Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"When I Was a Kid...

Yeah, I found it. No, not the cache...
the quicksand.

...I thought quicksand would be a much bigger problem."

You see memes with that quote going around from time to time, and—sure enough—growing up in the 1960s and 70s, you could turn on just about any TV show and there would be our hero, having to find some ingenious means of saving himself from the quicksand trap one arch-villain or another had set. But after leaving adolescence behind, all that quicksand, it seemed, proved to be figurative rather than literal.

That's largely still true, unless you happen to go hiking with me.

This past Sunday, I wasn't planning on going geocaching, both because, between work and having to drive to Mom's several times, I had put over 1,000 miles on the car the last couple of weeks, and also because the forecast called for serious rain. Come midday, and still no rain, I said fuckit, I'm gonna go out to one of our local lakes and see if I can find one of the caches you're supposed to reach by boat. However, I had bushwhacked out to that area a couple of years ago, and though I never spotted the cache, I knew you could at least get to ground zero by land.

That is, if you pick your route well you can get there by land—or at least within 30 ft. or so of GZ. However, I chose unwisely and headed straight for GZ instead of taking the roundabout but much easier route. For the way I chose, there be swamp. Much, much swamp. And...

Quicksand. An honest-to-god, scum-sucking, bottomless pool of quicksand, which, with my one errant step, took hold of me real good. I immediately sank past my knees and, with every attempt to extricate myself, went deeper and deeper. After maybe half a minute, it was up to my waist, and my feet still could find no purchase. Fortunately for me, while deep, the pool wasn't all that extensive, and I was able to maneuver close enough to a good-sized tree, grab it, and, with a disturbing amount of effort, finally drag myself out. (Thank Yog I'd had the foresight to wrap my electronic stuff and other valuables in plastic bags and stow them in my backpack.) Anyone witnessing me crawling out from that pool and lurching to my feet would have probably run screaming, convinced that The Boggy Creek Monster had risen from its watery lair.

Despite my GPS pointing me some distance to the left, I now went right, and managed to find solid, if not dry ground. After some time, the woods opened up a little, so I was able to get back on course and eventually reach GZ. Or damn near. However, Brush Creek was swollen to overflowing and my GPS still pointed to the far bank, about 40 feet away. I decided to test the water's depth; a mere foot from the bank, my hiking stick didn't touch bottom.

On the far bank, I could see a fallen tree with lots of limbs and a huge rootball, and I had the nagging suspicion that was where I'd find the cache. A couple of fallen trees, partly submerged, spanned the stream, so I figured I could use one of them to cross, as long as I didn't mind getting wet. But give me a break — I had just come close to being swallowed by motherfucking quicksand, and this was just deep river water. Since the near end of the log was submerged, walking across was right out. Nothing for it but to scoot. Thus, I lowered myself onto the log, legs dangling in the deep water, and began the scooting process, which went well enough until I was about ten feet from the far bank. Here, the incline became extreme enough to almost dissuade me from continuing. But giving up meant all this had been for naught, so... the word of the day became "perseverance." At last, I was able to pull myself onto the far bank, and my search for the geocache commenced.
My makeshift bridge across Brush Creek
I scoured that big old fallen tree. It looked recent, and I figured if the cache had been attached to a limb that had overhung the stream, that limb would now be pointing skyward. So I climbed one of those skyward-pointing limbs as high as I could go, and searched, and searched, and searched, and — no! The cache was not here!


I began checking every nearby host I could find. There was another fallen log about 20 feet away that looked semi-promising, but I couldn't reach it from the bank due to a barrier of briers that might have given pause even to Robgso (of the "No blood, no fun" persuasion). For the next hour and a half, I hunted and searched and searched and hunted, partly due to a stubborn desire not to get skunked again, but partly to put off repeating the dreaded log crossing. All during my hunt, I could hear heavy splashes; things scuttling through the tall, thick grasses; odd chirps and guttural groans, and I began to wonder if there might be something lurking in that deep water that would make my bout with the quicksand seem a pleasant little paddle. Eventually, though, I had to give up the hunt and reconcile myself to scooting back across—which I managed without mishap, and in the process washed off all remaining traces of my damn near-subterranean sojourn.

I had just regained solid ground when the rain started. Not a gentle, pitter-pattering rain, but the gullywasher from hell. So I got my stuff together and made my egress, steering way clear of the swamp and the quicksand, which meant a much longer bushwhack, but at least this time on solid ground.

A half hour later, a drowned rat would have been far dryer than the old fellow that stepped out onto Lewiston Road amid the Great Deluge of 2017.

And thus, did Damned Rodan not go geocaching on Sunday.
Yeah, that might have been the Boggy Creek monster shambling around over there on the far bank....

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