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Posts Tagged ‘geocaching’

“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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“During your life, everything you do and everyone you meet rubs off in some way.  Some bit of everything you experience stays with everyone you’ve ever known, and nothing is lost.  That’s what’s eternal, these little specks of experience in a great, enormous river that has no end.”   American Writer Harriet Doerr

From my last entry, you know we have had an early, and very warm spell.  Besides us people being confused about what the calendar should say– the plants are just as confused.    The forsythia is in full bloom, daffodils are everywhere, and even the huge willow trees are almost all leafed out!  Unfortunately we are under a freeze advisory for tonight, I am hoping that not too much damage will be done to these tender blooms.

Since we were supposed to have a beautiful sunny day today, we decided to break out the GPS and get our first geocaching day of 2012 in the books.  I picked 17 caches in the Au Sable River/Oscoda area, since we didn’t have much snow all winter and this spring has been fairly dry, I figured the back roads wouldn’t be too bad.  We packed up our lunch and hit the road.

Our first few caches were found very easily, that is always good, since we goofed a little with our GPS unit, after all, it’s been quite a few months since we’ve used it!  We then headed to the Old Five Channels Bridge for a cache.  We walked out onto the old bridge and found out immediately that the bugs are also confused as to what season it is.  Swarms of small gnat like flies engulfed us and almost drove us off the bridge!  Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find the cache, it was well hidden, but with my husband’s clever eye, he picked it out.

Our next cache took us to the north side of the river to a small park and boat launch area that we had stopped at a couple of years ago.  The reason I remember it so vividly is that as I was standing there, reading some informational signage, I heard a ruckus above my head, and as I turned around to see what it was, a fox squirrel fell out of the tree and almost landed at me feet!  I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my cheeks!  So from that day on, we have always referred to that place as the “Squirrel Falling” place.  When I noticed someone had placed a cache in the vicinity, I was very glad to go back, today unfortunately, so such event took place.  After finding the cache, we were walking back to the picnic area and as I looked down, I spotted a small garter snake slithering away, I felt bad about disturbing it’s ‘sun bathing’ session and just a few feet away, I also noticed a little lavender colored butterfly flitting about.  I had to keep telling myself that it is still March, not late April!  I was amazed at what we were seeing.  We decided to eat our lunch there and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We then moved on farther down the river to a cache that had us a little stumped on how to get to, so we found a two-track and drove down as far as we could and figured we could hike the rest of the way.  It was after all, a beautiful day, and getting a hike in is just icing on the cake!  After a short way, we came to a paved road and a very nice parking area and scenic overlook that highlighted the Bald Eagles in the area!  Ok, so we pooched that one, but the hike was still nice.  As we were looking for the cache, a beautiful eagle flew over us and landed not far away.  I crept out to the clearing and was able to get a couple of good pictures before it flew off.  How cool!  We determined it was a juvenile, no white on it yet.  So I figured that if we had driven out there, we wouldn’t have seen the eagle.  Right?!  After getting back to the car, another couple drove up and we chatted with them and they were also cachers, looking for the same cache that we just came from.  We hinted to them that there was an easier way to the cache, but didn’t want to spoil it for them, just in case they also wanted to do a little hiking.

Our next cache took us to the Foote Pond area.  There is a paddle boat called the Au Sable Queen there that gives cruises and such, but currently still out of the water, it is after all, only March!  After locating the cache, I noticed a couple of swans in the area so I crept down to the bank to get some pictures.  Boy was I shocked that when they noticed me, they actually started swimming towards me!  I’m thinking they are residents and that they have gotten hand-outs from well-meaning people.  Unfortunately for them, the only thing they received from me, was a spotlight in my blog!  At first we thought they were Tundra Swans, but after looking in my bird book, we noticed they did not have the yellow smudge on their bills that the Tundra Swans have, it was then we realized that they were Trumpeter Swans!  What a surprise, I didn’t think Trumpeters were in this area, but from what we’ve learned, this is a summer breeding area for a small number of them.  But since they swam right up to us, I think they are residents at the Foote Pond.  What a great day!

Our remaining caches were quickly found with no such surprises and we finished our day around 5:00 pm, grabbed a quick bite and headed home.  For our first day out, it was a great one!  Our wildlife spottings were:  1 Hawk, 1 Garter snake, 1 lavender butterfly, 1 juvenile Eagle, and 2 Trumpeter swans.  A very good day indeed.

