Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Geocaching Adventures: High Shoal Falls

Todays* adventure is to grab the two caches at South Mountain State Park.  There are no physical caches allowed in the park, so the two caches are a virtual and an earth cache.

Conveniently both of them are on the trail to one of the parks features: High Shoal Falls.

The trail to the base of the falls is just under a mile, and the information required for the earth cache is located on plaques along the way, so I wandered along the trail the base and gathered the info required to claim the cache along the way.  The virtual required taking a pic at the observation deck.

Standing at the base of the falls you see the following scene:   Immediately before you is a series of rocks about 20-30ft high with several small water falls.  Above that is a small pool of water that collects water from the main falls, about 60ft away.  The main falls extend another 80ft above the pool.  There is a wooden bridge at the base of the falls, which turns into a series of stone and wooden stairs that wind up the left side of the falls.  At the level of the pool is a wooden viewing platform that allows one to get a nice view of the tallest part of the falls.

My original plan was to ascend to the viewing platform then turn back. The climb on the irregular rocks and steep steps was harder than I expected. Exhausted, I spent a decent amount of time taking photos and relaxing on the deck, while listening to the sound of falling water.

Eventually it was time to get moving gain. I walked back to the entrance to the viewing platform with every intention of turning left and heading back down the stairs. My brain looked left, and my feet turned right, and before I realized it I had started to climb the next set of torture stairs. I can't explain why - natural curiosity of needing to know what is around the next corner? Schadenfreude turned inward? Who knows.  I can only say I am glad I did.

Often when I go on hikes I am reminded of scenes from Lord Of The Rings.  Often the Blue Ridge Mountains near my house remind me of the Misty Mountains.  As I was ascending the upper half of the High Shoal Falls stairs I was strongly reminded of the stairs leading to Cirith Ungol - Those are the stairs in the second book (or third movie if you've never read the books (and why not?  They are awesome!)) that led to Shelobs Lair (big giant spider that "kills" Frodo).  Luckily for me the top of my stairs lacked an evil spider, orcs, or wastelands.

Actually, at the top I was treated to the view of a really pretty mountain creek, and the sound of trickling water over small rocks.  The only thing that was ominous about the whole situation was the distant rumble of thunder.

Not wanting to get caught in the rain I hurried along, and made my way down 2 miles of gentle pathways back to my car.  Just as I pulled out of the parking lot it started to rain, so I managed to avoid getting wet on this adventure. (Another thunderstorm would soak me later on in the day, but that is a different story, and you are reading this one.  You can see the bind you're in).

It was a short hike all told, just 2.8 miles, however all the climbing made it very grueling in parts.  I was glad to get back to the car where I could get some rest.

I'll leave you with some more pictures from the day:

* I was so tired tonight from my adventure that I couldn't blog about why I was so tired, so "today" is more of a concept than a fact.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Micro Hunter

 One of the benefits of geocaching with a pint sized human is that you can send him into those low areas to hunt for geocaches.  This is especially handy when the other members of the team are a 6'2" tall dude, and a 32 week pregnant lady.


He's getting pretty good at opening containers too.


Technorati claim code:   3080709

Saturday, March 17, 2012

North Carolina Zoo

Earlier this week I suggested to my wife that we go on an adventure this weekend as it is one of the few weekends left before our daughter is due to be born.  She suggested that we head to the zoo.

The North Carolina Zoo is 2.5 hours away, so this morning at 6:30AM we piled into the "Mini-Van Of Adventure And Awesomeness"(tm)  and headed half-way across the state.

This was Zekes first time at a zoo, so we were not sure how he would take being that close to real animals (he tends to be a cautious child).  It turns out he absolutely loved it.  His attention span lasted about twice as long as I expected it to (about 4 hours), and when we got back to the car he fell asleep literally within seconds.

