NEWS

PCT Terminus: Mexican Border

Final days of Run While You Can:  

Second to last day of filming near Campo

 

Jim and Lucy arrive

Sam and Lucy get to talk

With the cameras rolling

Ivan and Jonas Marcinko with the helicopter they made

 

Putting the heli into action

 

Sam's fan section at the finish

 

All set up at the terminus

 

Sam approaches

 

Sam and Lucy walk arm in arm to the finish

 

Finished!

 

Sam signs the register

 

John, Lucy, and Eric look on

 

Mother and Son embrace

 

Sam and Chloe

 

Sam and cinematographer Ben are finally allowed to interact

 

Team Awesome

 

The good life in Palm Springs

 

 

RC Aerial

A big thank you to our aerial cinematographers, brothers Ivan and Jonas Marcinko, who drove down to Mexico from Idaho to shoot Sam's PCT finish! Using miniature, remote-controlled helicopters that they designed and built themselves, Ivan and Jonas get the most beautiful footage from up way up in the sky. To see their reel and their beautiful photography, click on the video above.

Desert, Dessert Delights

October 12, 2011 Apart from rattlesnakes, runaway bandits, and the threat of death by dehydration, the desert is quite advantageous. For filming a movie of course. There is a reason why Hollywood films all of its movies here. It is desolate and expansive, which can serve a.) to provide the foundation to recreate almost any environment, or b.)  as a compliment to showcase or enhance the tone of a film. We often rely on the latter because we don't have the money to recreate Times Square, but we also benefit from a third advantage, often forgotten by the Michael Bays out there, which is visibility of the Pacific Crest Trail of course. Since the terrain has gradually changed from forest to desert, access to the trails and the success of our shots, have gotten easier. Not a lot easier, but easier. This day provides a perfect example of the aforementioned easy access.

 

Sam woke up at 4:45 a.m. this morning and began his 40+ mile day. We woke up a little bit later than that and found a place where the trail crosses an isolated road, and made it our destination, leaving a cloud of dust in our wake. The road to the crossing seemed to have been made by a roller coaster engineer complete with drops so steep you couldn't see the the pavement until you were flying down it. Ordinarily, I might have enjoyed this, but when you are driving your house, there is a lot more at stake. Plus, it's a rental. Gingerly, we drove our way to the trail, and scouted a location.  According to the "dog collar" GPS tracking system, Sam was over 5 miles away, allowing us ample time to set up and eat lunch. The Garmin GPS device, normally used to keep track of hunting dogs, but for our purposes to "hunt" Sam, has been instrumental in our planning, since we are actually able to pinpoint where he is. Needless to say, many of our strategies have been unconventional, but mostly successful.

For God's sake Ben, smile!

The location we picked out allowed visibility of half a mile of the trail, making Sam a little white speck when our lenses first caught him. Ben stayed wide with his camera and followed him as he charged along the meandering trail. As he approached, we wondered what it must be like to be completely alone all day and then suddenly, without warning, bump into a group of people silently filming/photographing you. Strange, I would imagine. After filming a quick break at our RV, Sam took off to finish the last 8 miles for the day, and we took the roller coaster route back down, in search of food and gas. After refueling, we made equally crucial purchases of  neon sunglasses and local beef jerky, in order to demonstrate how we've fully adapted to the local culture. Sam was scheduled to leave at 2 a.m. the next morning, and given the excellent footage we'd captured in the past few days, we decided not to film him leaving in the dark, and splurged on a campground for the night instead.  A pool! Electric outlets! Running Water! Level ground! These are the finest of luxuries, and they did not go unnoticed, or unused.

The next morning, Ben, Jon-Michael, and Marion woke up early to film the sunrise in the desert valley, and we met John and Eric later that afternoon at a trail crossing right next to Highway 58, where Sam would be coming in later. Like the Chevron station at Snoqualmie, WA and the impound lot in Ashland, OR, we made the side of Highway 58 our own by furnishing the gravel turnoff with folding chairs. Jon-Michael and Ben filmed the wind turbines, and barbed-wire fence along the trail, before capturing Sam arrive in the 90 degree heat late in the afternoon. Sam, now pushing harder than ever, has regimented himself to 50 miles per outing, punctuated by 5 hours of rest in between. He promptly went to sleep, to be woken up at midnight for the next leg. Our mission for the day a success, we shared some beers with Eric and John and ate chicken and rice for dinner. Having adjusted to the sound of 18-wheelers whizzing by, our decision to stay put for the night fit within our increasingly low standards, and I slept soundly. Our crew has become efficient and dynamic, a well-oiled machine. But just because we are close to the end, that doesn't make the miles easier for us, or Sam. The days are still long and tolling, we are just more used to it now.  The next day, we went back to LA for perhaps our final break, as Sam barrels towards the border of Mexico, like Thelma and Louise, with the fuzz hot on their trail.

