There has been a recent surge of geocaching events centered around a hike. My good buddy DrPowercat (Tom) kicked it off with his Community Celebration event from Groundspeak. A lot of folks showed up and it was well received so copycat events hosted by others (and Tom) have cropped up over the last couple of months. One such event was scheduled for today and as I had no plans when I submitted my Will Attend I was happy to participate.
I always invite my family to join and participation various from none to all of them (rare) but these hiking events have been only yielding one or two lately. Last night Alexander and Phaedra claimed they were ready to roll in the AM. The former because it was to make up for a Track practice and the latter because she’s just full of energy and loves the outdoors.
Due to poor planning and a desire to play games Ana, Dave and I stayed up late playing Pathfinder and consequently that 6:30 AM alarm was not welcomed when it went off. I crawled out of bed (after checking my email/social media) and found Alexander getting ready but not Phaedra. I popped into her room and found she too had stayed up late and was apologetically bailing out. To my surprise though Ana was ready to go but Alexander (not surprisingly) wasn’t.
He was finally ready to go at 7:05 AM (20 minutes late) which left little to no time for us to grab breakfast but I needed gas so we headed to QT anyway. Sitting in that sweet spot of 5 miles over the speed limit where you’re technically breaking the law but not enough that your worth the trouble to the police we flew down the road to Lawrence, KS. I made up the missing time on 152 & 435 then got stuck at the tollbooth to claim a ticket because the person in front of me didn’t know how to operate it. *SIGH*
I then speed down the road and encountered a grandma not in a rush at the automated teller placed at our exit who also happened to turn the way I needed to go (one lane road). Ugh, despite best laid plans I cannot get anywhere on time when the family is included. I rolled in 2 minutes late but luckily, they had not let yet! Franticly I loaded up bottled water, beef jerky and cashews for the hike.
I saw lots of familiar smiling faces behind masks and picked up the tail end as everyone trickled into the woods heading West. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I made a poor choice on footwear. Although I picked some nice tennis shoes I got at the Run Well Store the rocky terrain and elevation changes caused pain in my calves and ankles as Tom pulled us ever onward.
Hopping into conversations with P98 (Will), kcsmiths (Mike), kvenator (Kevin) and the likes we passed the time talking about geocaching, family, trips and work. I asked Tom at one point how long he thought the hike would be and he guessed 7 miles round trip. I used the measuring tool on Google Maps the day before and it looked like ~4.7 miles one way. When I shared this with him he just shrugged. I suppose when you’re as badass as he is what’s the difference between 7 and 9+ miles?
We encountered caches on the way and as majority of the 30 some odd hikers needed them we paused to add our name never settling on a team name. I believe there was at least “Tom’s hikers”, “Blue & White Crew” (based on the color the trails were blazed in) and “Black & Blue” (I presume due to the color our bodies would be at the end).
At about the 7 mile mark the crew began to get restless and I think Tom sensed this as when we came to a fork he gave everyone the option to head back early if they wanted adding he was pressing on to the final spot, a high D/T cache. Everyone looked at each other sizing up each participant’s interest before a large portion began heading back East. I still needed the cache at the end and both my wife and son said they were doing fine so we headed on down the trail after Tom.
Aside from Tom and my family there were 3 other cachers all famous/infamous in their own right. The quoted distance to the final from here was 0.9 miles however this was as the crow flies. We zigged and zagged around the shore and through the woods easily more than doubling that. Finally we encountered a parking lot with a boat launch where several of us capitalized on the available bathrooms. From there it was another half mile or so along the rocky outcroppings exposed by the low tide to the cache that was our prize.
A brief pause for a selfie and we were headed back stopping for a letterbox (we had to back track for) and eventually picking up the white trail. Some folks lagged behind others and we paused to chug water here and there eventually taking a stairway up to a rest area. Luckily kcsmiths was still in the area and agreed to come pick some of us up. A quick glance around and my crew was nominated for the newly arrived shuttle.
After Mike graciously dropped us at our car I left Ana and Alexander at the nearby benches and drove back for the remainder of the stragglers. All that is except for coyote747 who brushed me off politely and said he would finish the hike. Mad props to him, good for you sir.
Back at the parking plans were made to go grab a greasy burger at the nearby “Burgers by Biggs” restaurant. Being too exhausted to care many of us just order the suggested “Jay Hog Burger” with bacon ground in with the beef. I added on fried pickles and was pleasantly surprised to find they were quarter spears and not chips. Ana and Alexander got shakes (Coffee and Bacon & Chocolate, respectively).
Back home we took turns crawling into the shower and took an hour to just lay around and be lazy. Now Phaedra wants to go play tennis and Dave needs to go to urgent care for some ear problems. You never have enough time to rest as a parent. 😊 Still a very rewarding day!