Harold's van pulled into the dark, vacant parking lot at 6:50 am today. With Derek in the passenger seat, the two jumped out as if it is already dawn.
Harold packs up his last minute addition, Alka Seltzer, while Derek starts a list of things he forgot. A watch and extra resealable plastic baggies top the list.
Scheduled to leave at 7:00 am with Willamette Valley Crawlers 4 wheel drive club, Harold and Derek put the finishing stuff-in and zip-ups on their 80+ pound packs.
Over the next hour, the Crawlers join the E.S.C.A.P.E team in the Salem Napa Auto Parts parking lot making the last minute preparations on their Jeep's to get Harold and Derek as close to the Pacific Crest Trail head at Breitenbush as possible.
"There are bets on how close you'll be able to drop us," jokes Harold. Still the Crawlers seem pretty confident of their snow busting abilities.
As the sun slowly lit up the sky, the temperature remained at a low 24 degrees.
"What time is it?" asked Harold. Derek just shrugged his shoulders. After all, he left his watch at home.
"The sun's coming up," Derek replied in a relaxed tone, "I'm guessing we're getting close to eight."
"We were suppose to be eating breakfast in Detroit Lake at eight!" says Harold with a little urgency. After all, with months of itinerary planning, weather pressures, and such, Harold knows that the recent snow in the Cascades makes time much tighter and every minute of daylight counts.
"We have time," replies Derek, "We'll do like we did last time and hike as far as we can. We'll be fine." Harold agrees.
Harold continues to use every minute ironing out details and making sure everything will go smoothly while he's away.
"I'll check in each day around noon when we take our lunch break to keep everyone updated," says Harold as he hands off his final fundraising fliers. Ever-mindful of the survival challenge's purpose, to raise money for Child Abuse Prevention Center in Salem.
By 8:06 am, the Crawlers were ready, 5 men hoisted Derek's 80lb pack onto one of the Samuri's (laughing), and the convoy of 4 wheel drives were off.