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Vengeance is Ours: Bear Run

Failure is not an option, which is not true. Failure is always an option, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I might be good at it, but I…DO….NOT….LIKE….IT

Today my friends, Vengeance is Mine.


I spent a good bit of the early spring and summer nursing my wounded pride from the epic failed assault on  Wanna Go to the Can on Bear Run? It rankled and picked at me, like a nasty rough wool blanket. So it came as no surprise to anyone that I eagerly answered Country_Rat’s call for volunteers to tackle this cache for his 200th Find. No one ever said I was very smart.

The day dawned early, very early. And after a wretched late night of watching WVU play what passes for football these days, I wasn’t really what you’d call in prime hiking shape. None-the-less I stood glassy-eyed in the foyer, grasping my travel coffee mug amid gear and superfluous gear when Aquacache rang our wicked-loud doorbell that morning.

After making sure I had all my gear (and superfluous gear) sidekick patted me on the head and shoved me out the door, happy to let someone else be subjected to me all day – I suspect sidekick was eager for some peace and quiet to nurse his WVU football related anger before heading out to watch the Steelers play in Pittsburgh.

Running behind as always (my fault) the mighty AquaJeep sped ahead to the familiar meeting triangle of Rt. 50 / 92. And although Captain OCD was not to be joining us this fine, overcast, chilly morning I called ahead to let Rock_Rat, Country_Rat  and Gentleman-Carpenter know we were en route.

Since Aquacache had already been to the high clearance parking twice, he was elected to lead the small convoy (do 2 Jeeps count as a convoy? I’m kinda hazy on the number of vehicles required) to our destination.  We arrived at the low clearance parking to find the creek shockingly low. So low it barely even splashed as we drove across. Since Rock_Rat’s Jeep is the four-door variety, there was some discussion and scouting before a decision was reached to trudge onward and hopefully cut off some more distance (in hindsight this proved to be our best decision all day!). After finding a nice large, flat parking spot we tumbled out of the vehicles and set about putting on our gear.

And so here I have a happy little off topic paragraph about how in love I am with all the new fancy outdoor gear that is thin and lightweight but yet amazingly warm. I had on layers and layers (like a good little hiker) and by most outward appearances I seemed to still be a normal sized person in normal clothes, not some abdominal snowblob waddling up the trail. Yay for science!

Back to our story. This began much like the typical wvcoalcat cache does, walking on a trail / tram road / fire road and watching the distance between you and the cache go up while the arrow swings wildly around taunting you. At one point I (despite my experience) opened my mouth and the following words emerged, “Are we going the right way?” I just couldn’t help it. There is always something unsettling about getting further and further away from a ‘coalcat cache while walking down hill. Inevitable we were going to have to go up, up, up and then after finding the oxygen tanks stashed for any cachers brave enough to come this way, continue up, up and more up before reaching our goal.

And so we did. We climbed over downed trees, slid on loose leaf litter, stumbled blindly into holes (that would be me, mostly) and took lots of breaks. At one point we lost the trail. Finding it again was not so exciting since it went straight up the side of a smaller hill. Oh boy! My favorite, UP! Eventually we hit that point where we could continue on the trail as it (hopefully) wound slowly up to the top of the hill or just go for it.

Much like he did at Tater Knob, Country_Rat led the pack with a pace that seemed to indicate that he was on a pleasant stroll in the woods. I suspect he is insane. At any rate, the final ascent was not something that was enjoyable or pleasant which is why I forged ahead, looking down at my feet and thinking “well at least it isn’t icy”. Gasping for breath and wondering about my propensity to do stupid things, I crested the hill as Country_Rat said nonchalantly, “You see it?” to which I replied “Why yes I do – it’s over there.” (it was probably more like, ‘uh-huh’…gasp….point with hiking stick in general direction of cache…flop down on fallen tree).

A little while later, after my heart had returned to a normal beat and my legs had regained some feeling, Gentleman-Carpenter, Rock_Rat  and Aquacache arrived, stumbled toward us and the relief of a nice comfy tree to sit upon. Bless ‘coalcat for his consideration of such things when placing his cache

We signed the log book, took photos, enjoyed delicious food (yum, Twizzlers!), some “Vitamin I” and tried not to think about the descent, which was definitely going to include sliding, slipping, stumbling and possibly rolling if we were desperate. After enough time passed that our muscles were now good and cold and quite unhappy, our merry crew (delirious most likely) donned our packs and faced the inevitable walk / stumble / roll back to the Jeeps. Suffice to say, the trip down was much faster and before we knew it (delirium I’m telling you) there we were back at the parking. After debating different things such as the wonders of ice cubs that are not cubes but cylinders, different types of personal protection devices and the wonders of Twizzlers and banana flavored food bars, we unanimously agreed it was time to head to Cools Springs for proper post-wvcoalcat-cache-food.

