Thursday, May 10, 2018

Back to the Barn

In the past couple of months, I think I've spent more time hunting Geocaches at and around Hagan Stone Park in southeastern Guilford County than in all my previous nine years of caching (see "From Hagan Stone to Transylvania," "From Company Mill to Wet Willie," and "The Last Year of My Fifth Decade Begins" for some real sob stories). Each of these excursions has been made as a direct result of numerous new caches coming out over a period of weeks, most hidden by the nefarious Geocacher known only as Government Mule. Apparently, Mr. Mule has been back at it this past week, for a few more caches have been published on the new Company Mill Preserve nature trail — problem being that I can't hunt them.

Except for one. Because I've made plans to find cache #10,000 this weekend, and I'm at the cutoff point — as of this afternoon, I had 9,998 logged finds — I could hunt one. And do you think I did? Damn right.

During my three-day, many-hours-long hunt for "Back from Transylvania" (GC7MX1F) — whose published coordinates turned out to be more than a quarter mile from its actual hiding place — I had discovered the remains of an old homestead, including a couple of crumbling tobacco barns, and explored them all in great depth. And wouldn't you know it, one of the new caches — "Tobacco" (GC7P9Q8) — appeared to be at one of those barns. Friend Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) had hunted this one a couple of days ago but had been unable to find it. So this afternoon, she and I teamed up to hopefully beat it into submission and claim the coveted first-to-find (FTF) honors.

We met at the trailhead in the park and had a very pleasant hike out to ground zero, most of a mile from the parking area. A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued, and skies were turning dark, but we weren't about to let a little adverse weather put a kink in our plan. Quite a bit of thunder began to boom through the woods, but as it turned out, not a drop of water fell until we were on our ways back home. Soon enough we reached our destination and, as expected, our GPS units did little more than lead us around in circles, the satellite bounce being so bad we never could ascertain a true ground zero. So we set our geosenses to working overtime and began close, thorough examinations of both those tenuous, dilapidated structures. These old buildings are just shy of collapse, and one of them is much farther than the other into the process of disintegration.

Eventually, we broke and regrouped, hoping our GPS units would calibrate enough to offer us a little more help, but this was not to be. But after a time, during one of our many circuits of the site, I noticed something that appeared out of place peeking from one of the barns' tenebrous hollows, and upon investigation, much to my satisfaction, it was indeed the cache.

So. A nice hike, nice company, and a nice FTF, which puts my total number of finds at 9,999. So until the big one, much to my chagrin, I am pretty much done.

I hope I don't get too antsy. I can feel it happening already.

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