Not snow, not ice, not football, not several push backs, nor even temperature could keep 72 PAX away from conquering the Frozen Edition of The Cottonmouth.
For almost two years I’ve participated in this juggernaut called F3. And one thing that is a common theme throughout is: present a challenge, no matter how difficult, and someone will inevitably say, “Yeah! Let’s do that!” It was that way in my time serving in the United States Marine Corps, and it’s still alive in these men I workout with on a weekly basis. It’s one of the driving forces that keeps me coming back week after week – brotherhood.
In 2014, the boys in Columbia decided, “hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we trekked through Columbia crossing the river along the way…just for fun!?” And everyone chimed in and said, “Yeah! Let’s do that!” And so The Cottonmouth was born. 112 PAX that day made some #WarStories they’ll never forget. Not being ones to deny anyone of this fun, F3 Lake Murray was asked to deliver The Cottonmouth on the other side of the river. And boy did we ever.
22° F and cloudy with flurries. 27° F and cloudy with flurries at ENDEX.
0500 – PAX begin arriving. Pro Tip: Whatever your planned time to begin is, tell everyone to be there a half hour before that. Someone will ALWAYS be late. It was great hearing the mumble chatter of excitement and anticipation. Also, meeting some PAX from other AO’s that traveled very early to be here.
0530 – Circle up and announcements begin. YHC Pothole gives some safety instructions and our area Nan’tan Crash gives some words of welcome and of encouragement.
0540 – COP is led by Team Leader – Smithers for some SSH, Through The Tunnel, Overhead Arm Claps, and Merkins to get the blood pumping.
0550 – Count off to get an initial count. Partner up and form 2 lines. Grab the ropes and gear bag and do one last gear check.
0600 – On the move.
N around the ball field to the walk path that leads to the back entrance into Seven Oakes neighborhood. NE on Shareditch Rd, L onto Townes Rd, R onto Whitcomb Dr, L onto Shadowbrook to Piney Grove Rd.
The PAX did well maintaining a soft enough mumble chatter to not cause a waking disturbance. The temperatures were still classified as “freaking cold” and some flurries started to pick up. Enough that you could see some sticking to the grass in the yards. Awesome.
At 0600 on a Saturday morning, especially when it’s cold and snowy outside, not many people are traveling. However, one unsuspecting neighborhood traveler got a rare glimpse of CSAUP action. An SUV turned onto Townes Rd and began traveling very slow. Following behind was fun enough, but when they turned right onto the same road we had to turn right onto, we could only help but wonder if they thought we were followingn them. I had hoped to get close enough that they could hear me say, “Ok men, grab that car and pick it up!” It made for some great mumble chatter as we speculated what he/she might be thinking when they saw 72 head lamps in 2X formation making their way through the neighborhood. Aliens? Russians? “Is this Red Dawn in real ife!?” Zombies?
Nah. “Prolly Feds.” My GoRuck peeps will understand this. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irFsM1Dm_6U&index=1&list=FLTTwKrKXn9tBydm4su6h4XQ) (WARNING: NSFW – language)
At the intersection of Piney Grove Rd, we stopped for some final safety tips and another head count.
R onto Piney Grove Rd, over I-26, around the traffic circle, L onto Piney Woods Rd, R onto the powerline easement.
So, YHC promissed no river crossing. I did, however, mention that the PAX might get wet in some form or fashion. And I believe I delivered. Now, if you’ve never experienced cold wet feet at 0625 in 22° weather, I highly suggest it. It’s an awakening experience. The powerline easement still harbored some puddles from rain the day before. The ground wasn’t cold enough to freeze it, but it certainly kept it nice and cold. You’re welcome.
L onto Broad River Rd and into New Heights Church parking lot for a break. PAX change socks (or wring out the water in your only pair of socks), drop some weight in staged vehicles (real men would have kept their weight – just sayin’), drank some water, and ate some fuel.
Gear up and line up for another head count. Everyone is still accounted for.
0640 – On the move.
0650 – Arrive at Harbison Forest. Now the real fun starts.
Stand in line with your partner. Turn and face your partner. Back row take 2 steps back. You are now split into 2 teams. Team Moccasin (TL Pothole) and Team Rattler (TL Smithers, Navigator – C3P0).
0705 – On the move up the service road.
0730 – Bear Crawl Race.
Team Moccasin and Team Rattler line up on either side of the road for a slightly uphill 100′ Bear Crawl Race.
Here are the rules:
Each group will line up on roughly either side of the road. One by one, the two competitors will race while the PAX encourage them. When one PAX reaches the finish, the next PAX on that team can go. First team to get their team across, wins this event. Given the fact that not everyone has the body for sustained bear crawling, there will be an opportunity for a proxy. If a PAX is unable to make it the entire distance, or can’t bear crawl at all, a proxy can be called upon. But the proxy must have already bear crawled to the end and must start from the beginning. For example, PAX 1 successfully bear crawls to the finish. PAX 2 can now begin. PAX 2 makes it 1/3 of the way and is unable to continue. PAX 2 calls on PAX 1 for proxy. PAX 1 sprints to the beginning point and bear crawls the distance for PAX 2. This encourages the PAX to complete the task and not place the work on someone else (team building), but also encourages PAX to step up and help out their brother (also team building). Point is, “we need each other.”
