With every paddle stroke in the downstream flow of the upper Potomac we move our canoe past our inexperience on the water and towards our geocaching adventure. We land on Heater’s Island. We step up into a young forest, walk deer trail and no trail, sometimes the two of us, sometimes five, sometimes more.
Come along as two dry-land enthusiasts who’ve never rowed or paddled anywhere in anything choose an outing together on the upper Potomac River for their joint maiden voyage. Watch as we drift downstream to Heater’s Island, Maryland in pursuit of fun and adventure.
Cradled in the snaky meandering embrace of the Occoquan Reservoir, squeezed upward from water’s edge into hardwood-canopied undulating green folds of rise and ravine, and threaded through with narrow ribbons of stream and trail was our bit of wilderness in Fairfax County, Virginia — Fountainhead Regional Park.
The land we call Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a focal point of nature, gathering force and resources at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Harpers Ferry is also one of the most significant of all our special places, important as both inspiration for and site of some of the most pivotal movements and moments in our nation’s history.
That’s not why apc9296 and I went to Harpers Ferry on the eve of our nation’s birthday celebration. As Virginia geocachers we were looking forward to finding our first West Virginia geocaches; Harpers Ferry extended itself into our part of Virginia and beckoned us to come on across, so we did. Once there we each found more geocaches than either of us had ever found in a day and in doing so we discovered many historic and beautiful places in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
“I have always hated to exercise just for the sake of exercise,” my good friend dagdvm once told me.
I agree completely. Sometimes it’s hard to just get on a treadmill and walk in place or go outside and walk in circles around some block or track or route or go out a ways and then turn around and come back. Yes, it’s exercise, but walking without purpose can get a bit monotonous. Wouldn’t it be great to have another reason to walk a good distance?
“Geocaching,” dagdvm continued, ” is getting me out and walking for hours at a time. It has to be good for my body.”
It sure does. If you go out looking for certain geocaches you’ll get some exercise without even thinking about it. If you go to a nice park full of geocaches you can walk around for hours having fun finding as many as possible. If you go to that park with a friend who belongs to an avid hiking superdog, well — it’s hard to think of a better way to spend a nice healthy day outside, and that’s exactly what dagdvm, her weiner dog Tilly and I did at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Fairfax County, Virginia on a fine Sunday in June.
Last weekend I went searching for a pair of geocaches near Culpeper, Virginia, Little Up-Up and Away #s 1 and 2 (GC1 V34N and GC1V35T) located at the Skyline Flyers Radio Control Club (SFRC). I was hoping to grab myself a couple of moments of fun between one weekend chore and the next. I received a lot more goodness than I’d hoped for.
It’s a cool spring morning, low cloud crowned by high cirrus moving through pale blue as I step into the southern end of the meadow. May’s coming but isn’t quite here yet. April still has one more day to give, and this is it: sky high and fine, breezes dry and easy, open-throated songbirds on the wing as the sun continues to climb.
Somewhere near the northern end of this meadow is Joshua’s Cache (GC1M422), my sole geocaching objective for the day here in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Finding the hide is only part of what’s so satisfying about geocaching, though. You never know what interesting discoveries you’ll make along the way. Winding my way down to the north end of this green space brought another world into clear focus for me, a world I hadn’t paid close attention to for a long time. Two of its emissaries were just around the bend.
Last Sunday afternoon in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park I found a geocache I’d first gone looking for in March, Bear’s Lodge (GC18HZ8).
This is the first time I’ve watched the park move from winter into spring. Walney Pond is transformed from frozen gray into an explosion of life, including lily pads, yellow irises, mallards, Canada geese, red-winged blackbirds and all of us humans who flock to be in the presence of all this beauty. Walney Pond is a worthy destination and the perfect point of departure for the trails that lead up and away into the woods beyond.
I like caches on the edge, in this case between the noisy chaos of I-66 and large, quiet green space. In the few seconds it took me to walk up to the hide I might have been seen by scores of people rushing by at 70 mph but they might as well have been in another county, another state. They could briefly knock on the glass but they couldn’t step through.
On Sunday, April 17th, a clear, sunny day after a long period of soaking rains, apc9296 and I went geocaching in Clifton and Burke Lake Park. We found twelve geocaches altogether, a single-day record for both of us; dropped off seven toys in seven different caches; and found some scenic places we might not have seen otherwise.
Geocachers know how good it feels to find a geocache, sign the log and leave the cache as unknown to the larger muggle world as they found it. There may be endorphins involved. Adrenalin definitely seems to play a role.
For me, bagging my first First To Find (FTF) (being the first to log a geocache after it’s been placed by the cache owner) last night for Tiny Toys – Nachos (GC2CV83N) felt a tiny bit like I imagine an adrenalin shot to the heart might feel. You know, like that scene from Pulp Fiction.
…a travel bug I acquired from 12E Daily, a local commuter lot cache, on March 11th. My goal was to move December 7th a good ways south since the TB owner wants it to travel as much as possible and I head south quite often on the weekends. I took a few shots of this TB in situ during our time together.
I found a home for December 7th on the 26th — Bird Sanctuary, in Orange County, 42.74 miles south of 12E Daily. It’s a small cache, big enough for a few trackables and some toys. I liked the cache a lot and made it one of my favorites.
I found virtual geocache GC184C, “Well of Decay,” earlier this afternoon. I had to make an unexpected trip down through Manassas Battlefield Park, a place I’d driven through hundreds and hundreds of times over the last three and a half years. “Well of Decay” asks you to stop and consider just a bit of the history and sacrifices made made on and around ground zero.
2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. As a relatively new geocacher I’ve now found a pastime that compelled me to do something I should have done long ago — appreciate this battlefield for what it is, sacred and hallowed ground.
Yes, I’m aware there’s not really supposed to be a Geocacher-Muggle Interface. Stuff happens, though.
I’m rather inexperienced at geocaching. As I write this I don’t even have a third of a hundred caches found to my credit. Even so, I know there are some basic rules all geocachers are supposed to follow. Some of these rules are good for the hobby, some of them are good for the planet, and some of them are just plain good, common sense.