AAR: HH - Land Nav North/Trek, Cleveland OH • April 25-27, 2019
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Cadre Will, Cleve and Shredder

Cadre Will, Cleve and Shredder

HH - Land Nav North/Trek

Cleveland OH

April 25-27, 2019

 

LAND NAV HEAVY

This custom event was organized by Bryan Singelyn of C.A.R.C. Our start point was Molon Labe Crossfit in Macedonia, Ohio. The cadre had determined prior to the event that he would be our first TL and given him pre-event duties. 

As the parking lot filled with GRTs for the noon start, there were greetings between old friends and introductions to new ones or people we previously only knew through social media. We formed up and Bryan called roll for our class of twenty-nine. Soon thereafter, the cadre appeared and we moved into the gym for a high-volume team WOD. During this time, two teammates dropped due to existing injuries; we would lose our fearless leader, Bryan, not too long after for a significant and similar reason. Following the WOD, we completed a two-mile team run.

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Our first movement, the 12-miler, required everyone to be tethered to a rope and took us away from the SP to which we wouldn’t return until Saturday night. Around mile ten, one of our team started to struggle. She was pale and unsteady so we unclipped her from the rope. To get moving again, she along with myself and another teammate walked in front of the group, still untethered. This was a costly mistake which I was in part responsible for. 


When we reached our destination, all three cadre were waiting and asked why everyone wasn’t on the rope. Our explanation was met with stern reprimands to follow instructions and rightly so. Our punishment? 100m of buddy bear crawls as a team. 

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During the bear crawls we accumulated penalties of 130 8-count bodybuilders. We paid part of that debt before heading to a shelter for land nav instruction as rain moved in. After learning the basics, we determined our 100m pace count, both rucking and shuffling. It was interesting to note how my count increased under my 42# ruck as opposed to my unweighted ruck in a Navigator Core event two years ago.  

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The nav instruction couldn’t have been better and soon we had completed several short practice movements in small teams. The night passed quickly with longer and longer movements, both with and without coupons, in ever-increasing slippery, shoe-sucking mud. And more rain. 

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In the early morning hours, we came upon cases of bottled water for resupply. These were marked with a flashing green chem light. All three teams had ended their individual movements here. We filled our bladders and added bottles to our rucks. We were left with one case. There was talk of taking it and the chem light back with Eric Traynor being the strongest voice to not leave it. Several of us were gathering empty bottles and taking them to a recycling bin and others were behind the tree line. It wasn’t dissension that led to no decision being made but rather ignoble exhaustion, distraction and ambivalence. We left without the water and light. 

At the endpoint of this movement, Shredder asked who had his chem light. Clearly, no one did and he was not happy. Our dues included being reminded of the dangers of giving away our location and a miserable PT session including…more 8-counts in those heavy, wet rucks. If Eric said a word in his own defense, I never heard it. In solid GRT style, he took the punishment with us. 

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Mid-morning, Cadre Will brought the heat with a forced march that included logs, 60# sandbags and instructions that anyone he caught would become a casualty. This penalty would remain in place throughout the 7-mile route. We had multiple TLs who did a great job of managing the ever-increasing workload as each additional casualty meant not only a buddy carry but double ruck carry for someone. This was not insignificant as our rucks were very heavy - 40-55# - due to the 6L water requirement. This evolution was truly brutal for everyone. Tempers flared and poopy faces emerged but we had some bright moments of success too. The team felt the tension but never broke. 

This evolution ended with all three cadre following, watching the carnage as every person bore very difficult weight while fighting to keep pace. 

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After a brief respite, we were told to pick up the coupons and move out as a team in under thirty seconds. Everyone was moving but the unity of the group broke apart and we moved too far in different directions. The price for this was 25 8-count bodybuilders under the direction of Cadre Cleve. We only knew the half of it though…the drainage ditch we did those 8-counts in was full of poison ivy. By Tuesday, we’d be commiserating over our itchy outbreaks. 