One by one, the PAX crawled uphill, rucks and even the shovel flag. Not surprisingly, it came down to the last two PAX, Pothole and Smithers (TL’s). Now, also not surprisingly, YHC killed it on the bear crawl. I consider myself a bear crawl sprinter. Come to Depot sometime and I’ll show you. However……..after seeing Gypsy mutate into something that can only be described as the offspring of a cheetah having had sex with a gorilla…I’m not so sure I’m the fastest out there. Nevertheless, Team Moccasin won. Team Moccasin – 1, Team Rattler – 0.
0750 – On the move.
0810 – Arrive at “The Split”
The next event is “The Split”
There will be 2 lengths of rope approximately 100’ (also a snake. See what I did there?). Each group will go either direction on the firebreak trail in a ‘race’ to the end. The distance will be approximately 2.25 miles for each. To keep it fair and interesting, each group must maintain contact with the rope. This keeps PAX from getting too far apart and ensures everyone finishes together as a group and not the gazelles running ahead of the tortoises. The team leader may be the only PAX not touching the rope so that he can ensure everyone is safe. Oh yeah, and each team must carry two cedar logs. First team to the finish point wins this event.
By way of what I’m sure had to be cheating, Team Rattler arrives at the Park Ranger Station at approximately 0855 with Team Moccasin coming in at approximately 0905. Team Moccasin – 1, Team Rattler – 1.
Group up for some photo ops since it’s now light out and there’s a light snow. Note to Grave Digger: please bring ice cleats next time so that you don’t fall. That or learn how to penguin your way across slippery surfaces. Also, thanks for not breaking my phone when you dropped it to save yourself.
0915 – “The Snake Pull” AKA a good ol’ fashioned tug of war.
Both teams split themselves into 2 groups and have 3 tug of war pulls to determine your strongest PAX. The winner of those two face off between the other winner for a Team Moccasin VS Team Rattler tug of war.
Convincingly, Team Moccasin wins again. Team Moccasin – 2, Team Rattler – 1.
0940 – “Squat Challenge”
Each team performs as many squats as they can in one minute as a team while holding a steel channel tube. The opposing team performs the count.
There was some confusion here and Team Rattler may have cheated Team Moccasin out of some reps, but Team Rattler takes this one. Team Moccasin – 2, Team Rattler – 2.
1000 – “Merk off”
As a tie-breaker, the last challenge is a Merkin challenge. To keep it fair, the Merkins will be hand-release Merkins. As many as you can do in 1 minute. Partner up and the opposing partner counts your reps. At the end of 1 minute, the PAX with the highest number of reps represents that team. Dunphy represents Team Moccasin, Serena represents Team Rattler.
Now, here’s where things got interesting. Maybe some brains were frozen. Maybe the air was thin. Maybe the previouis minute of reps did something to the amount of blood flow. I don’t know. All I know is that Dunphy looked like he was doing a modified version of the inchworm/rocking chair and Serena thought hand-release Merkins were push yourself up off of the ground (which meant his chest never touched the ground as it should have.) Therefore, reps were now not a factor as neither men did the Merkins correctly. However, perhaps the style points could be given to Dunphy’s modified breakdancing. Perhaps impressive move points could be given to Serena’s gravity defying push off Merkins. Whatever the case, no clear winner was chosen. Therefore, the teams wins ended in a tie. You can battle in the comments below as to who the winner was.
Team Moccasin – 2, Team Rattler – 2.
1010 – COT/FNG Name-O-Rama/BOM
Welcome Scott Murray – Scuba Steve, and Tyler Driggers – Hot Lips
I’m grateful to Sway, Ken Doll, and Napalm (missed you guys) for the opportunity to Q this event. My number 1 goal was to make sure it was memorable and that the PAX had a great time. I’m confident I delievered (that or you guys are great BS-ers!). It was great hearing the mumble chatter; both directed at me and between the teams. And was comforting to know that even 6 months from now the PAX will be saying, “remember that time when…” These are the events that mold those friendships and solidify the interest in doing something more. You could have all slept soundly in your nice warm beds – instead, you chose to come out at 0500 and join others in 20 degree weather and make some memories.
If you weren’t able to do The Cottonmouth, don’t fret. We’re planning a Cottonmouth part deux in the near future. It’ll be a shortened version since the Mission guys were not able to make it. And keep an eye out on the Twitterverse for the summer edition of The Cottonmouth.
Pictures and videos can be found here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_z2rp-dMR-6cHFZd3BTMGM3RGM&usp=sharing
If you have any pictures or videos to add, please add them there.
If you didn’t get a Cottonmouth T-shirt, you can still get one here: https://teespring.com/f3-cottonmouth
– Anyone who traveled to get here. Summerville guys, Charleston, etc. You braved the conditions just to get there! Thanks for the dedication to true CSAUP.
– Napalm, thanks for the ropes buddy!
– Smokey, thanks for the cedar logs and for staging them.
– Smithers and C3P0, thanks for stepping up as TL’s and helping to keep things moving.
– Skunky, thanks for sticking behind at the end and grilling up some brats!
– TNT, thanks for the gear bag.
– F3 Nation, thanks for continuing to look for ways to get better and to find something to keep ourselves busy. Because God only knows where we’d be if we didn’t have someone else dragging us out in the cold to do something Completely Stupid And Utterly Pointless.
Pro tip: Always have a breath mint handy so that you don’t get called out for morning breath during the BOM.