Archive for June, 2012

Rocky, Soggy, Dusty and Tired

I’ve been wanting to go after these two caches, Rocky Top & Soggy Bottom for years. But my timing has always been horrible – typically they hit my radar after a week of deluges. Then one of my caching buddies manages to remind me that the cache called Soggy Bottom is named for a very good reason; it’s soggy there on a regular day.

So it’s been rather dry here as of late. Unseasonably dry probably if you asked anyone. The moss in our backyard is as dry as the stuff you buy at a craft store; our plants are sad and pathetic, their poor leaves drooping sadly. Which is to say, the perfect time to go after a cache called Soggy Bottom. And so with an agenda of two legendary caches and some probably jeepin’ I marshaled the troops (loyal sidekick & Aquacache) and off we set.

We made decent time, considering that the caches are pretty much in the middle of nowhere. As we arrived at the parking it was clear there had been some rather large earth moving equipment in the vicinity in the recent past, but as you might expect, this not only didn’t daunt us, it really didn’t even seem like something that should have been a concern. Having done little homework aside from reading the cache page and knowing that a really old logging road, that was probably by now completely overgrown, was our route, we headed out. The logging road that we had spied soon disappeared – no surprise and nothing to panic about. We set about following the very dry, very gnat infested creek. Soon enough we had to give that up in order to start gaining in elevation – we were looking at a rise of 750 feet or so.

Predictably, this is where it got stupid. Loyal sidekick was leading the charge, with me close on his heels – not so close that I was going to get whacked with any shrubbery fling-back, but close.

And then came Aquacache, who was, I suspect probably wondering why he ever goes caching with us in the first place. After all the temps were well into the high 80’s, probably closer to 90 and there we were, semi-bushwhacking up a hillside that was more or less a veritable jungle of bugs and stinging nettle (the nettle was really on a concern to those of us in short pants).

As we slowly gained in elevation, it became clear that the direction in which we were heading was bad news BAD NEWS. I say that because the trees started to thin out and the sun was clearly visible, which is most certainly not a good sign. I’m not saying, “don’t go to the light!” I’m just saying that sunlight = briars. And while they were the variety bearing tasty blackberries or black raspberries, finding oneself in the middle of them was not going to be a good thing.

So we had no choice but to reverse course, drop down and make our way across a crevasse of unknown depth (through horrible stinging nettled). From there we headed back up again. Yay. This time I took the lead and, predictably, found the very nice, very wide, clearly well used old logging road.

The additional good news is that we were on the ridge top and things were relatively flat and, thanks to the well used nature of the “road” the pointy goodness was more or less confined to the sidelines.

Our jubilation lasted not long. Not long at all. As we trekked toward ground zero, the arrow pointing the way and the distance dropping pretty rapidly, we walked out into a horrible, horrible site. And I said, “Well that’s a Big Ball of SUCK.”

You see, the signs of the earth moving equipment we’d seen was from a very, very, very recently completed gas line. So recent that nary a bit of vegetation had sprung up from the hay covered dirt. We were maybe a few weeks late. Being the eternal optimist I held out hope that somewhere among the matted tree debris we would see the ammo can. That hope was fairly soon dashed when Aquacache zero’d out completely pretty much in the middle of the wide swath of hard packed earth.

Also, it sucked additionally because now we were standing out in the blazing sun. Big Ball of Suck indeed. But before we gave up and went back to the jeeps (and most definitely not the way we arrived) we checked the hint. Hmmmm, the cache is called Rocky Top and the hint implied that perhaps it could be found under a Big Rock. There was a Big Rock conveniently locate fairly nearby, although it was really stinking buried.

Still we poked and prodded and sidekick called pbump to see if he could assist us. He pretty much confirmed what we feared, that Rocky Top, having survived 8 years in the wilderness, was now buried under a hell of a lot of dirt.

And so we decided, because we are smart, we decided to follow this really wide, really dry, really covered in freakin’ hay “road” back to the jeeps. We. Are. Not. Smart.

This picture right above? I like to call it The Final Descent (into Stupidity). Because that ribbon clear on the bottom of the photo…yeah that’s the road, not a stream. And that’s where we needed to be. So those 750 we fought and clawed to gain, we were going to lose an awful lot of them awfully fast if we weren’t careful. So what did we do? We did what any good former skiers would do, wide slow turns across the face of the mountain.

So for reference, here’s our track log. You know, should you feel compelled to pack your shovel (mine happened to be in the jeep, not that it would have mattered) and go look for Rocky Top. A=things become iffy when we realize that thorny goodness is up ahead. B=Great Big Ball of Suck. C=DOWN.

chris on June 16th 2012 in Geocaching

It’s lovely on the beach

We took a short vacation in Wilmington, NC. I almost bagged the whole thing since the Weather Channel was screaming about some horrible tropical storm that was going to be making landfall about the same time I was due to pick Chad up at the Myrtle Beach Airport. But since Chad assured me it would all be ok, I headed out from (almost) Nashville and kept my fingers crossed.

Which is to say, I didn’t get the windows in the Jeep early enough on my drive and had to do an emergency pull off at a gas station with the shortest awning ever. I mean seriously, it was shorter than my Jeep.

Still it was a gorgeous day when I picked Chad up at the airport, which I managed to reach not too terribly long after he arrived. No mean feat since he arrived at 8:15 a.m. and I had been working on driving halfway across the country to fetch him (ok, so that may be a slight exaggeration).

At any rate, the weather was crazy perfect and after a delightful breakfast we headed to the beach to grab an Earthcache.

We had a lovely, relaxing vacation and managed to cram in a whole bunch of fun – that might be the opposite of relaxing now that I think of it. At any rate, here are some random pics. For once, I think I spent more time enjoying myself than worrying about photos. Maybe I am finally getting the hang of this “relaxing” thing!

chris on June 1st 2012 in Family, Travel