24 Hours of Exhaustion

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The next event was a timed rally where an average speed must be maintained while following vague directions and GPS coordinates. To make things tough (hell, anybody can average a certain speed over a certain distance), the Timber Tamers placed orange buckets with numbers on them along the side of the road between checkpoints. We were required to stop and put a poker chip with a number on it in the corresponding bucket, thereby screwing up whatever speed average you were trying to maintain.

After completing this event, it was well into the afternoon and we were barely halfway done. Also worrying was our fuel situation; both Jeeps were just over a quarter tank and we didn’t have spare gas with us. There was gas back at our camp, but not enough for all of us and there was a penalty for returning there. The idea was to be completely self-sufficient. We began our third loop and quickly found ourselves behind another team, two nice early model Broncos. All of a sudden they stopped and people piled out; the lead rig exploded his rear Ford 9” axle. The entire housing was shattered and the driveshaft was still attached to part of the mangled pumpkin. It was the end of the road for them, and they were blocking the narrow trail.

With low fuel lights staring us in the face, we decided to make the most of our delay and bend the rules. The organizers were very specific about not being allowed to return to camp, but they
never said we weren’t allowed to drive the 30 or so miles into the nearest town, Ellensburg. We decided that with at least another 16 hours remaining before the end of the race, this was the only way to stay in it. We got some strange looks as we did a NASCAR-esque pit stop and tore out of the gas station.

It was nearly dark as we made it back to the trail and promptly got lost going down the wrong trail. Cracks were beginning to show in our foundation; our lack of sleep and the day’s exertions were becoming evident in our decision-making and attitudes. Ian expressed it succinctly, “I’m not spending all fawking night looking for fawking buckets in the woods!”

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