Archive for September, 2009

Caching in the RAIN

It was a dark and stormy day…that turned into a dark and stormy night. Oh sure, we’d managed to all rendezvous at the correct rendezvous spot in a timely manner. And the sun was peeking through the clouds giving a nice soft glow to the landscape. And so buoyed with optimism we (pbump, Mrs. Pbump, Knight Who Says Ni, Rock_Rat, Aquacache, Gentleman-Carpenter, Colecopes, A_Babe_in_the_Woods & yours truly) piled into our 3 vehicle caravan and headed off to parts unknown.

 

After a few quick finds we headed out to Mountwood Park which is where everything went to hell in a hand basket, a very large, wet hand basket.

 

The first sign that things were probably not going to go well the rest of the day (aside from the fact that in order to be able to see through the pelting rain, I had my windshield wipers going so fast they were nearly flung off the vehicle) was Mountwood park was awfully busy. AWFULLY BUSY. As in a throng of people & vehicles getting. It would seem that Volcano Days is a really quite big deal in Volcano. (this probably ended up saving us some grief since we had to re-route and pick some caches deeper in the park as our original plan of attack involved walking to several caches on a trail)

 

(An important thing to note is that all of us idiots are geocachers. And we knew there was a chance of rain. So we had rain gear. It wasn’t as if we were unprepared for what lay ahead. Nope. We were prepared. Or so it seemed, until our formerly waterproof gear started letting the wet through. And gortex shoes are awesome if water isn’t wicking down into them via drenched socks. The only piece of gear I had that proved its mettle was my Seattle Sombrero. Do they make a Seattle Body Suit?)

 

Five or so caches in and we were DRENCHED. Completely and utterly drenched. Wet. Wet. Wet. It was only 1:30 and our secondary rendezvous wasn’t until 6:00 in Ellenboro. That’s a long time to sit still (at least it is for me). And so with typical aplomb we agreed that we’d try for 3 more caches and then retreat to BW3 for warmth, food & beer. This is where it all went seriously, drastically and horribly wrong. WRONG. WRONG.

 

After grabbing The Mansion we set sight (or so I thought) on The Wall. Until pbump suggested we head for Jeep Cache GC1616T  and grab The Wall on the way back. I’ll let my cache log do the talking for this portion of the journey….

 

What idiot listens to anyone who tells her to ignore the closest cache and keep walking? Seriously? What kind of moron would do that? Just mosey a mere 400 or so feet past a perfectly good cache because “We can get it on the way back”? I’ll tell you what type of cacher with no higher brain function does that – this cacher. yep, Spotty Spotty Lobotomy Girl that’s who.

Marched right past The Wall and into the Field of Thorns of Doom. Now some of you may be shocked to read the next few statements, but you have to believe me that it is indeed true. So there we were, everyone but pbump who had set out on his own to rediscover the trail that he had followed on his original quest for this cache. And I was thinking that not only was I wet, but there was a perfectly good cache not too far behind us that did NOT involve the Field of Thorns of Doom. And so I sent pbump a message on my crackberry begging him to call us because this was just too much insanity. Next thing I know, the crackberry goes off and I have a minor discussion which involves pbump telling me there was only 50 feet of the Field of Thorns of Doom and then an open meadow. Me? I’m not impressed. and I’m not being responsible for dragging everyone else through the Field of Thorns of Doom. So I pass the phone on to Rock_Rat hoping he (who I assumed was smarter than he apparently is) would make an informed decision to NOT GO THROUGH the Field of Thorns of Doom. Boy did I misjudge that one!

Well if this gaggle of MAGPI was going through with this plan, I wasn’t leading. So Aquacache & I figured if we brought up the rear, at least there was a chance that the Field of Thorns of Doom would be mashed down a bit. And we waited and laughed and laughed. And then the phone jammed in my waistband began to ring. Could this get any more ridiculous? Oh yes, yes it would. It was sidekick who told me that “Hey there is a hazardous weather warning” And I lost it. I just started laughing LOUDLY (which then made me start hacking because I have this wicked amount of crud in my lungs) and said, “Uh, seriously? I’m standing in the middle of the Field of Thorns of Doom and I’m kind of wet.” Ah, comic relief.

So anyway, after what seemed like far more than 50 feet of the Field of Thorns of Doom we reached a bit of a meadow….if you squinted and soon came upon pbump who had given us up for dead.

