Monday, October 11, 2010

Water Rescue On the High Seas- October 09, 2010

Back to Bethel, Ohio for a 6 Hour Adventure Race- "The East Fork Challenge".  I woke up at 7:30 with the intention of being on the road by 8:30.  It takes about an hour to get to Dany's house and I calculated that we could load the kayaks and be on our way by 10:00.  In my mind, I figured since it took a little over 2 hours from my house to get to Bethel, Ohio, then it wouldn't take as long to get there from her house.  Miscalculated, but more on that later.  I had loaded most of my stuff up the night before, just needed to fill up my camelbak and cooler and out the door.  I stopped and gassed up Big Bird then swung into Wal-Mart.  I wanted to get some snacks for the day, plus look at their rain boots.  While I was grabbing a pair of boots, some of the fuzzy boots caught my eye.  I've been trying to find some comfortable shoes to slip into after I finish my races, but had not been able too.  My Reebok flip flops were quite comfortable, but it is turning colder.  Anyhow, I paid for my purchases and headed out the door.  All the way to Dany's house, I couldn't stop thinking about those boots.  how warm and comfortable they would be after finishing a race this fall.  Not too mention, my feet were a little chilled already this morning in my flip flops.  I glanced at my watch
and Penelope assured me of my arrival time.  I had time, so I detoured to the nearest Wal-Mart and ran in and bought me a pair. (Needless to say, they are quite warm, and not quite time to wear them yet.)  I made it to Dany's house by 9:30 and we had the kayaks and her bike loaded in Big Bird before heading out.  We pulled out right on time at 10:00.  Needless to say, Penelope let me know that our arrival time was 12:11.  Eekkk...cutting it a little close.  Pre race briefing was at 12:30, with the race starting at 1:00.  Hope there's no traffic.  There wasn't and we actually made up a little time on the road, just barely speeding.  (I'm almost off probation- one more month and then I don't have to be quite as careful.)  We had just enough time to swing thru DQ for a bite to eat and potty break, or so we thought.  We pretty much pulled into the parking lot on two wheels, jumped out to grab our race packets and find out where to stage our kayaks at, and headed to the beach.  We quickly unloaded the kayaks, drove back to the start area, and caught the tail end of the pre race meeting.  Hopefully, we didn't miss much, or anything too important.  We had about 20 minutes before the start, so we headed over to Big Bird and got squared away.  As we were walking away, I realized I had my good glasses on my head, so I stuck them up under the roof rack on Big Bird.  They gave the big countdown and we were off.  We had to run back down to the swim area where we had staged the boats.  We quickly donned our water shoes and shoved off.  We had an opportunity to get 5 points, but you only to get a minimum of 3 before beginning the trekking section.  (I have only kayaked one other time and that was only for about 10 minutes- just to see if I could.  I basically paddled out in the middle of the lake, turned a couple of times, then paddled back in.  Last year, Dany and I canoed and she said it would be faster kayaking.)  I think we were a little faster, but not sure how much.  I was just trying to keep from flipping out when the motor boats were zooming past us.  Since, she is more able, I let Dany jump in & out of the kayak to punch our control card.  While she was punching (and at one point peeing- wish I had a pic of that one!), I would study our map and try to get us headed in the right direction.  I could feel blisters forming on my thumbs from the paddling and at times wanted to quit, but we kept pushing ahead and 
 managed to snag 4 checkpoints before getting to the next TA. After studying the map some more, we decided to head for a checkpoint that was right by the trail, but the clue was "east side of pond".  Surely we couldn't miss a pond!  We started seeing a few other groups by then, so at least we weren't completely lost.  Pond- yeah!  Our first trekking checkpoint.  We needed a minimum of 3 before we could head back to the boats.  We figured we could find the next one that was in the bottom of a reentrant.  We went down a reentrant and met a lady coming up out of it, she said it was the wrong one.  So we trudged on ahead and a guy went passed and told us it was about 250 yards on up.  We found another one that looked like it could be
 the one and headed down it.  It was quite steep and rocky and I told Dany I would go down, since she had gotten out of the boat for the paddling checkpoints.   Got it!  We headed back up and out.  Looking at the map, we decided to head back on the trail we had
come in on and where it met with another trail, we would take the creek to find our last checkpoint needed.  The clue was "creek junction".  Luckily, we took the correct junction and it led us to the checkpoint.  We passed another team coming out and saw that they had taken the other junction and tried to point them in the right way.  We thought briefly about heading for one more checkpoint that looked easy to find, but after checking our watches, decided to get in our boats and go.  We kind of figured 2-2-2
