Saturday, July 26, 2008

14 July 2008 Caching in Potter County

We started our day with a place we have been before. Across from Denton Run State Park there is a small rest and picnic area. It is next door to the Lumber Museum. We’ve stopped at this rest area before and commented on how nice the stream looked. With the AGT we now know it’s called Commissioner Run. The museum granted permission for a cache to be placed in the woods so we started our day with a one-mile loop through an interpretive trail and along Commissioner Run.

After a re-find of a cache that has been converted to an AGT cache, we headed for the Susquehannock Trail System. We first found the AGT cache very near an impressive vista. After that we headed in the opposite direction for an older cache that had been recommended to us the evening before. We had a great time walking to the cache which had its first log book. As always we stopped to search the log book and found Eric Sherwood and his parent’s log from finding the cache in June 2002. They were caching at the time as team Sherwood Forest. It made sense that Eric and his parents had found this cache together since the family owns a place in Tioga near Pine Creek. Still it was a surprise and brought back memories of our friend.

A common theme for the week was butterflies, lots of them. As we would drive dirt roads, there would be dozens of them on the ground. At times as we drove down a road dozens of them would swirl around the truck. It was an amazing site. As the week progressed, we saw more and more milk weed in bloom. As we walked by stands of milk weed there would sometimes be five to six butterflies on a plant.

State Parks were also a common site for the week. Today included visits to Denton Run, Lymon Lake, Cherry Spring, and Ole Bull State Parks. They were all different and worth a visit. Denton Hill is a ski area with trails and really nice cabins. Lymon Lake has been reborn with the replacement of its failing dam. It now boasts a new zig-zag dam. The area near the lake is pretty standard state park fair, but there were a couple of non-AGT caches past the lake that took us to a wonderful spot for a vista of the lake and the surrounding area. We left the overlook and headed to a trail with small rock formations and a small stream with a series of nice cascades. Our last stop at this overlooked place was to hike into a large rock formation for a cache.

Cherry Spring State Park exists solely to provide a night sky for viewing stars. It is a very strange looking state park. The camp sites are arranged to one side of a row of three observatories. They are in a flat grassy area. The attraction is to literally camp at a place where you can see the stars. The moon was bright or we would have been here after dark. Maybe on a return trip. Ole Bull State Park offers a nice stream to cross and a an overlook of the valley. The overlook has the remains of a castle that was started but never completed by one of the founders of the area.

Our last stop of the day and our place of refuge for the night was Wellsboro. After a long day of hiking, we walked around this peaceful town and stopped for a bit to in the village green to enjoy Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. If you’ve never been to Wellsboro and the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, you should go. Do it in the warm weather so you too can visit Wynken, Blynken, and Nod on a quiet summer night. :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

13 July 2008 Lots of Rain and the Triple Divide

Our early caching was interrupted by very heavy downpours. We were headed toward our Saturday destination Port Allegheny. Between the rain and a road detour, we decided to go to the town of Eldred to find an AGT-McKean cache. It was our first visit ever to Eldred. The AGT cache in Eldred uses the WWII museum as an information gathering point. The museum was a great place to wait for the rain to give up. We were both impressed by the quality of the collection at the museum and the size of the museum.

We eventually worked our way to Potter County and got to find a couple AGT caches. We started off our AGT Potter finds with a place called Saulter’s Preserve. This was an outstanding county preserve. We were surrounded by birds and found a new flower.

It was a day of meeting land owners. Ali spotted an old cache called Rose Lake Treasures. The write-up told people they were welcome to use the canoe to get across the lake and camp if they wanted. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we got to the area, we found a small lake covered with pink water lilies. And yes, there was a canoe. We wanted to walk around the beautiful little lake so we trekked off in one direction. Oops, we were stopped by a beaver dam that we couldn’t negotiate. On the way back, we found the best blueberries of the trip. We returned to where we started and began our journey the other way. There was some guy out on a tractor mowing. He came by and smiled and said hello. He then explained that the property was his family’s and he was a geocacher. We stopped and chatted with this friendly person for a long time before making our way around the lake. We found two different kinds of orchids before we found the cache. The cache owner suggested another old cache in the area he thought we would like (we found out the next day he was right – we did like it).

After leaving Rose Lake, we moved onto the Triple Divide earthcache. Some earth caches are lame. This one was fun, educational, and interesting. There is only one triple divide east of the Mississippi, and it is in Potter County. The triple divide is the headwaters of the Allegheny River, the Genesee River, and the Susquehanna River. It is an amazing starting point for water that flows from this point and heads to Lake Erie and the Saint Lawrence River, Chesapeake Bay, and the Mississippi River. The easiest little stream to find is the headwater of the Allegheny River that flows by our home. We liked the earthcache and the AGT located at the Triple Divide.

On the way back to the truck, we heard a vehicle stop by our vehicle while we were on the trail. I think we both thought Uh-oh. When we got to the road there was this gentleman who immediately asked, “Did you find it?” Yes, it was our second friendly landowner of the day. It turned out, he was also a former county commissioner and a really knowledgeable person about wind farms. We stopped and talked until sunset. It was a great visit and a lot of fun. We learned a lot more about the land around the triple divide than any sign could ever give. In the end, he made a nice suggestion for where we could stay for the evening. It was a perfect end to a rough, wet start on a fantastic vacation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

12 July 2008 Vacation Starts :-)

We had this great plan for where we were going for vacation. We were supposed to be in Port Allegheny by Saturday evening. Well we got a late start; then decided to cache a bit in Crawford County, and finally decided to stay at our place Saturday evening. Oops. Vacations are for changing plans.

