Brian Jahelka, founder of the MotoTally event scoring system, posted this report
to the rec.motorcycles.dirt newsgroup in 2002 after a visit to the White Rock
recreational area near Fayetteville, Arkansas.
From: Brian Jahelka
Subject: White Rock Ride (er Stranding) Report (don't miss this one)
Date: 2002-05-17 12:14:35 PST
Josh and I had a, how shall we put it... "fairly intense" weekend out at White Rock,
Arkansas last weekend. I will try to keep this one shorter than others I have posted, but I
will also give you the moral of the story first off, so if you wanna skip the rest, you can. =)
Moral of the Story: Trails at White Rock dead end for a reason, so don't try to blaze your
OK, with that said, you may quit reading at this point.
Josh and I take off from camp and head back down to where they had started the enduro
just six weeks prior. The flat bed trailer from an 18-wheeler that used to be the bridge
over the creek had been 'moved' by the creek at some point in time since the race. It was
now up on its side on the bank. Our goal was to try and follow the enduro trail for as long
as we could!
It didn't take long before we had lost the enduro trail, so we just decided to ride wherever
we felt like! We rode about 30 miles and then headed back for some lunch. After lunch,
we headed back out in hopes of finding some more single track. We had been staying
mostly on the main trails, which are great to ride, but not anywhere as near as fun as all
the single track stuff White Rock has to offer. I finally started to recognize some of the
terrain, and found out where the gas stop had been at the previous enduro. Cool! If we
follow this fire road up, there is a turn off into some real nasty virgin single track. We
found the trail, and then promptly made a wrong turn and lost it again. No matter, we
were on some more seasoned single track stuff that was a bit more open than the stuff
they put us thru in the enduro. What a blast! We made our way thru 10 to 15 miles of
the stuff. I was starting to wear Josh out, so we decided it best to try and find our way
back to camp and get some dinner. Hey, we still got two days of riding! No point in killing
ourselves the first day. Hehe, if only we knew what we were in for...
We get back out of the single track and find a road vaguely familiar from the morning ride.
I pull out the GPS and we check to see where we are. Cool, looks like we should have
about 10-12 miles of fire road to get us back. We started following the road that we
thought would get us back, and it started going the wrong direction. Hmmm, we just
passed a trail that headed up to the north, which was the way we needed to go. We
turned around and shot up the trail. It was a little overgrown, but I could see fresh tracks
(like, less than a week old), so we kept on going on. The trail dead-ended at a creek
crossing that was fairly high up on the mountain. We stopped and looked around. Hey
wait, there's the trail. It crosses the creek right down there! So we shot across the creek
and kept following the trail. It was starting to look more and more overgrown, and a lot
less traveled, and then all of the sudden, just disappeared! Hmm, what to do. I turn the
GPS back on as I have it mounted on the handlebars at this point. Well hell Josh, the trail
we are trying to get to is only 3 tenths of a mile away from here! Surely we can just blaze
our own and get over to it! (Note: BAD decision #1). We are pretty high up on the
mountain, and all we should have to do is get up to the top, and it should be 2 tenths of a
mile of downhill on the back side to hit our trail. There is fallen timber all over the place.
The poison ivy is about a foot tall, and completely covers the ground, which in turn, hides
all the big nasty rocks below. The fallen leaf cover from last fall makes for a nice blanket
which traps moisture, and makes everything down there fairly slick. No traction on stuff
you can't see sucks. And the fallen timber isn't helping anything for straight line shots at
So after trying to get up the mountain about 10 different ways, which really wasn't all that
steep at this point, we decide that this isn't going to work. I look around, and realize, that
in the process of trying to get up the mountain, all we had done is work our way farther
from the dead ended trail that we came up. And oh yea, I think we are actually farther
down the mountain at this point. At this point, it looks as if there is no way to get back to
the end of the trail without trying to go back up some stuff that we weren't having very
much success at.
