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Montana - Primal Quest

Page history last edited by Dr. Ron Eaglin 11 years, 11 months ago

Primal Quest - Montana

Course Analysis - Ron Eaglin - Team Blue


Trek 1


 The blog of this entire epic story is at http://eaglinar.blogspot.com/2008/07/primal-quest-2008-race.html - this is a detailed analysis of the navigation and choices made during the trek sections of Primal Quest Montana from Team Blue.


The first part of the trek was a climb from 7550 ft to the top of Lone Mountain at 11,260 ft. This was a beautiful climb - but except for the first few teams did not involve any navigation as teams simply followed the "ant line" to the top of the mountain. Lead teams completed this in just over 2 hours - while teams further back took up to 5 hours, mostly because of having to wait on the line to progress through the skree and snow fields up the mountain. After returning to the TA at Big Sky - teams headed out for a roughly 50 mile trek through the first of many sets of mountains.


Team Blue made good early progress - heading up a ski-line towards CP4. We were surprised to see PQ staff directing teams to a set of trails heading north beyond the location where we should have gone east. We followed the trail that we were directed onto and came upon CP4 in the wrong location. My first thought that was I must have plotted it wrong - but Kent had double checked it and assured me our plotting was correct. As it turns out the CP monitor had a faulty GPS - so they simply headed to a spot that was impossible to miss and set up shop.


This did throw some teams off. We were determined to follow the prescribed route and spent about 45 minutes working out how to get back onto the correct trail. Lead teams had not bothered with this action - they simply busted butt downhill and headed out to Big Sky Spur Road. Along the way we passed the real CP4 and took a picture to prove we had actually gone to the correct CP4. Not too many teams actually had gone this route and it probably cost us 90 minutes of travel. We were in 50th place at CP4 and amazingly were pretty much alone the entire trek down to Big Sky Village.


Map notations  show the times we passed various locations.







(Here we are at the actual mapped location of CP4)


We passed by Big Sky village at 7:40 PM and I bought a couple ice cream sandwiches, Mountain Dew, and donuts. Everyone grabbed some food and we headed to CP5 at the Ousel Falls trailhead. By now we had caught up with some other teams and were travelling with a group of teams. Our planned route (pink) past Ousel Falls was not even possible as it was fenced off - but the trail and the streams were easy to follow here. The trail along Middle Creek tended to disappear in a few places even before we hit the snowpack. Some teams crossed the stream - I coaxed the team to bushwhack and take a subtle ridgeline that turned out to be good travel and quite a few teams followed our lights through this section. We hit solid snowpacks a couple of miles before the pass, but were able to follow the tracks in the snowpack - which was good as they had packed the snow down and that gave good footing.




When we reached the pass, we were faced with a lot of teams heading east and following the trail up the ridge. I was adamant that we needed to head west and contour down to the stream that was due south of us. I was a bit apprehensive about heading dues south due to the lakes shown on the map. They would be invisible through the snow pack - but could still be dangerous (in my mind). The team reluctantly followed and we worked our way to a spur that was distinctive on the map between the 2 streams. This would neccessitate a stream crossing, however Kent found a really good spot and saved me from a precarious looking snow bridge. We were able to follow trail for the next few miles - which eventually petered out after a switchback. Some teams bushwhacked along the creek - we decided to cross on a pretty scary log crossing over a waterfall (in the dark). This turned out to be a good move - we quickly found the forest road on the other side and saved ourselves a wet crossing thatwe would have had to do further downstream. Note that our times at locations are shown on the map.


At one intersection shortly after gaining the road (highlighted in pink) I got confused in the navigation. Kent stepped in and pointed out the corect direction with a little compass work. The remaining trek was essentially uneventful - we followed trail and moved well through the course eventually hitting CP6 at 6:30 AM. There we learned we had moved from 50th to 35th place. We had done very well in the night navigation with good route choices and no real losses in time. All that remained was a 6 mile flat road trek to the TA where we would eventually show up around 9:30 AM.






Montana - Primal Quest


Primal Quest Montana - Trek 2 - Gallatin Range


Primal Quest Montana - Trek 3 - Crazy Mountains


Primal Quest Montana - Trek 4 - Bridger Range


Primal Quest Montana - Trek 5 - To Ennis Lake


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