Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grasslands Adventure

Going through the gate on our way back to the car
With fall here, I thought it would be a great time to head out to the grasslands for some hiking and geocaching. I had been out to the grasslands before to hike, bike and run, but Erin had never been out there. On the drive there I asked her if she was scared of cows, and she laughed it off. I told her how sneaky and underhanded they could be but she dismissed my comments thinking that they were just cows.

The first cache we looked for was near the trail head. We got out of the car and were caught a little off guard by the cold wind. We expected a crisp morning, but the accompanying wind was something that was a little unexpected.  The first cache was found fairly quickly although it was about 40 feet from where the Garmins told us it would be. We decided that we would grab some windbreakers before heading on to the next cache.  After a quick trip to the car we were off again, this time heading deeper into the grasslands.  Up until this point when I went out to the grasslands I stayed along the North Country Trail, however this time the trail didn't go where we needed it to. We found some wheel tracks and decided to follow those. Fortunately the tracks took us almost exactly where we needed to go.  The second cache was another easy find.  As we were signing the log I asked Erin again if she was scared of cows. She sort of laughed and asked if there was one behind her.  In the distance I noticed 3.  Probably the advanced scouting unit of the cow army.  Even though the scouts were trying to hide we could clearly see them. God help us if they ever discover camouflage. I figured the cows already radioed our position to the rest, so we might as well try for cache number 3. We tried to outflank the scouts, but they noticed our movement and fled like the cowards they were. From there we followed some wheel tracks through the woods for another half mile or so before heading off on a cow trail.  Normally cows move single file like sand people to hide their numbers, but here there were 3 distinct trails. What were they planning? We went a little farther and found a clearing in the woods. From there we spotted an advanced cow battalion trying to hide behind a barbed wire fence.  I was thankful that cows were such awful hide and seek players. Thinking we could get around them Erin and I moved back into the woods, but we had been spotted.  The cowards again fled, and I found myself thinking this was almost too easy. Were we being led into a trap? Erin was getting a little nervous, I think she was sensing we were mooving deeper into cow held territory. We were about 700 feet from the cache and decided to proceed through the gate. We had gone this far and would not be stopped.  After we cleared the gate we followed the trail up a hill and there we saw it, the headquarters of the cow army. They had made their base in a large clearing, directly in our path to the cache. It all made sense now. They wanted us to become emotionally invested in finding this cache. It was less then 500 feet away from where we stood staring down the herd. As we stood there I spotted one of the cow special forces emerging from the woods. Once it was spotted it hung it's head and shame and returned to the herd. All of that training to sneak around our flank was wasted. Since their trap had failed to spring I figured we could take the trail in the woods that the special forces cow had used. Erin was thinking about turning back, but we couldn't let the cows win. Who knows where their tyranny would stop if we did not stand up to them. The trail took us safely around the cows encampment and after delving deeper into the woods we were victorious. The cache was OURS! With the log signed, the cache returned to it's hiding place and the cows thwarted we needed to head back to the car.  We followed the trail back to the gate, however I decided to take a shorter route. The cows had been angered by our victory and decided now was the time to act. They began to marshal their ranks forming a line standing shoulder to shoulder. As they began to move my direction I shouted which briefly distracted them Erin was up on a ridge and kept moving toward the fence line.  When the cows began their second attack I stood my ground.  I shouted for Erin to keep moving and I would bravely hold them off. As I stood there staring the cows down I could feel their shame growing. They had failed to protect the cache and they knew that I knew that they knew that. I turned my back in disgust and retreated into the woods towards the fence line. Erin had already reached it, but was unable to find a spot to cross. We decided to follow the fence back to the gate. Along the way we didn't see any more cow activity, perhaps they had consigned themselves to their fate and were lining up for the truck to the slaughterhouse. When we made it through the gate Erin was relieved.  On our way back we spotted the 3 advanced cow scouts, but they kept their distance. Eventually we made it back to the car and had Jimmy Johns for lunch, we had picked it up the previous night.
Looking for a cache in the grasslands

After lunch we headed out of the grasslands, my ankle was starting to bother me and hiking didn't seem like it would make things better. We grabbed a few caches along the road and stopped by a couple of cemeteries on our way to Lisbon.
Large tree in the middle of a cemetery.
When we reached Lisbon Erin needed to use the bathroom, so we stopped at the gas station/grocery store. From there we backtracked to a cluster of caches that was Southeast of Lisbon. When we got there we discovered that this place was called Dead Colt Recreation Area. There was a picnic area, and a swimming beach, as well as camping areas and a couple of baseball fields. It was a beautiful area and we had a good time caching there. After we found all of the caches in the park we decided we had enough for the day and headed home.
Dead Colt Recreation Area (Click for a better view)

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