Smoke session complete, we moved to a nearby parking lot where the coupons were loaded into a pickup and the team into a U-Haul. As Shredder closed us inside, we sang God Bless America at the top of our lungs. 

When that door opened again, we were at a Boy Scout camp where we’d stay between events. Endex was announced and we got patched. It was early afternoon on Friday - one down, one to go. 

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Lav Nav North Heavy Class #305A

 

INTERIM

The camp had small shelters with bunk beds and a shower house. We had a stellar shadow team who not only took hundreds of photos and transported our between-event go bags to camp but also had a hot meal waiting for us at camp. It was much needed comfort. 

The cadre did not divulge the start time for the second Heavy. Instructions were to eat, sleep and be ready when they returned. The only adjustment I made to my prior plan was to set an alarm for earlier than planned - 3pm - to be sure I was awake when they rolled back in. 

My strategy was to eat, shower and dress for the second event, repack my ruck, tend to my feet/put on socks, pack up my go bag and then sleep. 

In a turn of events befitting the HH, we found that the power was off in the shower house. We left the doors to individual shower rooms cracked for light but the real blow was no hot water. The overnight temps had been in the 40s and it wasn’t much warmer at this point. My desire to be clean ranked far above me caring about water temperature. I was already cold but I had my base layer to wear on top of my clothes and a warm sleeping bag waiting on me back at camp. Bryan was working hard to get the power on and I hadn’t yet showered when I heard the call that it was on. I considered standing there and shivering while waiting for the water to heat but that would only rob me of time to sleep. Under the cold water I went.

Once dressed and packed up, I crashed in my bunk. Simply being off my feet was nearly as wonderful as the bit of sleep I got. 

I ended up having two hours between waking and the cadre coming back. Looking back, this was valuable time spent around a campfire talking to other teammates. Not only did the banter and story-telling take my mind off how I felt, it was also a good chance to think through what I had packed in my ruck and make adjustments. 

 

TREK HEAVY

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At 6pm, the cadre’s Ford pickup came tearing into camp. Throwing smoke bombs and CS gas, they yelled at us to run to the shower house. Rucks on and running, we responded to the pressure.

We formed up behind the shower house to wait for the cadre. Counting off, our ranks numbered fifteen. We took a moment to introduce ourselves and repeat each other’s names back. It was a positive way to get our minds into team mode again. 

Once Shredder, Will and Cleve returned, we were given map coordinates to plot our next movement. In teams of five, we set off. Our task was to find our point and shoot a back azimuth to return to camp, giving 500-ft clearance to any Cub Scouts and their families. I think our running, coughing/crying reaction to the start of the event had understandably freaked a few parents out. 

Two more movements in, my team returned to the camp first where we were to wait for the other teams. We were now past nightfall and the forecasted winds were arriving. This was the first time quitting entered my mind. Only because I let my mind get lazy…it was getting colder and sitting just sucked. I found myself thinking of the hot shower and soft bed in my hotel room and thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t that important to me. Why do I want to do this anyway?’

The answer came back, ‘Because you set a goal and you’re able.’

I replaced the ruminating thoughts of comfort with focus on the goal and remembering how my family was picking up the slack for me to make this trip. Before long, it was clear to me that sleep and warmth weren’t needs, just wants. From this point on, I focused on a greater ‘want’ - to give my best for my team. 

After a medical lesson from Cadre Will, we were given coordinates and coupons for our next movement. This would take us away from camp for the last time. After my team hit our second point, one team member (an area local) pointed out a trail that would get us to our final point sooner. He regularly ran the trails we were on and knew exactly where the trailhead in town was. Remembering the lessons from Constellation about using locals for intel, I quickly voted for this option. Work smarter, not harder and it pays to be a winner, right? Taking this trail required a bit of stealth as another team had passed us just minutes before. We walked quietly without headlamps down the trail and through the city. I think the hide and seek element of not giving ourselves away lent valuable middle-of-the-night energy and camaraderie.

