Tuesday, October 21, 2008

11 October 2008 Kinzua Caching

We had never before missed when going after a milestone cache. Note that is in past tense. We needed a few today to reach 5k. We started off with some caches near the house and thought we would finish off with a trip to Morrison Run in the ANF. Morrison Run has always been one of our favorite hikes and there are six caches there. It seemed perfect.

We bundled up the dogs and started a circle around our place. All the caches were falling in place with visits to a few nice cemeteries and a very nice small pond. We had been there before to find an event cache so we were glad to return for a permanent. We stopped and found a private property travel bug hotel at a home with nice woods and a quiet little pond. The property was really outstanding. We spotted a late season monarch on the way to the cache.

After a trip to find a cache near our favorite tennis courts, we were off to take a hike around Morrison Run. The caches were all 3.5 terrain and higher. Five of the six were 4 terrains. No problem we thought. We've done this hike many times before.

It was a perfect day. A grand day out. The leaves were almost electric. The ferns were a strange dried blanket on the floor of the forest. Morrison Run was gorgeous. We hadn't read the cache page closely enough. Our usual happy trek around Morrison is about 7 miles. It's a good workout and a lot of fun. Uh Oh... these caches were on the much longer Morrison to Rimrock loop which is over twelve miles. We were toast. There was no way we were going to hike for the morning and bring in six caches over twelve miles of tough hiking. We found three and kept on the loop. Ali and I were having a miscommunication moment. She was looking for the trail cut-off, and I was thinking this was a new trail I hadn't seen before. We found number four and continued on. As we got close to Kinzua Reservoir, Ali realized this trail was a lot longer than she thought. She was ready to bag it an turn around, but I wanted to go forward with just 0.2 miles to number five.

We got to number five and found the cache. The last cache, #5,000, was almost 3/4 mile away as the crow flies. There was no way we could get it before dark, and we would have hours on the trail in the dark. We signed the log and beat a retreat back. I finally got my brain in gear and realized what trail Ali was trying to find. I remember it well since it is near a stream that I had to cross years ago during a flood and a thunderstorm while carrying our dog Murray. He was afraid of lightning and would not walk during the storm.

We managed to make the trailhead with a little dusk left and made our way back to the parking area in the dark. We only had about 90 minutes of hiking in the dark, but that was more than enough with stream crossings and rock climbings. It can be really unsettling to hear packs of coyotes start to howl in the woods when you are out with two dogs. Since we made it back without any harm, I dodged an idiot bullet for insisting on finding number 4999 so late in the day and so far from safety.

It was our first of five big milestones that we missed on the cache we had chosen. 5K would wait for a day.

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