The way back was easy peazy lemon squeezy as far as I was concerned. I’ll take a short downhill bushwhack and stroll in a wash any day over the Field of Thorns of Doom. After reaching the vehicles I showed sparks of my former brilliance by taking off my super soaked nasty gortex shoes & shocks and putting on flip flops so I could let my poor feet dry out. It didn’t take much for the group to decide that the best possible step would be to go to BW3 and dry out before our assault on Ikie’s Tomb after dark.

 

Once at BW3 I made a quick change into nice, happy dry clothes as did Knight Who Says Ni. It sure was nice to be dry. Particularly since this BW3 keeps the room at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Suffice to say, it was a little chilly when dry. The rest of the group looked like they were suffering from hypothermia.

After meeting up with 89SC and cramming him in one of the Jeeps we headed out for our date with destiny. I should probably point out that by now it had more or less stopped raining and we had a tiny faint hope that we could conduct the rest of our caching without rain gear. Yeah, fat chance of that. We hadn’t even gotten out of the vehicles at our first stop when the rain started up again. True, it was a sprinkling, but we knew it did not bode well for the old abandon cemetery portion of the night.

This entire trip had been planned around one cache Ikie’s Tomb Night Cache GC1XTFY. This is but a glimpse of the legend behind the now abandoned site….

In 1905 seven-year-old Ikie Mooring and his four siblings traveled to town for iced milk, which was a popular treat at that time. However, the milk was spoiled and within days all five children had died.


The distraught family built a tomb – a concrete basin to put Ikie and two of his sisters in. They wrapped up the children like mummies, with only their faces showing. The basin was filled with formaldehyde and the bodies floated inside. Ikie was placed in a small concrete coffin between his sisters. A concrete slab was placed over top with a small window over top of Ikie’s face. The two infant children were placed into two stone crocks, which were filled with formaldehyde to preserve the bodies. Folks who visited the tomb said you could take the lid off the crock, remove a layer of cotton and see the babies’ bodies. The parents put toys inside the tomb in remembrance of their departed children. Those items included a tricycle, wooden train, wagon, and several books.
 

Creepy-town right? Now put yourself there in the dark with the wind whipping through the trees and rain pelting down while you try not to trip on broken tombstones or get tangled in vines. All the while searching for a few glowing tacks in the woods. Spooky. Oh yeah. Every minute of it. Every last awesome minute of it.

(Disclaimer: it was far to wet to think about risking either of my cameras. I’ve fried enough electronics this year already. The gallery is of our group at the first cache & then the not so merry band emerging from Jeep Cache)

For Rock_Rat’s take on this fiasco, check out his post.

chris on September 29th 2009 in Geocaching

Freedom!

At long last I got my clean bill of health. And so a mere 1 hour from being released I was at the barn and ready to roll. I can’t say that Villain was exactly thrilled to see me  but I did produce an apple which may have changed his mind.

Fourteen weeks is a long time to be sitting around doing nothing (ok, I didn’t just sit and do nothing, but I am out of riding shape at any rate).  Long suffering husband pretty much figured that once I got my all clear from the surgeon he wouldn’t see much of me. Which is pretty accurate. I’ve got a lot of barn time to make up for.

And so what would an arm update be without a photo. Although you may be much disappointed to see that the scar has faded drastically. Yay for Vitamin E Oil.

chris on September 9th 2009 in Family

Fear Factor Saturday

With the arm nearly 13 weeks healed I was having a serious case of cabin fever (although it’s not as if I had been trapped in the house all summer). The best remedy I know of is to put out a call for cachers and see who takes the bait.  The targeted cache was Otter Creek Cache GC1VE27 by 89SC (who I had always considered a nice guy, but more about that change of heart later).

To get additional volunteers for this trip, the prospect of spending a Saturday hiking around the Mon National Forest in search of geocaches was sweetened by the possibility that I would cry like a baby – because to get to 89SC’s cache one has to cross a swinging bridge. And I fear loathe don’t like swinging bridges AT ALL. I like them even less when someone purposefully makes them swing.  And since there was a fire tower nearby that was reputed to sway noticeably that was thrown into the mix, how could I refuse? Because everyone knows what a big fan of heights I am.  Oh yes, huge fan. So the question was, would the lure of a geocache be enough to force me to overcome my fears? Welcome to FEAR FACTOR SATURDAY ladies and gentlemen.

The good news was that this particular swinging bridge didn’t so much swing nor did it bounce much, despite attempts by certain persons who wanted to see me crawl to safety.  TEST #1 – Done and done.

Once safely across the not-so-swinging-swinging-bridge-of-doom we were met with our first obstacle on the way to Swinging Bridge….a steep hill and a GPS that indicated the cache was UP.