This evolution ended in a parking lot near a loch and trailhead. The cadre taught us Constellation-style escape techniques which we practiced before being given our next coordinates. The next movement was long distance and would take us past sunrise. It was during this that I began hallucinating. I was the pace-counter throughout the movement and at one point, I looked up to see the bark on the trees glowing with mesmerizing, tiny pin-point lights. I had the urge to point this out to my team but the counting held me back. Lucky for me because, of course, there was no glowing bark. I kept that crazy to myself and enjoyed a little laugh.

Hours later, we covered some steep ground and were left with no choice but to revert to using roads because all other options were through private property. Having been instructed to stay off roads, we were dismayed when the cadre rolled up. To our surprise, we were treated to a ride in the heated truck as we debriefed a bit. We collected the other teams and went to a park where we built shelters from available materials plus an emergency heat blanket given to us by the cadre. 

Our next task was a 8-mile evolution with one designated casualty and a 60# sandbag per five-person team. The casualty was to be carried in a makeshift sling of nylon webbing and our time hack was two hours. 

Being the smallest on my team, I was deemed the casualty. Serving as a casualty is never fun but my ability to help with the litter was far below that of the four men on my team. Being small and lighter was the best I had to offer them. 

I had been carried in a litter like this before but not for very long. The litter was a 25’ loop of 1” webbing with the two sides crossed over to form three ‘sections’. One section crossed under my knees, one at my low back and the top length ran across my shoulders. Because this structure created six ‘handles’, we used a carabiner to hold the middle two sections together across my abdomen. To reduce the demand on their grip, the guys clipped the webbing to their rucks. The act of lifting me required a lot of communication. Not only because they needed to clip in but the lift had to be fairly uniform or the webbing would slip under me and roll me to one side. 

For my part, I was constantly fighting that strap under my shoulders. It kept slipping and considering I had to completely relax my neck and let my head hang heavy toward the ground, its placement was critical. If the strap slid down past my shoulder blades, my head would hit the ground. If it slipped up, it would either catch and overload my cervical spine or slip past my head and again, my head would hit the pavement. So for the next 2.5+ hours, my whole focus was that dumb strap. 

I elaborate here because this was such a different way to pass time in an event. My concept of time and distance were shot and even thinking back on it now, it’s hard to remember being consistently conscious. I kept thinking about how there’s no way to train for the physical challenge this was quickly becoming. I was in the litter for so long that I could not lift my head on my own. Every time we stopped so the guys could switch positions, I had to reach back and lift my head so I could be laid down flat. 

At some point early on, I asked to hold my ruck in an effort to help out more. It wasn’t an issue for a long time but eventually, I went numb from the waist down. When we’d stop, I couldn’t stand. Moving or stopped, I was in the kind of pain that I entertained myself by comparing to natural childbirth. (It was very, very close.) Finally, I asked for a break, not knowing if I needed to cry or throw up. I was so embarrassed to show weakness in being a casualty but I couldn’t deny any longer how much I was hating life.

What happened next changed everything. One, I cried. Just a few tears, a tiny break over the top of the dam but it helped. Then I just said out loud, ‘I’m hurting too much. I can’t take this anymore.’ This was so hard to say and I fully expected to be dressed down by my team. I deserved it, right? I mean, we’re well into the second morning, these men are carrying me and I’m the one complaining?? Ugh.

They were patient and very kind, though. One immediately said, ‘Why don’t we take your ruck back? We had a system of switching that and the sandbag and it was working fine.’ They gave me a moment to collect myself and we set off again. Without the ruck on me, the pressure was lessened and I was in much better shape. 

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It wasn’t long before our movement ended. The U-Haul pulled up along side us and an escape and evasion scenario followed. [Details withheld to preserve the experience for future classes.]

After two short-distance movements, we were told to use our maps to navigate back to Molon Labe Crossfit, the SP. Although our locals knew how to navigate, we plotted our points. Our team was still complete with all fifteen present. Spirits and conversation were a bit lighter on the three miles back. 

