As we traveled back south ( now back in WI ) the trails were a very mixed bag. In places they were great, other places rough, bare spots here and there. We were moving well, and at least it wasn't as rough as it had been in the UP. I remember thinking that we were doing really well. Yes,Troy and Matt had been fighting some issues, but they were still running. I knew we were getting close to the Stillwaters Bar, we were on track for the earliest return ever!
I came around a corner and approached an intersection, several sleds were stopped there. Troy was swapping plugs again, if he let it drop to idle it would foul the plugs, but I guess it was running strong in the mid-range. There was a trail sign that indicated that Stillwaters was dead ahead. As we got ready to go, I yell that Stillwaters was next. Troy leads off, and we follow him down the trail. A few miles further I come to another intersection that sleds are stopped at. I pull over to see what's going on, and am soon informed that Troy has went the wrong way. I go: "WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?" Nobody could answer that one. This is the same turn that was missed on the very first Vintage Challenge back in '09, that resulted in 7 of us re-grouping in front of Stillwaters, and then running the lakes back to Sayner.
We all call Troy ( phone service is sketchy at best ) I notice that my phone is pretty much dead, don't understand that, but I shut if off to see if I can get some battery back. The 5 of us are standing around discussing what we should do next. Large numbers of Cats are filtering into our midst. It's like they've been breeding out here, good grief, you'd think that this was an AC event.
A couple of the guides are asking what's going on. We try to talk one of them into running down the trail after Troy.
They weren't much interested. The Cat groups continued to come and go, Matt decided to tag along back with them, so now its the 4 of us. The sun is getting lower, and neither Nick or myself have headlights, we are on a deadline here. All of us wanted to run the lakes back to Sayner, but I didn't want to leave Troy out here. Finally I said ; "OK, saddle up, we'll ALL run the trail after Troy." At that point Nick says; "No, I'll go, I can run it fastest."
OK, decision made, we take off. Nick down the ground trail after Troy. Wade, Chris, and myself on to Stillwaters and Star Lake. We were running directly into a blazing setting sun as we buzzed across Star Lake, then on to Plum Lake and Sayner. Pulling into the Mobile Station in Sayner, we waited. I pull my phone out and turned it back on. I had a message from Troy: It was sketchy, and the low battery signal was beeping, but I heard him say all was well and he was continuing on to St Germain. OK, so now we are waiting for Nick.
Groups of sleds continued to come through. The streets of Sayner were teeming with late model sleds. RWTC riders would stop and re-group near us, the guides would ask us if we needed help. The sun is getting lower...
Wade is calling Nick, trying to leave him a voice mail, it's not going well.
Nick comes roaring up, we fire the sleds and yell; GO! The trail south of Sayner is snirt. We are dodging puddles, and sliding around in the slush, but we are running hard. We come up on the road intersection with county "C", Nick is motioning; "which way?" I peel into the ditch heading south and put it to the bar. There were a couple of white knuckle moments; I bounced it off the berm running on the road shoulder, then while on top of the berm, had a ski drop over the edge along a deep ditch. I gathered it in and kept cranking. Soon HWY 70 was in sight!
I took a victory lap around the motel parking lot, then pulled up in front of Troy's truck, he was standing there with Kevin and Ross. I shut the sled down, and asked what the big idea was with ditching us? While Troy is profusely apologizing, I notice a box of beer behind him, and start pitching cans to each of the guys.
WE HAD MADE IT!
Epilogue to come yet.
'09 Vintage Challenge Survivor, and I wasn't late for supper!
'10, '11, '12, '13 Vintage Challenge Survivor !
72 400 restored, Father bought new in '71
'74 340 green machine
'74 X8 5 time VC finisher
2 '75 340S 1 running, one on deck
'78 LF 440 future CC clone
'73 Skiroule RTX 440, 500 mi.