Consult the GPS again. Pull out the contour map. I can't even believe that the GPS is
getting a signal in below the thick canopy of the forest. "Well Josh, it looks like we could
stay on the bench we are on now, we can follow it around the side of the mountain, and
STILL get to the trail". We both agree this is the best thing to do. (Note: BAD decision
#2) So we start working our way across the bench. It's about 100 yards wide. But it still
isn't enough room to really navigate anything easily. We come upon a few creeks going
down across the bench. Wow, there sure are some big rocks in them creeks (the size of
Volkswagon buses). And look at all the falls! Hmm, this is going to be tricky to get
across. Lift, pull, and heave both bikes across. Great, there's another one just like the
After 4 hours of pushing, pulling, lifting the bikes over everything imaginable, we are tired.
The bikes had been overheating cause we just weren't moving anywhere. Its starting to
get dark. Josh just sucked the last bit of water out of my camelbak. He was cramping up
pretty bad, and he didn't have a headlight. It was hard enough trying to move the bikes
in the daylight, moving his at dusk with no headlight wasn't very enticing. Any wrong
decision in which way is the easiest, will cost you another half an hour of trying to get out
of whatever situation you just put yourself and the bike in. So, my GPS has been running
low on batteries. I have been only turning it on when needed to see how far we have
made it. Looks like our 'as the crow flies' distance from the dead end trail, was about 1.5
miles. Wow, 4 hours and only 1.5 miles straight line. Well, looks like we had another 4
tenths of a mile to get to the trail.
We ditch Josh's bike. I mark it on the GPS so we can get back to it later. Josh hooves it
on foot and I keep plugging along with the KTM, while he moves trees for me so I can get
thru. We get another 2 tenths of a mile. I'm exhausted. My bike is hot. Maybe we should
just quit. Josh decides that he is cramping too bad to go without water. Who knows how
much longer it would take to go 2 tenths of a mile in the dark. We decide to stop with the
KTM at this point (Note: BAD decision #3). I mark the KTM on the GPS, then we decide
that it is about a 3 tenths of a mile walk down the mountain to get back to that creek we
had crossed a long time ago back at the top of the mountain. So we decide to hoof it
down to the creek, in the dark. (Note: BAAAD decision #4, 5, and 6).
Once we get off the bench, the mountain becomes fairly steep. We have no flashlight.
The skies are overcast. It’s a new moon. And the canopy of the forest almost completely
blocks out what little light is coming from the heavens. I am leading the trek down the
mountain. I try to always put a tree directly below me so that if I start to slide, I'll have
something to stop me. This worked for a little while, maybe 200 feet. We get to another
steep section. I spot a tree down hill from me, and start toward it. I start to lose my
footing. I start sliding...down. All of a sudden, there is nothing under my feet. I'm in a
free fall. I start to wonder what happened to the ground. I say "Oh, shit". I start to
wonder if the last thing I will say in my life, is "Oh, shit". Ouch, there’s the ground. That
didn't feel very good. I lay there for a moment in total disbelief of what just happened. I
can hear Josh yelling at me asking me if I'm OK. I yell back at Josh to not take one step
further, and inform him that I just fell off a cliff (as if he hadn't figured that out yet). He
keeps asking if I'm OK. I say, "I don't know." My heart is pounding and my adrenaline is
flowing. I'm afraid to move. What did I just break? I move one arm, then the other. One
leg then the other. I lift my head up and roll it around. I lean forward and get to my feet.
Nothing hurts real bad and I can stand. "I guess I'm OK", I yell back to Josh. Thank
goodness I had all my riding gear on. My head would probably be mush right now without
I start digging for my lighter so I can get some bearings about me. I whip it out and light
it up. Holy shit. I look back at what I just fell off of, and where I landed. Hmm, looks like
about a 15 to 20' drop I just survived. I think I landed in the one spot in the whole forest
that didn't have rocks. 2 feet from where I landed, there is a 3 foot tall rock about 1' by 2'
sticking out of the ground. I almost get sick thinking of what would have happened if I
would have landed on it. I start praying, thanking God I'm still alive.
I walk around to one side of the cliff, looking for a way to get Josh down. I can't see him,
but we are talking back and forth and he can see the light from the lighter. I find a crevice
with some steps where Josh can get down if I guide his feet into each step. Knowing that
Josh is seriously dehydrated, and that I have been in the hospital before because of my
allergic reactions to poison ivy, we decide to keep on going toward the
creek. At least there I can rinse off and Josh can get some water. We make it about 100
more feet and my lighter runs out of gas...
