Tattoos, Rocks, And Fish Fossils: Saying Goodbye To New Friends: Episode 5
This episode involved mostly flat sections of tough rocky, ankle twisting terrain. It was hot that morning, as hot as we’ve seen. It also came with possible reward phone call from home for the winning team.
We had been in Morocco for two weeks now with no contact to the outside world. If a phone call from home wasn’t motivation to charge hard today, nothing would!
Starting out in the last group of teams being released, we knew we needed to move. We actually moved well across this difficult terrain. Many teams had problems with it. This was the type of terrain that you had to watch every step as well as plan three steps ahead of yourself…. Think about how difficult this must have been for Erik.
At the challenge I choose my arm for the tattoo in case we needed to refer to it. Some teams put it on their backs but that involved you removing your backpack. While my team mates were drawing on my arm I was memorizing the map.
Although I was in Morocco I have no idea what the editors will put on t.v. I’m enjoying seeing how the other teams interacted and engaged the tough terrain.
We raced to the base of the Atlas Mountains to the Petrified Canyon for a wet rappel. WOW what an amazing view!
In order to gain placing in the race we ran where we could and walked where we had to. The goal was to make good decisions, travel fast and efficiently so as not to waste effort and not get lost.
Many of the teams bottle necked at the canyon. All of the teams bogged down because we had to rope off and travel single file until getting to the cliffs edge and rappel down.
The waterfall rappel was stunning and one of my favorite rappels. I wish they showed what that looked like from the bottom up – it was breath taking. I watched Erik rappel down that cliff. It was one of the tougher rappels he did in Morocco. The rocks were super slippery and there were slopes as opposed to drops. Footing was difficult and he managed with no complaint. Erik worked hard and it took a lot out of him, he is a very impressive man and an inspiration to me and others.
I was also super impressed with Arkbar’s sports analogy of Erik ~ well done Arkbar.
After the wet rappel, we raced through and along the Petrified river to the next challenge, managing to get into 3rd place. Jim’s knee is getting pretty sore at this point for slipping on the river rocks. Still he suffered quietly and continued to charge hard living on a daily dosage of Motrin.
It seems like the entire time we raced I was looking at Arkbar from behind. Oh man I really wanted to beat those guys that day.
Looking for the fish fossil was frustrating… so many rocks! In retrospect we should have formed a “police line search” which would have been more methodical. Instead we split up and wandered around. Dani scored with the fossil!
We finished in third right behind The Football Players. Upon arriving at camp we learned that we had to cook our own fish for dinner.
At the finish line, I also heard that the Gypsies won and gave their phone call to No Limits. I was jealous but happy for those guys especially Jeff and Erik who have kids. The gypsies really won me over with their selflessness and generosity.
I have a saying, “a leopard does not change it’s spots,” meaning that most people’s future behavior is predictable by their past actions. The gypsies live up to this saying and are still being selfless today. Visit their website; www.themoderngypsies.com to see what I mean.
Most nights, we cooked our own food. That night at camp the Gloucester fishermen and Mike from the New York firemen showed us all how to fillet and cook a fish. An interesting note on Mike. He went to school at Johnson and Whales, is a Chief and has a part-time catering business on his off time at the firehouse.
Jim and I made a marinate out of olive oil, anchovies and olives – mmmmm good! I ate my fill of fish that night.
Camp for me was a special place. Most of the teams bonded and really had a lot of fun. Each night I tried to make “my rounds” and visit each team. I loved the laughs, banter and camaraderie. Probably the most rewarding experience for me in meeting these special people was that each one has an interesting life story to tell.
The next morning was a cold start, we started right out of the gate to the rope lock challenge. We all had a tough time and all of the teams took way longer than the t.v. showed. Dani solved this one too.
I was quoted with saying that cops don’t finesse locks we just kick in the door. The whole quote was “every cop has a key in their boot… cops don’t finesse locks we just kick in the door”
At one point we came to a fork on a path. This was some confusion about which direction to go and the compass at that point was not helpful. We made a decision to go right , but it sounds like the Gypsies may have went left. They went off track for a bit giving Fab 3 the lead. Ryan in Fab 3 has a bum knee at this point but he moved faster than me limping. He hung tough and I was impressed with his drive. This is when John from the Gypsies hurt his ankle ~ another mentally tough dude!
The Cops and No Limits traveled together for a bit in this episode, traveling methodically and efficiently at this point was a must. We had to make up time to catch up to the teams that opened the lock prior to us. We ran together for about three miles with full packs on a relatively flat path we found. Basically we knew that in order to catch up to the other teams we had to run when we could. Traveling with those dudes was fun, constant joking and story telling kept our minds off the drudgery. We ended up passing some teams and made it to the rappel together.
Jim ran with his hurt knee ran with no complaint and never fell back ~mental toughness was showing on every team!
The teams were closer than the t.v. really showed. What impressed me the most is the NY Firemen. They lost 30 minutes at the lock challenge and ran like mad dogs to catch up – I was so impressed with those dudes.
At this point John from the Gypsies, Ryan form FAB 3 and Jim on my team are all injured. Others had injuries too I just can t remember it all.
Stage 5 ended with us placing 4th. Many people ask me why I’m smiling every time I cross the finish line. The first answer that comes to mind is I’m glad the day is over, and I probably was, but if you know me well you know the real reason is that I was loving Morocco, the surroundings, the people and the overall experience.
This leg ended with the firemen going home. Being in public service I had an automatic bond with these guys. We rely on each other on the street and I was going to seriously miss them. I really do hope we can arrange an Expedition Impossible get together some day soon.
At camp at night we have now solidified friendships with other team members and it’s no longer fun to watch anyone go home. One bad day, one bad decision or wrong turn and it could be our time.
Next week we find ourselves in the water all day including some big, dangerous class 4 rapids. I take a swim and disappoint my team big time, and Dani comes face to face with a water snake. Stay tuned………..
Check out my friend posts:
Erik’s Blog at www.touchthetop.com ,
Jeff’s Blog www.mountain-vision.com
Gypsies blog www.themoderngypsies.com