5.7 km!!!! That’s a record for a lunchtime hike. And, truth be told, more than really fits in a lunch “hour”. But I really REALLY wanted to try this puzzle cache…
So. Welcome to today’s caching adventure. It’s pretty straight-forward. Just park here:
Then slither down the gravel embankment, nip about 600m into the woods to the little orange thingie, where there’s a tag on a tree right next to the path. Easy-peasy, and no doubt with time left over to pick up a few more caches before heading back to the car.
That is, until I tried to park and found myself facing a chain draped across a couple of poles, and two black-and-yellow plastic signs:
Well, that’s real friendly.
Also? as far as I can tell they’re blocking a road allowance. I consider parking there anyhow, but then it occurs to me that, if someone is going to put up their own no-parking sign, they might be equally willing to slash my tires while I’m gone.
(Does anyone else’s brain work this way?)
So now I’m stuck parking here:
Which is fine. Because, you know, the whole point is to go for a hike, right? And the GPS says the tag is only 2.2km away. 4.4km round trip, maybe a little extra because it’s not a straight line… no biggie.
So off I go. I’m pretty familiar with this end of the Highlands now, I hike it almost daily. The paths can get rocky but are wide and well-travelled; the mosquitoes, annoying but manageable.
About half-way there (about the same time as I score my first really good soaker) the well worn trails I know give way to steep rocky OMG-I-can’t-believe-these-are-for-biking trails, that in turn give way to teeny tiny about-the-width-of-a-bike-tire trails that thread their under trees and through thigh-high grass.
This is way more hard-core than I am, but I can’t turn back now. So I keep going: More woods. More mud. More bugs.
Then, less than 100m from the cache, I hear a hum. It sounds kinda like a bee hive but not – OH my GOD the MOSQUITOS. A great, seething, humming cloud of them. I complained about being swarmed last weekend, but I swear I didn’t know the meaning of the word. I slapped at them. I choked on them. I kept stumbling forward, clutching my iPhone – I’d rather keep it tucked safely away, I’m sure I’m going to drop it in a mud puddle, but I ALSO want to watch the GPS because I REALLY don’t want to go any further than I have to.
And then – and then! I get to where the tag is supposed to be. No tree. I’m surrounded by chest high (tick infested?) grass-and-brambles-and-raspberry-canes, laced with poison ivy for all I know (I really need to learn to identify that stuff).
Oh, fuck it -> I wade into the grass in the direction of the nearest clump of trees -> no tag. Grass (and who knows what else) up to my NECK. Good lord, this cloud of mosquitoes outweighs me. Smears of blood (mine? not mine?) and mosquito guts cover my arms and legs.
Is that what this is about? I’ve made the mosquitoes angry? Because it makes NO SENSE that they’ve all gathered in this godforsaken corner of the South March Highlands with only me to feast on. Begone, fiends! What are you doing HERE? The PEOPLE are 2.2km THAT way!
So. The next clump of trees is way over THERE, and nowhere near where the GPS says it should be. Fuck it now for realz. I’m going home.
And then I’m bragging on Facebook with yet another mud-up-to-my-knees picture. Because today I earned it.