In sum – awesome hike which we probably could not have accomplished in the ice and snow of February 2008. Great company as always. And hearty CONGRATULATIONS to Country_Rat for not only choosing a wvcoalcat cache as his 200th, but beating the rest of us to the top of the hill! That is one insane Rat!

Follow the link below more photographic evidence that we survived.

chris on November 13th 2008 in Geocaching, Links

time to be fancy

The end of October signals time for our annual visit to The Greenbrier (forshadowing people, we’ve only been twice, but this seems as good a time as any to let my plans be known!). This year’s weather was heads and tails above the cold, wet deluge that greeted us upon arrival last year.

Somehow we thought we’d manage to go on a horseback ride in the mountains, play golf and skeet shoot during this sort little jaunt. But in the grand tradition of me being unable to focus once actually on vacation, we accomplished none of the above.  Sometimes it’s just as much fun to wander around aimlessly – even when not in search of an ammo can.

Not to say that there wasn’t geocaching, because honestly, do I ever go anywhere that doesn’t inolve geocaching? Exactly. Since Knight Who Says Ni was in town as well, we decided it would be a great opportunity to knock off four pages of the DeLorme Challenge. It’s a good thing I keep dramamine in the glove compartment because all the tiny windy roads aren’t always agreeable to my stomach and that could have ended quite poorly for my new car.

We got all four pages (yay for us!) ,  had two DNFs, and managed to out wait a van full of guys in orange jumpsuits. Three people giving a grove of pine trees the shake down for 15 minutes must have looked completely normal to those guys! We continued to circle, look and poke even after the van had gone on to other areas that needed grounds keeping help to no avail. Oh the sadness of a DNF.

To bouy our spirits we headed back and indulged in tea. Chad honed in on a nice warm, suncovered spot where we settled in and tried not to fall asleep. It was a struggle, Kris battled back by sitting up prim and proper which makes it rather difficult to nod off. I relied on her to not let me slump forward and slide to the floor as I was getting pretty darn comfortable as I filled myself with lovely petite fours….mmmmm…..delicious tea cakes.  At any rate, we had urgent things to do after tea – such as find a place to eat and then get all dressed up. But more about the latter in a different post.

Ah, sometimes it is good to be me! Or Ping….it’s always good to be Ping.

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chris on November 4th 2008 in Links, Travel

Clover Run to Mail Route

I think it must have been a little pre-emptive self preservation earlier this week that lead wvhunter to casually mention to me that he “might be going on a maintainence run with ‘coalcat” in the Mon National Forest. Because who the heck am I to turn down an opportunity to go after two (or possibly four) wvcoalcat caches  (with the cache owner) on a beautiful Fall day?

There is something about a ‘coalcat expedition into the Mon National Forest that also causes my loyal sidekick to perk up and say, “I’m in!” Guess he must be a nature boy at heart, although I suspect he wanted to see about taking some nice outdoor shots before all the leaves gave up and flung themselves to the ground.

So it was around 9:22 a.m. on Sunday that we found ourselves at the Rt. 38 / 92 split (in what we later discovered to be downtown Nestorville). This is amazing for one reason – we were early. We figured we were in the right spot because there was a Jeep there with moneytastesbad. The odd thing though, was that Captain OCD was not there. Nor was his esteemed brother wvcoalcat. Hmmm.

Upon consulting the map and re-reading wvhunter’s directions we decided that although the gas station where we found ourselves was not in fact an Exxon, it was clearly not also a Uhaul or Bait store. And that could mean just one thing, we were at the wrong Rt. 38 / 92 split. Coupled with the fact that it had been 50 degrees when we left Morgantown and was now currently around 35 meant it was starting out to be a banner day!

A quick jot down the road proved to be the correct split where the rest of the group was waiting. Properly assembled, ordered and organized, we headed off following the mighty catspoloder to the parking coords. Which was good, because this is often the part that involves driving aimlessly around the mighty forest.

All bundled up (cold, it’s cold in the woods) we headed out on the trail.

It’s days like this that I’m completely thankful that I ponied up for the nice outdoor gear. Now just to make sure I hold onto the sunnies and not make the same mistake I made at “Slopping at the Trough” and “Loki’s Quest for Zombie Hobos”.

Clover Run was a completely pleasant stroll in the woods. Contrary to what ‘hunter would have everyone believe, his brother was not trying to off him when placing this cache. We did have a slight surprise when the pleasant view touted by the cat was obliterated by a thick field of wild cherry saplings. I can say with authority that those saplings were of the wild cherry because that’s what Mr. Surveyor said. Me, I don’t know my Ash from a hole in the ground.

Upon successfully finding the  tupperware in the woods and going through the ritual log signing, token collecting and re-hiding we headed back to the vehicles. I’ve often been accused of keeping a forced march pace, so this time around I mixed it up a bit hanging out in the back and middle of the pack before surging ahead. I think deep down I just miss Purple Monkey Dishwasher’s insane pace.

