Earthcaches

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rattlesnake Summit

Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (shown in red)
One of our favorite get away places is Ridgecrest Center in Ridgecrest, NC. It sits right at the continental divide. As you climb up the mountain along I-40 West bound you crest the ridge and there it is over to the right side of the Interstate. We took a trip to Tennessee a few weeks back but planned to stop off at Ridgecrest for a night on our way back. We cached our way up to Ridgecrest, checked in and then took a few minutes to consider whether the weather was going to hold or not. The last 30 minutes of our drive put us in a steady drizzle. It had been my plan to climb Rattlesnake Summit to find three geocaches on the ridge connecting to the summit but with the weather looking menacing, I was reconsidering. Fortunately the weather looked like it might clear
The Cross thanks to Jessica
up so off we went. We drove up to the tennis courts, cutting half a mile off of our hike. From there we grabbed the trail head. The hike consisted of a gentle climb along a well prepared trail. I got a little turned around on the trails at the lake. Once I got straightened out there (don't always trust the signage) we were again on our way towards the first cache. As we climbed we were ever cognizant of the threat of bears. Just that morning there were reports of bears rummaging around the retreat center after garbage. We made noise and talked loudly in hopes that any bear in the area would hear us coming and leave before we ever saw it.

We climbed to the ridge line where the trail took a sharp 90 degree turn to left allowing for a more gradual ascent towards the summit. The closest cache was just above us some 60 feet so I couldn't resist climbing up to look for it. sumajhuarmi stayed on the trail and kept checking on me. I was just beyond her view. I couldn't find the cache but found another trail above the cache. I gave up, came down to where sumajhuarmi was and we continued up the trail. The summit was only about 600 feet up the trail. The last couple hundred feet was rock outcropping but it was easy. We made it to the top but couldn't see anything for the clouds. We set out to find. Rattlesnake Mountain Summit (GC4ERVJ). We searched the area until finally sumajhuarmi pointed out a reference that might help us. Sure enough, it was there. Just as I was kneeling down to sign the log sheet I heard from maybe 15 feet above me at the summit (also beyond some bushes) a loud hop like a wild animal. At first it startled me, then I realized it was another climb. I hollered back, probably surprising her as much as she'd surprised me. It was one of the camp counselors at the girls camp below. She'd taken off on her own to climb the summit and thought she was alone on the summit. Surprise! I managed to hide the cache without her being any the wiser. We talked a few minutes, then headed back down the trail. We thought we'd look for the cache I had not found. As we walked down we found the intersecting trail that passed just above the missing cache. Within no time sumajhuarmi had My Left Foot (GC4J3XR) in hand. We pushed on up the trail a short distance more to look for the other shoe. That's right. The next cache was Get Off on the Right Foot (GC4J1K9), placed by the same cacher. Again, sumajhuarmi came up with the cache looking through the rhododendron. All done. The sun broke out and we started down the mountain back to Ridgecrest.
Laural Bluff Lodging at Ridgecrest thanks to Jessica

Ridgecrest from I-40 thanks to Zepfanman
When we got back to the room I logged my finds and out of curiosity checked to see how far we were from some previous caches we had found on this mountain. I posted that adventure on April 7th 2013 entitled Geocaching the Lookout Mountain Trail, Montreat, NC. I was so surprised to find that I was practically at one of the key caches in that March 2013 climb. The climb from the Montreat side was significantly harder (and provided some vistas making it well worth the climb) than the Ridgecrest climb. I also noticed that some fellow cachers have populated the area with some new caches. Anyone wishing to find these caches should contact the Ridgecrest Retreat Center to climb from their side. They might let you. I don't know. For no questions asked, check out the April 7th post and go from the Montreat side. It's all public entry from that side and gets you to the same area. Happy caching!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fort Fisher, some history and a geocache

Fort Fisher, thanks to Suess
Carolina Beach is one of our favorite beaches in North Carolina. My wife was raised going there every summer for two weeks with her family. We continued the tradition for a while but now kind of hop around to different beaches when family can arrange to go and rent a house. This year we made it back to Carolina Beach and all the fun that goes with it. We hit Big Daddy's Seafood at Kure Beach, the boardwalk at Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher.

