Where else in the world can you visit a crack house, a Rockefeller mansion, a dam, and an Arab village? Welcome to the Northern Training area at Fort Bragg.
I don’t even remember how I got myself invited to this Invitational, but you knew from the get go, that if Grant Shymske was doing it, it was going to be a blast. All I knew was that it was going to be 30 hours and there were Eskimo Olympic events involved. Brave SPEARHEADS Dora and Saurus signed on early. Grant filled out our team with Heather, cross fit queen from Raleigh, mighty Spartan Forrest and we were very honored to have on our team, Nicole, US Navy, recently of Afghanistan and Team RWB member. I decided to bring Copernicus along for the walk. I was a little worried about him having never had him out for that long. These intrepid individuals became known as Team SPEARHEAD, or Team 5 (aka Team 3).
First instruction, everyone meet up at this furniture store parking lot. Cross load cars so we can all get on post without a 50 car caravan and let’s park outside of Grant’s house. Boy he has some nice neighbors. Then let’s sneak around in his and his neighbor’s back yard and get to our release point. Plot your starting point, let me check it, and then we are off! 5K to our start point, no problem.
We start out following the fence line for quite a ways. Now the challenge is that each firebreak is essentially an ice skating rink making movement a little slower than normal. As we move East, we essentially run into a stream that has been damned up in several locations. We have to keep going further North and end up off post in a housing development. We know we have to get to the highway to the East and we can hear it, so we dead reckon heading East and finally come out on the road. Now just a quick 3K hike down the road. 5K and 3 hours later, we finally arrive, AT OUR START POINT.
Now we can open the magic envelope and plot our coordinates. After we get all our coordinates plotted, we move out towards our first point. The plot has us moving a couple K down the road, only problem is there’s an 8 foot fence between us and the point. We eventually find an opening in the fence and backtrack towards the point.
This is where we find Froggy Fresh Estates. Now how do we know that it is Froggy Fresh Estates? Because the sign outside of this crack house says “Ribbit ribbit, motherfucker, froggy fresh estates”. When we arrive there, someone has obviously been there as there are 12 hour chemlites lit up everywhere. A search of the property doesn’t turn up the point and a quick replot shows it to be a little to the North. After a brief sweep, we find it, one point down, 34 to go!
Another 2K down a different road takes us to a road intersection. We can see that the grid coordinate tells us that the point is in an old barn. Think Blair Witch project, but the sun has just come up, so no biggie. Dora and Mark begin the search and soon the whole team is combing the surrounding area. We know the point is there, so I place a quick call to Grant. He says, oh yea, it’s in the small outer building wedged up in the rafters. Oh boy. Point 2 down.
We now have to move further west, but another large body of water blocks our progress so we must detour to the North. This is when we stumble upon the dam. After the obligatory “dam tour guide” and “dam gift shop” jokes and a few silly selfies, it’s off to the next point.
Our team had a good process for searching, when we came to a location, we would drop rucks and move around without them. It worked out really well.
We come upon another village. The team again fans out, meets with failure, time to call HQ again. Oh yea, it’s in the shower. Now as I told Grant during the event, when a grunt does land nav, they find the house and blow it up. They don’t go searching for a coffee can in the house. Moving again.
Now we come upon the Rockefeller mansion. That’s right, you read it, it actually is/was the Rockefeller mansion. This whole area used to be a resort and you can see it online. It reminded me of the haunted mansion in at Disney. This particular point was way up on the attic. Heather climbed up to retrieve our 4th find of the event. Now after a quick chow break, we have to move 5K to the West for our first challenge. Road March time.
We arrive at Freedom City, a mockup of an Arabic village. Here we proceed to do Eskimo buddy carries and plan our next leg. There are a few points within 500M of the first challenge and we pick those off pretty easy for finds 5 and 6. Now we decide to go further West and get a point down by a small lake. We find the point, fill up on water and start moving again. Now interestingly enough, many of the points we found, our team was the only team to find them at that point in the event. We grab that point and set out cross country, 1K for our next point.
We are kind of stumbling around at this point so after a quick replot, we find our 8th point and decide to bed down for a couple hours rest. At this point it is 1400 on Saturday. We eat, take a 2 hour nap, and then start our next movement. Our plan is to move back to the East and pickup 4 more points as we go. The first 3 go smooth, but we can’t find our 4th point. Everyone is again dragging and we have been moving for another 7 hours so we decide to bed down for the night.
We finally get settled at around 2300hours and after a pack of wolves entered our camp and got into a life or death struggle with Rex, he put them down and we were all fast asleep. I figured we could get moving at 0400 on Sunday, so I roused everyone at 0330.
Our plan at this point was to grab at least 5 points and head back to the finish where our time hack was 1000.
The first find was easy. Now we have 12 points and are feeling pretty good. It’s at this point we decide to go into Jurassic Park. As we are walking we come up to a bowl. Rex says “I was down there, it was over my head.” What does he mean over his h….xdsafth, dfharoer, damn he was right. It was wet, it was thick, fun fun, but we did find the point. Now we get back up on the road (and just for atmosphere, it begins to rain) and go to a specific intersection to use that as an attack point to our next find. We stomp all around one area and cannot find our point. Grant really loves swamps doesn’t he. Now we have a decision to make, we have 90 min. Should we go East and look for another point, or go to the finish point? We decide to go for it and head out along the same fence we travelled on Friday night. We again can’t find our point, although we found out later we were really close. Now we hoof it back to the finish point.
Next up, water jug carries as our final challenge. Then ACRT and some great food.
We also have to name our new SPEARHEAD teammates. First up is Heather. Now when you spend 30 hours walking around in the freezing cold and rain with 5 other people, you can either laugh or cry. We pretty much laughed the entire time. Now when Heather gets really laughing, she emits a very unique SNORT. There you have it.
Next up is Nicole. Now she’s about as Army as the Navy can get, and she is really good at calling out all of the obstacles in your path. I mean really good. I mean it could be an Olympic sport good. Now calling out every log for an Army guy, is like someone sitting on the bow of a ship in the Navy saying wave, wave. So we decided her name, LOG, would be in honor of her skill.
Lastly is Forrest. Forrest has a unique ability to wander off. Sometimes when you wander off, it makes it hard for the rest of the team to concentrate. Sometimes when you wander off you are like a lost puppy. Sometimes a lost puppy needs a SHOCK COLLAR. Well there it is.
Rule 34, eighties movies, fox, froggy, horse, bird, dog, cat, sub-zero, boobies, tarp fights, what else can happen in this place called the twilight zone?
This was the most fun I have had in a long time. Our team did awesome, all the teams did great, Grant put on an excellent event. We can’t wait for the next one!