Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bear Creek Navigation Training

We headed up to the Bear Creek Campground on Friday night to camp out for the TrailBlazers Training event on Saturday. When we arrived there, there was an Old School car-camping tent set up. I assumed it was left by the TrailBlazers, to be used for sign in, but I was wrong. After setting up about 75' away, we soon learned that the tent's inhabitants were 4 obnoxiously loud teenage stoners who decided to go out into the woods and have some sort of drug-induced orgy.

There were two other TrailBlazers camped out there as well, so while we stood around a nice well-made fire, we watched two of the kids nearly blow themselves up on several occasions in an attempt to get a fire started. The ground was wet, so these geniouses decided to start burning random items they had with them to get the fire going. When that didn't work they started spraying hairspray on the wet wood and eventually threw the whole bottle in which violently exploded. They then proceeded to steal all the TP out of the bathroom and lit all that on fire. Then it was pillows, plastic bags, and some other bottles that exploded. Figuring that it wouldn't be long before they tried to burn the tires off their car, we picked up our tent and moved it WAY FAR away. Good thing too, as when they finally gave up on the fire, they all went into their tent and started making all kinds of strange, and very loud, noises. Damn annoying punks...

Despite our rowdy neighbors and the 30 degree temps, I slept pretty well in my zero degree down sleeping bag. I woke up and slowly got ready for the training. I plotted my points while still in my sleeping bag and then reluctantly headed out on foot. The first few points were pretty easy, and although maybe not 100% accurate, they were still findable. The crux of the rogaine appeared to be four points in the vicinity of the Pinhoti and Mountaintown Creek Trails. I chose a wise route and cleared this section with relative ease, except for the leg burning climb from Heady Creek up to the ridge. Once there, it was a 3/4 mile bushwhack along a VERY LONELY ridge. The pines started to thicken and I could see signs of wildlife..scrathed up ground and rootstocks that appeared to be beat down. I was really hoping that there weren't any wild boars hanging around, as they are generally fairly honery and stubborn animals that aren't very scared of humans. Instead of running away like black bears, they tend to size you up to see if its worth it or not to chase and attack....just for the hell of it. Thankfully, there were no wildlife encounters, and I really didn't see many other TrailBlazer folks, despite the fact that I started later than most of them. I managed to grab all the points in 5 hours and 24 minutes and didn't damage myself too bad other than some bruises on my legs from tripping over rhododenderons. I'm feeling pretty good about my fitness level for the Navigator Cup, so hopefully I will have good luck with the compass as well.

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