If left to my own devices I’d have seen that arrow point up and taken off straight up the side, paying no heed to the rambling game trails or the stinging nettle in my way. However I was trying to be polite since colecops had never cached with me before [I also thought maybe if I violated my “good pony behavior” parole sidekick would keep a closer eye on me until I was fully released by my doctor.]  So there I stood, looking at my map and pondering when someone said, “Well are you gonna stand there all day?” I explained that I was trying to be nice. At which point 89SC agreed that if it was just him he’d already be up at the top. That was about all the encouragement I needed. Up we went, stinging nettle and mud be damned. Which thrilled loyal sidekick who happened to be wearing shorts on this trip.

Much to my delight the hill climb was not so easy and the signal bounce was about medium which meant that the 60CSx was saying the cache was there…no wait THERE….oops, definitely THERE! [Pretty much this is the same thing all the GPSr’s were saying so no shame to mine. Not much you can do when the darn cache won’t hold still.] The good news is that most of us have been hunting Lock-n-Locks & Ammo Cans long enough that we’ve got a pretty good sense of where to look (foreshadowing). So after looking in about 35 places, 89SC and I saw the 36th that was the winner! Yay!

Log signed, cache replaced we hurled ourselves down the hill, through the stinging nettle (long pants are awesome) and back to the trail. Onward to Otter Creek Cache & some really nice photo ops before the rain caught up with us. (Including a shot of Gentleman-Carpenter’s sweet made in China hat for his gi-normous noggin. You just can’t beat an $8 hat. Especially when the $50 hats won’t fit.)

Despite the heavy tree cover & stupid rain (which thanks to the heavy tree cover really didn’t get us wet) the cache was found handily. Of course it always helps to have the cache owner with you saying encouraging things such as, “Yeah I only had 60 ft of accuracy here.” Yep, that’s why we invited him along all right.  We were rather hoping that since it had been a near monsoon at home that Otter Creek would be running high so sidekick could get some awesome photos. I’m not sure how it was possible for the area to be so wet in general, but the creek to be so low. But it was. Mother Nature…go figure.

After crossing the not-so-swinging-swinging-bridge-of-doom again (net result, despite tries to get it to swing the worse that happened was that we staggered ON the bridge as if drunk) and getting back to the cars it was time to head to Olson Tower, FEAR FACTOR SATURDAY Test #2.  I’m thrilled.  As we headed to the cars 89SC (who I still at this point thought was a pretty nice guy) pointed out that it wouldn’t be so bad on the tower today because the fog made it very difficult to see how far up you really were. Yeah, that’s encouraging. Thanks.

As we rolled up I could see that perhaps he may be right. We could barely discern the top of the tower from the parking spot. Maybe Test #2 wouldn’t be so bad after all! On the other hand, there did appear to be more of a storm brewing on the far tree line and that could not possibly be good news.  There I stood hand on rail, foot on first step, waiting. I’m not sure what I was waiting for (perhaps common sense to win out?) but I was waiting. Until I heard (again with the peanut gallery…) “What are ya waitin’ for?”  Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be poked. And I considered that a poke. “FINE,” I said and started up, which seemed like a good idea for about 3 steps.

And then the wind started and the fog began to blow off and I realized I was WAY FREAKIN’ UP IN THE AIR….like above the tree tops (which is kinda where a fire tower has to be)

I was fortunate, on some level, to be at the front because I knew if I chickened out, I was going to have to let everyone (everyone but Gentleman-Carpenter who had sense and stayed on the ground to guard our cars) pass me. Man O’Day, those stairs are narrow and small. No way was I letting anyone pass me on those bad boys.

As it was, poor sidekick was in the middle of the pack and about halfway up the tower had some second (and third) thoughts about the brilliance of this plan what with the trees swaying like mad and the evil clouds which were now visible thanks to the dissipation of fog. However, after steeling himself (and figuring if I made it to the top and he didn’t he would never hear the end of the mocking) up he came. Not that he was happy about it.

Even less happy than sidekick was Colecops who probably only made it to the top due to the fact that she was directly behind me – the thought of being passed on those steps is a mighty fine motivator. Upon reaching the last platform she was happy to sit and hold tight while I attempted to get the cache.

I could see the cache. I could reach the cache. And I could even unscrew the cache. I held onto that log for dear life while scribbling our names on there. And then the moment of truth – putting the cache back. It was about then that I looked at 89SC who was laughing maniacally as the wind whipped through the tower and I could clearly see trees in the next state swaying wildly & I called him a name usually reserved for wvhunter.

