Mark Hahn 300 mile PWC Race and Hiking the Crack in the wall

“Failure is an option but fear is not” – James Cameron

This Home Journal entry was first started from the inside comforts of a big ar’se tent affectionately known at REI as the Big Agnes.

Agnes is big alright but, only in its tent like world. She is really tiny when (like now) she is surrounded by a sea of over 1,000 motor homes parked in a park-like setting spread across the vast Crazy Horse RV Campgrounds along the Colorado river in Lake Havasu, AZ.

Only a herd of white elephants could outdo these behemoths for their size and weight.

A fully grown elephant weights in at between ten to fourteen thousand pounds and unlike elephants that have trunks, these RV’s tow things.

I spoke to an RV’er that’s what they call themselves; who towed a trailer, and inside that trailer he also carried a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an MG midget sports car, his mother in law and a complete wood making wood shop.

If you are impressed I camped right next to the prettiest looking ’83 Greyhound buses around the country that is now a fully customized RV. She is complete with a his and hers stage for his cello and her banjo. They are both accomplished musicians.

If you think any of this is crazy; I came to Crazy Horse to race a personal watercraft (PWC) against competitors that came from as far away as Russia, Indonesia, and Holland.

And I also came to hike as part of my preparations for hiking from the Mexican to the Canadian border on a 2,650 mile trail called the Pacific Crest Trail.

Yes, the Logistician (my wife Patti) tells me that she is the normal one in this relationship and I am not; and the scary part is that I am starting to believe her.

I am now somewhat proud to say that I was the only guy who came to an RV party sporting a tent – and they not only let me in but, embraced me with open arms and also became my cheering squad!

Thank you Gary & Linda (Blue Grassin Musicians) and I also apologize for missing names (Gone Fishing!) as I misplaced some retirement cards. (Email me and I’ll edit the above)

As you can see by the picture Gordon & Heather’s RV is from beautiful British Columbia (BC) and it is parked immediately to my left as is Eldor & Dorothy’s Class A motorhome from Texas.

The purpose of my week long stay at Lake Havasu was to hike the area with my friend Vance and then on Saturday to race a 300 mile endurance race known as the Mark Hahn 300 with my good friend and race partner Jim (Jim0U812).

Daytime temperatures on all but race Saturday started out in the high 50’s to low 60’s with nightly temperatures in the low 40’s with minimal to no wind.

And no – I was extremely comfortable resting in my Agnes wearing all my Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) gear and entertaining myself by updating my journal, playing with the droid phone (reading a book) and MP3 player (listening to music).

Like I say about everyone – all you have to do is scratch a little and we all have some great stories to tell. Gordon tells me about the time that he and two of his friends drove a range rover for something like 10,000 US miles while exploring the outbacks of Australia – or is it that they were lost for that long – I don’t correctly recall? 

Gordon from BC is also a fan of the PCT and recommends to thru-hikers that once they reach Manning Park Canada to not stop – keep going he says.

‘Eh I say! Catch a bus he says, and then a train to (while you’re already up there he says) also hike the four day West Coast Trail in Victoria. ‘Eh I say – I’ll just have to keep it in mind if I still have the energy to keep going after just completing the 2,655 miles to get to Manning Park, Canada.

Keep in mind that this bit of trail information is coming from someone who used to as he says drive trains for a living. I sort of call it aiming a train as it doesn’t likely look like it’s going to merge over to the next lane like an 18 wheeler or an RV.

Seriously folks, a train engineer is one of the most stressful and dangerous jobs that there is except to when you compare it to a Marine fighter pilot or sometimes my former job. Some of my working friends and military friends drive trains to relax.

Gordon also got a kick on telling me how all he has to do in his RV is just push buttons (sort of like Marine fighter pilots) to do things like get that SAT Dish, landing gear, oil slick or barbeque or environmental controls or entertainment systems to go up or on.

It was great meeting you and Heather and I hope you two do keep your promise to meet up with me at Manning Park on or about October 1, 2011.

It was also great meeting the rest of our cheering squad – thank you for your support. I’ll always remember you guys anytime I look over at the Eagle – our 10th place overall trophy. 

Elder & Dorothy from Fort Worth, Texas were parked on my other side and are also not your average RV’ers either.

They have circumnavigated 49 US states while towing an M-17 fixed keel sailboat – the Motu iti.

Dorothy is proud to say that they also spend a fair amount of time on the water sailing the fresh waters of the good ‘ol USA.

