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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Sunday, September 22
Over The Edge
Given that the end of our Journey is near and that today's trek leg promised the last of any difficulty, I entered the day full of enthusiasm and anticipation. I was looking forward to every ATV throttle burst and hiking step. In my mind we had made it. I had no reason to think that today's would end in trouble. And rather than spend the day wistful I wanted to enjoy every easy and hard luscious minute of it.


With two smallish hikes around private land out of the way, we were on the Honda Rincon ATVs for our final skirmish to where we would begin our last hike. On the map the last hike showed us hiking both cross-country and on trail -- about six miles as the crow flies -- finishing on a very steep descent to Highway 6 in a section of red conglomerate called the Red Narrows.

But we didn't get to it. Trouble struck.

While getting started on the final ATV leg, high on a mountain near Brown's Peak, we fell into an order that had become routine for us over the past couple days. The journalists led and Julie followed. I was behind Julie, and Cathy and Paul Slavik held the rear. Varion had departed us at the top of the mountain with the understanding that our route was clear and that we'd be fine.


Over the past days Julie and I had been enjoying ATV games of "Splash Me With Mud If You Can" and the occasional sprint on a straightaway. Julie held the sprinting edge but had yet to score a mud hit on me. I held the edge there. High on the mountain while passing through a stand of aspen, I slid up close to the back of Julie's ATV in a mud puddle. I saw her look back at me, then as she climbed out of the mud she goosed the throttle, spraying me with a fine mist of mud. She caught me unaware, and delivered a direct hit. So I began looking for an opening for revenge, thinking that getting revenge may be an all-day affair. Julie doesn't leave many openings when the game is on.


But less than a minute after nailing me with mud, I got a splendid opening. A large mud puddle opened up in the road. Rather than going through the center of it, Julie put her right side wheels on a dry bank and the left two in the puddle, traveling slowly. To her left was open mud, and I dove into it, splashing my target, Julie, with copious quantities of the brown pudding.


I throttled a short spurt ahead and stopped to wait for Julie to drive up and commend me on my direct hit. But she didn't look pleased. Rather, she was nonplussed by getting so dirty, and said so. I apologized and began down the trail, thinking that time may deliver some forgiveness. I also felt that it was unfair to be mad in this splash game, but Julie did get blasted. Maybe it was a bit much.


Far down the mountain I encountered the journalists, Dean and Cain, who had stopped in a pullout. They were waiting for the entire group to catch up. Some time later, we heard the motor of an ATV grow louder as it approached, and I knew Julie would be pulling around the corner. But it was Richard. I asked him what had happened to Julie, and he said she was in front of him.


"Are you kidding?" I asked, hoping he was. The look of concern growing quickly on his face was enough to tell the tale, but he said no. When Cathy and Paul arrived without Julie, we knew that something had happened. There were no junctions or other distractions on the road from where we last saw Julie to our collection point, so we knew immediately Julie was not lost. Other than going off the road, there was little else to call upon to offer relief to our minds. In fact, in my mind I knew Julie was in trouble. It was not like her to disappear like this.


Cain jumped on his ATV and I followed. Cain drove the road quickly while I traveled slowly, looking for tracks veering from the road and scanning wherever I could get a view down the long and steep slopes. I was so scared. I was also painfully aware that had Julie gone off the road, it may be a result of getting splashed by me. Julie is a competitor, and had she hastily attempted to catch up with me, that may have resulted in loss of control of her machine. Julie is a good ATV rider but she is working on her cornering skills.


High on the mountain, not too far from where I last saw Julie, was Cain's ATV parked on the side of the road. This is it, I thought to myself. This was the moment of truth. Approaching the scene it was quickly apparent Julie had been in an accident. Was she okay? "Hi, Jan!" said Julie, which by itself eliminated my worst fear.


She was sitting up, being held by Cain. Next to her just downhill was her ATV, wheels up and severely crumpled, primarily the left front. Julie had a cut above her left eye and a contusion on her left cheek. But her only complaint was in her left shoulder. Moving any part of her right upper extremity caused her discomfort, so we took special care of it when moving her. Her eyes and color showed that she was neurologically intact, but she expressed that she was cold which may have been an indication that she was either in or coming out of shock.


We kept her warm, held her, talked to her and kept her from sleeping. Julie said that she didn't know how long she'd been there, but she knew that she had been out for a while. A large tree next to the road showed marks where the ATV struck it. Julie and the machine were about 20 feet downslope of the road. Thankfully it wasn't a steep slope.


Julie said that when she became aware that she had been in an accident she tried to get up but couldn't because of the pain in her shoulder. She reached out and shook a small tree, she said, to give a clue to her whereabouts to anybody above who may have been looking for her. Three people in our group had previously whizzed by on ATVs without seeing her.


