Archive for the 'Geocaching' Category

Mammoth Cave Grand Avenue Tour

In which I can’t remember the name of our tour and we do a good deed on the water.

9:00 am tour means wake up, cram some breakfast and get to the Visitor Center. Fortunately we our adorable little cabin was right outside the park entrance.

While the previous day’s tour was a relatively small group, this one was 79 people, plus a ASL interpreter and two Rangers. There were A LOT of people.  Now, yesterday our instructions from the Ranger were for all the slow walkers to go to the front, that way the group pace would be dictated by them and not get all strung out. So, going with that idea, we figured we’d stay towards the back because there seemed to be a wide variety of folks on this tour, including families and some older limping folks. (And no, I’m not being judge-y YET.)

So, we end up behind a lady with two children, maybe in the 6 – 10 age range. I mean seriously, I have no idea. I was going by size. Anyway, we end up being WAY strung out clear at the back. Chad was stopping to take photos, but mostly the folks in front of us were not going at a pace that was quick. The Ranger doing the sweep says to Chad, if you want to take photos, you’re better off being up front. Good to know.

Once the group reassembles into a group, not a line, we jockey for some space behind folks who’s appearance indicates they would keep pace with us. We were wrong. Just because you order from REI does not mean you are not slow, meandering walkers. Duly noted.  Repeat jockeying for a better spot. At this point I have seen enough of the group as it starts to stretch out to know who I’m going to run over walking at my normal pace, and where we should be for maximum walking efficiency. The key is to get there.

Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, I realize that I need to start some calm breathing because I am going to start shoving people out of my way, leaving Chad in my wake if they don’t A. hurry up and B. shut the hell up with their inane prattling about everything under the gosh darn sun except this cave. I don’t care about your boyfriend & your new job. SHUT UP! Yes, I know I have issues.

The slow walkers aside, the Grand Avenue Tour was incredible. It really way. We say huge, cavernous rooms that were on some level almost unbelievable. We walked through long tubes that had ceilings so high it was shocking to think about the water that had carved them. There was what I can only describe as a slot canyon where being my size really paid off! The Cave was in every sense of the wore awesome.

And then we got to the stalactites and stalagmites portion of the cave, Frozen Niagara. WOW! What a finale. Just so impressive and wonderous!

Obviously our photos did not do our tour justice. They could not. This was most certainly an experience where you put the camera away (which we did), and take in what you are seeing so you can remember it.

 

Intermission

Having popped down to look at the Green River by the Ferry yesterday, we were eager to put our kayaks in the water. The river looked to be moving pretty well and we’d heard there was a cave you could explore via kayak. Sign us up! The only dicey part, was that today, like every other stupid day, possible thunderstorms were on the horizon.

The livery service said they were still doing trips, which was good enough for us!

Small or not, kayaking in a cave was so very amazing! Fog rolled out from the mouth onto the river, as we drifted into the mouth. It was cool and quiet inside. Dark, but not frightening.

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Alas, that was the best part of the river, which turned out to be slow. Very slow. Sweet Jesus did was paddle hard to keep moving at a decent pace.

The livery driver, Joe, had asked us to look for a new blue cooler that someone had just recently lose when his canoe tipped. He told us it would be tangled in some roots, close to the end of the trip. I figured there was no way we’d see it. But sure enough, right about the spot he said to start looking there was a blue cooler, wedged under the roots of a tree! Chad managed to wrestle the cooler from the roots! I tethered it to his deck and we headed for the Green River Ferry take out!

We never did find out what the mystery way, however. 

 

chris on May 30th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel

Mammoth Cave Violet Lantern

In which I can’t remember Violet City and keep wanting to call it Violent City, because apparently I have issues.

Forecast for today: rain, additional rain, possibly some thunderstorms, following by high levels of mugginess. Then more rain.

The Plan

Get a virtual cache

Hike a few miles

Grab lunch

Cave tour

How it shook out

Nice little half mile hike around a pond, gathering information from the signs to complete the virtual geocache.

Drive up to a different section of the park, near the horse trailer camping area and head out to do some hiking. To get there we had to take the Green River Ferry. Which could hold 3 cars at once. It was fun! 

Light sprinkles. Rain jackets on. Sweat. Rain jackets off.  We were under tree cover, so it wasn’t that bad as far as us getting wet from the sky, as opposed to use getting wet via sweat. And then RAIN JACKETS ON!!!!  We clocked in at probably around 5 miles. Someone hadn’t properly cleared her GPS tracklog, so it was an educated guess going on a trail map and the feeling of our legs.

Lunch. This included Chad having a heated discussed with our contractor about the wall project that was going on at home. It was not the most relaxing of lunches.

Violet City Lantern Tour. If you go to Mammoth Cave, do yourself an enormous favor and take this tour before you take any others. To see the cave by old school oil lantern light is such a distinct and different experience. As our guide said, this is the tour where you don’t so much learn about Mammoth Cave. You learn about what Mammoth Cave means to you, personally; how it affects each person differently. He was right. Seeing the Cave vaguely lit by the glow of the lanterns made the full reveal the next day far more impressive.

 

chris on May 29th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel

Geowoodstock Day 2 – wherein it is insanely hot still

Our plans for Sunday were simple. Obligatory early wake up, thanks to the transparency nature of our tent, grab a snack and head to our kayak put in of choice – labeled as a Public Access site on the map.  We’d drop Keith’s Jeep there and then head to the put in up river, saving ourselves the livery costs for the trip.

