This was the day that wasn’t supposed to happen. Friday is expo day at Western States and ATRA was to have a booth in Squaw Valley and talk about our Google Maps Trekker expedition. Friday was also our make-up day if there were any unforeseen issues. Unfortunately we did have equipment issues on Monday and only had enough power to image the final 3.5 miles of the course from No Hands Bridge to the finish. Thank you to double World Champion Max King for carrying the trekker on that section of the course.
Being an unplanned trekking day, we also didn’t have volunteers scheduled for Friday. Fortunately Jon Souliere & Matt Hook agreed to stay on for another day. We also picked up Suet-fei Li who drive up from Sunnyvale on Thursday night. The final new member of our Friday crew was Jon’s Ford F-One Million monster, big tyre, high clearance, extra-cab, truck; a far more capable vehicle for getting us down Sliger Mine Road from Green Gate to the river than a rental minivan.
4 hearty trekkers, 1 big truck and 1 fifty pound imaging back-pack arrived at the river (race mile 78) at 8:30 AM for the 19.2 mile journey to No Hands Bridge. Jon took the first pull up Sliger Mine Road with Richard and Suet-fei leading the way. Road turned to single-track and flattened out as the group trekked deeper into Hoboken Canyon. A strong runner, Suet-fei took over carrying the trekker back-pack 5 miles into the day.
Since crossing the river, Western States race course markings were notably absent making the group more reliant on GPS and paper map back-ups. The only confusion occurring when the group saw signs for the “Western States Trail” which is not the race course but rather the Tevis Cup route. Trusting the GPS file downloaded from WSER.org, the group pressed on.
As he did the previous day, Matt managed to talk his was through locked gates with folksy charm, wit and a smile. Jon, Richard and Suet-fei rolled into Auburn Lakes Trails aid station (race mile 85.2) to see Matt parked in the shade with Jon’s truck – awesome! After a short re-fuel, Richard donned the trekker pack and hit the trail enroute to Brown’s Bar.
4.5 hours and 12 miles into the day’s trek and just short of Brown’s Bar (race mile 89.9). Richard handed the trekker back to Suet-fei; but not before having a short chat on the trail with a park volunteer on horseback – “you’re the Google guys!” she exclaimed.
Suet-fei made great time on the descent from Brown’s Bar and along the rolling, riverside dirt road in the heat of early afternoon. The group was less than a 1/2 mile from Hwy 49 when Richard checked the battery levels only to discover the trekker was off and not collecting imagery. The brief moment of panic turned to action when a check of the QC images enabled the team to see exactly where the trekker lost power. It was only 1 mile backwards on the trail. Unfortunately it was also 500’ vertical feet lower.
Richard slammed the extra battery into the trekker and Jon powered up the system while walking back down the trail towards the river. Richard and Suet-fei ran ahead to Hwy 49 to get another extra battery, fuel and water. Richard then ran back down the trail to meet Jon who by the time they met was already hiking uphill and collecting imagery. With 45 minutes lost, the race was now on to get to No Hands Bridge before the sun got too low in the sky for optimal image collection.
7 hours into the day and with 19.5 miles on the GPS, Jon, Richard and Suet-fei scampered across Hwy 49 to knock-out the final 3.5 miles of the day to No Hands Bridge. The falling sun cast a golden glow across the open fields at the trail high point West of Hwy 49 – and area where most Western States racers would cross in the dark.
On the descent back towards Hwy 49 and No Hands Bridge a bear ran across the trail between Jon and Richard & Suet-fei who were leading 100 yards ahead. See if you can find that in the street-view imagery!
8 hours & 15 minutes into the day the group finally crossed No Hands Bridge and what should have been a 19.2 mile journey stopped the GPS at 23 miles. Jon put in an amazing pull at the end of the day taking the trekker backpack for the final 6 miles. A job well done to the skeleton Friday crew – Jon Souliere, Suet-fei, Richard Bolt & Matt Hook – #WesternStatesTrekker was complete!
You can see the GPS track at: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move111234285
See more photos from the days trek at: https://goo.gl/photos/tL7FZoAgNTEwqLjp7
Special thanks to our trekker project sponsors & supporters: Salomon Running, Trail Run Project, VFuel, Picky Bar, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, iRunFar, The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, Visit Placer, Auburn Endurance Capital of the World, Foresthill Miner’s Camp and Myke Hermsmeyer Photography.
Additional thanks to the following people who made this project possible: Craig Thornley, Tim Twietmeyer, Mark Falcone, Mora Rowe, Cynci & Tim Calvin and the board of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
#WesternStatesTrekker team members include: Richard Bolt, JP Donovan, Ted McCarthy, Ross McMahan, Steve Tjiang, Max King, Mike Kreaden, Dan Baxley, Matthew Hook, Myke Hermsmeyer, Chris Streeter, Ben Bosch, Avesh Singh, Scott Yates, Ann Trason, Jon Souliere and Suet-fei.
Find previous days #WesternStatesTrekker reports here:
- Sunday June 19 – Squaw Valley to Duncan Canyon (23.8 mile, 5200’ of climb)
- Monday June 20 – No Hands Bridge to Finish (3.5 miles, 850’ of climb)
- Tuesday June 21 – Duncan Canyon to Last Chance (20.1 miles, 2900’ of climb)
- Wednesday June 22 – Last Chance to Foresthill (20.5 miles, 5000’ of climb)
- Thursday June 23 – Foresthill to River Crossing (16.2 miles, 2500’ of climb)
- Friday June 24 – River Crossing to No Hands Bridge (22.9 miles, 4100’ of climb)