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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

3 June 2017 Caching Ashtabula

We left the dogs home for an afternoon with the plan to find a series of caches in Ashtabula. We didn't finish the series, but had fun. Our afternoon started along Lake Erie and a freighter sighting as we were walking to a cache.

One of the two dnf's for the day was at a tall waterfall we had not visited before. I went to the base of the falls to make the hunt while Ali stayed at the top to prevent more damage to her knee.

We took a creek walk along the Ashtabula River for our last cache hunt of the day. We missed the find, but walking the creek was fun. The creek walk is in the shadows of two covered bridges. The Smolen-Gulf Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the US. In the shadows of the bridge closer to the river a smaller pedestrian bridge was constructed in 2016 to allow access to both sides of the park.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

29 May 2017 Treemageddon

The day started very nicely. Phineas planned our geocaching day and seemed happy with the plan.

Or maybe he was still sleepy from the long hike the day before.

Our plan today was to make another visit to Brush Hollow and take a longer hike to find the remainder of the caches in the area while enjoying the perfect spring weather.

For a while, the day was just what we expected. The dogs made an early stream stop for some water.

We enjoyed the late spring wildflowers. We were happy to see indian cucumber root in bloom, our only clintonia blooms of the season, and blue-eyed grass.

The first few finds were pleasant with the Lizzie and Phineas enjoying an early break.

We enjoyed a salamander sighting.

Then, we reached what one cacher has coined treemageddon. One the second of May there had been at least four tornados in Pennsylvania including one in Elk County. The tree carnage certainly indicated something weather related had caused the damage. We hadn't noticed any damage at this level when we visited the area in April so the early may tornado seemed a plausible answer to what we found.

It is difficult to tell when it is easier to turn around and go back. There's always that hope and expectation that the next downed tree will be the last, and an open trail will wait.

It was physically exhausting for us. There was also the added stress of wondering how we were going to get our dogs to safety. They are fearless, but the endless progression of downed trees exhausted them. It became a goal to get them to safety.

Through it all we did continue to look for the caches. It may have been foolish, but each cache stop was an opportunity to rest and regroup for the next part of the journey. Amazingly, all the containers appeared to have been missed by the toppled trees.

Ali plays tornado twister to return a cache container.

Luckily, the tree hosting this cache hide was still standing.

We had plenty of water for the dogs on a normal journey, but ran out leaving the dogs looking for relief. Once we gave up on the trail ever opening, Ali guided us down from the ridge where we knew there was water for the dogs and a safer path back to the Geomobile.

By the time we were back, the dogs were exhausted and we were aching. The worst of the day was Ali's knee injury and the pain that was coming from that.

Friday, November 10, 2017

28 May 2017 Quehanna Wild Area

The Quehanna Wild Area is an amazing area. There's always a chance of spotting an elk, and it always pays to be aware of the possibility of encountering a rattlesnake. Today there were no elks or rattlesnakes, but the trails were fun journeys.

Lizzie is always happy when her toes are muddy.

Kunes Camp is an old camp in the Quehanna Wild Area. We hiked back to the ruins as our final hike of the day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

21 May 2017 Wildflower Bonanza

We had two plans for walks today. The first was a stop at Anders Run to look for orchids. We had seen a few leaves of moccasin flowers on earlier visits and were hoping to see the plants in bloom. We were thrilled to spot more blooming orchids in the natural area than we have ever seen before. There were abundant spikes.

We were also happy to spot a round leaf orchid with a spike progressing.

Our next visit was one of our favorite hikes along the Tanbark to look for painted trilliums.

With the right soil and light a jack-in-the-pulpit can reach two feet. The ones along the trail today were not that large, but they were tall for this area.

Once we spotted starflowers in bloom, we knew we were probably were here in time to spot painted trilliums.

And there they were...