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Posts Tagged ‘cache’

“He is rich who is content with the least; for contentment is the wealth of nature.”  Socrates (469-399); Philosopher

                                                            Today’s Weather

100_565933 deg F
Mostly sunny
Wind: SW 5-6 mph
2:30 pm

Since today is a unique day (12/12/12) we decided to go find a cache, just in case a souvenir was given out.  Robert picked out two on the old Air Force base in Oscoda, knowing they probably didn’t get as much snow as we did, we’d have a pretty good chance of finding one.  Thankfully he did pick out two, we couldn’t find the first one!  So we moved on to the second one and was able to find it.  We then headed back home, more “chores” to do.

After seeing the eagle yesterday, I decided to do my walk right around the same time today, just to see if he/she was there again.  I strapped on my Yak Trax and off I went.  And much to my delight, I spotted the eagle in very near the same spot.  I quietly took a few more steps and was very excited to see another one sitting right beside it!  A pair, yeah, I’d heard there was a family of eagles around and was glad to confirm that rumor.

Our pair of Eagles

Right after this picture was taken, the one on the right flew off, followed by the other.  I took a few steps and was immediately surprised by a  Pileated Woodpecker flying from a branch right above my head to another tree.  I was unable to snap a picture before it flew off again and at the same time, a black squirrel ran across the road in front of me.  I softly told it to go hide, there are eagles in the area!!  Wow!  What a treat.

Once I got to the end of the road, I was still looking for the eagles and to my surprise, they were sitting on the newly formed ice on the lake.  I didn’t think the ice was thick enough to support one, let alone both eagles.  But again, before I could get my camera read to go, one flew off, but I was able to catch the other on the ice.

Eagle on ice

I turned around and began back down the road hoping I could catch a glimpse of one of the eagles again.  I always feel bad when I frighten them off, I  know they are waiting for one of the small ducks on the lake to look ‘particularly appetizing’, and I know I don’t like to be disturbed while either preparing dinner or eating dinner, so I tried to be as quiet as I could.  A little way down the road, yup, there he is, sitting beautifully on a branch.  I quickly snapped another picture and kept walking as quietly as possible.

100_5662

I continued on my walk and began hearing a “tap tap tap”.  I knew it was a woodpecker and after scanning the trees in the area, I finally located it on the tree right in front of me!  It was a small Downy Woodpecker and  he seemed thoroughly engrossed in his search for bugs in the bark of the birch tree.  It seemed to me that he could care less that I was standing just a few feet away.  These are the encounters I enjoy the most.  Being present but not disturbing them in their activity.   I then continued on back home, enjoying the beautiful blue sky and sunshine, because I know tomorrow may be totally different.

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“To keep from getting to far ahead of myself, I can apply to life what I’ve learned from running in the woods: The step in front of you is the most important one.”  Annie Morris – Mom, Runner, Writer

I have been feeling the pull of the woods since the leaves have changed and fallen and the nights have been getting quite chilly.  I know winter is on its way and I want to get all the fall hiking/geocaching in that I can.  I quickly watch the Weather Channel and realize that Sat and Sun are going to be the best days prior to Hurricane Sandy coming ashore in New Jersey.  I know we are a long way from New Jersey, but the sheer size of the storm will affect us and our 7-day forecast shows just that-wind and rain/snow starting Monday through Thursday.  I gather my trail maps and figure out which trails we haven’t been on yet and which trails may have geocaches on or near them.  Since we had already hiked the East Entrance trails of the Hoist Lakes Foot Travel Area, we decide on the West Entrance trails and see that there are two caches near the trails.

The morning is quite chilly (31 deg), but mostly sunny and not too windy.  I pack my backpack with “trail food”, my warmest pair of mittens, a change of shoes (still breaking in a new pair), a couple of water bottles, and as a treat-a small thermos of coffee.  Since moving to Huron National Forest area, the trailhead is just a few miles up the road so we are able to actually get an early start.  We arrive at the trailhead and see at least 7 other vehicles already there!  Wow, we never see this many vehicles in the parking area, let alone know that there are other people on the trails.  We pay our required day use fee and off we go.

