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On an overcast morning with temperatures just above freezing 24 riders on 23 sleds gathered for a briefing of the rules of riding in a group and everyone put in a dollar to play an undetermined game along the way. We left Gardeners at 9:25 and got on the freshly groomed trail. We stopped at five corners in light sunshine and Fred asked his first question of the group. How many have a Compass? Several hands went up. Question two, of these how many have a map? Several hands went down. Question 3, of those with hands remaining, show me how to orient the map. Fred, for the benefit of the group, answered the question.

With Lee leading we rode past the microwave and down to the Tanem. A few took some of the cut offs but the group stayed together. At this stop Fred asked the next question. Does anyone know what was not on my essentials list? No one responded, but everyone claimed they had it, toilet paper.

Again with Lee leading we rode up Shadow Creek on a very bumpy, although recently groomed trail to Tamarack Springs. The group got strung out and a few didn’t wait for the one behind but everyone reached the stop where many made use of the previous item. Lee told the group that the hills to the left of the road were good play areas and we would meet at the next intersection. Several played and got stuck. Our president didn’t show up and by radio it was determined that he needed help.  At this point Lee took the road to Barber Springs while Fred took the more aggressive riders cross country. We stopped on the meadow to gather the group, since several were missing while playing.  And, Sheri’s machine had broken a steering rod causing the front end spread apart. While trying to fix that it was also determined that Michigan Mike was missing. While running last he came to an intersection and didn’t know where to go. Fortunately he did the right thing and was found.

After making a temporary fix to Sheri’s machine, we did a short cut to catch up to Lee. Fred asked who had a shovel and saw and got a very favorable response. With lee leading shortly after starting up the switch backs DeAnn took a cut off and ten riders followed. We got up on top of the bluff and heard on the radio that people were stuck back on the trail. Back tracking to the groomed road we didn’t find anyone stuck and we only had 8 riders. DeAnn and Jen went back to the top and didn’t find the missing two. After a second pass it was determined that they likely took another trail to the groomed road. During this time Fred’s Dragon had a starting issue that self corrected. Back on the groomed road Fred led the eight to the expected lunch meeting spot and only found Bob who said Lee had found our missing two and was looking for us on the ridge. Going in search of Lee our president found a tree well while climbing a hill and needed to be extracted. We heard by radio that Lee was back so the eight of us finally met up with the rest of the group.

Fred asked the next question. Who has a way to start a fire and got several responses. He then asked who had, a container to boil water in and still had a few responses. He then offered to buy dinner for the first one to make him a hot cup of soup or cocoa. At that point Jen, who had had every other thing asked for, pulled out a MSR stove and Fred, who also has the same stove agreed to buy her dinner.

Six of the people who were late to lunch went on a play ride with Fred, while the rest, who had already played a lot, went to Squaw Rock. Fred’s six played until dark then went to Squaw Rock, arriving at 5:30.

Most of the group met in Room 10 for snacks and a mixture of drinks of unknown names and discussed the day’s events. At 6:30 we went to dinner where the service was great and the prime rib outstanding. Our president toasted the ride leaders and Fred gave half the contest money to Jen for being the most prepared and the rest to five of those that had a map and compass, unfortunately he can’t recall their names. We returned to our rooms with no one wanting to do the night ride to Whistlin’ Jacks.