Monday, December 30, 2002

Geocaching Death March

Today we decided we'd get out and do a geocache. Yes, there is a foot of snow on the ground. Yes we are insane.

We bundled up good and headed out to Cedar Pond in Wenham. We'd driven past that location for many years and had NO idea what was there or what it was. It is some sort of wildlife sanctuary and no dogs/horses or electronic devices are allowed.

We broke the rules by using a GPS within the preserve boundaries. Suckahs.

The trails were in good condition. Several people had walked before us, and there had been plenty of cross country skiing in the area, so the walking wasn't hard.

This was a "multi-cache," which means you're given a starting set of coordinates to aim for, and you go to those coordinates to get more coordinates. This cache had parking coordinates, 3 "clue" coordinates and a final set of coordinates where the cache is actually hidden. So we had to aim for five locations total.

Here's Jess up on the terrace. I could almost hear Great Gatsbyesque banter echoing through the woods on the wings of long forgotten jazz tunes... Geoff enjoyed the ruins and the many hidden nooks and crannies provided. Here a bush has overgrown into a little tunnel leading to a gate...
Here's the view from where we should have hiked down to get to the trail. Duh? Aah, the view from our elegant porch... once beautifully maintained, nature has taken back what was once hers...

The property was obviously once a residence, as there was a gorgeous stone wall and lovely terraced porches overgrown with what was once meticulously managed landscaping. Geoff found several hidden passages and reveled in the fun of the ruins.

The first clue was easy to find. But we made a mistake in judging how to get from clue the first to clue the second and stayed up on the ridge where the porch ruins were.

There was no trail, and we were hiking through deer paths. Snow-whacking instead of bushwhacking. Had this been summer time, we would have been eaten alive, tick-covered, and ripped to shreds by the vicious thorns growing all through the area wildly.

There was plenty of deer scat on the trails, and lots of beautiful tracks preserved in the snow, but we were so in the wrong place. Eventually Doug found the trail we belonged on. It only took a half our out of our lives, and a half hour of daylight from us, which we would almost regret.

Jessie and Geoff sit and patiently wait while Doug and I scour the mountain laurel.

I am very glad they both wore snow pants. Jessie wore my old pair from a few years ago which needs a new zipper. Without them, she would have had to stand the whole time, or sit and whine that her butt was freezing.

The second clue was in mountain laurel at the base of an oak tree (the mountain laurel all through this part of the hike was gorgeous and I bet in the spring it is glorious). The snow covered the mountain laurel and weighed it down, it was all caked with ice too and I was afraid of bending a branch and having it snap in my hand. I thought for sure we were doomed not to find the stupid thing. The kids sat and rested while Doug and I searched an area that matched the written description of the clue but was 20 feet off from the coordinates we had.

I finally found the those coordinates, brushed all the snow off, and made them easier to find until the next storm comes along and hides them.

The final clue was nearly impossible. There is a small trail we were supposed to take over to the pond, and the clue was in a maple almost at the pond. No trail was visible, so within 20 feet of where we thought we were supposed to be we headed to the left and started looking for a maple.

I don't know a maple without leaves on it. Or an oak. I can tell you what a bare cedar looks like, or a bare birch, but maples and oaks baffle me when they are nude. Doug finally found the clue, and it was right there once you laid eyes on it. Sort of like "Where's Waldo" once you find him in a picture he just jumps right out at you and kicks you in the teeth.

Finding the actual cache location was a bear and a half. The clue said it was in a hole created by some fallen trees near a large oak... Well. Duh.

All the holes in the friggin' forest were covered up with friggin snow. I could hear Bart Simpson's take on pure white snow, hides everything, covers everything... as we searched in what seemed to be pure vain for 15 minutes at least.

Our GPS said we were 40 feet away from it once Doug found it. Not sure if the coordinates are just off or if the cache hiders are deliberately not accurate in order to make you work harder. Regardless, Doug's new nickname is "Tenacious D." Because he's Doug. And Tenacious. Here he is with his find. He's not knee deep in snow, he's on his knees as it's a steepish slope he's on. And he really got in there and got digging. He pretended to bark like a bloodhound once he got sight of the location and got to pawing the snow. It cracked me up.

We had precious little light getting out of there. We were a quarter mile from the truck, but couldn't get onto Cherry Street to walk back in a straight line. There was a wire deer fence that we didn't think we could all get over. So we decided to stick with the trail.

The trail was clear and the way open, we just had to get out of there before it got pitch dark. Which meant we had to truck. At first it was nice and ran parallel to the street and I thought we'd make the .22 miles in no time, but then the devil trail looped back around the pond, taking us far away from our destination.

Geoff was very tired and didn't want to walk. He kept saying his batteries ran out and he had no more energy for walking. I was pushing him Bataan Death March style to keep moving.

