Archive for February 24th, 2009

Caching North of the Line

I was ecstatic to see the forecast for Saturday suddenly change from kinda maybe rainy with temps of something around 40 to sunny and 45 degrees. Wooohooo. Finally, Mother Nature was nicing up and setting her schedule to mine. The planets were aligned. All I needed was someone to come along and share the joy. Who else but my usual victim, Aquacache.

As usual this time of the year, the forecast may have promised a high of 45, but the forecast never really tells what time it may get to 45.  When we set sail in the mighty subie around 11:30, it was not quite 30 degrees. Things were perhaps not looking as up as I had anticipated.

Our first stop was right across the state line in Fayette County, PA. Seems there was a little cache there that I kept passing by. My faithful navigator gave me the heads up in enough time that I could turn on my blinker and gently pull into the parking. Safely disgorged I figured I’d give my new bluetooth Holux 240 a shot. Um, huh. Well all was well until I got to 41 feet. And then that was it. No matter where I went, I was 41 feet from the cache. How odd. Having no other choice (aside from playing “Hot / Cold” which is so way humiliating) I started looking around and HELLO…what’s that doing there? Eureka! I had the cache in hand.

Okey dokey. One under my belt and on to our real target, Revisiting Shannopin Mine (GC1K726). Last summer I’d found the now archived caches at Shannopin and I can tell you the area is ripe for a zombie hobo infestation.  Somehow I’d screwed up the courage to take take on those caches alone. I was not making the same mistake again. I was also fairly confident that I could run faster than Aquacache.

Again, it was still not very warm and for some reason I had no common sense when it came to wearing gloves or my snooty fancy hat. Nope, not a whit of sense. Our search was somewhat hampered. Hard to poke around really well when you’ve got your hands in your pockets and your neck burrowed into the collar of your jacket. Yep. Kinda hard. After about 20 minutes or so, I’d lost feeling in my toes and was beginning to be convinced that my ears had fallen off somewhere among the rubble.

I offered to run back to the car to try my hand at phone a friend. Aquacache laughed at my selfless offer and said, uh, nope, he was coming back to the car with me. The problem, once my fingers gained enough feeling to hold my phone, was that I had exactly ZERO  cell sevice here. Did I, the ever stubborn, DNF hating, cacher, persevere without a hint, trudging bravely back to ground zero, paying my painful fingers & toes no mind? Heck no. I cranked up the heat and headed out to the next closest cache where not only was cell service plentiful, but the sun provided a bit of heat.

And since we were already heading that way (which way? I dunno) we decided to try Browns Run Cache, a nice little multi on a short <how short? very short> stretch of new rail trail. This portion of our adventure involved me choosing as my perch a very cold steel beam. But I was in the sun and we’d found the cache. Still, my seat seamed awfully cold. Then I stood up…and realized that I’d been sitting in water. That’s right. I was WET. Very, soppy wet. All my layers. However, because I am prone to be overprepared when it comes to the stuff I have wedged in the Subie, I  was good to go. Not dry pants sadly, but at least a giant beach towel to save my car seats and hopefully help absorb some water from my 8 layers of clothes.

By the time we hit SGL 238 I was pretty much mostly dry. Guess all those layers of water wicking fabric really does do the trick! But next time I’ll try to look before I sit.  It was about 5 minutes into this hike when it dawned on me that riding the recumbent exercise bike for 45 minutes a day really was no way to get in shape for geocaching.

The good news was that the cache was not on the top of the hill – you know, that place you just assume a cache will be when you’ve chased after one too many wvcoalcat caches? Well it wasn’t there. Lucky day because I was running out of steam and the sun was starting to drift downward.

While Aquacache signed the log, I entertained myself photographing the pink peep in it’s natural habitat. It didn’t take much effort, peeps don’t move much at all. Probably something to do with not having legs which would have to be their main mode of transportation since they, as a species, appear to be some type of flightless fowl.

So there you have it. A full day of caching that culminated in a belly bursting meal at Apple Annie’s in Point Marion, PA. Pulled pork sandwhich….rocked.

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chris on February 24th 2009 in Geocaching