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The Marathon Stage - Day 4 & 5

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

Trona Pinnacles

This is the set of days we've been so excited for. Tonight, we get to camp on our own in a designated area with only the Rebelles – no staff allowed. It's the one time that we will not return to basecamp and will really get to enjoy being off the grid and getting to know some of the other Rebelles. But before we get to the magical marathon night, we have day four to recap!

Day four consisted of a loooong day of travel before arriving at our marathon camp. There were 22 checkpoints available and we went after about 14 of them. We started in the Spangler Open OHV are and ended the day with our first time in sand dunes, at Dumont Dunes. We also made a magical appearance at the Trona Pinnacles. If you've never heard of them, check them out. This was one of our favorite places!

The dunes were a great warm up for Glamis and our first go in the sand. We also didn’t have a lot of time in the sand before getting to our last green checkpoint, which would stop the clock for the day. We spent an hour or so in the dunes, searching for a couple of checkpoints. It was great to see what the various checkpoints would look like in the sand and how easy they are to miss if your route planning and navigation aren’t spot on.

Warming up in the smaller dunes!

After getting to our final checkpoint for the night, with only about 10 minutes to spare, we spent a little more time practicing in the sand before we spotted the line of Rebelle vehicles along one of the large sand dunes. We joined the line up to see what this marathon camping was all about!

For the marathon night, you are given an area where camping is allowed, so you can set up anywhere you’d like, but Rebelles being Rebelles, all gather together to spend a night to build the camaraderie after multiple days of nonstop work at basecamp. We were on our own for food, supplied with Mountain House meals so it was long after the tents were set up, that the roar of the Jet Boils were heard across the dunes and the strum of guitar from a fellow Rebelle. We were able to camp just outside of their vehicles, which was a nice change after impound previous nights. Some even chose to sleep in the bed of their vehicles to change it up from the normal tent camping, given the cool desert air and the beautiful view of the stars. If you haven’t seen the stars from the middle of nowhere, it is a view like none other! You’ll clearly see the milky way and more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life.T his truly was a magical night and so great to get to know some of the Rebelles we hadn’t even had a chance to meet until that night.

Some chose to stay late up into the night chatting, while some of the navigators stayed up plotting their checkpoints for the following day. Given we did not return to basecamp, we were given our checkpoint chart at the start of day four going straight into day five. Some chose to plot some or the remainder in the morning, while others finished their plots that evening to have an idea of what to expect the following day, given it was another long day of travel to the next basecamp.

Marathon night! A line of Rebelles!

We had been assigned start times for day five the previous day, so we knew what time we had to be up and ready to go - 7:05am for us! We had Mountain House meals again for breakfast, so again the Jet Boils roared to caffeinate and feed the Rebelles. Many questioned bringing a stove for this night, which if you have the space and weight would be fine, but we found the Jet Boil plenty adequate for what we needed to do during the Marathon stage, for anyone that may be on the fence!

At our assigned start time, we signaled our tracker to start the 10.5 allotted hours for today’s checkpoints. There were 21 available checkpoints today and many miles of travel to our next basecamp. We had to be well aware of our time management and intended route to our chosen checkpoints.

Towards the end of the day, we had a bulletin on one of our green checkpoints, alerting us that an upcoming area was open cattle grazing. Along with the notice was a list of instructions if you were to come across a cow on the road. If our memory serves us well, it was along the lines of “if you encounter a cow on the road, you are to stop until the cow is mostly off the road, then drive at walking speed past the cow so you do not scare it.” This wasn’t our first time having to watch for animals during the rally (we had seen wild horses and burros as well as been on the lookout for tortoises on the road), but this was the first time we were given instructions on route. We took note and assumed we wouldn’t see any, given we were covering so much area and the cattle grazing fields are vast. We were wrong. When cutting it closer than we’d like, we found ourselves face-to-face, with a cow in the middle of the road. ONE COW. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, blocking our path to our green checkpoint, which was closing in about 15 minutes. This was a rebel cow, as it was on its own and nowhere in sight of its herd. We felt as if he was planted there, just to mess with us. So, we follow our directions and had to wait until he crossed the road, where we could then continue to pass him at walking speed. We still managed to get our green checkpoint – way closer than we had liked, and then later found out from Emily Miller that we were the only team that encountered a cow. What luck!

We found a blue checkpoint!

Following the cow, we’d like to blame the next series of events on him, however as always, we only had ourselves to blame. For our last few checkpoints, the route seemed straight forward – get to a dry lake bed, find basecamp. Before we go any further, may we remind you that poor Irma, who was navigating today, had her glasses run-over early on in the Rally. So we felt like we knew where we should be, until bend after bend, we never saw the dry lake bed. It’s a dry lake bed, how are we not seeing it! A slight panic set in as we were quickly approaching our closing time for an on-time arrival to basecamp. After acknowledging that we were “turned around,” (not lost!), we found ourselves in the most difficult driving terrain we had yet to encounter. We definitely weren’t where we were supposed to be, but thankfully we had both had a decent amount of offroad training, so the obstacles were not too intimidating. The intimidation came from the rapidly setting sun, meaning we’d soon be driving these obstacles in the dark if we didn’t get ourselves to basecamp. Thankfully, our great instructor Kyle, at Offroad Consulting, had stressed the importance of vehicle preservation, so we took our time an eventually found the dry lake bed, after recognizing a set of “boob mountains,” in the distance, that aligned with our maps. Thanks, mountains.

Lots of dust makes for an excellent canvas!

We eventually rolled into our new basecamp, nearly an hour past our closing time. We were late, but most importantly we arrive back at basecamp on our own and with our third teammate, Uhambu, in one piece and without damage.

We later found out that where we were “turned around,” was a very technical area of the Johnson Valley OHV area. We love this view of the basecamp on the dry lake bed, but chuckle about being “turned around” in those large mountains in the background. Just when we started feeling good about ourselves again and tackling the daily grind of the rally, we were knocked back down and reminded that we need to keep our heads on straight and remained focused for the entire day.

Time to apply those lessoned learned, to day 6. The end is near!

Basecamp near Johnson Valley


- Disclaimer -

Please remember, this recollection of each day is our view alone. Others definitely had different experiences. We wanted to share ours with you from our perspective, but definitely ask questions of other Rebelles and/or the Rebelle Staff if you are unsure of something. Also do your homework and read the rule book! Although we pulled snippets from the rule book, it changes some each year and is what you should refer to for the official Rebelle Rally rules and guidance.

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