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 own.
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 stuff.
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 last one!
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 a
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:
|Click on images for larger view
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