I didn’t want to be complacent in thinking this was the end. Staying ready mentally was still important. I thought through what might lie ahead and settled on the best possibility being the Robbie Miller WOD. After all, we were rucking three miles to the SP. It made sense that could be the first three-miler of that. As I thought through how tired I was, how my feet felt, how ready I was to be clean and dry, I pictured myself working through the rounds of pull-ups, getups, burpee squats, mountain climbers and another three-miler. Sheer determination not only made it seem possible but I began to crave that final push.

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Upon returning though, we paid more of our 8-count debt. Then, we were given a team tire pull that took our exhausted minds to task. We followed instructions to go to the other side of the building where we did 25 more 8-counts while Shedder wandered among us armed with a hose.

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When endex was announced, I felt a moment of sorrow that these events and these teams would now be relegated to the past. There were plenty of moments I wish I had helped more or been stronger but that’s what I’ll carry forward to my next team and event. 

Trek Heavy Class #305B

Trek Heavy Class #305B

 


GEAR LIST:

GORUCK GR1-curved strap

GORUCK padded hip belt 

Source 3L bladders

Quest dry bags

Nalgene bottle

Petzl Actik headlamp

Suunto compass 

5.11 A.T.A.C. 8” boots

Darn Tough wool socks

Injini toe socks

Squirrel’s Nut Butter

GORUCK Women’s Simple Pants

GORUCK Women’s Windbreaker

Patagonia Capilene base layer


NUTRITION:

What works for me is processed food for the same reason I don’t eat it in my everyday life…it’s basically pre-digested and the energy boost comes quickly. At every event, I have peanut M&Ms and Pringles. For this event, I also had Honey Stinger gummies, Clif Bar Bloks and for between events, Orgain Nutrition shakes. Electrolytes were Nuun tablets and Salt Sticks.

IF YOU’RE STILL READING, HERE’S THE GOOD STUFF…

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My absolute favorite thing about these events was that the two women who completed both are vastly different age-wise but unified in their ‘why’. I am 48 and Sydney is 15. We didn’t work to different standards than the men. We contributed as ourselves just as they did.
If you’re a woman and wondering if you could take on this or any other GORUCK event, sign up right now and train hard. Don’t doubt. Do!

















NRC Mileage Challenge Begins!
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This challenge is designed to encourage consistent rucking for either event preparation or for general fitness. While we always want to ruck with members of our club, we want this to appeal to as many people as possible so you may complete your miles as works best for you. 

The process is simple:

1. Download the Strava app and join the Nashville Rucking Crew club page. 
2. Ruck your choice of mileage and with the weight of your choosing. Only miles tracked via Strava will count toward cumulative totals.
3. Post a pic and/or a mileage screenshot to at least one of our social media pages.
Facebook: Nashville Rucking Crew
Instagram: Nashville Rucking Crew and use hashtags - #traindirtyrucknasty#NRCmileagechallenge#ruckclub

Strava will track miles for everyone and patches will be sent as you reach each threshold - 100, 300, 500 and 1000 miles. This is an ongoing challenge - miles do not have to be completed in 2019. 

Cost: $25
Paypal (F&F) to renee@nashvilleruckingcrew.com

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Renee Aly
AAR: 25th Anniversary Mog Mile HTL

Knoxville, TN

September 28-30, 2018

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By Sean Humphries

 

Expectations:

Let me start off by saying that this was my first HTL, so I had only one Heavy and multiple T/L’s to use for comparison. That being said, I expected this to be the hardest event I’ve done to date, with a lot of PT and a low to moderate number of miles. I also fully expected there to be a very rough end to each event that eluded to the “Mog mile” that Rangers and Delta operatives had to endure as they exfilled the city on foot. Cadre Belman was the lead Cadre and he was actively engaged in the battle in Mogadishu as a SAR team member on the Blackhawk helicopter designated Super 68.