This was also the first chance I had to really run my new camera through its paces, so I took a lot of photos.  The following are a small sample of the animals we saw.  
My wife also took some photos, which should be viewable here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Moment Of Caching With A Toddler

I present to you in a series of photos, with captions in what I imagine is his inner toddler voice, a brief moment of caching with my son, the Tonka Tyke.

cache!  cache!  where cache... are?
Ah ha! I finded it!
twist... twist... tricky... twist... open how?
baggies are tricky...
Log signed... gotta put it back now... Swiper no swiping!
All right! Got Daddy's GPS... more cache? Again!

(note: It took him approximately 20 seconds to find the cache once he got to GZ... the kid is a natural!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Geocaching Adventures: Morgantons Multi's

This past weekend I have been hunting down some multi-caches in Morganton NC, a town about 15 miles from my house.

The first day I tackled a 2 part multi-cache in Cascade Park, a small, abandoned park in the middle of town.

The park itself looked like it was very pretty back in the day, with a small creek, waterfalls, and many trees with interesting root structures.  As of now tho the park is one big bushwhack from front to back.

This multi ended up being a half mile of crazy trampsing through the woods on slippery hillsides, thorny vines, and lots of trash.  It took me about an hour but I managed to get this 2 stage multi in the bag.  It was a slogfest, especially the second stage, but it whet my appetite for more multis.

The great thing about multi's is that you get to do extra hunting while still keeping the one cache in your head - it extends the fun for much longer, and makes that smiley all the more sweeter.

When I got back to the house I looked for more multi-caches, and found that there were two of them on the Catawba River Greenway, which is also in Morganton.  Both cache descriptions mentioned that the stages were miles apart.  So armed with my bike I headed over to the greenway and try my luck.  I also picked up some other caches along the way.

It was handy having stages so far apart as it allowed me to go find other caches while I waited for muggles to clear out of certain areas.  As an example: I went for the final for the first multi - a three stager, and true to form, muggles were sitting at GZ for the final stage (how do they know to do that?)  I was going to try my normal method for getting muggles to move on - by sitting uncomfortably close to them, but not acknowledging them, and waiting until this violation of their personal space overwhelms their senses and they move away from the weird crazy guy - but this group seemed to out-weird me (no small feat).  So instead I went off to solve the second multi.  When I returned the muggles were gone and I was able to make the grab.

I put 9.35 miles on my bike that day, and really enjoyed the bike along the Catawba River.    I used to avoid multi's, but I have a feeling I'll be seeking them out more and more in the future.

 I'll leave you with some more pics taken during the two days of hunting down multi's in Morganton NC:
Waterfall in Cascade Park

English Ivy growing everywhere.  Much better than the poisonous variety.

I have no idea what this plant is, but it looks pretty, and well camo'd

The Catawba River

Faint traces of a trail

Monday, March 05, 2012

Geocaching Podcasts

There are many geocaching related podcasts in the world. Too many to listen too on a weekly basis.  The following are some of the geocaching related podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis.

The Cache-A-Maniacs started out as a "Candid and uncut interview with a geocacher in a fairly formal format, but has recently evolved into Cache-A-Maniacs Connections, which is also an interview show but in a much more relaxed conversational style.

They also have a new podcast called GeoGearHeads, which has a range of topics for the geocaching technical enthusiast.  You can get more information for all of these caches at

The next geocaching related podcast is the tautalogically named Geocaching Podcast.  It is a weekly podcast that has a weekly news segment, the geocaching question of the day, and a discussion panel amongst the hosts that discusses a wide range of topics related to the world of geocaching.

They also have an active listening community so listeners can take part in the episodes.  You can get more information at

The final podcast is entitled Geocaching World, produced by, an RV themed channel.  Geocaching World is a video show that is released as a broadcast, and also covers a wide range of geocaching topics.  You can get more information at

This is just a small sampling of all of the geocaching related podcasts.  There are other ones that are just as good as these.  A quick Google search should reveal all the details.

I hope this helps you get a little more connected to the ever changing world of geocaching.