Realizing that we are already lucky that I'm not dead, we decide to hold up there for the
night. I can't even see my hand in front of my own face now. We lay down and make a
bed out of poison ivy and rocks. There is absolutely zero wind. There aren't any crickets
to be heard. We are too far away from the creek to hear it or any of the frogs. It’s dead
silent and absolutely pitch black. We have no way to make a fire. And even if we could,
finding dry lumber that wasn't laying in poison ivy would have been impossible. Burning
wood with the oil from the poison ivy plant on it would have me needing a hospital, some
serious steroids, and all the benadryl you could pump into me to keep me alive.
We lay there and talked about our situation, about the bad decisions we had made, and
how lucky I was to be alive. Josh starts to nod off eventually, and I start thinking about
the Blair Witch Project (the only movie I have ever watched that truly freaked me out). I
realize this is going to be the longest 9 hours of my life till sunrise. We started getting
cold with all the sweat that we were soaked in. I laid closer to a grown man than I ever
wanted to that night. I start to nod off. I guess I started to mumble in my shallow sleep.
Josh wakes up and goes, "Did you say something?" Hehe, so much for falling asleep.
Josh's hands are cold. I offer to have him stick one down my chest protector to help keep
them warm. As he is nodding off again, his hand starts twitching. He's now grabbing my
boob. I figured any sleep either one of us could get tonight would be precious, so I didn't
even wake him and tell him to quit. It was actually kind of funny, and I chuckled a little.
We talked often thru the night about what time it could possibly be. Lots of shivering and
readjustments to try and get comfortable on the unforgiving rocks. My ribs were now
starting to hurt on my left side. I had difficulty picking myself up to try and get
comfortable. We heard an owl or two, and a few wild turkeys. But I never once heard any
critters scurrying about around us. I was convinced there would be lots of action that
night to freak me out. The only thing that freaked me out was the growls from Josh's
stomach every once in a while.
The sun FINALLY started to show in the still overcast skies. I would estimate that I slept
no more than an hour all night. When it was light enough for us to navigate, we started
on down the mountain. We got to the creek and washed up a bit and drank. GPS out
(now with the batteries out of Josh's GPS, as mine were dead). We had about a 3-mile
walk back to where some RVs were that we had seen the day before. Two hours of hiking
and we were back to some semblance of civilization. No one in the camp was up yet, so
we layed down on a section of flat, rockless ground with no poison ivy. Wow was it ever
comfortable!!! Just as I was about to nod off, one of the guys in one of the RVs had
woke up and begun to stir. He walked over to us to see just what the hell we were doing
laying on the ground in full gear with no bikes to be seen.
We explained our situation. They gave us water and biscuits and sausage.
YUMMMMMMM!!! The three guys were probably in their late fifties or early sixties. I was
just wondering what was going on in their head after we told them of our tribulations. I
imagine they were thinking something like, "What a bunch of dumb ass Kansas boys".
They put us on the back of their utility 4-wheelers and gave us a ride back to our camp.
Turns out that road we were on the day before was the proper road to get us back to
camp. DUH!!! We drank more water, ate a bunch more food, and prepared for our
adventure for the day, which was to go rescue our abandoned bikes.
With flashlights in both our fanny packs, some extra food, a few lighters, and two fresh
sets of batteries for the GPS's, we headed out. Drove the truck to the top of the
mountain on a fire road. Found the trailhead and started walking on down. While we were
back in camp, a local to the area had stopped to chat with us while we were recovering. He
offered to follow us down the trail and make sure we got out OK. We walked down and
down and down. Constantly checking the GPS and the topo map trying to figure out
where we could get off and go find our bikes. We found what seemed like a good place
and started blazing our own trail on foot. I can tell you one thing for sure. We would
have never in a million years found our bikes again if we hadn't had them marked on the
GPS. NOT IN A MILLION YEARS. We found my bike and stopped for a rest. I set my
helmet down with my gloves inside. GPS says 1000 feet to Josh's bike. We kept on
truckin to Josh's bike. We found it and Josh dumped some water in his radiator as he had
boiled over once or twice the day before. So David (the local) and I start clearing out the
way for Josh, and we get his bike back to mine pretty quick. While he is resting, David and
I go look at the cliff I fell off of. He said, "Oh yea, I saw where you landed. I rode in on the
bench below this one. That was a pretty hairy fall." (Understatement of the year).
