Posts Tagged ‘pathtags’

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!



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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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Since I started this blog earlier in the week, I wanted to back-track a little in time and tell you about a mini-marathon of geocaching that Robert and I embarked on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of April.

We had just gotten back from our trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast and were anxious to get back to caching in our own state.  I picked out a dozen or so caches north of the Midland area and since we are in “mud” season now, I tried to stay on roads that I knew were “do-able”  That phrase will come in to play a little later.

It started out quite dreary and rainy, we hadn’t cached in the rain before, but we figured if we only cached on sunny days, we’d never get a chance to go.  Especially in April, in Michigan!  The first few caches were pretty easy park and grabs.  We commemorated our 200th cache by dropping off a Travel Bug in a cache named Great White Hunter.  We then continued around the area of Wixom Lake, a very large lake that is part of the Tittibiwassee River, surprised that there was still quite a bit of ice on the lake.  We ended our day with five caches in the Gladwin State Game Area.  They are part of a series entitled Treasure Hunt and they are all named after precious gems.  We did the first 18 last fall, but were unable to do these five either due to hunters in the area, and/or the lack of daylight.  We are not into caching in the dark, especially in an area we are unfamiliar with!  I’d probably still be out there wandering around!  On our way to the last cache, we hiked up a small hill and just as we arrived at the top, we stirred up five very large white tail deer.  I don’t know who was more scared, the deer or me.  My first thought was, “Wow, these guys made it through hunting season, good for them!”  Hunting season around our place is really rather noisy.  We are usually awakened at dawn with the first “kabooms” , and then very frequently after that.  With all of the shooting going on, I’m surprised there are any deer left at all up here.  We really have to curtail our outdoors activities for that two week period,  I’d hate to be the lead story on the evening news.  Anyway…just before finding the cache, we had another surprise.  Robert found a little garter snake that had obviously came out of it’s hole a little too soon.  It wasn’t frozen solid, but it was really quite rubbery.  I felt really bad for it, so I buried it under some leaves, and hoped for the best.  We then found the cache, signed the log and headed to Gladwin for a pizza.  Well deserved right?!

After getting home that evening, Robert was searching for more caches and discovered some newly put out ones in the Alcona Pond area.  Since we hadn’t cached in that area yet, we quickly decided to get up early (8:00 am! early for us) and do another day of caching.

I packed a picnic lunch, gathered all of our ‘cache stuff’ together, and off we went.  The first one was the harbinger for things to come.  The gps pointed us down a two-track that was still partly covered in snow, and also had very large mud holes and ruts.  Obviously, others had gone down this trail, so why not us?!  Right.  Now I am the one driving, and my adventure level is usually pretty high, but when the thought of burying our jeep in a mud hole in the middle of nowhere, and having to walk to get help (no cell service), my apprehensions were also quite high.  But with my cheerleader sitting next to me saying, “awe come on honey, it’s a Jeep” I reluctantly continued on.  We didn’t get stuck, and the cache was in a very beautiful area on the banks of the Au Sable River.  The scenery was well worth the white knuckled trip down the two-track.  We made it out ok and the next few caches were off much better roads.  We were the first to find at a cache called Aspen Alley, and what a beautiful place that was.  The trek through the snow was not easy, but well worth it.  I didn’t even think about throwing our snowshoes in, but we could have used them!  Our last cache was down a road that looked do-able at the beginning, but then quickly turned into a “what was I thinking!” road.  It narrowed quickly and soon was evident that no one had been down it all winter.  After narrowly escaping being sucked into a ditch of undetermined depth, I stopped and said we are not going any further.  Robert did agree with me at that point and soon we switch positions, and he got us turned around and back out to the main road.  Our poor Jeep was mud from the top to the bottom!  By then, our daylight was quickly running out, so we decided to continue on the next day, with the caches on the west side of the Alcona Pond.

Again, we got up ‘early’, packed a lunch and off we went.  This day started out very sunny but not as warm as we’d have liked, but nice none-the-less.  A pathtag had been put in a cache called Bee Happy!, so that was high on our list, and it just so happened to be on our way to the pond.  The cache was at a quaint little shop that was decorated with everything pertaining to bees.  We recovered the pathtag, which was from the MiGO (Michigan Geocaching Organization) folks.  Unfortunately, the business was not open, so we were unable to figure out if this was a “honey house” or just a gift shop that was all about bees.  We then continued on to Alcona Pond and the roads we had to travel today were much better than yesterday.  We were able to get four, first to finds, which is a treat for any geocacher.  We also seen two eagles locking their talons in mid-flight and spinning wildly towards the ground, only to let go just before reaching terra firma and flying back up, only to do it again.  What a treat!  We also seen three hawks, quite a few early season chipmunks, and was startled by two grouse.  Not bad for one day.  The Alcona Pond area is a beautiful place, and we do plan on coming back up to do some hiking and even kayaking the river and pond in this area.



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