Julie was scared but in good spirits. In fact, we joked. But she could not remember what had happened. Piece by piece we managed to get both Julie and her broken ATV to the road. Eventually Paul Slavik and Richard Tyrell made it to the scene to help. Julie and Richard have a special friendship, and it really lit up in their embrace when they were reunited. I hadn't seen Richard so upset or afraid in the two months I have known him. It did them both good to be together then.


Believe it or not, Julie's ATV ran after some of the smashed pieces were pulled from its body. None of us could believe it, but eventually we managed to get Julie on Cain's ATV for the ride down, and Paul Slavik drove down the broken machine. The handlebars were kittywhompus and the machine looked like hell, but it ran well and managed to not only get down the mountain but also a few more miles to where it was eventually picked up and loaded into a trailer with the rest of the ATVs.


Julie has been to the hospital and cleaned up. She may have surgery on her shoulder but at this point that's not certain. We're all so grateful that Julie has fared so well. Looking at her machine suggests another story. Her cracked helmet tells another.


Although we have had two accidents on ATVs we are all concerned that the press will mangle the truth and give ATVs a bad rap. That would be wrong and slanderous. The truth of the matter is that we have enjoyed the ATVs tremendously. Honda provided our team with not only all the proper safety gear but also ATV training. We became certified ATV riders in Salt Lake City before beginning the Journey.


Furthermore, before we traveled our first ATV leg, Honda's Paul Slavik handed out "Stupid Hurts" bandages and reminded us all to take care while traveling. I cannot remember when a company took so many precautions to ensure my personal safety. But humans test themselves. We like to test limits and to push ourselves. Cathy admits to getting "sassy" on her ATV, which resulted in her accident. All the facts are not in but the evidence in Julie's accident suggests that she was going too fast over a section of road that required at best moderate speed.


Our team has had many opportunities to talk about personal responsibility, for a lot of reasons, but in my opinion the most important one occurs while participating in activities. Each of us takes full responsibility for our actions on this Journey. Sometimes we push our skill levels, which is at our own risk. In fact, while hiking, mountain biking, jogging and wake boarding, on this Journey, there have been injuries. They've been minor injuries but that doesn't mean they couldn't have just as easily been serious injuries. Part of our responsibility on the Journey is to participate in as many modes of travel as possible so that we can gain an appreciation for the many types of travel that people enjoy legally on public lands. An injury here and there - let them all be non-lethal! -- helps build perspectives.
for Sunday, September 22
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, November 21
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Sunday, November 17
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Friday, November 15
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Thursday, November 7
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Tuesday, October 29
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Slot Canyon Adventure
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Monday, October 28
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Some Things Never Change
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Sunday, October 27
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Monday, October 7
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The Thing About Summits
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Saturday, September 28
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Thursday, September 26
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Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
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Wednesday, September 25
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Tuesday, September 24
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The Last Of It
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Monday, September 23
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Dinosaurlandia
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Sunday, September 22
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Over The Edge
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Saturday, September 21
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God Bless America
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Friday, September 20
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Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
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Thursday, September 19
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The Niche Near You
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Wednesday, September 18
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Snow Day
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Tuesday, September 17
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A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
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Monday, September 16
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A Lucky Rift
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Sunday, September 15
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Saturday, September 14
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Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
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Friday, September 13
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Precious Images
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Thursday, September 12
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From the Hole to the Staircase
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Wednesday, September 11
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Happy Days
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Tuesday, September 10
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Do You Believe In Magic?
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Monday, September 9
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The Bridge Over the River Why
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Sunday, September 8
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Saturday, September 7
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That Place So Special
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Friday, September 6
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Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
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Thursday, September 5
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Do The Wave
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Wednesday, September 4
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The Condors Are Coming!
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Tuesday, September 3
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Fires Are For The Birds
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Monday, September 2
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Back On Top
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Sunday, September 1
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Perfection
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Saturday, August 31
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Friday, August 30
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Star Light
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Thursday, August 29
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Wednesday, August 28
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Tuesday, August 27
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Checkerboard Kings and Queens
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Monday, August 26
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Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
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Sunday, August 25
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A Story In Everything
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Saturday, August 24
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Fire In The Whole
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Friday, August 23
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"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
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Thursday, August 22
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Hoping For The Best
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Wednesday, August 21
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Could Get Stinky
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Tuesday, August 20
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Wheels Asunder
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Monday, August 19
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Hurt Me, Thank You!
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Sunday, August 18
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Saturday, August 17
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Friday, August 16
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Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
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Thursday, August 15
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Wednesday, August 14
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A Day Off, Sort Of
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Tuesday, August 13
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A Delightful, Light Day
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Monday, August 12
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Sunday, August 11
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Farewell
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Saturday, August 10
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My Aching Back In The Saddle
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Friday, August 9
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Thursday, August 8
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In The Saddle
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Wednesday, August 7
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Shut My Mouth!
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Tuesday, August 6
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Monday, August 5
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An Unraveling
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Sunday, August 4
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A Bagged Peak
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Saturday, August 3
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Friday, August 2
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Thursday, August 1
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Wednesday, July 31
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An Excellent Start
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