Suddenly in the quiet of my mind I had visions of terrified mothers and hysterical crying children forcibly marching through night and snow in Europe during the Holocaust. Geoff wanted to lay down in the snow and give up. Part of me said that if it was 1940 and we were being marched to the trains for miles I'd have left him. Part of me said I'd lay down next to him and let them shoot me. And even though we were under no such pressure to march from forces outside our bodies, I honestly had a sense of terror. Mostly because for a minute there I questioned what I would do if I had had to live through something like that. I thought of all the things that could go through a woman's mind under extreme duress, and I was afraid.

I pondered the concept of what it would mean to have to sacrifice a child to keep one's own self walking. Would you or wouldn't you? Would the child cry out and beg not to be left, or would the child just silently fall? Would the mother try and go back, or steel her eyes on the back of the head in front of her, focused and determined to keep walking? Would she turn and squat and stay with, fighting to protect the child and perhaps losing her own life? Would she ignore his or her cries as she marched away? And would she think it was worth it to live without that child? Would she know what awaited her at the end of the march? Would a soldier immediately shoot the child? Would they just not bother, knowing that after the march has left the area the child would perish?

I thought of Elie Wiesel. I thought of his mother.

I pushed the thoughts out of my mind and focused on encouraging Geoff, prodding him gently with my hand, telling him what a great job he was doing.

"You're a super hiker! You can do it!!!"

In the back of my mind I heard dogs barking, distant trains and sirens, and German soldiers demanding we mach schnell.

I actually started to feel tears burning the back of my throat and in my heart and mind I began to pray for mothers with children in adverse and deadly situations right at that moment and through history.

All we were was out in the local woods. We weren't even lost. We were going to get back to our car no problem. But at one point Doug and Jessie got ahead of us and I was looking at trees and logs to see what would be good temporary shelter if we got stuck out there for the night.

I hate that it's pitch dark at 4pm. We made it though. All in one piece. Geoff never cried though. He told me I wasn't nice for pushing him along at one point when I gave him a shove as he straddled a fallen log and just stayed there. I really shouldn't have shoved him. I thought it was a gentle push, but he interpreted it as a very rough shove.

I explained to him that without speed we were stuck out there in the dark and it would make it harder to get to the truck.

What got him motivated to finish? It was this sentence: "Think of all the video games waiting for you at home, all the games you can play... think of them and getting to them and you'll go faster."

And he did.

Sunset... and I begin my growing sense of fear... And there's the super cacher. Happy on the trail just before the Death March.

Walking in snow is hard, like walking on loose sand. It takes more control in stepping, more thought. I feel like I walked 5 miles when all told it was probably 1.5 total. Well, with all the searching for the coordinates perhaps it was 2. But my back and legs ache now... from all the extra effort. It's a good work out to get out and walk, and an even better one to do so in snow. I recommend it. There was no wind, the sun (while we had it) was bright. It was worth the trip, even with the macabre thoughts. Needless to say I am very happy to be home tonight and vow not to go out caching with only 2 hours of daylight ahead of me.

In other news, we rented movies last night. Ice Age, Monsters Inc., and Lilo & Stitch. I haven't watched Lilo & Stitch yet, but Jessie watched it today and said "it wasn't bad." Which means it was mediocre.

We watched Ice Age and Monsters Inc. last night, and of the two I must say that Monsters Inc. was the better by far. I am not a big fan of Disney on the whole. But for some reason, all the Pixar movies are better than anything else on the market EVER. I love the Toy Story films, and this one is just super. I'm looking forward to the new Nemo movie they have coming out this summer. They have unbelievable imaginations. In Monsters Inc, the story line is so creative and parts of it unexpected. Ice Age was at best predictable and at times overly schmaltzy and beyond unrealistic. I did enjoy some of the vocal characterizations and thought the interplay between the characters was funny, but it didn't shine like Monsters Inc, which I would gladly own and watch a million times.

The funniest thing about Ice Age was the parental guidance warning. Check this out:

This movie has Mild Peril in it. Jeeeesh. Glad they told me! Mild Peril. I have to be warned that there is Mild Peril? I mean really now. Labeling a movie for Mild Peril is like labeling a movie that there might be something funny inside of it. "Situations may be found amusing by some."

Mild Fucking Peril.

And let me tell you something, no such warning was on the Monsters Inc flick, and there was far more wicked peril in that one. I should have been warned!

Anyway -- back to what I was blabbing about ... Normally I find Mr. Billy Crystal annoying, but he is super as Mike, and I love John Goodman's voice (He's the big blue thing, Sully). He does the peasant in the "Emperor's New Groove and is great at that as well. He just has such a rich tone to his voice and really can make me laugh with a turn of phrase.

If you haven't seen Monsters Inc because you have no kids, don't let that be your excuse. This movie has a better story than most of the grown up blockbusters, and had me laughing out loud several times. Go. Rent. Enjoy.

Anyway -- I cannot believe it is 9pm at this point. I'm tired and sore. I have laundry to go move around. I'll catch you before the new year rings in.

No comments:

Post a Comment