The Good, The Bad & The (not so) Ugly

When the likes of wvcoalcat puts out three caches in Snake Hill WMA  and names them The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, you pretty much know what you are up against.  And yet I, the seasoned cacher and maker of decisions ranging from Poor to Very Poor, felt overly compelled to run out and get my hands dirty (and most likely my legs cut up and my feet sore and possibly my arms bruised).  And since my loyal and trusty (and far smarter than I) sidekick was busy with his master plan to expand our fish pond to make it the envy of the neighborhood, I called upon my standard victim / fill in babysitter, Aquacache.

Being uncharacteristically sluggish we didn’t reach the parking coordinates for The Good until well after 10:00 am.  And since we’d heard reports back that the cache had taken anywhere from 3 hours to 5 hours we figured we had plenty of time to take a completely different approach. After all, we were going to cache smarter, not harder. Thus armed with a fancy waterproof topo trail map of Snake Hill, a printed topo with the caches  plotted, topos loaded in the GPS, descriptions loaded in the phones and the Palm, we set out to show wvcoalcat what type of MAGPI we were. There were bad decisions just begging to be made. And time was a wasting.

THE GOOD. As the cache description indicated it was, well, not too bad which made it inherently good. We chose the proper path, didn’t have to bushwhack and the next thing we knew we were right on top of it. Almost literally. Aquacache indicated that he was clearly standing on top of  the cache.  I was already feeling that a goodly amount of time had passed since we had begun our outing and I had not lived up to my reputation as a champion BAD decision maker. And so, with my reputation to uphold (and being the nice cacher that I am) I offered to go into the dense shrubbery for The Good.  Typical of my caching style, I plunged right into the thicket of shrubbery, which was not awesome since I was wearing my big backpack and my big fancy Seattle Sombrero and my last remaining pair of sunnies. While I was thusly entangled, Aquacache decided to descend via a nice wide open path and found the can before I could disengage myself.

After I had freed myself and we’d signed the log, noted (and photographed and plugged into the Garmins) one half of the coords required for The Ugly,  Aquacache and I took stock of the situation.  (And I steal this next bit straight from his log) “While looking down off the rocks in the direction of the next cache in the series, I had serious doubts that I would ever make it back up that hill alive, so I suggested an alternative route … it would be longer, but MUCH flatter. Thankfully, SSPG agreed and we headed back to the Jeep. I was really starting to get worried when we once again made all the correct choices and made it back to the parking way too easily. Something is going to go very wrong on these next two …”

THE BAD. From the cache description “about a 2.8 mile trek from the parking area  and the terrain varies from mild to strenuous (this makes it bad because, remember, one has to hike back out of here).”  Since we’d decided that instead of undertaking terrain of possible doom (and having the topo we knew what we were avoiding), we headed out past where Villain used to live and began our descent Down the Cheat. And yet Karma was going to find a way to get back at us for thwarting our natural instincts to make poor decisions. Oh yes. It wasn’t going to be the straight forward drive down to the Hole That Ate Ppro’s Jeep. Not this time. Nope.

We had not gone very far when faced with our first obstacle. Overhanging shrubbery. Now I’m not talking about some nice arbor vitae that can be arranged by your front porch or some barberry bushes to plant under windows. No. I’m talking about overhanging vines and saplings and all kinds of twisted mess that was, as far as we were concerned, a net. Sure, the ATVs that frequent this road made it through but the AquaJeep was just a tad bit larger.

Karma is not very nice.

We had no choice but to start chopping shrubbery with the machete (that’d be Aquacache, not me. I’m strictly prohibited from even harboring thoughts about having a machete, let alone using one) and throwing it over the hill (my job, no one can say I don’t pull my own weight on these expeditions).  Needless to say our descent took at least twice as long as it should have and completely wiped me out. I was covered in dirt (yes, yes I fell), scrapes and generally pretty much worn out. Which was not very exciting since once we got to the Hole That Ate Ppro’s Jeep, we had a 6 mile round trip hike ahead of us.

Even though we had to gain altitude to reach the cache, we did so mostly via a nice big logging road and so while going up is never fun, it sure beats (I’m assuming anyway) coming in from the top of Snake Hill, or rather going BACK UP to the top of Snake Hill. We chose wisely on several occasions when presented with multiple road options (this rarely happens when I’m along) and were eventually rewarded with a path that seemed to be heading us exactly where we needed to be. Arriving at Ground Zero we started our search. Thankfully it wasn’t too long before I heard the familiar sound of hiking pole striking ammo can. We settled in to sign the log and I made the wretched mistake of taking off my pack and finding a comfortable sitting spot. Not exactly my smartest move since I was approaching really rather exhausted at this point.

To plagiarize borrow once again from Aquacache’s log…..”With us making all of the right decision thus far (except for SSPG going the wrong way around the rocks at The Good), things were definitely going to get Ugly soon and one of us would probably end up in the hospital … or worse.”

THE UGLY. Gathering ourselves to face the inevitable,  Aquacache & I slowly struck out from The Bad and headed toward The Ugly. We had lots of choices to make and we were exhausted. Due to mandatory road maintenance mentioned early just getting to Down the Cheat had taken it’s toll. We were hungry, our feet hurt  and I really wanted a nice cold Coke. if it was going to go (figuratively) downhill, this is when it was going to happen. Tired people make bad decisions.

But not today my friends. Not today. Today we chose the perfect path from The Bad to The Ugly. There was no bushwhacking through 1/4 mile thicket of thorns, no scaling a 50 foot rock cliff, no backtracking, no confusion. Just a nice stroll. In the woods. To an ammo can placed by wvcoalcat.  An ammo can that I found handily, retrieved handily and put back without so much as a thorn getting stuck in my skin.

Today we marked a new page in MAGPI history.

chris on May 3rd 2010 in Geocaching

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