Gotcha!:oops: The first leg of the Scout Adventure Race, starting at Camp Josepho in Rustic Canyon, just east of Topanga Canyon State Park, was a Gotcha for many teams. The race began at 4:05 AM with the orienteering map being handed out, and within moments we were off to find 4 points in the dark. The O points were on trails and hills a mere half mile south of the camp. We looked at the points placed on the map and took off to O1 where we were informed we were in the wrong spot, “read the instructions”. Funny, when they gave us the maps they told us to read the instructions too, and we never did we just looked at the map. The instructions were simple, “go in the order presented below”, and for us that was 4,3,2,1. Hence we were meant to do the loop backwards. Duh !!
We regrouped quickly and were lucky to be only 100 meters off course. So we trekked amidst other racers stumbling in the dark and soon came to the first checkpoint location where we were meant to be. From there we had to locate a checkpoint on some stairs “half way up / half way down”. What the instruction failed to say was the marker was hidden as we raced down the steps, all 300+ of them. So when we got to the bottom and never found the marker we turned and climbed 172 – yes I counted them – to find the marker (much easier to find going up). Then we ran back down and found the last two O points before returning to the camp and transition area.
I like being tricked, it reminds me not to barrel ahead without reading all the information. It also makes me smile that more than half the other racers did the same thing, and therefore it is good to see who can handle the self-induced anxiety of making mistakes. We think we did well as we were among the first few teams to head off on the bike section.
I doubt many people know of Camp Josepho. The camp is at the bottom of a very steep canyon and we were able to ride out on the twisty paved access road. The road climbs over 1000 ft vertically to the saddle then we rode another 400 ft vertically in the next couple of miles to CP1. CP1 to CP2 continued along the Sullivan Canyon Fire Road and onto old Mulholland Drive.
At CP2 we had a “mystery task”, which was to solve a math puzzle. They would not allow you to guess the answer and some teams had problems explaining their reasoning. We were fortunate in that we had some mathematics background. But we were passed at this point by Equinox Norte (photo below, Mayte Aranalde, Victor Escobar, Ramon Escobar and Steve Moore) which had a teaching engineer on their team.
photos thanks to Delta
We had 3 Equinox teams entered in this race, which we consider to be one of the more fun events each summer on the local Adventure Race calendar. Equinox Norte (above), Equinox Sur and Equinox Joven (below, Kevin English, Jaime Alvarez, Amy Alvarez and Delta Esparza).
photo thanks to Delta
Our team for this race was Equinox Sur (photo below, Barrie, Eduardo Pinedo, Shelly Peppe-Nani and Carlos Ramos).
photo thanks to Eduardo
From CP2, we worked west along Mulholland into Topanga State Park. The sun was still coming up through the coastal cloud and it made for a fun ride as we shared the trails with lots of locals riding their bikes, running, or just out for a morning stroll. We worked down Temescal Ridge to Hub Junction where we transitioned to a run (or brisk walk for our team).
CP4 was on an old home site with views to downtown Los Angles to the east, to the Pacific Ocean to the south and over to “The Valley” to the north. We were headed west down into Santa Ynez Canyon and it was full of brush and head-high trees. We had a number of choices from here to CP5. (1) About face, run back up the ridge and around to the west dropping down to CP5 – about 4.8 miles, some uphill then downhill. (2) Continue down Trailer Canyon, through the housing in Pacific Palisades and up Santa Ynez Canyon – about 4.5 miles, big downhill then uphill to the checkpoint. We leaned toward option 2, though we had seen a number of teams ahead of us take the first option. But we had an option (3), which was downhill and cut the main road at a couple of places and bushwhack for 200 meters each time to cut off almost 1½ miles.
So down we went to the first bushwhack point. It looked thick, but there was a “kind-of” trail from the road. It was a bit bigger than a critter-trail, but not really used much. The team was game to give it a try, even though we all knew the brush was thick if the trail ended. This trail was something I convinced myself was made by the race planner and the obvious way to go – NOT!!
photo thanks to Eduardo
As the photo above shows, it got really thick about half way down, and what we thought would take 10 minutes took well over 50 minutes. We were messed with. Or we messed with ourselves. Either way we looked at it we lost any advantage I considered we had. Ah, well, it’s a fun race, right?
And it was a fun race, though it is more fun passing people than having many teams pass you while you are stuck in the bush without a bulldozer. Shelly was full of energy towing us, Eduardo was making sure he drank enough electrolytes and Carlos and I were huffing and puffing.
Tired from the struggle through the undergrowth we continued downhill and were passed by Equinox Joven as we got to the housing area.
photo thanks to Delta
For a fun video Delta made of the Joven team doing so well, please follow this link to You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu0rdOmq1gg
In the video you will see us looking at the maps the night before the race, but that did not include the Orienteering maps mentioned in the first paragraph.
CP5 was more south on the trail than we had it plotted, but this was to our advantage as we quickly located the checkpoint and could then concentrate on the hike. It was late morning now and the sun was beating down on us while we trekked on the exposed ridges. From CP5 we continued up to Trippet Ranch and CP6. Along the way there were a lot of teams still looking for CP5, so this put the fun into pushing on. The trail meandered in and out of the trees from Trippet through Musch Camp and over to Eagle Rock. The hike was scenically pretty, but we were getting tired and some of those teams we passed had found CP5 and they were now passing us.
Back at Hub Junction we refueled with water and electrolytes and jumped on the bikes for the last ride back to the Scout Camp. The ride was downhill on the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone trail. It would have been a really fun ride had we had energy to bounce down the trail and scream around the corners. But I for one was tired and beginning to suffer from head exhaustion, so we bobbled down the trail getting the final checkpoints before tackling the last huge downhill (middle shot below). The final push was a mere quarter mile in length, but dropped 1080 ft in that short distance, which mostly had to be walked.
photos thanks to Delta
We finished 9 hours 53 minutes after we started. The race was only 30 miles in length, but had over 6000 ft of elevation gain. The winning time was about half our time, but we got our money’s worth by being out longer and enjoying the scenery – ha ha. The course was fantastic and kudos to the organizers who put on a great race. My only criticism is we need to get more teams to race this. In years past there were a lot of Scout Troops represented at the So Cal Scout AR and all of us in the Adventure Race community need to try to get those youngsters back into this competition. If they hold the race at Camp Josepho again it will be very tough, but if teams pace themselves it is totally doable as shown by all teams finishing, even if some did not complete the course till mid afternoon.
Well done everyone, and a big thanks to the many volunteers who were out there to cheer us along. Thanks always to the sponsors who donated to the Scouts, which (since there were not a lot of teams), meant we got lots of free stuff just for showing up.
I hope to see more of you at next years Scout Race.