Except…while the Public Access spot did indeed lead to the river, it wasn’t exactly watercraft friendly. Not even for our kayaks!  Or to be more accurate, you could probably ride a kayak down the mud flume trail right into the river, but you’d be hard pressed to get yourself, let alone yourself and your kayak out!

Therefore, Plan A was a no go. On to Plan B.  Go back past the campground to a public access boat ramp on East Fork Lake in the WMA section of the park. Then take a long rambling drive to another boat ramp to put in. It was then 11:00 am and insanely hot & humid. Needless to say, by the time we finished paddling, we were hot, grubby, tired and hungry.  

 

It was a quiet afternoon in the campground. Mostly it involved sitting and sweating. So much sweating. And possibly falling asleep in chairs.

 

chris on May 27th 2018 in Blogroll, Geocaching, Travel

Geowoodstock 2018 Cincinnati, Ohio

The Day

Chad and I lit out for Cincinnati and the experience that is Geowoodstock after work on Friday. It was a slog of a trip after work, but even with a food stop, Chad managed to beat Google’s predicted time of arrive.  We rolled into the campground at 10:47 pm to find the greeting committee awaiting our arrive, and the tent and air mattress ready for a good night of sleep!

We were up bright and early since the birds and sun left us little choice. It worked out for the best, because instead of Geowoodstock starting at  10:00 am as originally planned, it was bumped up to 9:00 am. A fact we learned when all the phones started beeping amid the stunned pre-coffee silence.

Geowoodstock was HOT. Insanely hot, even at that early hour. The good news was Cooney Island had plenty of pavilions to provide shade. However, we felt compelled to walk around getting the Lab Caches. Which meant we were mostly covered in a layer of sunblock, then bug spray, then sweat, then whatever dirt had stuck to the sweat.

After a delicious BBQ lunch, our merry group split up – the Bumps seeking relief from the heat back at the campground, which Chad, Kris, Marlene, Keith & I decided to go caching, despite the ominous clouds heading our way. We picked what appeared to be a nice little park with a loop trail and a variety of caches and headed off. Before we even got to the trailhead, Kris had found a rather nice walking stick with a carved wooden raccoon head.

So….the trails on Google Maps did not exactly match up with reality. And the Garmin maps showed no trails. Which left us flailing at certain points and finally, on the final push to finish up and get the hell out of the park before the impending storm hit, off on some game trail that was leading back to one of the trails we’d started on. While that was great to get to the cars, it was not so good for the caches that ended up eluding us.

The Night

There were three night caches to tackle within miles (but not within minutes) of our campsite. There were two traditionals, with half the coordinates to a third in each. So we headed out to the parking – located by an RC field, where we impatiently waited for the flyers to finish up. After all, the sign stated that the field closed at dusk. Which was now, right? Like 8:30? Clearly it had to be dusk already. 

Headlights bobbled down the road, as our debate about the definition of dusk was heating up. We had still not come to a satisfying conclusion about the time of dusk, since there were so many types. (Astronomical Dusk will be the name of my band, fyi.) We were soon joined by three cachers from Puerto Rico who’d had the same caches in their sights. When you’re a cacher, it’s not that insane to trundle off in the dark into the woods with complete strangers.

Off we marched through the sloppy wooded terrain, the start of the trail being immediately up, slightly dicey bit of footing. Then once on top, cross a ditch that mostly required going INTO the ditch, before scrambling up and hoping you weren’t covered in mud when you emerged. The fire tacks were well placed and easy to track. The terrain? Ah yes. Downed trees, poison ivy, mud, hills, pointy things. The usual. And on we went, crossing ditches, going up only to come back down. Rinse and repeat.

At long last we hit the last set of fire tacks and then had to do the hocus pocus magic of projecting a waypoint to the final location. So picture it, eight people searching in the dark by flashlights, trampling through the woods, tripping over tree debris, looking for….we did not know! Until finally, “GOT IT!”  One down.

Now from there, it was a matter of going down the hill, back across the flying field, and up a different hill. Of course. We could see flashlights bobbing around in the woods, as we approached the start of the cache. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who thought tonight was a great night for night caching!

Cache #2 was more of the same, but worse. More mud, more slipping, more up and down on trails that were dicey, at best. So basically, fun. At the super weird tree, we ran into the cachers we’d been following. They seemed somewhat flummoxed. Eventually they headed out. We waited until they were well on their way, before projecting a waypoint and trying to figure out what in the hell we were supposed to do.

As we made the final push up the hill to what should be the final, the aforementioned cachers passed us on their way back, saying, “Thank you for letting us have this experience.” Ok, then. We weren’t actively trying to be that nice. We were just trying to not overwhelm them with our group of eight.

It was not easy to find the final. Not. Easy. The deal was we found a smilie face made from fire tacks and the instructions said the cache was within 30 feet of this tree. In the dark. In a forest. It was not a quick search. Fortunately Aquacache came up with the final, to the entire group’s great relief.

Log signed, we trooped back down the hill to the cars, taking the most direct route. Because that is what you do when you’ve been hiking through the woods in the dark for hours.   

After a brief discussion – “What? It’s 11 already?” – we decided that the final was best left for the next night. Which of course we never managed to pull off!  

chris on May 26th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel