Island Race Planning Trip Report

You've been backpacking before? Well, island camping is a whole different animal. Over the weekend of the second week of March, the Timothy Group sent a team to visit an island on Lake Hartwell for use during a future event. Here's what happened.

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4/7 Cool evening. The team showed up to the local boat access with a few hours 'til sunset. Got gear in order, and gathered up for a briefing. Strong winds to the NE, so the guys went up shore a bit to account for drift. Water was chilly. Good-spirited hollering from the guys as we entered the water. Sticking the head under felt like being dunked in an icebox. Numb toes and fingers, okay otherwise. Made the swim without difficulty. Spotters from the boats did a great job sticking with us. The other boaters went ahead and had a fire built on the shore of the inlet by the time we made it there. It was greatly appreciated. Crunched through the woods as the sun went down to the other side, which was a more protected inlet, and built another fire on the shore and started dinner while others set up hammocks for the night. Got a little chilly overnight, nothing too bad.

4/8

A.M. Relaxed morning with a hearty breakfast. A couple guys and I kept our noses in the maps most of the meal figuring out how to begin exploring. Broke into two teams, one exploring the strings of island on the southern portion, with mine cutting across the narrow part to get to the NE section. Heavily, HEAVILY overgrown in big patches- it was a big pain to push through at times.  Infant pine trees were like jail bars. Came upon a big open strip running along the high point, and discovered, under several inches of leaves and pinestraw.. beat up asphalt! There had been a road here. Noted good locations for patients and opposition force. Radioed in to the other team, and reconvened later at our camp on the shore for lunch.

P.M. After a long lunch and longer time planning and conferring, crunched back through the woods to where we had come on shore the night before. Guys with drybags tied to them and video folks loaded in boats to run it in, simulating the race. It was a glorious start, and the air was full of energy. The guys, as teams, crashed through the water at full speed, spotters trailing in boats, the drone whizzing overhead, and spectators cheering from the shore. Guys charged into the woods to change in some relative privacy. Dashed back out for the maps, shot an azimuth, and ran back into the woods for the long hustle to the patient location. At long last, made it there. Picked up a guy in the fireman's carry, and immediately regretted not bring a sheet for an improvised stretcher. Got quite the quad workout, and noted the importance of training squats as a medical team. Arrived at the rendezvous point for the MEDEVAC pickup, radioed in.. and nobody was there. We had hardly noticed- we lost our spotters a ways back. MEDEVAC crew was supposed to be placed by the spotters on the way out, and that didn't happen as was intended because of the high speed. Understood because of radio comms that op4 team didn't know where they were, so the two teams went to opposite sides of the narrow area of the island to try and find them- one with the map, the other with the radio. No success. The two teams missed each other attempting to reconnect. Headed back to camp, already nearly exhausted. Pushed through long and miserable patches of jail bars 'til meeting the eastern shoreline, and zigzagged at a run on its rocky surface until in sight of camp. Came in with a big burst of enthusiasm and to a welcome from those at camp. Everyone had made it back together in good time. Dinner was already prepared. Debriefed after dinner. Boated back across to the boat access, said goodbyes and dismissed. It had been a memorable weekend. The guys were welcomed by the hospitality of a local family, and enjoyed hot showers, a room for the night, and a fantastic breakfast before the early morning departure the next day. Praise God for an an excellent, safe trip.