Bad Decisions Make Good Logs.
The following is a tale of cheer and woe. A good cautionary tale to those of us that are just a little too determined sometimes. Click on the links for the correlating geocaching web page.
On Sunday February 1st, 2015, I was planning on going geocaching with a supposed geocaching friend of mine (400Eiger) but he was twitching for FTF’s on some new geocaches that got published at the Chippewa Moraine. (I have to pick on him. Really the following is his fault anyway. Right?) I couldn't head down right away because I had to watch Team Northwood's newest member Ellie (TN Elliephant) until April (TN Mein Liebchen) got home from work. By the time I made it down to the Chippewa Moraine, 400Eiger was all petered out and couldn't go any further geocaching. I decided try for a FTF myself that was hidden back on October 31st, Camp Lake Gold for Team Northwoods.
This geocache was actually placed for me by Wis Wild Weasel and northknights. I had tried to get it earlier in the year from the north but I kept running into private property. There was a 1/4 mile wide section along one 40 acre parcel that attached from Rusk County Land to the Chippewa County Land. It was several miles in with no trails. By the time I found the access it was easier to turn around and just come in, the right way, from the south at a later date.
I drove to Bradley Lake where I sat and pondered on what to do. It was 2:20 pm and the cache was almost straight north 2 miles. All bushwhacking with lots of hills and I would have to break trail with my snowshoes. I brought some caches along to drop along the way. I almost always have caches along to drop along the way. I could route a course for others to find a way to Camp Lake Gold. If I left right now I should have enough time to get it done and make the FTF.
Here is the link to the caches I placed along my route Going for Gold #1 - 9.
I started on down a hill with my labs Oarie and Pepper running all around checking out all the different scents. I think they must put on 3 miles for every one of mine.
I dressed down for my jaunt. A long sleeve shirt and pants under a light rain suit. The rain suit is nice because it keeps the snow and wind off. I always dress way down because you get very hot when snowshoeing. The weather was nice and the snow depth was moderate. I bushwhacked over a few ridges through large timber to new select cut. An endless select cut.
After the endless select cut I came to a 15 year old clear cut. I made my way through the cut to logging road heading East and West. Along the logging road was a sign for a fall timber sale back in 2012. At least it had a the nice little yellow circle on an aerial photo where I was. It also ensured me that I was still on County Land. I knew there was private land several miles in to the North and Northeast of the parking area.
At this point I was already getting a little tired and wondered if this was all in vain or still possible. If I stopped now the geocaches I dropped would lead to nowhere. Which I might do anyway. After hiding over 950 geocaches I have to admit that not all them lead to someplace cool.
Suddenly, my phone made that horrible shrilling tone, my battery was critically low. I turned it off to conserve what battery was left. I hoped there was enough for me to turn it on a few times to take a few more pics along the way.
Why didn't I bring my battery pack you might ask? Oh that was because I was planning to go on a nice leisurely walk down the Ice Age Trail.
Of course, I couldn’t give up almost 3/4's of the way there without a fight. I went straight NW at the cache, leaving the logging trail behind, cutting across a nice frozen beaver pond, a boggy pine swamp, and back into a another clear cut. I had .7 miles to go.
I worked my way past some tree stands and back into another select cut.
Finally after snowshoeing 2.81 miles and climbing 341 feet of ascent, I finally came to see a small lake known as Camp.
I started my search for this not winter friendly regular sized cache. It took a while because it was well hidden and under the snow but I made the FTF at 4:43 pm. The color of the container did help and that nice ammo can thud when I kicked it.
Now it was time to make haste and get out of here. I did not have to worry about trying to navigate back like I did on the way in because I could just follow my trail back. The trail back was not much easier than on the way in because the cold temps make the snow like sugar. A good snowshoeing trail is one that has hardened after a few days.
It was starting to get dark as I made it across the logging trail and back into the endless select cut. At this point even the dogs were staying in my track behind me.
About .75 miles from the truck is when I hit the wall. I was done. I had to take a break. I was very tired and getting very cold. It was time to reach out.
I had to try and make a few quick calls just in case I couldn't make it to my truck. Luckily my phone powered back on so I called 400Eiger first. He had the best idea where I was geocaching. I thought about northknights but didn't want to risk battery on a call if he wasn't around. I called home to tell my family where to start looking for me but they didn't answer so I left a message. If I don't call back in one hour (7:00 pm). Go to Bradley Lake. Follow the only snowshoeing tracks heading north. I have a low battery and have to shut off my phone to conserve what's left. That did cause quite a little concern considering I stay out late in the woods geocaching a lot. You only have so much time on your days off. I call to check in all the time but never have I worried about making it out before.
Another concern was that if I couldn't make it out they would probably have to call 911 anyway. Who on their own is physically going to be able get me out of here by themselves. I would end up being one of those people you hear about on TV that you shake your head at and say "what an idiot". With my luck, anyway; they would probably have to field dress me like a deer to get me out. I guess that would be one way to lose a couple extra pounds.
I trudged on slowly, bushwhacking up and and down the hills not wanting to stop. When I did stop; I had a hard time getting moving again so that was not a good idea to try again. I was freezing cold because I was sweated up and now the temps were dropping and the wind chills dipped into the teens below zero. I was determined to make it out but it was very hard and slow going. Luckily I had a very good flashlight and that really helped. Without the flashlight there would have been no way to find my track out because there was no moon and it was very dark in the brush. I was surprised by that because normally you would think you wouldn't have that problem with snow on the ground.
Finally within 800 feet of the truck and turned on my phone. It was about 6:40 pm. Called home and then 400Eiger telling them I was at my last climb and will call them when I hit the car charger.
Now you wouldn't believe what I see when I turn the bend and look up the hill. I erupted, "MY FRICKEN LIGHTS ARE ON INSIDE MY TRUCK!" (Nice version.) With new found energy, I hurry up the hill like an idiot thinking it would matter if I get there 15 seconds earlier to try and start my truck. I jumped in the truck. Grabbed my keys and beautifully it started right up. I plugged my phone in.
I grabbed my GPS to see how far it was as I waited for my truck to warm up. My trip was 5.32 miles with an ascent of 671 feet. That was a lot of up and downs. 4 hours of total moving time at 1.7 mph.
All was well. Relatively speaking of course! My vehicle wouldn't warm up all the way home because the heater core was plugged. I found that out later after enjoying a nice frozen ride home. If the heater did work I would probably have cramped up in agony anyway. For those of you that ice fish or have really gotten a chill and go to warm up would know about that. I did finally warm up after I drove the ½ hour home and got into a nice warm shower.
Either way, I made it. I was actually worried there for a while that someone might have to come and get me.
From now on I know 4.5 miles of breaking trail and bushwhacking is my limit. After that it changes from a challenge to not fun.
The moral of this story. Bad Decisions Make Good Logs.