Fort Fisher is a place that has always captured my attention because family tradition is that my great-great-great grandfather Henry Stephen King was a Confederate soldier there. In a history produced by Sampson County, NC the family of Henry Stephen King is featured. Apparently family members claimed that he was there for the fall of the fort in January 1865.

Fort Fisher thanks to Suess
My research over the years does indicate that he enlisted in the Confederate Army in Company C, 5th Cavalry of the 63rd Regiment of Confederate NC Troops. Muster rolls say that he was discharged due to a disability within a few months. This was actually before the unit finished its boot training and was officially organized and deployed. I can't just ignore family tradition so I continue to believe that he could be among men conscripted or who volunteered late in the war to fill vacancies. I don't know.

Fort Fisher still stands with its sand dune defenses. Some are washing away into the sea through erosion. There is a nice museum worth your time. For more information on this battle click here.

I pushed on from the museum area up to the end of the peninsula, out to Battery Buchanan. This was the artillery battery located close to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, positioned to defend that river against invading Union ships. I found Fort Fisher Cache (GC37C) placed in 2001. You can tell from the short number that it is an early cache. I sat out from the public parking at the end of the peninsula and tracked right out to the cache with no muggle interference at all. The find was straight forward and easy, just a little poking around in the prickly bushes. It was an easy find on top of the overlook and behind the gun positions. What a view of the scene of some pretty serious fighting so long ago. Thanks to the cache owner for bringing me here.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Smith River Fieldale Trail

Smith River Fieldale Trail near Martinsville, Virginia
Just a week ago today I was riding the trails at the Bear Cabin, the subject of my previous post. Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to do it again. The pastors of our church gathered at the Bear Cabin for a short retreat and for a time of looking to the future. Add to this some time on the ATVs out on the trails. It was fun. We wrapped up today in order to head back to North Carolina. One of the pastors came with me in order to see what geocaching is. We headed over to the Smith River Fieldale Trails, hosting a collection of riverside geocaches of various sizes.

On the Smith River Fieldale Trail
We parked at the first parking lot (not the recommended area) so as to work the caches from west to east and then return. The trail runs along the Smith River for 2.4 miles. We found 7 out of the 8 caches on the trail. As we walked I answered all my friend's question about geocaching, how it was started and where, how it works and I demonstrated how to find a cache using the GPSr. From there it was his job to make the finds. Several caches were good enough for me to give them a favorite status. These were Snow Bank (GC23XVP) and Cachefishing (GC1PA13), both by the same cache owner. The first took us up a steep embankment. Because of signal bounce I ended up going
Learning about caching
above the cache and then being surprised to find it down the hill about 50 feet. That was 50 feet of huffing and puffing I didn't need to do. It was a large ammo can with lots of swag. We almost tumbled down the hill to move on to the next cache. It was the other favorite cache mentioned above. I knew it had to have something to do with fishing by the title. Sure enough it did. I found the tell tale sign that it was and followed that to the cache. After signing these logs we were off to further adventure, sweat and dirt as we worked our way to the last cache on the trail. It was a great caching afternoon with my muggle friend. He got to see the different types of caches and to experience a terrain 4 cache at the same time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hermit Story

Along the Basin Trail

Boardwalk along the Basin Trail
We love our summer beach vacation. This year because several family members are taking a Christmas vacation out of the country and needed to save up vacation, we cut our beach trip down to three days instead of a week. We found a nice condo at Carolina Beach, NC within half a block of the Sea Ranch Motel, where my wife always stayed with her family growing up. It was like old times for her. We enjoyed the sun and the surf for several days.