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Actual Experience:

My expectations were partially met as we did not cover many miles, but were crushed with PT, particularly 8 count body builders (Cadre Cleve’s favorite exercise) and individual movement techniques.  We began the Heavy with a movement to a local CrossFit gym to complete a modified PT test consisting of pushups (55 min), sit-ups (65 min), pullups (15), bench press (max reps with 80% BW), back squat (max reps with 80% BW), and deadlift (max reps with 80% BW). We then moved to a known distance stretch of Riverwalk to complete a 6-mile run and 12-mile road march. The run was to be completed in 60 minutes and the road march to be completed in 3.5 hours. The run ended up coming out to 7 miles and the road march was cut short at 10 miles due to the total time consumption of the PT test.

The rest of the event consisted of short 1.5-2 mile movements carrying 7x80lb sandbags, 1x120lb sandbag, 2 litters, 3 water cans, 50lb very awkward team weight, and 20lb+ flag. In between movements we were put through bouts of PT. At the halfway mark we circled up to run through Cadre Cleve’s trademark deck of cards. Shortly after that we picked up two logs to add to our load, which were carried until the end of the Light. When we could not adapt well enough to the addition of the logs, Cadre Cleve gave us a lesson on teamwork by having us complete 73 (number of wounded soldiers during the battle) perfect 8 count body builders as a team. We were reset to 0 at least twice for our inability to meet the standard. At every stopping point during the event we went over key points on the timeline of the battle. Cadre Belman was able to add extra details that could only come from a member who had been on the ground during the events in Somalia.

Each event progressed in similar fashion. The Tough started with low crawls through a very active water fountain and the deck of cards, while the Light began with the water fountain and some PT consisting of individual movement techniques and team sandbag drills. Due to a higher number of participants, the Light was also supplemented with ammo cans and crates to join the coupon list. All three events ended by honoring the fallen with a series of exercises for each fallen soldier that Cadre Belman read off. 

Pros:

-       We had a solid team for all three events and I would be happy to do events with them again.

-       Cadre Belman’s personal participation in the battle in Mogadishu provided an awesome experience for this themed event.

-       The Cadre Belman/Cadre Cleve dynamic worked very well.

Cons:

-       There was not a legit Mogadishu Mile for any of the 3 events.

-       I now have a borderline panic attack when I think of 8 count body builders.

 

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Final Words:

Overall, I was pleasantly challenged by this HTL and I have some very fond memories from the weekend, but I honestly expected it to be much more intense. My only other Heavy, which was the first Heavy of this year’s HH, was much more of an intense challenge to me and I determined not to show up for the second Heavy before we even endexed the first. At no point during this HTL did I feel like I wouldn’t come back for the next event. My next HTL will be the 9/11 in New York next year and I’m interested to see the difference.

Renee Aly
GORUCK Expedition 6 and 12

by Frank Fay

Expedition 6, 14 July 2018, Morgan Monroe State Forest, Indiana
 

The six-hour event (that lasted nearly 7 hours) began with Cadre Shredder putting us into high plank position for a few minutes while he introduced himself and Cadre Edge. Just to help us remember that this was a GORUCK event. We started off with some very basic land nav exercises that led us to a shelter area to receive instruction in basic topographical map reading and compass use.

We were split into teams of four to practice our new skill sets. The premise of this exercise was that we had moved as a group from Indianapolis to a state park to escape civil unrest. We were to locate and move to several areas on our maps using terrain recognition skills, map reading and compass usage techniques. Time hacks were given to induce some pressure into our event.

Throughout the day, we received additional training in wilderness first aid, shelter building, expedient weapon construction and food gathering. The culminating exercise was to navigate from one area of the park to Cherry Lake. There, we were given one final objective: locate a hidden cache of supplies that would be needed for our ENDEX...cold beers for everyone!