Back at the parking ‘coalcat assured us that Mail Route was an even easier hike than Clover Run.  This is where wvhunter assures me we went wrong. Personally I think he just has a persecution complex since the trail was clearly marked with plastic blue diamonds and was WAY wider than the pixie deer trail of “The Project” fame.

  I should know, I’ve hiked both and this was a walk in the park compared to the other. Even the creek crossing was easy (says she who recently went sliding across a water fall in a moment of poor decision making). Hard to get the water in over top of the ol’ gortex shoes when the creek bed is dry. Now that’s my kind of water hazard!

After retrieving the gnawed upon cache container, replacing it with an ammo can and taking a break it was by unanimous consent to take the 89SC way back out. You know what? It was easier. I know this may come as a shock, but really, it was flat and easy.

More pictures of us walking around in the Mon National Forest, enjoy!

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chris on October 27th 2008 in Geocaching, Links

Caching Wrap-Up

I turned around and realized that September is long gone. And that can only mean one thing – well it could mean I have amnesia, but most likely it means that I was extremely busy doing fun things. And fun things tend to leave behind photographic evidence. And those delightful shots should be up on this website. But it all rolls back to me being busy having so much fun that I couldn’t be bothered to download my camera(s) let alone write up a post.

The simple solution to that is to have one giant post crammed with unrelated photos where I ramble on about how much fun I had. But then I thought that would make me look like an even bigger slacker. So I’ll post a million small posts with pictures and hope no one notices.

First I managed to put over 4,000 miles on my new car between August 7 and September 30. Which pretty much tells you how many week days I spent driving up and down I-79. That in and of itself was not fun. Not even nearly. Bleh. But once at my destination (or even better once I dragged my sorry carcass home) I did manage to squeeze in some geocaching here and there.

I love this particular container, it’s at Tygart Lake. As you can tell, the little girl who decorated it loves ducks. In addition to the duck ammo can there is a sweet pig container. It is even more brightly decorated. Which is amazing that it can stay hidden at all. I understand that the trifecta is completed by a hand turkey. And some day I will go out and hunt the mighty hand turkey.

Along with CLCombat & Aquacache, I cached in Grafton where I nearly lost my hand to a skirt lifter cache at the Rite Aid. After applying first aid to my wrist and the soaking wet cache log (dried out on the AquaJeep hood), our merry little band then went to Tygart Lake. Once there we made some poor decisions about how to reach a few caches, cleaned out a bunch of spider webs and generally traipsed around the woods for several hours. From there we headed out to Moats Falls where it was spectacularly dry.

The place was nearly empty which is a small miracle since it was a pretty nice day out. I wish I’d taken the onus to bring the big digital camera, as it was my photography was kinda limited and I was getting a little hungry (ok, I could have gnawed on my arm at that point). Not to mention the sun was getting low and we were quite a ways from home.

With the water down so far, you get a good idea of why the area is so dangerous when the waters are flowing high and fast. Those are some nasty rocks there. Fortunately for us, all we had to worry about was who looked best in the festive orange sunglasses. I lost out since they didn’t go with my outfit for the day. I don’t look so good in blaze orange anyway.

Since we were all reaching the arm gnawing level of hunger we left Arden and headed back to gorge at Rio Grande in Sabraton, because when I think about stuffing myself, I think Rio Grande. Right!

And later, much later….like a week or maybe two it was time for Geocoinfest 2008.  I’d pretty much gotten over being an icon hound, but GCF was a mega event and just happened to be right up I-79. How could I resist? I was nice and invited Aquacache to go with me and even let him drive. Which was for the best because by that time I had exactly ZERO working GPS receivers. Yes, zero. Which makes geocaching rather difficult.

At any rate we had a fun time at the event, ran into a ton of old friends and met some new folks – which is always the case at these things.  Saw a small child stick his hand into a shark’s mouth

and won stuff! Yes indeed, I finally won something! Woo hooo! Which gave me anxiety because there was this giant table full of stuff and I had to choose. And I was the first person to go up…Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. So I did what I normally do when stuck in such a situation. I stuck my hand out and grabbed the thing nearest me. It just so happened to be a geocoin (whew…with so many people around it could have gotten dicey).

The day finally over, we participated in the post-event  tradition of caching our way home. Which started out  in a park in ride and ended up in a cemetery in the dead of night with only two maglites to guide us. I need to work on my decision making skills.

In Summary (because I remember the lesson of the closing paragraph)…lots of time flew by. There was geocaching. There was meeting other geocachers. There was little water at Arden and zombies in the cemetery. Oh no wait, I think there were zombies in the cemetery, but didn’t see any. I’m sure I heard them though. At any rate, a glut of geocaching.

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chris on October 19th 2008 in Geocaching, Links