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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Early Spring!…

“I have noticed in my life that all men have a liking for some special animal, tree, plant, or spot of earth.  If men would pay more attention to these preferences, and seek what is best to do in order to make themselves worthy of that toward which they are so attracted, they might have dreams which would purify their lives.  Let a man decide upon his favorite animal and make a study of it, learning its innocent ways.  Let him learn to understand its sounds and motions.”  Teton Sioux Medicine Man Brave Buffalo

These past two weeks have been a dream!  Mid 80’s, sunshine…who could ask for anything better after a winter of little snow, cold, and cloudy days?  When we moved here to the shores of the Saginaw Bay in 2007, we brought with us an offspring of the Pink Pussy Willow that I planted at our previous house.  It is now planted in my small flower bed and seems to be loving it.  It has reached a height of at least 10′-12′ tall and I have always enjoyed the pink furry catkins that come out in the spring.  This usually doesn’t happen until early April and they don’t usually “fluff” out until late April.  But with our “early Spring” this year, the catkins have already “fluffed” as you can see from the picture.  Hopefully Mother Nature will not play the “Gotcha!” game and revert back to the Winter we never really had!

This beautiful weather has awakened the geocaching urge in us.  We are planning to do some tomorrow, hopefully the weather will hold and we will see something neat and interesting.  Until then…

Happy Trails and Caching,

Sheri

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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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During the long, hot, buggy summer, we began planning our fall  trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  This year we decided to go back to Copper Harbor since it has been over 20 years since our last visit there.  We also decided to combine some of our favorite activities:  hiking, geocaching, waterfall hunting, and we also included copper hunting this time, we were after all, going to “copper country”.  We arrived in Copper Harbor late in the afternoon, and checked into our small cabin that we had rented and then walked around town for a bit, mostly to alleviate the sitting we had to endure for the last 10 hours.  The weather was not ideal, it was cool, cloudy, windy and showery.   We know that the weather in Michigan in the fall is unpredictable, so we dressed for whatever weather we had at the time.

After a very nice dinner at a local restaurant, we went back to the cabin to plan our next day’s geocache adventure.  There were approximately 26 caches on a seasonal road that we decided to do.   We arose early the next day, grabbed a quick breakfast, packed some “caching snacks” and off we went.  It was raining on and off so our Jeep quickly became encased in a film of orange mud.  That was something new to me, I’d never experienced the orange, or should I say, copper colored mud before, so we quickly flipped over the mats inside our Jeep (much easier to clean the mud off the rubber side instead of the carpeted side!).  We finished the Mandan Road series late in the afternoon, and I have to say to anyone who would like to do this series, a 4X4 is not required, but be aware, it is a seasonal road and it is very rough and very hilly.

Our second day of caching took us up to the top of  Brockway Mountain and then along the Lake Superior shoreline westward towards Eagle Harbor.  There were some spectacular view of the Lake Superior along M-26.  One of our caches was named “The Devil’s Washtub”.  We couldn’t quite figure our why it was called this, until we arrived near the cache.  It was just rough enough on the Lake to make this an exciting place.

We arrived at Eagle Harbor and quickly found the cache in the area.  We noticed that the old Coast Guard Station museum was open so we looked around for a bit and then continued on.  Just after leaving the Station, my husband suddenly stopped the Jeep and quickly backed up, he had spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree right next to the road.  We both broke out our cameras and were able to snap some pics before it flew off.  How fitting to see one in a small town called Eagle Harbor!

While we were taking pics at one of the caches near a waterfall, a nice couple sat down at a picnic table and broke out the largest muffins I had ever seen!  We had been told of a wonderful bakery, The Jampot Bakery, but had yet to find it.  I asked them if those muffins were from that bakery and they promptly told us where it was.  When we arrived at the bakery, which is operated by Catholic monks, we were treated to the most amazing smells ever!  I purchased some pear butter, and jams and of course, two of those wonderful looking muffins.  I have to support the local causes right??  Anyway, they were delicious and I think I was on a sugar high all day!  We again finished our caching late in the day, went back to the cabin and relaxed for the evening.

Our final day on the Keweenaw Peninsula started out with some clearing skies.  We packed the metal detector and decided to do some copper hunting after finding our last few caches in the area.  We arrived at Clark Mine and started hunting for copper on some old tailings piles and very quickly the detector started beeping.  We dug and were surprised to actually find a small piece of copper!  We continued hunting and uncovered a few other rocks with copper running through them.  We were quite excited about this but couldn’t spend all day here in that we wanted to do some more exploring around the area.

After some driving on the back roads looking at the fall colors, we arrived in Mohawk and found the Bird’s Eye Maple Store.  It was right at their closing time, but luckily for us, there were still some customers in there, so we did have a chance to look around.  I had never heard of Bird’s Eye Maple, but some of the local eateries in Copper Harbor had tables, and even a full length bar made from it, and it is absolutely gorgeous!  I was able to purchase an engraved coaster just to remind me of how rare and beautiful this wood is.

Overall, this visit to the Keweenaw Peninsula was excellent.  We found 59 caches, seen 3 different waterfalls, found some copper pieces, and seen some beautiful views of Lake Superior.  The fall color on the peninsula was not at peak, and patchy in some areas, but what had changed, was very pretty.

Happy Caching!

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