This past weekend, Bauer Graphics attended the Wild Canyon Games at the Washington Family Ranch here in Central Oregon. The Wild Canyon Games (WCG) is described as “the ultimate team based adventure race competition” and after this weekend the only adjective we’d add is ‘punishing’. For three days the team at Bauer Graphics was pushed to the physical edge. Afterwards, the only emotion we have to describe our feelings is one of gratitude.
The 2011 Wild Canyon Games were held at a 66,000-acre facility in Central Oregon known as the Washington Family Ranch. A short 3 hour drive from Portland will get you to the town of Antelope which is where all communication to the outside world effectively ends. For the next 30 minutes we were on loose gravel and/or dirt roads as we made our way to the entrance to the camp. The following images show a few of the scenic overlooks and the awe-inspiring landscapes, but the actual feeling when you are there is simply indescribable.
We signed in, received our wristbands, went to orientation and the vendor fair then spent the rest of the afternoon planning and setting our alarms for the 5am Triathlon and GeoCaching events. As we were settling into our bunks, we looked outside and saw that the night sky had exploded with stars. At 10pm, we packed up the cameras, tripod and 5 members of team Bauer Graphics and made the long journey to the top of Communication Hill (2140 ft). This hill would eventually be the last leg of our Creek2Peak journey on Sunday morning, but for now, it was doing a pretty good job of kicking our asses. The last 1/8 of a mile is nearly straight up and ends with the following view:
There were millions of them! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many stars in my life outside of Red Dead Redemption. After catching our breath for 30 minutes we collected our things and made our way back down ending the day just after midnight.
The next day started at 4am after our bunk house had turned into a fart-n-snore factory. I packed my bag and changed into my gear and waited for the rest of the crew to get ready. By 5:30am we were off to breakfast for and then to the check ins for our respective events. Simon, Ellen and Brendan took their places at the Triathlon while Rudy, Aaron, Derek and I walked across campus to the sports facility to prepare for the Geocaching event.
For the next five hours we would be climbing the hills of the Washington Family Ranch to elevations of nearly 4000 feet. Our team broke into two teams of two; Aaron and Derek went to the hills in the west while Rudy and I went due south to find caches in the valley. What started off as a trip down into a valley turned into Rudy and I heading towards one of the highest peaks at the camp. Word of warning to all you iPhone 4 owners, trying to use the GPS unit in the phone for GeoCaching is like trying to thread a needle while sitting in the back of a truck. Get yourself a good GPS unit before heading out and get a plan of attack ready before your trek into the wilderness so you don’t end up stuck on a devil’s backbone. By “Devil’s Backbone” I mean that we had worked our way up a ridge to a point where there was a sharp, steep grade on one side and a 1500 foot cliff on the other.
After making our way back down to safety we encountered a pretty significant problem. We’d been turned around from our original position so much that we couldn’t place where we were and how to get back to camp. While the iPhone 4′s GPS couldn’t find a broad side of a cavern-sized barn, the compass app worked like a charm and after 45 minutes of additional climbing we crested a hill and saw the ranch once more. Rudy and I, humbled by our journey, were nearly silent during the entire decent into camp. Within 30 minutes Derek and Aaron returned with several cache numbers in tow. All of team Bauer was safe, sound and accounted for.
When we left the geocache area we ran into the rest of the team who let us know that we had done much better than expected in the Triathlon event. Ellen did a great job swimming and Simon finished the mini-marathon with a respectful time but it was Brendan’s racing ability that put us over the top. In a heat of 103 riders, Brendan had finished 10th. After the first event, Bauer Graphics stood in the top 25 of overall participants at the 2011 Wild Canyon Games.