I assure David that Josh and I can take it from here on out, and he needn't help us
anymore. I thank him profusely for his kindness and help. I work my way back up to my
bike and Josh. I ask Josh if he is ready to go, and he says yea, so I go to grab my
helmet. Wait a second, where is it? I set it down right there... I put it just uphill of that
fallen tree to keep it from rolling down the hill. Where in the hell is it!?! I verify with Josh
that I indeed did leave it there, and he assures me that I didn't take it with me to his
bike... Hmmm...David got back before us. Would he have come all the way out here to
steal my helmet!?!?! Surely NOT!!! I start wandering around retracing my steps,
wondering if I could have set it down somewhere else... Hey! What’s that purple and
orange thing over there? I start walking over there. As I get closer, I start to realize that
it is my helmet. That’s odd, I never walked over here. Hey!!! How come the liner is out of
the helmet, and hey, why is it all torn up!?!?! I pick up the helmet, and start inspecting it,
noting that there are what appears to be fang marks in the Styrofoam on the inside of the
helmet! What the fuuuuuu....!? I pick up my liner. EWWWW!!! It's soggy! (I wasn't
wearing it before either...) And hey! Where in the hell are my gloves? Something with big
huge fangs just tore up my helmet, and STOLE MY FRIGGIN GLOVES!!!
Josh is laughing his ass off until I hand him my helmet and he sees the fang marks. "Holy
shit, that’s gotta be bear fangs.", he says. WOAH! I instantly and vividly remember the
warnings about being in bear country at the Mill Creek Trail head. Talk about a time warp.
And all that time last night, we were camped not more than 100 yards from this very
spot. Freak out city. So in the 45 minutes or so that we were not more than 1000 feet
away getting Josh's bike, there was a bear back here munching on my helmet. Lets get the
hell outta here!
We get moving (me sans gloves and with bear slobber on my head). Ironically, the forest
was VERY easy to navigate for the last 2 tenths of a mile back to the trail. Made us kick
ourselves for not pushing on the rest of the way the night before. We get back to the
trail, and eventually, back to the truck. Josh loads his bike and drives back to camp, while
I grab a beer out of the cooler and sip on that while riding my bike back down the fire road
to camp. Man that was a good beer!
We slept the rest of the day, and woke up around dusk to make some dinner. A few more
beers around a BIG ASS FIRE and then back to bed. We went out for a ride on Sunday.
NO FREAKY TRAIL FINDING we both agreed this time. I got a flat so we headed back and
made a short day of it.
The poison ivy didn't start to kick in till Monday. I have it up and down both arms and
under one armpit. It was kinda miserable till I called my doctor and had him prescribe me
some steroids and some benadryl type stuff yesterday. Those steroids just rock the
house for healing the poison ivy FAST. If you are allergic to the stuff and you get it, visit
your doctor and get him to put you on some steroids. It makes life with poison ivy
bearable. My poison ivy is drying up real fast, and it doesn't itch at all anymore. Oh yea,
last night I was able to actually sleep on my left side, and getting out of bed didn't have
me wincing in pain.
Here are some pics of my helmet:
The fangs holes are about 1.75 inches apart, and they are pretty far into the helmet. I
imagine it took a pretty good-sized mouth to get in to the helmet that far. The holes are
about 3/8 to 1/2 inch deep.
Well, I'm off to the shop. Gotta pick up a new helmet liner, new gloves, and new
sprockets (busted 3 teeth on my rear sprocket last weekend). Oh yea, and I gotta get
another new tube to put in the front. Leaving for the Lead Belt National Enduro tomorrow
morning first thing. I'll try to get a SHORT ride report up on it sometime next week. They
are running us 100 miles!!! WEEE!!! I'm on row 10, so I'm sure I will get to see more
than a few of the national guys pass me.
Take care all and have a good weekend!
Brian "Purdy Dumb Boy" Jahelka
'02 KTM 200 EXC
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