Firefighter Jake and Friendsí Excellent Adventure on the Tread Lightly Geocache Event
WOW! What a weekend. I attended my first official geocaching event and it was a great one . . . well at least it was good for me. After actually sleeping the night through last night without any errant white Jeeps roaring up beside me I sat down to jot down a few of my thoughts from this past weekend and I thought I would share them with the rest of the geocaching community.
Where to start . . . well the beginning always makes the most sense so letís start there. My name is Firefighterjake and I was born the poor son of a sharecropper . . . well, thatís not entirely true and more-over that may be a little too close to the beginning. Why donít we start out at breakfast . . . where this whole event officially began?
Itís five minutes before five oíclock and Iíve beaten my alarm clock to the proverbial punch as it was set the night before to go off at 5 a.m. Guess I must have an internal alarm clock that works just as well as my internal GPSr. A few minutes after a quick shower and some personal hygiene and Iím out the door and on my way to Fairfieldís Big Stop Restaurant on Rt. 201.
I pull into the yard and see all kinds of SUVs and pick-up trucks laden with camping gear. Looks like Iím in the right place.
I walk inside with a bit of trepidation and meet the rowdy-looking crew. Ironically I knew most of the folks from previous experience and from conversing at the site here with the main exception being Whlrgod and Tidos who turn out to be Ned and "Nancy" . . . well I thought her name was Nancy and I called her Nancy the entire weekend. It wasnít until Monday morning while reading the logged caches that I learned "Nancy" was in fact "Tammy."
After a quick breakfast with Cammy and Tim who stopped by to say hi the Tread Lightly event crew/mob was on the road and heading north. Our first stop was a series of quick grab and go caches in Skowhegan. At Watching Place cache I was looking at the beautiful waterfall and nearly stepped on a fresh doggie "land mine" which I missed thanks to the warning of fellow geocachers (guess they really do like us Magellan users! ) We found this cache as well as one of Laughing Terryís Plain Sight caches (I was last to find that one) and the Big Indian cache in short order.
Our next stop was at the relatively new Old Canada Road cache (after Hiram boomeranged past the point Ė and he didnít even have a Magellan GPSr to use as an excuse ) where Dave of Dave and Gail fame tried to convince his wife that a perfectly round hole in the ground the size of a small swimming pool was from a meteorite. Needless to say she didnít believe him.
In Bingham the group temporarily split apart. Some folks went to the gas station to fuel up. Some folks continued down the road to grab a cache at the Half There rest stop cache.
However, all of the men folk were staring at the bikini-clad Bingham girls who were holding a car wash and yelling "Hey Mister, your car is dirty." For our part, us men were thinking, "Why yes, those bikini-clad girls are right. This car is looking kind of dirty . . . even if I did just wash it yesterday and even if I havenít been off-road with it yet." Meanwhile the respective spouses of these men were giving their partner THE LOOK.
The convoy grouped up at the Half There cache and continued to the campsite with the exception of myself as I elected to grab a few more quick caches at Wyman Lake and Another Reason to Stop rest stop . . . even if itís not all about the numbers. I tell ya geocaching is like eating potato chips . . . well I mean you donít actually eat the geocache, I mean you do one cache and then you feel compelled to do another and another and another and . . . . well you get the idea.
When I arrived at the campsite most of the folks were still in the process of setting up their tents. My job was pretty easy Ė I moved the jack and tire iron out of the way and unrolled my sleeping bag. Home Sweet Home in the back of my 4Runner.
Hiram and Steph meanwhile were erecting a mini Waco complex with a tent and screen tent centered around a picnic table. Dave and Gail were hard at work building their Taj Mahal with a tent and canopy . . . later on both of these complexes were tied together with "the good green tarp" which proved quite useful when it began raining in the evening.
Dave1976 and Girlmate were lazy, I mean smart, like me. They camped out in the back of Daveís Nissan pick-up with a cab. They later told us they spent the night watching a movie before falling to bed . . . at least thatís their story and theyíre sticking to it.
Attroll slept in what can best be described as a cocoon suspended underneath a "gigan-normous" banana leaf . . . in reality it was a sleeping bag/hammock with a rain fly tied off over him. I still think it looked more like a giant cocoon though. I half expected to see Attroll go to bed on Saturday night and emerge from his cocoon on Sunday morning looking like Brad Pitt . . . just like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly.
Maniac had a relatively small tent . . . but he made sure there was plenty of room for him and his geo-pups. Whlrgod and Tidos probably had the most normal-looking tent set up compared to everyone else that was there.
Shortly after we had set up the tents WhereRWe arrived on site . . . this time around he had the right campsite and the right date! At this point we mounted up and rode off to do some serious geocaching with WhereRWe acting as our tour guide.
I was fortunate since I had a front seat with WhereRWe who obviously knew these roads like the back of his hand . . . I say this based on the fact that he was able to tell me all about nearby springs, old railroad station buildings, mountains, etc. and the fact that he was driving as if he was in training for the Dakar Off Road Rally.
We quickly nabbed the cache at Fossil Rock. Fossil Rock hasnít been found much lately . . . but the next few cachers should have no problem finding it after having 15 or so folks stomping around in the undergrowth looking for the cache.
We then moved on to another quick find at Moxie Trail Crossing after driving by scenic Moxie Lake and then it was time to tackle Fosterís Solitude cache. With only a few words of warning and advice, WhereRWe headed back home, so I jumped on board with Hiram and Steph in their white Jeep (No, they didnít win it in the Jeep Geocaching contest.)
First off . . . if anyone is thinking about doing Fosterís do not fear this cache. There are a few washouts and some rocks, but if you have a 4WD vehicle with decent ground clearance (it doesnít need to be lifted) you can easily ride up to the cache. While there are some branches and raspberry bushes which may brush against your vehicle you will not have to replace your windshield or call Maco to get a brand new paintjob after this ride.
The ride up to Fosterís was in fact a rather short, but bumpy ride. Steph was bouncing back and forth like a Weeble Wobble that refused to fall down . . . fortunately the window was down so she didnít smack her head repeatedly into the window which is good since Iím not so good at treating cerebral hematomas with nothing more than a roll of duct tape and a drinking straw.
As I stated earlier the ride up wasnít so bad as we had been lead to believe, but nevertheless you would have thought we intrepid off-roading geocachers had just driven up the side of Mt. Everest. We didnít break out the celebratory champagne, although a few folks did take a few swigs of Poland Spring water . . . but I suspect they were simply thirsty.
After finding the cache, checking out the view from the top (you could see the Backscatter radar site) and posing for the obligatory photo the group took advantage of the rest stop to grab a snack.
When Hiram and Mike from The G-Team began to talk to each other about technical four-wheeling stuff which I could make no heads or tails of I told the group I was going to walk down to get pictures of everyone coming down the trail. Of course, I also gobbled down more than a few of the wild raspberries on the way down since I was feeling a bit hungry at that point and all of my snacks were bad in the 4Runner at the campsite.
Our next geocaching stop was a quick find at Over the Horizon cache and then someone had the bright idea to try Laughing Terryís Deathwish I cache. The ride to the cache was quick, but finding the cache was a whole different matter. After scrambling down the steep embankments we saw a beautiful set of waterfalls . . . but no sign of LTís elusive cache.
I kept hoping that maybe this was a variation of LTís Bessie Tale cache so I was all for trying to get the group to go look for the cache attached to the tale of some nearby moose , but no one else in the group thought Terry would do such a thing.
Instead we vainly searched high and low for the cache on the steep sides. I found a beer can which I opted to CITO with an assist from Dave1976 . . . yeah Dave that was me who put the beer can on your Nissanís antenna (maybe next time youíll think first before telling the folks at Unity House of Pizza that you needed my home address since I was sleeping with your girlfriend . . .
After what seemed like hours and hours of searching we reluctantly gave up on the Deathwish cache. The negative: the cache was not found even with all of us searching for it. The positive: no one plummeted to their death which would have been bad . . . plus it would have meant a lot less time to search for other caches.
Incidentally, LT if youíre reading this Hiram and I were thinking about starting up our own geocaching club called the "I Hate LT" geocaching club . At least that was our thought before we did LTís Under the Waterfall Cache. This was a much easier and very beautiful cache spot.
As for solving this puzzle . . . all I can say is that I had the answer right in front of me even before LT gave me the hint and I couldnít believe I had missed seeing the coordinates! I personally loved this cache and the little dwarf inside me opted to explore the site. I ended up with wet feet, but the look of surprise on some of the geocacherís faces when I popped up on the other side was worth the soaked hiking boots.
Our final cache for Day 1 was Bingham Trestle. It was at this point that 1manhunt and Team2Hunt left our group and headed south as they were not planning to stay overnight.
Back at the camp we gathered together under Dave and Gailís "good green tarp" which was now attached to Hiram and Stephís screen house. While Maniac had to dodge the occasional puddle of rain water that would collect in the tarpís gap between the screen house and canopy, most of us stayed reasonably dry. Of course, Hiram and Step were living life to the fullest in their "first class" accommodations as the screenhouse had a picnic table, citronella candles and reportedly there were little mints being left at each place setting.
Burgers and hotdogs seemed to be the main fare for the evening with a few exceptions. Whlrgod and Tidos had some appetizing looking beef and vegetable kabobs while Dave and Gail served up jalapeno burgers. Hiram and Steph (OK, mostly Hiram) had beans with their franks . . . which led many of us to pity poor Steph.
There was no excuse for anyone to go hungry since Gail was serving up generous portions of her pasta salad while Dave kept offering food to each and every geocacher present . . . once again showing that famous northern Maine/Canadian sense of hospitality.
Dave1976 and Girlmate had veggie burgers . . . funny thing though, I didnít see too many geocachers drooling over those veggie burgers and wishing they had one of those on their plate.
Unbeknownst to most everyone, Attroll had his own private stash of brownies that Donna had made for him to "share" with the group . . . of course we never learned about these special brownies until the next day when Rick confessed to the fact he had eaten all of the brownies but one.
As we ate and talked, Gail kept trying to keep the fire stoked in a steady downpour. Eventually, she gave up and let the fire die out . . . but it certainly wasnít for a lack of effort.
As we sat around and reminisced every once in a while (well every 15 minutes) someone would say "letís go geocaching" and some in the group would get motivated for all of 5 minutes before deciding that a second drink would be a better idea than going geocaching in the pouring rain.
After awhile I went to bed as others started to drift off to their respective tents and/or vehicles to sleep the night away. I quickly fell asleep until around 11 p.m. when I woke up to what I could swear was the sound of a vehicle pulling up beside my SUV. I attributed the sound to an over-active imagination/dreaming and went back to bed. It wasnít until the next day when I did Caratunk Boat Landing cache that I realized I had not been dreaming and in fact Hiram, Attroll and Mike from the G-Team had been out to nab a few caches . . . and attempt Hole in the Wall before deciding the combination of darkness, steep terrain and rain would most likely result in someone getting hurt.
In the morning I woke up around 5 a.m. and folks were still asleep so I cruised down to the nearby Caratunk Boat Landing Cache and then headed to the Got Moxie cache for a brief, brisk walk to those beautiful falls. When I returned the group was breaking camp.
At this point our Tread Lightly group broke into two separate parties with Dave/Gail, Dave1976/Girlmate and Maniac heading north to Jackman as they wanted to grab a few caches for the DeLorme Challenge. The G-Team/Attroll, Hiram/Steph, Whlrdod/Tidos and myself elected to work our way east towards Greenville.
While most of the roads were smooth gravel roads, Hiram wisely chose a rough-looking logging road that was full of washouts, rocks and overgrown in spots as our main route to Greenville and the Gateway to Greenville Cache. Of course, since this was an off-road geocaching event we loved every minute of this portion of the trail.
After a quick all-you-can-eat breakfast at Kellyís Landing (and a big hug from the waitress Ė well Whlrgod got a big hug as he apparently knew the waitress Ė she definitely wasnít his ex-wife ) we went to Lily Bay State Park to grab the caches there. Only a geocacher would consider paying $3 to stop by a park for a half hour as a good deal Ė and a bargain at $1.50 per cache.
The ITS Stash was a quick find, but the Beyond the Trash Stash/Gravel Pit Cache was a big bust . . . unless you count being stung by bees or seeing the moose bone graveyard as a good thing.
At the Fishy Find cache us men folk proved once again that we have a problem with taking directions. Our GPS receivers all said to head into the woods, so Whlrgod, Hiram and myself did just that. G-Team/Mike and Attroll wisely chose to stay on the trail . . . of course they may have done so since Hiram gave them bad coordinates and they were thinking they would have to go halfway to Canada to find this cache. Meanwhile Steph kept suggesting we stay on the old logging trail. We foolishly ignored Stephís advice . . . only to find 15 minutes later after stumbling over wetholes and thick underbrush that the cache was located right beside the trail Steph mentioned.
Our next stop was the B-52 Crash Stash Cache. The cache was easy and in a picturesque spot . . . the crash site was not so pretty and in fact was rather sobering.
We began to work our way south as it was clear to see that we were all beginning to grow tired. Sawyer Pond and Memorial Bridge caches were quick stops along the way.
VicBikerís Arc de Brook was probably the hands-down favorite of the day for the group as the short ride into the cache offered the most technical riding of the two days and we were rewarded with a clever micro in a beautiful spot.
While we loved VicBikerís Arc de Brook we were ready to add him to our new I Hate LT fan club when we struck out on Vicís Challenge. We searched high and low and despite the hint and a few false hits (I honestly thought the Gatorade bottle was the cache guys! ) we DNFed here.
Whrlgod and Tidos parted with us in Abbot and made their way home while the rest of us headed to Dexter. The gang stopped at Wasoookeag Cache, but didnít listen to me when I told them I thought Cameo had archived this cache (Sure, never believe the Magellan user! ) Shells Over the Water was also a DNF . . . although I suspect Hiram found part of the remains of this cache.
Our final stop was Noreastaís Work of Art cache as we were all very intrigued as to what was the "art". This too was a quick find. We signed the logs and then I headed home . . . it was a long weekend. I was hot. I was tired. I was smelly . . . but on the flip side I had met some great folks. I had a great time geocaching, camping and off-roading. I had taken some neat photos . . . and of course I had just found a boat-load of geocaches to add to my count . . . even though numbers arenít everything, right?