We ended at the fire tower where handshakes, beer and Expedition 6 patches were passed around. The cadre told those of us that were going to be at Expedition 12 in a couple of hours that much would be expected of us. They were right.

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Expedition 12, 15-16 July 2018, Morgan Monroe state park, Indiana

The event started off more like a Tough than I would have thought. Stress was involved from the outset. Cadre Edge barked out orders to run and find Cadre Shredder.

Once we located him, Shredder told us to run to the scout camp assembly area and stay off the roads and trails. We formed up and awaited our next tasking. We spent the next hour or so learning topographical map reading, including terrain features, shooting an azimuth and plotting a course. We learned about pace count and practiced this important skill to figure out how many steps it took to cover 100 meters (61 for me). The grid coordinate system was explained so that the cadre could give us locations to move to throughout the night.

Our large group was broken down into smaller groups of 5 or 6 people. Each team had at least one person who had been in the 6 hour event to help with teaching our new teammates some of the land nav skills that we would put into practice throughout the rest of the event. The groups received coordinates to move to and attempt to locate markers in the wooded areas. We were also told to scavenge supplies that could be useful to us throughout the event such as containers, rocks or sticks that could be used as weapons, fire staring and building materials and shelter building supplies.

With several practice exercises under our belts and darkness quickly closing in, Cadre Shredder and Cadre Edge gave each team coordinates that would lead us to a pond that the 6-hour class had met at to use some makeshift fishing lures to see if there was anything on the line for dinner. No such luck. We’d be on moving on empty stomachs the rest of the night.

At the pond, the cadre asked for a team leader. Renée immediately stepped up. She picked me as the assistant. Cadre Shredder gave us a coordinate that we had to reach. The entire group would be traveling in formation as one unit. We plotted our course, careful to stay away from roads or other places where we might be easily detected. Stealth was the order of the day. No white lights and quiet movement were stressed by the cadre.

Our first movement to waypoint 1 was relatively uncomplicated. It went downhill from there. And then uphill. And back down, and up. You get the point. Land nav in the woods in unfamiliar territory in the day is difficult. At night, it is a whole other ball game. We came to a point that was so steep, that we had to bust out a rope and use it to help get everyone safely up the other side of a ravine. We hadn’t known by looking at the map how steep this area was. It took a good while to move through this area. The cadre made us figure it out. We had chosen the route, and we were going to complete it. They used this and many other little “oops” moments to teach us important skills or to reinforce earlier lessons.

That was one of the things that I enjoyed the most about this event. If someone screwed up, like I did when plotting the wrong coordinate on an early exercise, we weren’t beaten up over it. The cadre used these as teaching moments.

“Everyone gather around and let’s learn from this."

We finally made it to our rally point and took a few minutes to recover. The cadre continued teaching important lessons in fire starting, first aid, improvised weapons and shelter building throughout the night. They kept an upbeat attitude and demanded the same from us. They wanted to see teamwork and motivation. Other TL’s and ATL’s were given the chance to try their hand at the difficult art of leadership.

One of our final exercises led us back to Cherry Lake to put our entire skillset to use. Each team had to build a sturdy shelter, place a tourniquet on a casualty, build an improvised weapon and start a fire to get water boiling. We learned how to use nylon webbing to make an improvised litter. After the lesson was given and everyone had a chance to practice, the cadre turned it into a competition. It pays to be a winner and the losers got to do a few pushups to reinforce that.

We worked our way through the woods one last time to form up at the fire tower for ENDEX. Cadre Shredder and Edge talked for a few minutes and then handed out congratulations, handshakes, patches and Budweisers to the group. This event was Cadre Shredder’s 100th event as a cadre. It was an honor to be here with these leaders.

Renee Aly
GORUCK Expedition: An AAR of Wilderness Survival, Water Pistols, and the Importance of Electrolytes

by Nicole Hall

 

 

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Saturday July 14th, as I drove through the winding country roads of rural Indiana, running late as usual, past cornfields and churches, towards the GoRuck Expedition, I ran over my list of fears in my head.  Snakes.  Chiggers.  Being alone in the woods at night.  I had no idea what to expect from this event, but I was pretty sure there was a good chance I might be facing all of them tonight. 

