well with the bacon and eggs and biscuits! After breakfast we headed back for Houston. Along the way we stopped for ice cream and then stopped for lunch at Stuckey's, where they had fudge and jerky (somehow we missed it on the way to Camp Eagle)! The sandwiches were suprisingly good. A few more hours and we were back into town. Yeah! Sweet, sweet bed!

Stay tuned for Kenny's report on his covert operation in Victoria, TX...


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