Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Air Up There

Today I was solo and decided to seek some ridgetop hides in Shawneeland, VA. Today was the perfect day for it, with temps on the ridge in the low 70's in a steady breeze and bright sunlight.

I was humbled (again) by the beauty of this place, and I could go on (and on, and onnnn) about how incredible this habitat is, but instead I'll let the pictures do the talking. The caches sought today were 'Devil's Backbone' and 'Follow the Rubicon Trail #9'. I just loved every minute of the hunt and managed to stretch this out from 9 am to 2 pm! The hides were easy, and the hikes were long - if I had been moving along at a normal pace, I could have finished these in 2 hours or less.

What's the first thing you do when you finish a long climb? Strip off all your gear, of course! I was traveling light today, and I'm glad I did. I hiked a fair bit - probably close to 5 miles with all of the switchbacks. Special thanks to 2Wheel'in for that sharp GC medallion... I sanded and refinished my staff over the winter and was very pleased to add the colorful badge. This staff has gone a long way with me...

This was my first view at the summit, and I was very happy to have had such a gorgeous day. There was a light wind coming upslope form the NW, and it was perfect.

The War of the Butterflies. Two species were vying for the 30 square foot area where I rested after climbing the ridge. These guys went at it with aerial dogfighting, strafing runs, aerobatics, and just plain 'in your face' showdowns! It was a real treat to watch them wage the war for territory, and I stayed for nearly 30 minutes.

The other contender... this photo doesn't do him justice. The colors were eye popping.

Even my staff was annexed as part of the conflict...



The top of the ridge was a sea of ferns in the bright sunlight. The smell here was enchanting... I didn't want to leave!

Just below the pinnacle. There were scratch marks in the stone inside of this well protected cave. I didn't see any bear fur, but the rodents and birds would have carried all of that off by now. The inside is smooth dirt, and there is another chamber in the rear left. Bear lair? I couldn't say for sure. but it would be pretty snug in winter.

This was the view from Rubicon #9 - simply breathtaking!

Isn't this where Simba was born?

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Today is Father's Day, and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to challenge "DARK" by caching friend Fergus. We had heard and read many a story about DARK and we were very excited to head up to Maryland for the adventure.

Joining us today was Rufnredy (Dave), a great guy that we have been fortunate to share a few adventures with. Getting in to the park proved to be an adventure for me, as I blindly followed the GPS to every entrance except the one we needed. Finally, I found the right spot and met Dave at the suspension bridge spanning the Patapsco River.

The entrance to DARK was a quick find after searching the area, and we steeled ourselves for high adventure. I had my 8 million candlepower searchlight on hand in case we needed to blind any cave trolls, and we brought a change of clothes after reading many logs about foul odors and unplanned swims in murky waters.

Alas, the journey was uneventful for our ninja cache team and we made the find all too quickly. This is one cache adventure that I hoped wouldn't end, but we found the way to be free of odor (other than damp cave smell), not all that wet, and the hazards were easily overcome. Even so, we thoroughly enjoyed the hunt and decided to celebrate our victory by finding another nearby cache which proved to be far more challenging - we managed a near vertical 200 foot descent after the find, and we loved it!

Many thanks to Rufnredy and Nightengale for joining me on today's cache hunt!

We met the cache guardian just outside of the entrance. He was moving pretty slowly due to an injury to his tail - probably a bicycle by the looks of it - and we wished him well.

"Hmmmm... that's a tight fit... I see water... and it seems to get smaller as you go deeper!"

OK Dave... after you... we got your back...

Rufnredy and Nightengale make the find inside of DARK! WOOWOO!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Go To Helen Hunt For It!

I managed to sneak away this afternoon for a wonderful multicache: "Helen Hunt", by my friend 2Wheel'in. Yes I know, it seems like we were inseparable this week, but I haven't seen the guy since winter and I was quite happy to get caught up on things.

The cache series lies along a local stream, Difficult Run, which has become one of my very favorite places. I almost felt guilty enjoying all of the natural beauty of this area, especially in such comfortable weather. We had a day in the mid 70's, which is quite unusual in Virginia in June, and there was a breeze rustling the leaves. Now that I think about it, it was like a fall day - except everything is growing and GREEN.