We quickly realize that the probably of seeing any wildlife will be very slim due to the crunching of the leaves beneath our feet and also the fact that there are quite a number of people already out there.  We are on the trail only a few minutes when I hear someone coming up behind us.  A bow hunter.  We exchange pleasantries and let him pass, he is in a much bigger hurry than we are.  I am then instantly thankful that my husband put on his hunter orange hat.  It is not rifle deer season yet, but knowing that hunters are probably out here, being visible is a plus.

On our many hikes in the National Forest, we often see the blue diamond trail markers barely hanging on or missing in general.  So my husband bought a small hammer and some nails and we fix the trail markers that need help.  We found this to be the case on the trails today.  Throughout today’s hike, we ended up fixing about seven markers.

We arrived at a small lake called Byron Lake and realized that there were people camping in the various sites in the area.  We pulled out the GPS to see how far we had to go to our first cache and wouldn’t you know, it pointed right to a campsite that was currently occupied.  We realized that we’d have to pass up that cache so I took some pictures of the lake and we moved on down the trail.  A little while later we arrived at another lake with no name.  I pondered the thought of “what would I name this lake”?  I asked my husband that question and his answer- “Lake in the Middle of Nowhere”.  True, but I was thinking of something like “Serenity Lake” or “Little Lake All By Itself”.  Silly I know, but it kept my mind occupied for a while.  We were able to locate this cache quickly and then found our way back to the trail and decided to eat lunch there.

On the final two segments of the loop, we noticed the excessive amount of downed trees across the trail.  We began to feel that this section hadn’t been hiked in a while, or the cutbacks in the budgets of our Forest Service and DNR impacted the maintenance of these trails.  Either way, we decided to help out and fix the trail markers that were damaged, missing, or hiding on fallen trees.  It’s the least we can do since we enjoy the use of the Forest.

Even though we couldn’t be very quiet while hiking, we did stir up a couple of grouse, many chipmunks, and quite a few black squirrels.  Another good day in the woods.

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On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to say “Thank You!” to all of my fellow Veterans.  I have very fond memories of all of the people I’ve
served with and hope they are doing well today.  I didn’t make a lot of smart choices at the age of 18, but joining the Coast Guard was one smart choice I did make.  I have never regretted signing up and feel that every day I was in the service, made me into a stronger and better person, and for that I am always grateful.  So in honor of Veteran’s Day, and this unique number day (11-11-11), Robert and I decided to try to get 11 caches.  He picked out about 15 of them in the West Branch area, so I packed up our ‘caching goodies’ and off we went.

It’s been really cold and wet the last few days, and we’ve even gotten some snow showers yesterday, so we weren’t sure what condition the woods were going to be in, but we layered up and hoped for the best.  The series that we started with had the title “A Trail Less Traveled”.  That is exactly what it was, a trail!  It started off ok, and we picked up our first couple caches with no problems, but the farther back into the ‘middle of nowhere’ we got, the trail seemed to be less and less traveled.  We had to shove a few small fallen trees out of the way, and finally we got to a mud hole that I really didn’t want to drive through.  I didn’t know how deep it was and I really did not want to get stranded out here, so we parked and decided to get the next 3 or 4 caches by foot.  Which is always fine for me, if I can get some hiking in while we are caching, that’s double the fun for me!

One of the caches we were headed to had the word “Swamp” in the title.  And with the amount of water we’ve seen in the area, I knew we were heading into some mucky area.  Little did I know, until my shoe got sucked off my foot, just how mucky it was going to be!  Yes, I stepped off a root area and my foot immediately sank into an unknown depth of muck and I went to keep walking and off comes my shoe!  Luckily I had a tree nearby to grab so I didn’t end up on my butt!  I couldn’t get my shoe out while standing on one foot, meanwhile, Robert had to carefully pick his way to me and he finally grabbed it and with a yank and a muddy sucking sound, my shoe finally came out!  I was able to slip it back on and get myself out of that area and on to the cache.  What makes all of this worth it?…when we located the cache, we discovered a pathtag in it!  So I did a little jig in the middle of the swamp with a wet, soggy, and muddy foot!  On our way back to our vehicle, we began to hear ATVs in the area, and then some gunfire!  I know rifle deer season doesn’t start until the 15th, but that still makes me a little nervous.  So when we scared up a deer on our way out, I told him to go hide for the next two weeks!

