It’s a rare thing for me to be caching all by my lonesome, but, back in August, I had the opportunity while on a camping trip with my daughter’s venturing crew. They spent the day crawling through a cave, while I spent the day hiking & geocaching through Monte Sano State Park.
The day began with a delicious breakfast followed by sending the crew off to the cave. I packed my backpack with my hiking essentials and a lunch. I spent 5 minutes debating with myself about whether or not I should carry my camera. It gets heavy around my neck after a little while; I’m going to get really sweaty; I may have to crawl and/or climb to get to a cache; if I leave my camera, I can take extra water; extra water = staying gone longer; I’ll want pictures of my day. I decided to leave my camera.
I purchased a park/trail map from the camp store and set out on my little adventure.
On the way to my first cache, I knew I’d made the right decision. I found myself on some very loose rocks on a very steep mountainside. Not having a camera around my neck made maneuvering much easier. When I reached the bottom, however, I regretted my decision. Monte Sano has so many lovely features! The magnificent overlook? Just in my memory now.
The first cache I searched for was missing. I immediately wished I had checked the previous logs to see if it had been found recently; it hadn’t. That hunt was a waste of time. The rest of the caches I looked for that day, I found. Well, except for the last one I attempted to find. My day was bookended by DNFs (did not find).
My favorite part about caching by myself was that I decided what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to ask anyone else what he/she wanted to do. If I wanted to stop for water, I stopped for water. When I was ready for lunch, I ate my lunch. I didn’t complain to myself about hiking 10 miles and making my feet hurt. Aside from the occasional airplane and fellow hiker, the woods were quiet and peaceful. It was fantastic!
My least favorite part about caching by myself was that I walked through every single spider’s web in my path. I didn’t have another tall person to walk in front of me and take out all the webs. You don’t realize how many spider’s webs are in a forest when you’re walking on a trail. But get off-trail, just walk through the woods, and you’ll learn.
To be totally honest, though, and this is serious, my least favorite part to caching by myself is the feeling I get anytime my path crosses another person. Whether I’m in the woods or in town, my guard goes up, my hand finds my knife, and I mentally prepare for the worst. If X happens, what’s my next move? Too paranoid? Maybe. But a girl can’t be too careful these days.
On my way back to our campsite, I decided to leave the trail and cut across the woods. I was tired. My clothing was soaked with sweat. My water supply was gone. Why stay on the trail when I can walk a straight line to camp, right? I’ll tell you why. Because in the woods you will walk upon a deer who is not afraid of you in the least because she lives in a state park where people leave food for her all the time. It was a little unnerving to me that she wasn’t startled by my appearing. I made loud noises in an attempt to shoo her away. She just looked at me. So, I stood there, hoping my fate would not end like those of youtube fame who had their days ruined by a deer, until she nonchalantly walked away. But again, at that moment, I wanted my camera.
I enjoyed caching the day away solo, but I prefer caching with a friend. It’s a lot more fun to share the smileys!