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Thursday, March 5, 2009

FTF - What The Heck Was I Thinking?

(note above my shoe bottom left and the ice just above it -HHH)

I am typing this rather interesting little story to you in wet and sandy socks. My work shoes are drying next to my desk and though quite damp, no longer dirty from my geocaching escapades of yesterday. The reason they are no longer dirty, yet moist and a bit sandy is due to my obsession with geocaching FTFs or First To Finds. If you read my blog on a regular basis you will see many postings of a happy smiling me showing clean log sheets of some cache with either my name on top or soon to be signed. Today was a smidge different than my normal routine thus the wet shoes, socks and my right pant leg.

Let me tell you of my adventure. It started out innocent enough. I received an email last night telling me of a new geocache that posted in the Creedmoor, NC area. 1208Zuni a geocaching friend of mine was the owner. Zuni is known for some downright crazy geocache hides and I prepared myself for the possibility that this would be a tougher find.

It’s 6:45 am and I pull up to the cache site. It is on a fairly busy road looking over a stream which goes under the road itself. The base of the stream is a good twelve feet down with a steep snow covered slope. We had just received several inches of rare March snow that still had not melted and it was only about 27 degrees out. I figured out a way to get down but it would take a bit of a walk around to accomplish, no problem. About half way down was when the police showed up. I waved, he waved, I thought to myself, “well – shyte!”.

“That your car”, the officer asked from his rolled down car window.

“yessir”, says I.

“Whatcha doing down there”, says he.

“Why Geocaching Sir, there is a new one that was just placed here and I’m trying to find it. Is that a problem”, says I hoping this will end quickly yet without being arrested.

“No problem, just wanted to make sure it wasn’t an abandoned vehicle. Have fun”, with that he rolled up his window and drove away.

“Well that was interesting”, I thought to myself. No big schpeel about what geocaching was and I still had time to find it before heading off to work. Cool!

With the threat of incarceration behind me and after a bit of bushwhacking I reached the small stream and though there was a lot of vegetation there were two areas to cross if I was careful. Checking my BlackBerry and Geocache Navigator I realized that the cache was indeed on the other side of the bubbling waters. After making sure that my phone would not end in the drink I made a leap that did not end in tragedy. Being in work shoes that is always a good thing. Actually I was pleased that I had not already broken my neck after walking downhill on the snow covered weeds.

The cache site was a concrete spill drain that controlled the stream itself. There were several hiding areas for a micro which required me to stand on some ice covered rocks while straddling the hillside. This was not a very comfortable way to be for a rather girth prone person such as I am. As I poked and prodded with my now frozen fingers I held a wonderful cataclysmic thought in my head of landing straight on my butt into the icy cold water behind me. I could feel my legs ache from the cold and precarious position while trying to keep my balance. Minutes seemed to slip away as my frustration level increased. Maybe it was in the stump that was six feet up and out of reach, maybe in one of the drain holes that I could not see far enough into? Drat, where could it be? As usual just before I give up I look and see the well camouflaged geocache.

SUCCESS! I quickly but carefully take out my Blackberry and snap some photos all the while remembering that I was standing over water. I sign the clean sheets and put everything back where it was. That was when I heard something rustling about 30 feet above me and to my left. I look up and there was Zuni smiling ear to ear.

“Did you find it”, he asked.

Now any other time I would think that a 300+ fat man straddling the side of a hill and standing on frozen rocks over a flowing stream may have caused a slightly different reaction from anyone else. Except Zuni knows me and he knows what I have done in the past for a FTF so this was pretty much business as usual in the geocaching world.

“Yup all signed and put back, oh, and you suck Zuni”, I said with a grin. He laughed.

Zuni came back over to make sure everything was in place for whoever was fool hardy enough to try and find this particular geocache after all the rain and snow. We chatted a bit and he told me that another geocache will be opening in the area soon. First thought, cool. Second thought, getting my keester off of these rocks and onto solid ground before something bad happens.

Zuni had to take off himself so we said our good-byes and I tried to figure out the best way to get back to my car. The route Zuni originally took to get down here was way too snow covered and steep for me to try in my work shoes. So I decided to go back the way I came. Unfortunately on my attempt going back I slipped and landed on a sand bar like ground which looked at the time rather firm. It wasn’t and my foot sunk down to above my ankle in thick quicksand muck. The cold was intense and as I jumped from right foot to left the second foot placement was not much better. It too found a soggy spot though not as deep but deep enough to soak that foot as well. It is amazing how your mind just disengages when you realize that you screwed up big time. All I could think of as I trotted up the now even slipperier path to my car was how the water washed away the red North Carolina dirt off my shoes from yesterday. Needless to say I could not wait to get into work and at my desk where I can hide till everything dries.

All of this for a First To Find. I wonder if Zuni’s other geocache has published yet? Hmmmmm.

But I’m NOT Obsessed…. Right?


Carole said...

Very funny story! Hope your foot and shoes dry quickly! We've been known to go to some pretty crazy lengths for an FTF too, so I don't think you're crazy. :-D Your description of yourself as a "300+ fat man straddling the side of a hill" made me LOL. :-)

jeffbouldin said...

Obsessed?! Sounds normal to me!

HeadHardHat said...

It took me till after lunch time for my shoes and socks to dry. Lucky for me all my meetings were teleconferences and I never had to leave my cube.

Way too much fun.


Erika Jean said...

I guess now you will remember to keep an extra outfit (including socks and shoes) in the car ;-)

HeadHardHat said...

Always having a spare set of clothes did occur to me AFTER I took the soaking but it's what they say about hindsight...

scubaham said...

Too funny! I love your blog and videos. Gives me a smile every time!

The part about it seeming "business as usual" to the LEO was cool too. I've had one encounter with an LEO which went fine as well and a few near-brushes.

Keep 'em coming! Happy hunting!

P.J. said...

I always keep extra clothes in the car. You never know when you'll get soaked caching!

A 'lil HooHaa

Just John said...

Maybe the lawman is a cacher...

Great read, especially how you made it to the challenging cache, made the find, and THEN got your feet soaked! I got a little chill just looking at the pic of your shoe.

Lachlan said...

Hi HeadHardHat,

New reader and new cacher. Really enjoying your blog.

I'm still learning the tricks and how to use a GPS, etc, but I am finding your videos/posts a great help. Thank you so much!