Explore West Virginia Day 2

It was with much relief that I remembered to set the clock back an hour before passing out in the fluffy comfort of my room at the Fairfield Inn Beckley. The day had been one heck of a road trip, starting at 5:30 a.m. for me and ending way too close to midnight.

Morning came much too early for my liking, as it is prone to do of course. But we had a time to  indulge in delicious breakfast before it was time for  MAGPI to regroup(re-gaggle?) to check out. Which was when we found out that it was a whopping 24 degrees outside. “Twenty-four what?” was my gape-mouthed response to the well meaning lady who had imparted said information.  Degrees. Fahrenheit. As in below freezing. As in, my windows will need scraped. As in, where the hell are my long johns. Sigh….let’s roll I guess.

So with the obligatory group photo and ice scraping out of the way, we headed out to the Beckley Exhibit Coal Mine, where, following Knight Who Says Ni’s instructions, we parked and then started walking away from the cache. Uh, Cache is over there…like near the cars, someone noted. Oh she knew, she knew. But you can’t get there from here. And so you’d best just catch up you slackers

Much like Day 1, Day 2 of MAGPI Takes a Long-Arse Drive started with a frigid hike up a hill. Oh boy. My FAV-O-RITE. And on a full tummy no less. Please let this not be an omen of things to come.

Just as we crested the confounded hill among much wheezing and complaining we met a nice gentleman who assumed that we (yes all seven of us, who were clearly not out for brisk morning exercise, judging by the amount of complaints) were new to town and were unaware that this park had a quite nice walking trail. Great. Thanks. Don’t care. Please move along now. Which he did, eventually. In exactly the direction the arrow was telling us to head. Awesome.

I guess it was a good thing that we were more along the stagger in the cold like zombies mode of movement because by the time we finally got to ground zero, he was out of sight.

Targeted cache number one taken care of, we rolled back down the hill and were on our way to the New River Gorge.

It’s pretty much impossible to say anything about the New River Gorge that has not been said before and in more eloquent terms, so I’ll just post some pics and say we really did put ourselves behind schedule by taking our time to enjoy the drive. (Don’t forget to clickity click at the bottom of the post for the full gallery.) But isn’t that what this caching challenge is all about?

Our fun at the NRG coming to an end we headed out to parts unknown. (Oh wait, that was last night’s portion of this trip.) We actually headed out for the Greenbriar River Trail, or at least a part of it.

You make one small navigational mistake and the next thing you know the entire group leaves you behind. I guess that was their way of getting revenge for us trying to lose them on the way out of Lillyhaven last night.  Fortunately for our beleagured group it was a short walk on the trail, but that was enough to convince me that I need to load up my bike and hit the trail. It’s too nice a trail in a beautiful part of the state to be satisfied with this quick fly by (although I can not tell you have joyful I was that it wasn’t a 10 mile bike ride to the cache….getting a little stale on the seat time at this point in our adventure).

After a quick find and a near miss by wvhunter (DON’T BACK UP!!!!! There’s a car there. Holy carp!) the little black jeep re-took it’s status as lead vehicle  and headed to Hills Creek Falls.

I probably should mention that by this time the sun had come out and taken the bitter evil chill out of the air. It was actually kind of pleasant in the jeep and I had downgraded from all three layers of my parka to just one. That is until we got to Hills Creek Falls and saw….SNOW. Oh yeah. Snow. On the ground.

I really, really wanted nothing more than to stay in the nice warm vehicle listening to music and perhaps fit in a snooze while everyone else went after the cache, but it was made pretty darn clear that if I did that, my name was not going to be in the log book. Grumble, grumble, grumble. The things I do for a smiley. Hrumph.

There was another car in the parking lot, which seemed odd considering the aforementioned snow, until we found out (by way of wvhunter’s geo-vehicle being discovered) that it was phyrfly & technomountaineer. Guess we aren’t the only cachers throwing common sense to the wind.

I’d say we took a mighty circuitous way to the cache, but it was worth the laugh I got when I rounded the corner to see pbump on his hands and knees digging at the base of a tree. It was only made better when Knight Who Says Ni walked to the other side of the tree, moved a log and said, ‘I got it!”  That alone was totally worth getting out of the car, no matter how many layers of parka I had to put on!

It was hard to get a good view of the falls since there was snow on the boardwalk and as we all know Wood + Snow = Falling. (No, I didn’t fall, thanks for asking.)

Since the next (and final for us) stop was Cass Railroad. And since the bumps had already tackled that cache we said our fond farewells, hard to hear over the chattering teeth, piled back in the now cold vehicles and headed out.

We arrived, via a long series of curves, hairpin turns, and cutbacks that made me thankful I’d doled out Dramamine to my navigator, at Cass around sunset. It was still and very, very creepy. That quiet that signals bad things are just waiting for dark. We made haste to the cache and since it was starting to approach bitter again, with the wind picking up and the last vestiges of sunlight going down made a quick decision to go home via Elkins so we could seek gas and dinner.

It was a long, hard, cold two days of driving and caching with some food thrown in to keep us going. But damn it was one good time.

Author’s note: As a native West Virginian I am astonished about all the places this series of caches led me. Some I had never heard of (Hills Creek Falls for instance), some I had never bothered to go see (Matewan Flood Wall) and some I have visited over and over (New River Gorge for instance). I just want to say Thanks to all those who organized this ExploreWV Challenge. I had a blast.

chris on November 22nd 2010 in Geocaching

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