Having previously completed a Constellation Event, I was expecting something similar.  But what I would find is that the skills and mindset needed for this event were completely different.  In the Constellation event, there was an attitude of fun and games.  Really we were just playing hide and seek.  There was no real danger (as long as we were careful when crossing roads).  This event would be different.  There were real things that could go wrong: Getting lost, falling in a ravine and breaking a bone, snakebites, rabid raccoon encounters, dehydration.  Oh, and of course, getting chiggers. 

I arrived at the parking lot, with 2 minutes to spare, at exactly 1758 to meet Frank and Renee who are already there and ready. I started to lazily put on my boots and organize my pack (not that there was much in it, we were told not to bring food or “comfort” items).  At 1800 on the dot, the cadre yell for us all to line up and start running.  Throwing on my last shoe and looping my pack on one shoulder I slam the trunk of the car and sprint after the group, car keys in hand.  We run down the road a ways until we meet another cadre who breaks us into groups and tells us to navigate to a designated shelter.  Wait?  But I don’t have a map.  I don’t know this park.  This is our first opportunity to work as a team.  A few of the group had been to the 6-hour event earlier in the day.  They knew the general direction… so we set off into the woods.  Shit, I forgot to put bug spray on.  I gritted my teeth and ran behind a team member into the tall grass.  Man, I really don’t want chiggers.

We successfully navigated to the shelter where we met the two cadre, Cadre Shredder and Cadre Edge.  Wilderness survival rule #1: Learn to read a map.  The cadre reviewed some basic topographic map reading skills and then started teaching how to use a protractor and compass to help us to successfully navigate between points on the map.  After I loaded up on bug spray, our first task was to split into groups and navigate to a point to find an object in the woods.  Renee, Frank and I were on the same team. While our group accidently marked the wrong spot on the map and so obviously didn’t find any marker, we did successfully navigate to our wrong point on the map.  I guess that’s kind of a win.  You know, unless what you need is to be picked up from a war zone.  Then it’s a major fail.  But we got several other opportunities to try out our new skills and the second and third attempts were a success!  We found out pretty quickly that the terrain we were in was composed of ridgelines with deep ravines draining down on either side.  There were roads on the tops of the ridgelines.  Wilderness survival rule #2: Stay away from other people, this means roads. 

Renee and Frank were TL for our first major land navigation.  Assigning 2 compass readers responsible for navigating direction and 2 step counters responsible for keeping track of the distance that we covered.  I tried to stay in the middle of the line.  Obviously if we are passing a poisonous snake it’s going to bite someone up front.  I didn’t want to be that person.  Actually, I didn’t really want any of us to be that person.   Since we were avoiding roads that means we took a route that crossed some pretty major ravines.  It was awesome how the whole group worked as a team and created a system on a particularly nasty ravine ascent to tie ropes and use the skills of a Chicago Firefighter to create a climbing system that helped all 29 of us to quickly make it out of the ravine and use the ropes to pull the gear up too. 

Communication was awesome throughout the whole trek as everyone was looking out for the safety of the person behind them.  Announcing dangerous roots, or eye level branches, or thorns, or snakes so the next person was warned.  Luckily we didn’t see any snakes, but I took comfort in feeling like at least someone ahead of me would announce a snake if they saw one.  At the next shelter we had an opportunity to unload our packs, refill water and reapply bug spray.  Wilderness survival rule #3: Learn to build a fire.  Cadre showed us a few items we can keep in our packs to make starting a fire easier.  While searching for tinder to use to start a fire, I found a small water pistol sitting near the shelter.  This event was about to get way more fun!  Wilderness survival rule #3a: Have a way to put out your fire.  Or spray a neighbor.  Both useful. 