After leaving this area, we went on to the Ogemaw Hills Ski Area for a couple of caches.  Just a few days ago, we were talking about the skiing we did out here and I wondered what the trails would be like to hike, and wouldn’t you know, I was hiking them today, how cool!  Everything always seems so different when you’re hiking trails that you usually ski.  You don’t get to see the tree roots, rocks and other debris that you usually just glide over when there is a good foot of snow on the ground.  We located the two caches easily and then on to our final ones.

Our last cache ended up being at an old artesian well.  From the size of the pipe, it looks like it used to flow with much more volume than it has now.  That would have been very impressive to see!  We located the cache easily and with the sun setting much earlier than before the time change, we decided to call it a day, with 10 total caches found today.

Overall, it was a great caching and hiking day, hopefully we will be able to get back out soon!  Our wildlife count was:
2 bald eagles, 1 hawk, 1 whitetail deer, and 1 very large black squirrel.   A good day indeed!

Happy Caching!

Sheri

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Our run of beautiful, above average fall weather is forcast to come to an end soon, so we decided to get a caching day in before the rains come.  We have been wanting to go back to Wurtsmith AFB in Oscoda, MI to complete the seven caches on the Fitness Trail, so we thought why not?!  We added a couple new ones in East Tawas and a couple of others on the AFB, to ensure we reached our 400th cache today.  I packed some PBJ’s and soda (fuel of champions on the Fitness Trail!!) and off we went.

The first new cache in East Tawas took us to Dewey Park, a park that we had never been to before.  It’s a very nice, multi-sport park, with a couple of canals that meet up there, so it seems it has just about something for everyone.  The cache was an easy find so we quickly recorded that smilie and moved on.  The next new cache took us to the parking lot of a local eatery.  This was also an easy find, but many muggles around, so we parked as close to it as possible, grabbed it, brought it back to the Jeep, signed the log there and then quickly replaced it.   On to Oscoda and the AFB.

One of our extras on the AFB was stated to be on the cache owner’s property.  We don’t usually cache on private property, but thought we’d drive by and since it’s a week day, if there were no cars around, we may try it.  Unfortunately, many cars were parked in their drives, (maybe due to Columbus Day?), so we opted not to get that one.  We then picked up another quick find and headed for the start of the Fitness Trail.  We read the signs at the start and looked at the map to get a feel for the layout of the trail.  The caching notes stated it would take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours to complete the series so we called up the first one on the gps and off we went.   The first couple of caches were fairly close to each other and were pretty quick picks.  The third one though, had us stumped for a little while.  Our gps kept pointing us to an area that we could see had been trampled but we couldn’t come up with it.  We then stood back and let our “cache sense” kick in.  We broadened our search and started looking in other areas.  Finally!!! After what felt like a half an hour, I finally came up with it.  We looked at our gps and it was about 20 feet off.  I told myself to keep that in mind in case other caches were not quick finds.  I also realized that wearing short pants may not have been such a great idea.  I figured the caches would be a little ways off the trail, but I didn’t think I would be trampling around in pickery bushes.  By the time we got back to the actual trail, I looked like I had been attacked by a rabid ankle biter!  All I could say was “Oh well, it’s too late now” and we continued on.  The next couple were fairly easy finds, again our gps was off, but now that we know that, we were able to locate them a little quicker.  In between numbers 5 and 6 is a cache that is not related to the Fitness Trail, but is just off the trail.  We attempted to find it last December, with no luck.  The most obvious spot was empty so we really thought the cache had gone missing.  Since we were out here, we decided to give it another try.  This time we got the smilie!!  And to add to our fun, one of the previous cachers had dropped off one of their pathtags!  We enjoy collecting pathtags and now have eight.  We would like to have one of our own made and probably will very soon.  Just have to decide on a design.  We then located number six in the series and finally had all of the numbers to complete the latitude and longitude of the final cache.  We punched in the numbers and had the direction and distance to the final cache.  We located that one very easily and had the Fitness Trail completed.  Yeah!!!  Once we got back to the Jeep, I realized I had left my camera there.  So I apologize for not having any pics to go with this post.