The cache hides were very well done, as I expected, and I took 42 photographs of trees, rocks, flowers, fungus, and the stream, but I'll confine myself to sharing only the best flower shots with you.

Thank you, Bill, for introducing me to a new section of Difficult Run! Today's hike was truly food for the soul!

I really got lucky with the light on this photo. The sun was in and out of the clouds, which is my favorite situation, because the varying light can add real life to the sublect (like I really KNOW something about photography! Hahaha!) I caught this photo just as the light was changing and it gave the green leaves an interesting look. The photos that I have in direct sunlight had too much shine, in my opinion.

I couldn't help but take lots of water lily shots - this one really stood out because it was all alone.

I haven't identified this lovely wildflower yet. I think this photo will soon be hanging on my wall...

Another angle of this beauty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fronti Nulla Fides - A Day With My Friends

Today began with the release of my new multicache, Fronti Nulla Fides, at beautiful Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. I had worked hard a couple of days earlier placing a totally different cache series, only to realize that it would never be approved - so I scrambled to lay out Fronti with the goal of setting loose my 2005 White Jeep TB "Mickey".

My schedule today had some slack in it, so I decided to make a quick picnic lunch and head out to the park to watch the fun! I packed lunch for 4, figuring to share a bite with whoever came by, but no one had showed by noon and I was starving, so I ate almost all of the chow (chicken caesar salad, baguette, fresh fruit, and some sodas.) When I'm hungry, I have a good appetite, but when the meter reads "E" I can eat like a horse!

Patience proved to be a virtue as I looked up from my shady lawn chair to see two familar forms cresting the ridge: Team Lerk! These guys are fantastic cachers, and I was very happy to see them on the hunt. To keep it fun, I decided to stay where I was so that they could carry out the search uninhibited.

These are two of the NICEST guys you'd ever want to meet, and they really went at this cache head on. From the comfort of my lawn chair, I ALMOST felt sorry for them as they crawled, scratched, dug, and completely molested the rocky hiding spot of the second stage.

After about 45 minutes, they spotted me and to be honest with you, I considered running for my life! Our acquaintance was renewed and after recharging for a bit, they went back to the rock pile and made the find.

No sooner had Teamlerk disappeared over the hill then 2Wheel'in made his way down from stage 1. As he ambled over, I was reminded of how the four of us had slaved for months over Blood & Guts as part of the Blind Squirrel Squad. I shook 2Wheel'in's hand and settled back in for the show, and once again I wasn't disappointed. That second stage is a tough one, and even these hardcore cachin' legends were stumped for a little while.

2Wheel'in made the find in good time, and we walked over to the third stage where we found Team Lerk in pursuit of the final stage. It was great seeing these guys all in action together, and I was very happy to witness the logbook signing - congratulations to Team Lerk on their acquisition of a brand new 2005 White Jeep Travel Bug!

Now, for those who read this blog who might be seeking this cache in the near future, I must warn you that the title fits: what you see in the following pictures MAY NOT actually represent the cache hides accurately! (We're Oh So Tricky Like That!)

Many thanks to my great friends Linc, Ed, and Bill, for being SUCH good sports and for sharing their friendship out on the trail once more. These times together are too few! I hope to see you guys again soon, and until then, Merry Part!

Team Lerk arrives on the scene of Stage 2, where they sense that big things are going to happen.

"OK, now this is gonna be easy... it's only a 3/3 and we know how Airsafety hides things... piece o' cake..."

"OK, let's rethink this... we scoured the rock, and then we scoured it again... hmmm... I guess that leaves us with SCOUR IT AGAIN!"

"Nope, it ain't here either... just wait until I get my hands on that %$#@! Airsafety..."

"Maybe if we run around this thing as fast as we can, we'll create a vortex that will suck the cache right into our hands!"

"Linc, you look under there... I'll check the top of the rock..."

"$#@!... my knees are killing me!"

Artweld takes a moment to give thanks for the beauty of nature...

"OK then... even if we DNF, at least we'll have a photo for posterity... right? It's weird, but I feel like we've been watched this whole time..."

"Hey! WHo the hell is that guy sitting in the shade, sipping cool beverages and watching us with binoculars?! Let's go kick his @ss!"

Team Lerk cavort with their hard won find at stage 2... man, they REALLY earned it!