 

Until next time,

Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran

 

More pics:

 

Badwater Baby

October 9, 2011 For those of you hardcore fans who read the Run While You Can website as well as ours, you will know by now that because of a major snow storm in the Sierras, Sam and his team have made the difficult to decision to forgo the PCT speed record attempt. As the storm approached last week, the team tossed around several ideas for a plan B, but even if Sam did forge ahead into the storm, with appropriate equipment and emergency support, his attempt would be too slow for record pace, and not mention, extremely dangerous. As Sam has always said, the ultimate goal of Run While You Can was never to break the record, but to use the record-attempt as a platform to raise $250,000 for Parkinson's. The idea behind Sam's traverse of the Pacific Crest Trail is about enduring extreme mental and physical challenges as a way of honoring his mother's own struggles with Parkinson's. So, while it was a difficult decision for Sam and his team to bypass 400 miles of the PCT, the essence of this journey remains. As Support Director John Bernhardt says, they "certainly wanted to keep the spirit of the expedition alive," and so, as an alternative to this stretch of the PCT, but in keeping with the spirit of the journey, Sam is currently running the Badwater Trail in Death Valley.

Badwater Trail at Death Valley

This 135 mile trail begins Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation the entire country (282 feet BELOW sea level), and ends at the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states at 14,000 feet. As if this wasn't extreme enough, Death Valley boasts the hottest, driest climate in North America. The Badwater Trail is certainly in keeping with the physical and mental challenge of the PCT, and brings new challenges as well. Much of the trail is paved, which is a completely different terrain than Sam's body is used to. Additionally, Sam is upping his daily mileage to two 50-mile days, one 35 mile day, finishing with the Mount Whitney summit on the fourth day. Currently, Sam has completed most of the trail and is camping at the base of Mount Whitney as I write. Tomorrow he will attempt to summit and then head to Walker Pass to finish the last 650 miles of the PCT, where I presume he will drink a margarita and take a long nap.

Tumbleweed

A few days ago, Marion and I hopped in the RV, which we parked on Sunset Boulevard and have been anxiously feeding the meter for every two hours, and maneuvered our way out of Los Angeles out to Death Valley. The drive took a little bit longer than expected, like three hours longer, but it was important that we stop and buy cupcakes for John since it was his birthday. Plus, we were too enthralled by the amazing scenery to care. As a New England native, born and raised, the sand dunes and compacted rock cliffs were completely alien to me, or maybe I was the alien, since it felt like I was on a different planet.  That you can see for miles, was a huge blessing, making our job of finding Sam on the trail easy. We didn't have to worry about getting lost on the wrong forest road, bad walkie talkie reception, or even Sam's spontaneous naps that foil our approximation of  his arrival, because there was only one road, and Sam was going to be next to it. Even if he did decided to curl up and take a nap, we would still be able to see him. At this point, Marion and I started belting out Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks.

Storm looming over Death Valley

Dark Skies

As predicted, we eventually found Sam, jogging at a steady pace and drove ahead to meet John and Eric, where we would film Sam arriving. Because Marion had promised Ben, Jeff, and Jon-Michael a full week off, which is completely necessary for the survival of this job, I worked the sound, and Marion worked the camera. After getting myself slightly tangled in the sound equipment, I managed to hook the lav mic up to Sam, while Marion filmed and interviewed him talking about the recent changes. As Sam was talking, dark heavy clouds rolled in overhead, and we heard thunder in the distance, preceded by flashes of lightening. Sam and Eric, who was to join Sam on the next stretch, agreed that being completely exposed to the storm in a wide open desert was not "prudent," and decided to wait for it to pass. Since Marion and I had lot of work to do in Los Angeles we left the boys in their warm and cozy RV, and drove, through the storm, back home. After a productive week here, we are headed to Walker Pass, where we will remain on the trail until the Mexican Border!

RV Chillin'

Until next time,

Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran