An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveAll in a Good Day's Caching - Cache Maintenance, Hunting, and Revisiting
Photo: Indian Paintbrush and Chain in SandstoneIPv4You are not logged in. Click here to log in.
Use Google to search aarongifford.com:
All in a Good Day's Caching - Cache Maintenance, Hunting, and Revisiting
Saturday, 10 April 2004 5:58 PM MDT
Cache Maintenance: Mollie's Nipple Cache in Hurricane by Astounding (that's me) and The Desert Fox (that's my father) - Re-found at around 2:15 P.M. MDT (-0600)
New Cache Found: On the Way Home by The Bracken Family - Found at about 3:30 P.M. MDT (-0600)
Revisited Cache: Three Falls Overlook by Baby Blue and the Bandit - Re-found at 4:01 P.M. MDT (-0600)
Cache Hunting With: My youngest brother, Percible
Saturday, 10 April 2004 - 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM MDT (-0600)
When your job keeps you indoors all day, by the time the weekend comes, if you're like me, you can't wait to get out and enjoy some fresh air, sunlight, and scenery. Since came over to Hurricane, Utah to visit my family (that's where my parents live, with one of my brothers and two of my sisters), this morning I took it upon myself to convince someone to go with me on a caching adventure.
My brother (who goes by the cache hunting nickname Percible) was my first target. And what an easy target he was. I no sooner had spoken the words, "Hey, do you want to go geocaching?" than he instantly responded with an emphatic "Yes!"
My next target was my youngest sister, still a teenager. Unfortunately, she decided she wanted to "look cute" today, and roving around in the dusty outdoors apparently interfered with that. Upon further inquiry, I discovered that had a group of good-looking guys her own age been involved in cache hunting, she would most assuredly want to go along. I got a good chuckle, and teased her a bit about it. She's such a fun sister!
No one else in the family was interested either. Had my father's recent back surgery not complicated things for him, I'm sure he'd have wanted to come along too.
By the time we were ready to depart, it the afternoon was well underway. The two of us, myself and Percible, climbed into the Cache Mobile (that's my new name for my recently resurrected black Chevy S-10 Blazer 4x4 sport utility vehicle), and drove up the hill, intent on replacing the Mollie's Nipple Cache in Hurricane, a cache my father and I had placed back in August of 2001, a cache that had been featured in a 2002 (I think) issue of St. George Magazine.
Apparently not long after the cache was featured in the magazine, several hunters reported it missing. And not long thereafter, my brother, Percible, took a date cache hunting to the site and they were unable to find it as well. So I disabled the cache, intent on replacing it. While my intentions were good, it took me well over a year to get around to it. At last, we were on our way, with a new cache container stuffed and ready to get in the game.
We turned off SR-59, noticing that the tower of rocks at the intersection has been knocked over, and is now just a disorganized pile. I wonder what happened...
We drove past where we were supposed to turn and had to backtrack once we discovered the mistake. Neither of us remembered the gate across the road, so maybe that's why we missed it. My brother was elected, er, um, volunteered by his elder brother for gate duty, so he opened it and closed it. There was a large sign on the fence, commanding us to "Keep Gate Closed!"
After winding, bumping and bouncing down the dirt roads, we arrived at last at the base of Mollie's Nipple, disembarked, and began the short climb to the top. I carried the new, smaller cache to replace the missing cache, and my camera, while my brother had his new G.P.S. receiver in hand, watching it guide him to the old cache coordinates.
I had to pause half way up the hill to catch my breath and take some snapshots with my digital camera. What a view one has atop the Hurricane Cliffs. We could see Sand Hollow Reservoir at the foot of Sand Mountain, the blue water lapping at the edges of the sand dunes. And directly below us, verdant fields of irrigated crops, most likely alfalfa or other hay crops. Pretty!
My brother proceeded on ahead of me, and as I completed my ascension, I noticed he was unmoving, standing at the eastern edge of the top. I went over to see what he was up to, and there it was. The old geocache, in the very spot my father and I had placed it in Auguest of 2001. Wow!
What a puzzle! My brother had searched for this cache over a year ago while on a date, and remembers searching this very spot. We speculated that perhaps someone took the cache home with them, perhaps misunderstanding how cache hunting is supposed to work, then later, upon realizing the problem, returned it. If someone did indeed return the cache, THANK YOU! I really appreciate it. I suppose my brother could have missed it, as the others did, but from the way he describes his original search, I seriously doubt it. Let me repeat myself: thank you, whoever you are, you who returned the cache!
Once on top, what had been a gusting northerly breeze was decided it was a gusting wind. We had to sit down in the lee of a large rock or some other object to open up the cache and examine the contents, read the log entries, and make new log entries.
As my brother wrote in the original log book, I decided to clean up the cache, removing any items that were mostly trash or unlikely to be enjoyed by anyone, then adding a few items from the replacement cache I'd brought with me. Then I decided to swap cache containers. The new container was a bit smaller, and easier to hide. I crammed all the stuff into the new container.
Next, I inspected the cache hiding spot -- not exactly the best place to keep it out of sight, but almost the only spot on top where anything could remain hidden. With a little creative work, I opened up a nook about two feet from the original cache spot where the new cache container would fit, and could be more easily concealed than the old spot. Better!
Of course I was also snapping photos here and there the whole time we were up there. With the bright, overhead sunlight, though, I doubt any of them were very interesting. If I have any interesting shots once I download them from my camera's compact flash card, I'll add a few to this log entry.
We had fun in the crisp, gusting wind on top. The view was stunning, as usual. What an amazing place Southern Utah is!
Once we'd both logged the find, we put the original log book in the new container, and hid it thoroughly. Hopefully the next person to find it will hide it just the same way, so that it is completely concealed, and not obvious to the many non-cachers who come up here regularly.
On the way down the hill, we startled a rather large collared (or ring-necked) lizard (Crotaphytus collaris). I told my brother to freeze in his footsteps, and then tried to get a photo as close as I could, before the lizard disappeared beneath a rock. Thankfully, the lizard posed for me long enough to snap a few shots. If any of them turn out, I'll include on here. My brother didn't get a chance to see the full lizard because of his obeying my order to freeze. But that same chance let me get the shots, so perhaps he'll be able to see the lizard after all.
We both ran down the rocky hillside, leaping and dodging rocks and brush, back to the Cache Mobile. We checked the tires -- Good, no flats! -- then headed back the way we came, the wind at our backs. Percible, with a bit of prompting, navigated his G.P.S. receiver's menu system to see if there were any other nearby caches we might drop in on as we returned home.
We both remembered that some time ago, we found the Three Falls Overlook cache, but neither of us could recall when that was. We determined to find it again and read the log notebook to find out when that was. With this goal in mind, we zipped down the dirt roads, back to the main one, going much faster than we did coming out. It's interesting that bumpy roads seem much smoother at higher speed.
Back on the main road, the gate closed behind us, we wound our way back through Gould Wash and past the youth academy (formerly Branham's Ranch). Nearing the highway, State Route 59, I spotted the dirt road that leads down into Hurricane via a canyon behind the Hurricane Hill (the hill with the big white "H" visible from the town below). This road would take us past the Three Falls Overlook cache.
As we barreled down the dirt road at sixty miles-per-hour, Percible did a little GPS receiver fiddling and discovered a cache less than a tenth of a mile away from us. I slowed, stopped, turned around, and backtracked until the GPS pointed off to the northwest, perpendicular to the direction of the road. We parked, disembarked, paused while I grabbed a pair of glow sticks from my sack of cache treasure, and strided forth to discover a new find.
As we walked the last hundred feet, we both simultaneously spotted a suspicious group of rocks.
That's what cache hunting in the desert often becomes, a hunt for unusual stacks of rocks. Or so it often seems.
We closed the distance, and I uncovered a fun little hiding spot in which rested the On the Way Home cache (an appropriate name, considering that's where we were headed). I wrote an entry in the log book while Percible examined the cache contents. When he showed me a plastic, round disc with the the word TUIT printed on it, I decided that's what I would trade my glow-stick for. At last! I finally got around to it!
While Percible made his log entry, I enjoyed the cool breeze, somewhat milder here than where we'd been earlier. All around, the beauty of the desert was a delight to look at. I know I get repetitive when I say it, but this is a beautiful place to live. I love Southern Utah. What variety! What beauty, rugged and barren though it can be.
Once finished, we returned the cache to it's hidey-hole and headed back to the Cache Mobile, glad to have found this cache. Thanks to the Bracken Family for placing it, and for including a fun bit of family history (which Percible had read aloud to me).
Back on the road, at a slower pace, we continued our journey home. Ahead of us we spotted some mountain bikers. My brother recalled that this dirt road is a part of the Jem Trail, part of a series of trails all over the Hurricane Hill, including the Hurricane Canal trail, and mountain biking trails atop Goosberry mesa. We crept up behind the bikers, and followed a bit. It looked like fun. I'm no mountain biker, but I would enjoy a ride on this part of the trail in weather like this, I think.
The cyclists politely moved to the side to let us pass, and we waved thanks and moved on quickly so that our dust could settle and they wouldn't have to breath it. I appreciate polite people like these folks were.
Soon after we passed the pack of bikers, we turned off the road on a short side road to the overlook, another rocky, bumpy bit of dirt. We bounced our way quickly up the hill, then down the other side to where we parked when we first found this cache.
Once parked, the emergency brake carefully engaged (I didn't want my Cache Mobile rolling down the hill and off the cliff into the canyon below), we practically jumped out and jogged down the hill towards the cache location, my brother with his new GPS in hand to correct any faultiness in our memories.
At 4:01 P.M. my brother and I found, or rather, re-found the Three Falls Overlook cache. Like the first time, Percible was the first one at the site, but I spotted the cache first. I extricated the cache container from the surrounding fortress of stacked rocks, and opened it, rummaging through the contents, looking for the coveted notebook where we'd logged our first find.
I tore open the pages (not literally -- figuratively) and spotted our previous log entries. Lo and behold, we were visiting the cache almost exactly a year after we'd found it the first time. The first time we found it was on a calmer (less windy) day, and it was my brother's birthday.
It was also an interesting coincidence that the time of day of both of our finds was so very similar. We found the cache again today barely after 4:00 P.M. The last time we were here, it was around 4:30 P.M.
I wrote an unusally short log entry (for which I am thoroughly making up with this incredibly lengthly log entry), then handed the notebook to my brother. While I'd been writing, he examined the contents, and decided to make a trade for a Lord of the Rings "One Ring".
When he wrote his log entry, a much longer one than mine, he made his apologies to Sauron for taking the ring. As he wrote, I wandered down to the rim of the canyon and tested out the acoustics, shouting, and listening for the echo. I'd done the same thing the last time we were here.
Our task completed, the cache again enfortressed, we strode back up the hill, and headed home at last.
The dirt road that was so smooth earlier, enabling safe travel at a goodly speed, gets very rocky as it twists around knolls and hills and descends into the canyon behind Hurricane Hill. We had to wend our way carefully.
Ahead of us, we spied a herd of cows and their calves, lounging around in the canyon bottom beside the road, some of them munching the fresh greenery brought on by spring rains. I whipped out my camera, intent on capturing at least one snapshot to send to my friend and coworker (and fellow geocacher), who operates an unusual and humorous web site, www.wheresthebeef.com. I wanted a shot I could subit for use as the Beef of the Day shot. I'll have to see if he accepts what I send him.
Well that about wraps it up. I think I got carried away, taking far too long to write this thing up and add pictures. I had fun. If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed the cache maintenance, find, and re-find adventures.
St. George, Utah