After successfully replacing said cache (oh 89SC I really did used to think you were a pretty nice guy) I had a moment of courage so I took a shot of Gentleman-Carpenter WAY FREAKIN’ DOWN BELOW, just to prove that at least one of us had common sense.

The walk down was much faster than the climb up, although (to me at least) fraught with way more peril since I could see all the way down to the forest floor which was WAY, WAY below.  Safely on the ground I realized how bad my legs must have been shaking on the way down because my quads were a big mess of uncomfortable. None-the-less, FEAR FACTOR SATURDAY Test #2 – done.

After a brief recovery, we headed out to find Flanser Trail (where we were pretty sure a pack of velociraptors would be waiting at the cache site). The storm which had been brewing all day decided to send us some rain but we were soon under thick tree cover again, making the whole place that much darker, wetter and frought with possible axe murderers (and dinosaurs).

Clearly fed up with the lack of fear during FEAR FACTOR SATURDAY, 89SC parted ways with our group as we headed off to Canyon Rim Cache. The “road” to said cache gave the GCC Light a pretty good test of her durability, especially with the weight of 5 cachers & all their stuff. Upon arrival at the parking coords, Gentleman-Carpenter (in yet another display of common sense) volunteered to hang out by the car & direct traffic while the rest of us bumbled off to our date with Test #3 (although at the time I didn’t know there was a third test).

Unbeknownst to me there was a little side test thrown in for Colecops called “Don’t do what SSPG does.”  My standard disclaimer is, just because I did it doesn’t mean I expect you to do it.  Which is not to say I’m not above mocking someone who doesn’t live up to my high expectations, it just means I don’t expect other to be as foolhardy as I am.

Colecops test came in the form of a stream crossing. I (being the smart pony) was wearing my awesome Teva water shoes. So I hiked up my pants and walked through stream. Oh sure I could have rock hopped, but why bother. That’s why I bought the fancy shoes in the first place. Before anyone could stop her, Colecops hiked up her pants & waded through too – only she was wearing gortex hiking boots…and the water was over the top of the boots. To which Aquacache said, “You’ll learn not to do what she does.

Eventually we made it down the very mountain laurel-y trail and the arrow swing to 90 degrees and there was a big ol’ rock face staring at us. Uh, what? I had not read the cache description. Certainly it wasn’t UP THERE…but wait. This cache was placed by seneca rocks….oh yeah, and Aquacache had already found it. And he assured us it was indeed UP THERE. Oh freakin’ yay.

And this was when I realized that sidekick was pretty much over telling me what I wasn’t allowed to do any more. Not sure if he was just tired of saying no and getting wicked looks or if, quite frankly, he didn’t care any more since I was so close to being turned loose. At any rate I was mightily grateful to be able to clamber around on the rocks without being chastised. And then the rain started. Oh boy did it ever. By the time I scrambled into my rain coat it had stopped, of course, but that extra layer of protection meant I was ready to go hard core my friends. No thorns were going to stop me now! Which was good because around that time we decided to read the cache page and realized we were, in fact, on the wrong pile of rocks.

By the time I made it through the thicket of mountain laurels and other shrubbery and up the side of the correct rock formation I was tired, hot and thinking that perhaps this had not been my most brilliant plan of all times. And then I saw the Tupperware. “GOT IT!” I shouted to which I heard a disembodied voice say, “Where ARE you?”

After scrambling safely down we headed back to the trail and the overlook.

After a long day of caching we headed to Cool Springs for a delicious post-caching meal of goodness. Of course since Colecops had not found the Cool Springs Teepee cache we mandated that before being allowed back in the GCC Light she had to give it a go. And she was willing to make it every start of the 5 start terrain it was rated.

And because we have no common sense, despite being exhausted and sore and now stuffed with food, we headed out to Marquess so that Gentleman-Carpenter & Colecops could try their luck at Marquise du Poney Apercu and so I could procure the DM09 token. It turned out to be a good thing that I was along as Gentleman-Carpenter’s GPSr was pretty much done caching and was of very little help after stage 1. I think, in fact that it was trying to kill him by pointing him across the road. Loyal sidekick, Aquacache & I looked on in amusement for some time before the two seekers asked for a hint.

By the time they had final in hand poor sidekick was on the verge of delirium and I wasn’t far behind. It was time to call FEAR FACTOR SATURDAY done and head for home where ibuprofen was plentiful and couches were soft & comfy.

Thanks for playing gang.

chris on September 4th 2009 in Geocaching