July 27, 2022 – USA: As Week Seven came to a close a few Teams began wrapping up their final Overland Stages, but most of the competitors were still in the middle of their Rally activity, with plenty of points still waiting to be earned. Several Teams have pushed the boundaries of their comfort zones with some of the Activity Tasks, while others have chosen to stick to what they are most familiar with. More teams continue to submit proof points for Stewardship Activities as the Rally nears the last few weeks of competition. The top three positions on the Leaderboard have not changed this week, though all the Teams have increased their points totals.
Team 104 Swenson maintained the lead with 3,542 points. Sara Swenson and Dave Hopkins completed their Stage Ten and participated in a Stewardship Project at Nisene Marks State Park organized by Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. The project focused on removing downed trees and clearing a public picnic area at the park. Sara and Dave assisted with the chainsaw operation and helped rake and remove wood to restore the location so that the area could be re-opened to the public.
Meanwhile Team 136 Anderson held onto 2nd place spot with 3,177 points just adding a few Photo Quest items this week.
Team 111 Potter maintained the 3rd place position with 2,768 points, completing another Stage and participating in a training event. Lisa Potter explored parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapahoe National Forest, taking some time to learn about the issue of Aspen Tree Scaring — gashes cut into the bark by animals (sometimes the damage is caused by animals eating, other times it is from Elk rubbing their antlers on trees to remove their velvet in the summertime, or bears marking their territory by scratching the trees). Later in the week Lisa participated in a training event for the Colorado 4×4 Girls at the Slaughterhouse Gulch trail in Pike San Isabel National Forest. The training was conducted by Matt Balazs, a certified I4WDTA trainer, and focused on providing some basic recovery skills to the newer club members, as well as refreshing everyone on safety and driving skills.
Team 122 Norton moved into 4th place on the Leaderboard following two busy weeks. Wendi Norton continued with her Overland Stages moving from California to Nevada where she also picked up a lot of Photo Quest items this week — including a fun shot of the Beatty burros poking their heads inside her Jeep. Wendi and Sharkbait completed Stages Seven and Eight, making a stop at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona after leaving Nevada. While at the Petrified Forest Wendi stopped to check out the paleontology exhibit at the Rainbow Forest museum and hit a segment of old Route 66 — fun fact: the Petrified Forest is the only National Park in the country with a portion of Historic Route 66 within its boundaries.
Team 132 Kienlen kept up the momentum this week, with a Stage Six on the sand and some Stewardship activity. Jenn Kienlen completed her “Driving in Sand” Activity Task at Ocean Shores Washington where she was able to check out the OHV area along the beach. While there she also did an impromptu trail cleanup, removing 4 bags full of trash, some plywood and a rusted basketball hoop! After the trail cleanup, Jenn took some time to enjoy the beach and also found several more of the Photo Quest items along the shore.
Team 133 Nikolic made a big jump this week after completing all Twelve Overland Stages. Nikolic made an epic loop around the Northeast, starting from Long Island NY and heading north to the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont for Stage One and Two, where he explored some of the area’s Class IV roads and looked for wildlife at the Les Newall Wildlife Management Area before turning east towards New Hampshire. Stage Three and Four incorporated the White Mountain National Forest and the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, with some time to explore by kayak, jeep and on foot. The highlight was the climb up Mount Washington through the fog and up over the clouds. From New Hampshire he continued east across Maine to the Acadia National Park and set up camp at Schoodic Woods for a few nights before turning south for a long highway section to reach Cape Cod National Seashore. After a brief pause back in New York, Nikolic finished up his last two Overland Stages exploring and dispersed camping at the Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania.
As the Rally enters the final weeks, Teams will be pushing to add as many points to their totals as they can. Most Teams have not yet finished their Overland Stages, so there are still a lot of points available and the playing field remains wide open.