Monday, October 12, 2015

29 June 2015 Searching For An Old Cache

I sometimes obsess about things a little, tiny bit. ;-) I had recently heard there was a March 2001 geocache still active at Toledo Metroparks' Swan Creek Preserve. It's only a geocache. It only counts for one find, but someone placed this in 2001 and it is still being cared for and found. We should find it too. All of our travels and over 13,000 finds had only netted us 97 finds of caches placed in 2001 so these are rare and getting rarer.

It's been raining a lot in northern Ohio. Any deep water in north eastern Ohio is magnified in levels as one moves west and gets closer to Lake Erie. When I arrived at the park, I was able to see signs of flooding immediately. I don't think the park system normally has rangers providing information to visitors, but this one did today. The ranger took one look at my gps and said he wasn't sure they could be reached today, but I was welcome to try. It was like the gauntlet was thrown down. I was just hoping the 2001 hide hadn't been washed away.

"It can't be that bad," I thought as I started on the trail. Maybe the waters were receding.

I needed to try two paths, but eventually I made a slightly wet journey back to find the cache. The container had been replaced, but most urban containers even in 2001 were plastic and they eventually wear out.

Not quite how it looked in 2001, but still here.

If I can find one in the park, I can find the second (famously stupid thoughts). The trails after this got really truly wet. The other cache was very near a stream. In the image below I am less than 200 feet from the cache. I'm sure this is normally a small stream, but at the moment there was water everywhere. In the center of the image, a trash can on the trail can be seen tethered to the trail marker. :-0 The second find was not going to happen. :(

This deer shadowed me for a while.

I made a few more finds along my way. I've been to one park where I have had an unfriendly encounter with a person in the woods. I've avoided that park since then. This evening the wet weather left an empty parking lot in the woods. For my last stop, I decided to try erasing a dnf and find the last hide at the park. This is a roadside park just inside the Indiana border. There's not much here but a short trail in the woods. I quickly found what I thought was the container, but then realized this was a needle stash. The actual container was just a few feet away.

Other than finding the remains of a meth lab in the woods of southern Indiana, this was the most concerning find I've made while geocaching. Cachers are always responsible for their own safety, but reading logs from newer cachers on that page with phrases like, "great one for kids" and "the kids loved it" is concerning. Besides the needle stash, the ground near the hide is home to broken beer and liquor bottles. Geocaching is a fun game, but things can go bad quickly if you are not aware of your surroundings. Smartphones have brought people to the game who may have no idea of what risks may be nearby. For me, I've made my last visit here no matter what new hides may be placed.

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