Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Very Smiley Day

I had a very nice day today, but not at all in the way I had foreseen. The annual Cold Wars miniatures and wargaming convention in Lancaster PA was due to begin today and run through Sunday. I planned to do my usual for a convention of this sort so close to home, which was to take a couple of days vacation from work and go out to Lancaster during the day, returning home by dinner much as if it were a normal work day. Lancaster is also a motherlode of unfound geocaches for me, so I planned to get a modest start in the morning, do a little geocaching in the later morning, and be able to be at the convention by the time it opened around noon.

This would have been a good plan if it weren't for the fact that I called Leo to check on his plans as I drove out, and was informed that I had misinterpreted the "begins on Thursday" part of the show, insofar as it beginning Thursday really meant that the registration desk and some preliminary games would be played Thursday evening. Nothing else were to happen until Friday morning. Oops.

So, having my GPS unit loaded with 1,000 Lancaster area geocaches, and a whole day of nice weather to burn, I came up with Plan B.

Many smileys along the trail
Plan B, in short, was to find the eastern end of the Enola Low-Grade Line hiking trail, which a Lancaster area caching group has made into a "power trail", and see if I could rack up a substantial number of geocaches. A Power Trail is a string of easy to find geocaches, generally along a hiking trail, that have been placed as close as possible to the minimum required separation of 1/10th of a mile, constructed for the purpose of allowing geocachers to find a large number of caches in as short period of time and space as possible.

I found the eastern end of the trail, near cache #158, and parked by the side of a country road. I walked about a half mile of the trail and found the first five caches, and would've hiked further from there, but was a little nervous about leaving my car parked for an extended period time on the road shoulder on some farmer's field. I got back in the car and drove further down the road, and was happy to find a trailhead parking lot where route 896 crosses the trail. From here I could hike as far as time and my legs would allow and not be in any danger of having my car disappear.

All in all, between 11:00am and 2:30pm, I hiked approximately 8 miles (4 out and 4 back) and found a total of 34 caches. It was a nice sunny cool and blustery day, and there wasn't another soul on the trail. The peace and solitude and crunch of gravel underfoot was a welcome change to too many days behind a desk. The caches were easy, the hiking was really more a walk than a hike, but it was extremely nice to stretch the legs and have a day outdoors.

By the time I got back to my car, I still had some time (but not a lot of leg energy), so I decided to drive around and get some additional easy caches. A drive up 896 through Strasburg, across route 30, and then east for a ways along the old Philadelphia Pike netted another 11 caches, for a day's total of 45. This easily eclipsed my previous daily high of 34 (?), achieved in and around Gettysburg on the way to another wargaming convention. This brings me to a total of 984 caches, just shy of a caching magic number of 1,000. My day's total of 45 also eclipses my grand total for the entire year of 2012, which was an embarrassingly low 40. Yikes. I have now found 55 in the last week...

I am remembering how much I like geocaching, and the places that it takes me, and am committed to making the effort to set aside some time for it this year. I will achieve the 1,000 milestone very soon, and Grace has made me promise that she must be present when I do. This brings a smile to my face.

I also still get to maintain the anticipation of a wargaming convention, which will occur tomorrow, and not today. Silly me... But in the unexpected, we often find blessings.

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