We then had new TLs and navigated to the next point.  There were a couple of times when we got off track and were headed the wrong way but everyone stuck together and we eventually reached a place to learn Wilderness survival skill #4: Build a shelter.  We split into teams and had 20 minutes to build a shelter using just natural items or things in our packs.  Around this time, I reached a low point.  It was hot and muggy and we had been going non-stop for 9 hours.  All I had all night was water, and probably not enough of it.  I was feeling dizzy and nauseous.  At one point I started to feel like I was going to throw up, but luckily after a while it passed, although I still didn’t feel great. Ugh.  At least it wasn’t snakebite.  I applied more bug spray to make sure I wouldn’t get chiggers too.  Probably the cloud of bug spray didn’t help the nausea or dizziness.  Afterwards, we all did a “tour of homes” of all the shelters.  It was amazing to see all the different designs that were used.  We were given our next destination to navigate to where we put all the skills we had learned so far to the test.  Including using my water pistol to put out the fire we built… and also shoot Frank as often as possible.

The sun was starting to come up, we did a litter carry relay and we all thought it was over for the night.  We should have known better.  One last task: navigate back to our cars… almost the entire way in tall grass.  One last chance for snakebites and chiggers.  I loaded up one last time on bug spray, not caring that I may have used an entire bottle of Deep Woods Off in 12 hours, and followed my team into the grass one last time…

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GORUCK expedition was a super fun event.  Some of the best parts being learning some navigation skills, working as a team to complete goals, and learning some essential skills for wilderness survival.  In addition, I realized that I probably need to bring electrolytes next time to any event I do even if we aren’t suppose to have food since the nausea and dizziness lasted most of the day on Sunday.  However, despite that, I’ll still consider it a success, as I had to confront some personal fears and left the event seeing no snakes, having no chiggers, and not having to go out alone in the dark woods… And I gained a water pistol.

 

Renee Aly
AAR - Ruck Club Callout: Cooler Carry

by Jake Rodriguez

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June 30, 2018: Six of us started on a nice and hot morning in middle Tennessee. We met up at 0900 at the Marks Creek Trailhead of the Bicentennial Trail in Ashland City.

Sean Humpries, of the Clarksville Ruckstars, had brought some sturdy wooden poles to create a litter for our cooler which was loaded with plenty of beer, water and Gatorade. The setup was designed for a 2-4 person carry which worked out well. Kicking off at 0930 with Sean and Hayden with the first carry. We came up with teams of two, based on height, so it wouldn't be too bad on any of us throughout. We switched teams every half mile with Sean keeping track of the distance. We began at a nice 18-minute/mile pace and took five-minute rests every three miles to hydrate with our cooler supplies. 

About halfway through, we started to get into some trouble. Around the eight mile mark, Hayden's knees started to hurt pretty badly. As a team, we had to decide how to move forward with all of us still together. First, we all decided that he should stay out of the litter rotation. We arranged a trade-off situation with the litter, having one new body switch in every quarter-mile.

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With Hayden still falling farther behind, I decided to relieve him of his ruck. So now, the system was the flag bearer carried the extra ruck, two people on the litter and two resting. With Hayden so far behind, we ultimately decided that one person should stay with him and get him back to the SP as soon as possible. David volunteered for this and took on Hayden's ruck as well. The plan was to escort him to a trailhead midway and try to find a ride for him to return to SP. 

The carry situation wasn't great at first but as a team, we managed to pull through. Now it was down to four of us with seven miles to go. We kept to our system with one holding the flag and one resting while the other two carried. We took a long break after another three miles of solid pacing toward SP. At this point, we called David to check in and learned that his dog was having some heat/exertion-related symptoms that would keep him from re-joining us. 

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After getting some nutrition and plenty of hydration, the four of us continued onward. With four miles left, we were all determined to finish strong and we did so with no more setbacks. We arrived back at SP at 1530 and celebrated with some nice, refreshing Coors Light which was still as cold as the Rockies. 

Renee Aly Comment