'By the pricking of my gums, something WICKED this way comes!' 2Wheel'in approaches the second stage.

Here is 2Wheel'in, checking every nook and cranny.

At the third stage: 2Wheel'in begins to stalk his elusive prey.

Ed is clearly the brains of the operation...

"Hmmm... my spidey senses are tingling... OH CRAP! That's a tree full o' spideys!"

2Wheel'in makes the grab! WOOWOO!

Monday, June 13, 2005

2Wheel'in Comes To Town!

It was a real pleasure to meet my good friend 2Wheel'in today for a refreshing iced coffee drink in Leesburg. As many of you know, 2Wheel'in is a masterful cacher, having placed many memorable caches in Fairfax County which bring rave reviews with each new log entry. His "A Little Difficult" was the very first cache I tried to find - note I say 'tried' - and he was the first cacher I met in person on that day, almost exactly a year ago.

Since then, I have enjoyed and admired 2Wheel'in's excellent hides, and we have conspired together over various cache ideas. As part of the 'Blind Squirrel Squad', 2Wheel'in was instrumental in our effort to defeat the famed 'Blood & Guts In Virginia' by Team Ekitt10.

So, needless to say, it is always a treat to catch up with my old friend and share some stories, ideas, thoughts, and general conversation. The reason for this particular visit will soon be obvious enough to those of you who live in NoVa: I delivered a brand new, unactivated 2005 White Jeep TB that had '2Wheel'in' written all over it!

For those of you who read this blog regularly, we talked about doing a run down to North Carolina in the next couple of weeks for 'Tube Torcher'; email me if you are 'in'. Happy Caching To All!

2Wheel'in takes a cool break after enduring the rigors of Gaiter Man's "Deadfall" cache. Yes, sports fans, that is a REAL 2005 White Jeep Travel Bug on the table, and he promises to have it out in a cache near you SOON!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

2nd Annual Richmond Rally

After a fortuitous cancellation in my schedule, I was able to switch gears and head down to Richmond for a fantastic caching event, the 2nd Annual Richmond Rally at Dorey Park. I was lucky enough to team up with Rufnredy for the ride south, and we tagged a number of caches in the Fredericksburg area before arriving at the event. Unfortunately, we were slowed down by some rubbernecking on I-95 and missed the start of festivities, but no matter. We joined in just as the event broke up for caching, and we had a blast!

With us on the hunt was Baja Clan, and later on we encountered Beachbuddies with Bisanabi while plundering the woods. The caches were all well placed, and several of them kept us guessing, but we prevailed over all that we sought. In company such as this, I was hard pressed to make FTFs in our group, but I did snag a couple of stages here and there. My favorite cache of the day was 'Log A Cache', because we spent so long looking for it due to incorrect coords! We later got the right ones and made a quick find. I also enjoyed 'Complete Mystery' quite a bit - when you are caching with Masters of Puzzle Caches, like Beachbuddies and Bisanabi, even the toughest mysteries are quickly dispatched!

This was a wonderful day, and I'd like to extend a hearty thanks to Rufnredy, Baja Clan, Beachbuddies, and Bisanabi for their excellent company and friendship. Three cheers for NoVa!

Here is the NoVa crew, minus Rufnredy (who had split for home already) - from left to right: Baja Clan, Bisanabi, Beachbuddies, and yours truly, Airsafety.

There have been various claims over the years to the title of "World's Largest Travel Bug", but I think that this one actually IS the largest TB around!

Rufnredy looks high and low for Complete Mystery. We did eventually find the first stage, but not without a lengthy search!

WHAT!? You found it over THERE?

Ah yes, the satisfied grin that can only mean one thing... another cache find!

Airsafety shimmies up a tree in pursuit of 'Log A Cache', but no dice. We were about 800 feet off due to faulty coordinates. I have to tell you, it looked a lot higher from where I was perched! (photo credit: Rufnredy)

One of my few moments of lucidity: I hypothesized that the numbers taped on the boxes might be the coordinates... BINGO! Off we went for the final! (photo credit: Rufnredy)

The NoVa Crew jots down the next set of coordinates after thinking a little outside of the box! (photo credit: Rufnredy)

Rufnredy spins a tall tale amongst the pines...