I broke away from the family for a short while one day to go down to the end of the peninsula to visit a series of geocaches called the Hermit's Hangout Series. It was located along the Basin Trail in the Fort Fisher Recreation Area. I parked at the designated parking, just 100 meters from the trail head and the first cache. It was 5 p.m. in the afternoon, sun shining and a nice sea breeze blowing. The trail began in the tall shrubbery and trees that grow in the sand along the coast. It then broke out into the open and followed a sandy road for a while, then darted into the marsh grass. At two points I was traveling on a raised wooden boardwalk over swamp but out in the open sun. The trail ended at the inlet. Along the trail there were several geocaches. I'll post one that was typical of them all. For instance, Hermit's Hangout Series: "End of the Trail" (GC4P01A). The caches were mostly micros and there was nothing particularly special about them. What was special was the walk, the wildlife (I saw several bucks), the hermit crabs, and the Hermit Hang Out. When I first started out on the hike I thought that the series was named after the numerous hermit crabs that scurried along the path as you approached. Not the case. There is a story here.

Back in 1973 some teenagers found Robert Harrill's body in his makeshift home. Robert had become famous, even known as the state's #2 tourist attraction for a time. He had moved from the hills of western North Carolina at age 62 back in 1955 to get away from it all. For the next 17 years he lived a hermit's life, at least in the sense of leaving behind a job, a home ownership, a vehicle, and other normal responsibilities. He found an old World War II bunker and turned it into a home on the North Carolina coast. He lived off what he caught and what was given to him by visitors. One of the caches dropped me off right close to the bunker. At the bunker there was a plaque left by the Hermit Society and a large information sign telling about Harrill's life. Check out the following link for more of Robert Harrill's history. When I got back to the condo and told my wife about the experience she said she remembered as a child hearing about the hermit. This is just another example of how geocaching takes you places you don't expect to go to but are blessed to learn about!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Bear Cabin








August, just before school starts back, is a great time to get away. Most of our family broke away from routine to visit a cabin in south central Virginia. We call it the Bear Cabin as the dominant animal in the cabin and in the mountains around the cabin is the wild Black Bear. We departed home in High Point, NC on our journey stopping periodically to grab a few caches along our route. I stuck with simple Park and Grab caches. The area we went to was so far back in the countryside that there were no caches anywhere close by. Most of the land is private and mountainous. We stayed at a beautiful cabin big enough for our extended family. The main activity for the vacation was something we'd never done before: All Terrain Vehicles and mountain trails. We hit the trails and spent hours riding them. It was great! We saw deer, wild turkey and most impressive, one wild black bear. The owner puts out corn for the deer. Bears go for the corn too. Fortunately bears are as afraid of us as we are of them. He took off as soon as our jeep came into sight. He could really run!

Running low on fuel for the ATVs gave me an excuse to get back out to civilization and hide a couple of simple caches nearby. I was glad to see that several people found the first one published quickly. My coordinates were off so thankfully the second finder provided a better set of coordinates from which I made changes. There's nothing special about these two caches, just that they are in a an area that is beautiful and will remind me of our wonderful stay there every time someone finds them.. I hope we can go back again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chimney Rock, North Carolina

I've been off the blog way too long. I'll try to ease back in so the blog will be short on words and bigger on photos. Chimney Rock State Park was a great visit. We found the several geocaches at the park, climbed the rock and walked to the waterfalls. Afterwards we followed our daughter's advice to go to Hershey's Ice Cream down in town. That was a treat. Check out the caches at this park if you get the opportunity. They are: Chimney Rock Park Geology (GC1H7EB), Chimney Rock (GCG0PP) and Hickory Nut Falls Earthcache (GC2AWG2)


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sportsmen's Banquet

Paige Patterson
Two weeks ago we held our first every Sportsmen's Banquet for men in our church and community. We filled our Multi-Purpose Room with about 375 men from all over. We came together to first of all enjoy a nice wild  game dinner. Second, we enjoyed some good Blue Grass music from a local band. Third, we had prize drawings and gave away some really nice gifts. The grand prize was a three-day Family Get Away to the Bear Cabin near Martinsville, Virginia. This cabin, located on 600 plus acres of land affords our winner the opportunity to get out on the trails on the two ATVs and in the jeep at this large cabin in the mountains. We also listened to Dr. Paige Patterson talk about his Safari experience in Africa. Later he also shared how men can be the kind of Fathers that God wants. Thanks to the men in our church for both the financing and the muscle to put this together. Fun was had by all.

I posted last week that I was breaking a geocaching slump. This banquet was the chief reason that I was busy and unable to cache any.