Complete Dirty Avocados report can be found here:
This was the first race/event of the year for the Dirty Avocados. It was time to come out of winter hibernation. The DA’s didn’t turn out at this event in true avocado style, by the masses, but the Adam’s were there to represent! Adam A has wanted to brush up on his navigation in anticipation of being the team primary navigator this upcoming race season. This Snow Shoeing Orienteering event was the perfect opportunity to practice in a no pressure casual atmosphere.
After making a pit stop at Safeway to stock up on race fuel, we arrived in South Lake Tahoe at a friend’s house around 10:30 PM on Friday night. Some racers made arrangements to check in and crash at the race director’s house at the starting line the night before, which was a great option to have. Unfortunately, that fills up quick!! It’s a sweet pad. Needless to say, we didn't make it to South Lake in time to get our maps. Our next best option was to pick them up in the morning before the race. Luckily, this wasn’t too much of an issue because all of the checkpoints were already plotted for us. We just needed to connect the dots according to our strategy of route choice.
In the morning we geared up and headed over to the starting line just off of Pioneer Trail near Highway 50. After a hearty waffle and orange juice breakfast (compliments of SVS!), we received our map, as well as an announcement that there were a few minor changes to the course. 2 of the CP’s were deleted, and a few were moved in due to recent heavy snow as well as to tighten up the course. The changes were marked on our map and we were free to gear up and go. There was no official start time, but instead, they would record our departure time whenever we were ready to roll. Most of the racers were on snowshoes, and there were a few X-Country skiers as well.
By the start, it was snowing petty steadily. Not blizzard conditions by any means, but rather a pleasant still snow. We made the decision to carry our snowshoes and jog up the street heading east from the start. We’d strap onto the shoes once we made the decision to head off of the road. We suspected most racers would head off in a clockwise direction starting at CP-T and then to CP-Z and so on. Adam and I decided to go counter clockwise to avoid the crowd, any tailgaters, and inadvertently following others tracks to increase the challenge for this preseason training event.
We entered the park between two houses and found CP-T straight away. We continued east across one river, then across a snowmobile path and then another river. Over the course of the day we categorized these snowmobile paths into three categories. One being a well established groomed trail, another being a heavily traveled non groomed trail but easily recognizable, the last being a seldom traveled mobile trail often with a inch or two of snow cover making tracks faint but recognizable.
Adam Armijo punching passport at a CP.
The river crossings were also interesting. This took some getting used to and practice. It is hard to tell just how wide a river may be due to accumulation of snow around the edges and on top of bushes growing in and around the rivers. We used the bushes and fallen trees as support for our crossings, often punching through and scrambling to stay upright.
Anyway, we found CP-P almost due east from CP-T. We found CP-T just as Mike apparently finished setting it. Once we spotted his dog leashed up near the point, we knew it was close! We then headed south following the river towards CP-C. The map showed CP-C at an intersection of Saxon Creek and a major artery. This was to become our fist mistake, but luckily, our only real error of the day. The intersecting artery looked right and the distance seemed correct, but we combed the area for some time without finding CP-C. We came across several other teams that were looking for the same CP-C in this same area…even a team that thought they were looking for CP-X, which was clear on the other side of the course. They quickly re-oriented themselves and started snooping around for CP-C as well. We convinced ourselves that the local bears were playing a cruel joke on us by stealing the marker and eventually decided to skip it and headed east up towards CP-F.
We climbed up, and up and up approximately 400 ft, bushwhacking the majority of the way. Most of the day required bushwhacking, with the exception of the last third of the course where we were on established snow mobile trail. We finally popped out on a trail running north south and headed north, thinking we were probably just south of CP-F. To our surprise (and to be quite honest, our relief) we came across CP-7! With one quick glance at the map, everything started to fall into place. We must not have traveled far enough down Saxon Creek to locate CP-C, prematurely deciding that was the spot, and placing false blame on the local bears. That miscalculation explained why we popped out between CP-7 and F.
Anywhoo, we discussed the option of CP-C and making another attempt since we now knew exactly where it was. We decided to nab CP-F first back down the mobile trail, and then follow the river down to Saxon Creek to CP-C. The trip back down was pretty steep, but fun. I post holed a lot often ending up in chest deep snow. Good times!!
Adam Doti dropping down a snow drift.
CP-C was still a bit tricky to locate, but we eventually found it and headed back up our previous trail. We popped out on the north south mobile trail in the same spot. Next stop, CP-K. We decided to come at CP-K from the SE and circle the twin peaks in front of us counter clockwise. We followed a faint mobile trail until we got about to the saddle between the twin peaks and the summit at 7063 feet where the CP-K was supposed to be located. Once again, after searching the summit top for about 30 minutes, we were searching for a CP that was nowhere to be found. This was to be our second race mistake. We learned at this point that if your gut is telling you that something is out of place, and you've search the area thoroughly, that something is wrong. We were to find out later that in fact the CP-K was mismarked, and was actually down the hill towards CP-7. Most teams had no problem finding it because we assume that they hit CP-7, and then headed directly up the hill towards CP-K where they probably stumbled across it on the way, or followed the tracks from others. Our route choice proved to be not so lucky lucky. We reluctantly decided to skip this CP-K.
The remainder of the trip went relatively well. We decided to head NE until we hit the main mobile trail so that we could orientate ourselves and grab CP-J. After a hearty amount of bushwhacking, we popped out on the main trail where we spotted a couple of snowmobilers trying to jump their ride. They were out for a little adventure themselves by towing each other on a snowboard with the snowmobile by a rope. Now that looks like fun! Once we grabbed CP-J, we headed back down the main trail until we reached 6600 feet. We traversed that altitude until we hit CE-I, and then followed the river down approx 400 feet to CP-Z. From there, all we had left was a quick climb out and hike through a few clearings to CP-X up on a knoll. Here we are at the final checkpoint before our hike back to the finish!
We picked up the main trail and took it all the way back to the start/finish line at the house. Awaiting there was a group of exhausted racers, a steamy hot tub, and a salad and lasagna dinner served with a fine selection of adult beverages.
Thanks Mike and Jacki, and Shooting Stars Adventure, for putting on this event!
- Dirty Avocados