Expedition Impossible - Behind the Scenes, Episode 9
by AFB Staff
[Editor's note: the following post originally appeared on Erik Weihenmayer's blog, http://www.touchthetop.com/blog/, and is being republished here with his permission. Among Erik's many notable achievements, he is a CareerConnect mentor as well as the first blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. This summer Erik has been starring in ABC's Expedition Impossible. You can catch the show Thursday nights at 9 EST. Learn more about Erik at his website, http://www.touchthetop.com/.]
I couldn't believe it! What the heck just happened?! There was no way we were going to beat the Cops. Despite Ike hobbling as fast as he could, they had passed us on a brutal cross country push and had a 15 minute lead. Yet... somehow... we did it!
But let's go back to the beginning. Only the day before, we had had the unlikeliest of wins over the California Girls. We woke up the next morning, partly in disbelief that we were still in the competition yet still facing the reality that a team with a blind guy and a badly sprained ankle didn't have much chance.
This last episode was another two-days-compressed-into-one episode. The first day featured very technical whitewater—we had to hit the rapids just right or we'd risk a flip—so we were glad to have a guide to steer the boat. The rapids were fun, but I was yelling "Stroke!" every second, and in hour three, I lost my voice and was barely croaking. We were paddling so hard, it was a little difficult to get the full enjoyment factor of this amazing whitewater.
For the riddle challenge, we were stumped for about fifteen minutes. ("Sometimes you pass by them and sometimes you go inside of them, but lately you've been spending a lot of time in between them." The answer was "banks.") Anyway, our Gypsy pals helped us out with a vital clue. As they ran by, Taylor said, "Where do you keep your money?"
And the Fab 3 straight up gave the answer to the Football Players. I didn't realize at the time that this annoying "alliance" was forming at the instigation of Fab 3. I suppose some people could accuse No Limits and Gypsies of doing the same thing. But ours was truly a natural friendship that grew between like minds. None of us were conniving to steal the win; we just helped out friends when we could.
In fact, we had such a good bond, the Gypsies jumped at the chance to come to Boulder for the last show. Hopefully Taylor will do his Jeff Evans impression! After the finale, we're going to go hike and climb and have some more fun together. So we really weren't making backroom deals. It was just two teams who respected each other and shared a spirit for adventure and good work.
I must admit I was a little bummed out by the Football Players for falling into Fab 3's game of making Survivor-like alliances. The Football Players are such good guys but they let themselves get talked into taking the low road. We really liked them—along with the other teams: Cops, Firemen, Cali Girls, Fisherman, and Country Boys—and worked together with each of these teams at different points of the comp.
Anyway, after the lock challenge, where we collected food for camp (freeze-dried, blech), the river mellowed out but went through a spectacular gorge. Jeff was steering but he's more of a mountain dude and we went in circles a little bit. Still, we held our ground.
The next day we rowed across the lake in the tin boats. No time bonuses, everyone starts with the time they finished. With a motor like Ike on the oars, we probably could have waterskied across the lake. Then we hit the shore...
Suffice to say, it was ugly. The rugged, rocky terrain was brutal for Ike. We were passed, and passed again until we were dead last when finishing the rappels. That meant we had a long wait to get through the cave tunnels since only one person could crawl at a time and there's no way to pass.
Once we all got inside the cave, it was a frantic free-for-all looking for the darned appropriate vase—not that I could help much. Next time, let's do a pitch black cave and we'll see how all the sighted people do! When Jeff finally found our instructions, we were on our way. As you saw, Rob from the cops grabbed a correct vase, but it didn't have a finish line map inside it. I think this was because another team had already plucked out the map.
After swimming the river, once again, we were preparing ourselves mentally for finishing last. And then we came around the corner and there were the Cops running the wrong way! Suddenly it dawned on the three of us that we gotta run, we gotta run hard! I ran through a nasty bush and blood was flying all over the place. I didn't even care. Ike was hopping along behind us like Forrest Gump.
Then I heard Jeff fall down. And then he popped up and was bouncing around running circles and howling and laughing! I didn't realize what had happened at first but then it clicked that we had actually crossed the finish line... and beat the Cops! People told me I looked a little stunned, which was definitely the case.
So now, defying all odds, we're in the finals. We actually got a rest day before the last wild and crazy stage. This gave Ike the chance to cut off that awful clunky cast, rest up, and evaluate his ankle. And then we go at it again, with more devious twists and turns to the plot. I will say that on the last day, one team gets eliminated halfway through so only three teams will be competing for the pot of gold. Will you be watching?
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