We finally finished the AGT cache on the PA side of Pymatuning. Fish, Fish, Ducks is one of the near ADA caches. We knew where the final would be. We just had to be here when the office was open. We also went for French Kiss on French Creek. We took the wrong way into this cache. It was a brutal bushwhack, and I fell into a hole on the way. Once we got there, we found the 'right' way out. DUH. We didn't feel so bad when we were near the end of the trail and heard other cachers going in the really painful way. We called out to them and got to meet Rhelt100.

We also got explore the Ernst Bike Trail in the Meadville area. We had a great time walking a really nice trail (one of these days we will actually bring our bikes). The monarda looks great this year. We have never seen so much in the wild. Day one wasn't what was planned, but it was quiet and pleasant. What more is there?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

9 July 2008 At the Zoo

Cleveland Museum of Art sponsored a free evening at the Cleveland Zoo for museum members. It has been a few years since we have been to one of these evening events at the zoo. They are really relaxed, and the zoo is a lot less crowded than normal days.

Kathy joined us for a visit. We found the geocache placed by Cleveland Metroparks. We visited the rain forest for the first time. We also got to visit the shark and sting ray touching exhibit. It was fun. I didn't get to touch the sting ray, but Ali and Kathy did. I did get to touch the shark. :-)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

7 July 2008 Heading Home To Ohio

It was time to end a little mini vacation so we headed home. We made a detour through Venango County on the way home so we could get our Elk and Clarion AGT coins. We had torrential downpours from the house until almost Oil Creek. By the time we were picking up our coins, the sun was back out. We got the coins and stopped by a farmers market for our first corn of the season. Our trip home included a visit to a very nice Rev. Mike AGT and an AGT multi that finished up at a gamelands. There were butterflies everywhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

6 July 2008 Quiet Time

We were in PA for the holidays. Today we had decided to have a quiet day and find the last unfound AGT cache. AGT-Warren-Seneca Trails was a fun cache that ended at this really outstanding private campground. After that we drove to a park with access to the Kinzua Reservoir. Then we decided to head into New York and get ice cream at a favorite ice cream stand. We stopped for a few quiet caches in the woods near the ice cream and finished with a visit to Weeden Road Park.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

5 July 2008 Elk County

It was supposed to be hot so we left the dogs hanging around the house and headed for Elk on our own. We spent the early part if the day in Elk State Park and the Army Corps East Branch area. Early in the year the 60-year-old dam was found to be seeping. It’s a big reservoir covering about 1200 acres and fairly deep so a breach could be ugly. While the dam is being assessed, there has been a big draw down of water behind the dam (the reservoir is down to about 900 acres). None of the boats ramps are really operational, but it doesn’t stop boaters from dropping big powerboats in to use the remaining water. Interesting, but if you go to the Army Corp site, they will say the draw down is to accommodate downstream water needs. Hmmm… I missed the drought in PA this year. If you go to the DCNR site for Elk State Park, they say the dam is seeping and the water has been drawn down.

The cache at the army corp end of the reservoir was outstanding. It was a nice walk across the dam and though the woods with a stop for photos at an osprey nest. Toss in some bluebirds on the walk back and a chance to meet cachers we had never met before, and it was a great time.

We also stopped at Bendigo State Park for a cache. It was a nice walk on an old railroad grade with wildflowers everywhere. We hoped to stay on the grade and reach another cache through the back door, but it would have required crossing the East Branch of the Clarion River which was a little fast for my liking. I almost fell in the swamp, but got merely really muddy. On the way back from Bendigo Cache, a black bear joined the trail about 50 yards in front of us. Luckily, he turned off quickly and made from the East Branch. The Clarion River and its branches are a peaceful site to see. The county is really scenic.
4 July 2008 AGT's in Clarion

Clarion was a different mix of caching. We took the dogs and were hoping to find all the AGT caches in the county in a day. As always we got distracted and came a few short. Because it is so scenic, we were both really anticipating the caches in Cook State Forest yet as the day grew on we passed on them since we were losing daylight and wanted to visit the forest in the day.

Our day included a driving tour around Leatherwood. Never heard of it? Neither had we, but we now know it had a large iron furnace and a large anti horsethief association. It also has a very nice church filled that was built in 1842 and is filled with very nice stained glass windows. It also has a very nice fishing stream. The cache was in the woods behind the church. On the way back from finding the cache, I spotted a stand if butterfly weed. I have only seen it once before in the wild so it was a pleasant surprise.

We also got a couple different looks at State Game Lands. One was a traditional old farm with large wide paths brush-hogged for trails. An old rose bush from the farm was still in bloom as we passed by. The second game lands was on old coal mine land. We entered a tailings area to get to the cache. There is new growth forest and some scrub taking back the land. As we walked to the cache we spotted chunks of coal in the area.

Our stops also included a small wooded area with an AGT cache, a county park with nice trails, and a trip to Helen Furnace. Helen Furnace is an old iron furnace that has been rebuilt to a nearly pristine condition. You can actually stand in the hearth area of the furnace. At first I thought they had cut new stone, but Ali noted that the walls of the furnace were coated in slag so the furnace represents some amazing history of the building of the nation.

Our last stop of the night was at a township park. This is a new park and was another nice walk, but for some reason Eva loved that park. The fields on the way to the cache were taller grasses and plants filled with butterflies. She spent the way from the trail to the woods and back to the trail zig-zagging through the grasses and jumping in the air. It was a sigth to behold a dog so happy with her surroundings.

Our next return will be to enjoy Cook State Forest, but today was special.