Thank you also for not smoking or throwing a lighted match in my direction. In addition to the Big Agnes my RV spot held a racing Jet Ski and over 100 gallons of aviation fuel that I recently purchased at the Lake aHavasu airport for the race tomorrow.

Wednesday morning my local Havasu friend Vance and I meet up at 1000 a.m. to hike “Crack in the Wall.”

Vance now drives us to an area known as SARA (Special Activities Recreation Area) Park that is just south of Lake Havasu City. Locals call our first and only hike “The Crack,” for it is an area that was carved out by water and time before it empties into Lake Havasu.

I say first and only because towards the end of the hike Vance sprains his left ankle. I almost had to carry him out.

On this week long trip I end up with two broken friends – this is a first for me as it is always my equipment that seems to break.

Vance and later Jim who on race day (Saturday) gets thrown from our race machine while only on the third lap.

Fortunately or rather unfortunately for me I end up riding the rest of the race and because of all this hiking stamina it just somehow by a miracle manages to be enough for me to bring us up to 10th place overall.

We trophied!

You know how the PCT veterans keep saying that it is something like 10 to 90% mental with the rest being the physical part?

Well guess what – they are 100% correct!

When Jim finally stumbled in to the pits and collapsed on the beach with a searing pain shooting across his thigh from that double somersault across and over the ski I thought we were through.

I remember distinctly saying there is no way that I can finish this race. You too would say the same thing if you saw what the waters in the back 40 looked like.

It was like two distinct races. The spectator part of the course looked fairly smooth; while the back half of the 10 mile somewhat oval course waters looked like something from a commercial fishing operation on the Bering seas due to the rolling waves, the pelting rain, the wind and freezing waters of the Colorado River.

We are now hiking on an empty riverbed that soon becomes a canyon that now narrows to an arm’s-width before opening up into a small amphitheater, then narrows again, down a series of dry falls into (The Crack).

Except for a seven-foot dry fall, you can, with care, readily negotiate most of the drops. On this trip it appeared that someone had wedged a rope into a crack making it far easier to negotiate the drop from the vertical rock onto water to continue your hike.

If the seven-footer causes a problem, you can get around The Crack on an upper route, but you will have to return to the large cairn and take the path that ascends the ridge. If you do negotiate the seven-foot dry fall, you will continue through The Crack.

As soon as you complete the passage, look for a trail on the right, which leads to the upper route and then to the lake.

Guess what – we missed it and ended up far off into the left catching a view of the upper route and Lake Havasu and even California.

We then backtracked to find where we missed the trail and made our way to a boat in camp area complete with picnic table, block outhouse, fire pit and tent camping spot.

I carried my full PCT load. Took out my one gallon zip lock baggy containing my allotted three meals and four snacks per day – total weight almost two pounds.

We ate a good trail lunch and unfortunately on the way back the former college basketball player Vance jumps across a gully and lands wrong causing immediate injury to his left ankle.

Fortunately I did not need to amputate nor carry him out – he self extricated himself from the crack in the wall and soon was back on to the trailhead.

“At one point along the upper route, the trail follows a ridge that tapers to a foot in width, and it has 75-foot slopes on either side. This may make you uncomfortable, especially if you suffer from vertigo, but it is a very short stretch. Along the upper route, the trail intersects a couple of pathways, where you will encounter some potentially confusing forks.

At first, be sure to bear to the left, although it may look as though you should turn right. At the next, about a quarter of a mile beyond, bear to the right. Soon you will see the blue-green waters for which Lake Havasu was named.

The lake, according to an Arizona State Parks ranger, got its name from an elderly Indian couple. When the lake first formed, its waters were muddy.

As the sediments settled out, the lake took on its blue-green color. The couple named it “havasu,” an Indian word meaning blue-green.

A quick climb up the brow of a hill, then down the other side, will take you to Balance Rock Cove, a Bureau of Land Management shoreline campground with unusual volcanic rock formations, a diving rock, and shoreline ledges ripe for fishing.

Lake Havasu is a fishing hot spot for Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass and pan fish. It has produced world records for the Striped Bass and state records for Black Crappie, Green Sunfish and Red Ear Sunfish. Water birds create a rookery in the cove in late spring. Bighorns often scramble down the cove’s surrounding ridgelines to the lake for water.” (From Havasu Hiking)

“Racing the Mark Hahn” – For the thrill of the challenge 

“Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail” – For the thrill of the challenge 

“the willingness to take risks markedly decreases with age” – these are the findings arrived at by researchers from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), the University of Bonn and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin.

Lesson Learned – Don’t ever put limitations on yourself no matter what your age – life is about taking risks! 

See you on the Trail!