Our only wildlife sightings today were squirrels, and many of them… too many to count.  They must really love this area!  Had a great day and yes, we reached 400, actually we now have 401 found caches.

Happy caching!

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It’s amazing what purchasing a couple of issues of Backpacker magazine can do for a hiker.  It makes you want to get out there and hit the trails!  So…after purchasing the September and October issues, I immediately wanted to get out into the woods.  We’d hiked the Reid Lake area a year ago on my birthday (my celebration of Earth Day), and at that time, we were not yet cachers.  We’ve seen that there was a cache out there and since the weather has been absolutely gorgeous, we decided to combine the two activities.  I packed up some trail food and water, filled our backpacks, and off we went.

While looking at the information sheet for the Reid Lake cache, we seen that a new cache had been placed at the ‘old park and ride’ near the intersection of M65 and M72.  The cache had only been found by two other cachers and we noticed that the last people to visit it had dropped off a pathtag.  We were very excited about that since we enjoy collecting pathtags.  Currently, our collection consists of six different tags and we are always excited about the prospect of getting a new one.  We found the old park and ride easily and immediately started following the arrow on our gps.  We arrived at the coordinates with little difficulty, but couldn’t locate the cache.  We began to expand our search, thinking that maybe with the dense tree cover, the coordinates may be off.  We searched in earnest for a good 10-15 minutes, but were still coming up empty handed.  I began to tell myself that I didn’t just drive 45 minutes not to find this cache.  So I stopped and began looking around and tried to figure out what didn’t look “natural”.  Finally, I spotted something that didn’t look like mother nature put it there and sure enough, it was the cache.  I can’t mention any more about it, so as not to spoil the find for someone else, but suffice it to say, we listed it as one of our favorites when I logged in our find.  We opened the container and wouldn’t you know, no pathtag could be seen, but then…I opened the smaller container that had the log in it, and yeeha!!! the pathtag was in there!  So now, our collection is up to seven and we are very proud of them (most of them did not come easily, so they are very appreciated).

We then drove on to the Reid Lake parking area just a few miles down the road and were eager to get on the trails.  The last time we were on these trails everything looked quite a bit different.  It was April 22, 2010, none of the trees had leaves on them and some of the trails were closed due to high water from the snow melt.  We didn’t have any of that to worry about today, but it still amazed me how different the woods are when the trees are fully leafed out.   We arrived at the lake and immediately looked for the pair of loons that we had seen and heard on our previous visit, but this time, they were not there.  We continued on down the trail that circumnavigates the lake and remembered that we took pictures from an old pier that used to be on the north shore.  When we arrived at where we thought it would be, the pier was gone.  All we could see were the old pilings that were just below the water’s surface.  We couldn’t tell if it had been removed by man or my mother nature.  We again snapped a few pictures and moved on.

As we progressed around the lake our gps started to confuse us.  We thought we knew which trail the cache was on, but needless to say, we were incorrect.  After a few “turn arounds” we finally figured out which trail it was on and soon found ourselves at the stated coordinates, but again, we couldn’t seem to locate the cache.  We expanded our search, and again, I told myself that I didn’t drive and hike this far not to find this cache, so I stopped and looked around to see what didn’t “look right” and then I spotted it.  Again, I can’t elaborate because I don’t want to be a “spoiler”, but I can say that we also added this cache to our favorites list.   We logged our visit and returned to the trail and found a suitable log to sit on and eat our lunch.  After a nice break, we then continued on around the lake.  While hiking back to the parking area, we were startled by a young buck crossing the trail in front of us.  Just as quickly as we seen him, he was gone.   There are a lot of trails here and I know I will be back to do more of them, this is a beautiful place, and one of my favorites.

Our wildlife count today:  1 young buck, 1 bald eagle, 1 garter snake, numerous squirrels and chipmunks.  Another beautiful day in the woods!

Happy Caching!

 

 

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