(2 hours paddling, 2 hours trekking, 2 hours biking).  We chatted briefly with a family that was also departing from the boat TA as we changed back into our water shoes.  We were headed back to the beach area when about halfway, our adventure began.  Just up ahead of us, one of the canoes had capsized.  My first thought was that it was the family that we had just spoke to and those young boys were with them.  Dany actually witnessed them go over and everything.  I didn't see it.  guess, I was concentrating on being a world class kayaker, stroke, stroke, stroke.  Anyhow, as we got closer to them, it was actually 3 guys, not the family.  Worse though was they didn't have life jackets on.  One had a jacket, but was not wearing it.  they were clinging to the canoe, which looked like it was not going to stay up much longer.  None of them felt like they could make it to shore.  So I took off my life jacket and threw it to the closest one to me.  He put it on and grabbed the end of my kayak and we headed into shore.  We were moving at a snail's pace.  I was stroking as hard as I could and he was kicking.  Sheesh...that shoreline is not getting too close.  I heard Dany behind me say, "We're not going anywhere."  I kind of giggled to myself, because I was struggling getting one to shore, let alone her trying to get both of them. Dany's side of rescue:  So here I am in the middle of the lake: Shannon has her distressed paddler wearing her life jacket and he is holding to the back of her boat. Meanwhile I have dude 1 hanging on the front of my boat trying to tie his shoes (those apparently were not secure either). I have dude 2 swimming to the back of my boat, I'm yelling for him to be on opposite side of his bro up front. Yes, i was making smart comment to dude #1, asking him if he needed me to tie his shoes for him too LOL! I commented that I guess I should not be such a smart butt 'cause you could easily flip me over. He said he wouldn't do that. I must say I didn't have much confidence seeing how they didn't exactly "mean" to flip their canoe! Anyhow both dudes are on my boat and I am paddling away for shore, did I mention I was paddling in the same place, or so it seemed!  Finally, he was able to touch the bottom.  I turned and headed back out to Dany and we proceeded to get the other two dudes in.  Poor canoe left to its own devices.  Dany had retrieved their paddles and tucked them in her kayak.  We figured it would be one less thing for them to carry if they decided to walk back.  We got both of them to safety and they threw out my life vest and Dany and I assured them we would let them know, and we headed off again.  Of course, it would be another 1/2 hour before we reached the beach area.  We let the guy at the TA know of the incident and then headed back up to the start area to retrieve our bikes.  We had a little less than 2 hours to grab a few checkpoints.  Our water rescue did not put us to far behind.  So we looked at the map and headed out down the road.  We found the bike path we needed to take and headed down the path.  I always forget how much mountain biking is because I only do it about once a year.  The last time being last year for this race.  This time though it was dry.  Last year was quite wet and we had a couple of incidents, especially crossing the wooden bridges.  This year, we were living up to our team name "Girls Gone Wild".  Motoring right through the trail.  Well that was until we came to a wooden bridge and Dany's bike threw her.  Like a horse that stops at a jump.  I'm behind her and it was like slow motion watching her just fall to the side right off of the bridge.  OMG- I thought now I'm gonna have to do a splint because she's had to broke something in that fall.  I couldn't even see her foot.  It plunged right through the ground.  Silence, no screams, no cries- then giggles.  She was miraculously okay- just dust covered up to her knee.  We mounted up again and was off.  We were seeing other riders, but no freaking checkpoints.  Last year, you could see them right on the trail.  I'm not sure if we needed to get off of our bikes and look or not.  We knew we had  passed CP 17 because a team told us.  We had a little under an hour left an unsure where the heck we really were on the trail.  We just kept pedaling madly.  Finally, we came to a sign that said Parking lot- we turned off of the trail and headed that way.  We were at the same point where we had begun, we had made a full circle without seeing one checkpoint.  We decided to head in and call it a day.  As we turned into the parking lot where Big Bird was, we came upon three deer grazing.  They just looked up at us and then kept grazing.  Beautiful creatures.  We turned in our control card and found out that the canoe was able to be recovered.  The RD said we could load our kayaks and that pizza was at the picnic area by the beach.  We drove down to the beach and proceeded to try to load the kayaks.  Both of us being a little over 5 feet tall and fatigued- we struggled.  Thankfully, a gentleman took pity on us and helped give that finally push on Big Bird.  We were loaded and drove over to the pizza.  As we walked up to the tables, we heard, "Thanks for saving us."  Yep, our little capsized crew was already seated and eating.  After grabbing some grub we sat down with them to hear how they finally reached the beach.  A boat actually come by and helped push the canoe to them on the shore, but because we had taken their paddles, they tried to carry the canoe over their heads along the shore.  That didn't last to long.  One of them finally decided to try to get the canoe around and the other two kept walking.  From what I gathered, they also was able to finally flag a ride down.  They eventually made it with the saved canoe.  We still did not learn why they didn't have life vest or how they even managed to capsize in the first place, other than something about a rogue wave.  We did learn that they were actually in the 12 hour race and had been going since 7 that morning.  So they were about 8 hours into their race when they capsized!  Alas, all's well that ends well.  As for our race, the results have not been posted, but I'm guessing that we are disqualified since we did not get the minimum 5 bike points.  We did save a team, so we figured that counted for more.  And the best- we had fun!  Oh yeah, as we pulled out of the park and headed down the road, I remebered my sunglasses that I had stashed on the roof of my truck before the race.  I pulled over, and yep, they were still there!  Unbelievable.  Jumped in Big Bird and headed back to Kentuckiana. 

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