Monday, September 5, 2011

MORE MICKEY WARNOCK GEO ADVENTURES

Last Tue I took one on my "Backroads Beemer" on a loop from Greer through Weippe, Pierce and back through Grangemont. There was a Gold Rush series of caches mostly at historical signs and some at cemeteries. It was pretty interesting but I did have one mishap (some might say a Mickey Warnock experience). There were 2 or 3 caches not in the series that were on the back gravel roads. I took a gravel road just before the Grangemont turnoff and went back in about 5 miles and then bushwhacked a ways through the woods to get a cache. I had gotten about half way back out on the gravel road when the bike slid out from under me. It went over the embankment, fortunately minus me, and ended up at about a 45 degree angle pointed downhill with the back wheel a foot or two down from the road. I got a little road rash but nothing serious. The bike weighs well over 400 pounds so there was no way I was going to get it back up by myself. There was absolutely no traffic on that road so I hiked the 2 1/2 miles back to the highway. It didn't take long at all to get a ride back into Pierce where some folks were kind enough to drive me back out with their truck and pull my bike back up on the road. Shortly after getting that bike, I had installed some crash bars which really came in handy. I just had a bent brake pedal which I was able to straighten out after I got back to the farm. It happened about 5:00 p.m. so it put me back after dark and my cell phone battery had gone dead. Of course, where the accident occurred there was no service anyway. Kathy was about a half hour away from calling the sheriff.

My trip yesterday went a little better. For a long time I’d been wanting to put a cache in the Seven Devils but it’s almost impossible to get permission to place one in a Wilderness Area. They have a rule that says no caches in the Areas but it’s meant for a regular cache such as someone leaving some food or hunting gear back in there to retrieve at a later date. Some also say geocaches are litter. At any rate, Ken had given me a mountain goat skull which I intended to use as the container. After I finally got in touch with the Ranger in charge of the area, which wasn’t easy, and explained what I wanted to do and about the container, she gave me permission. Actually, I wanted to put two down there. The other one would be a multi cache called “No Hill For A Climber”. The last leg would be down there and I would put at least two other legs that would require some serious hill climbing. The first leg would be here locally just to get some of the hotshots hooked that think they have to get every cache in the area.

So I left a little before 6:30 yesterday morning on the “Backroads Beemer”. It was a little chilly even though I have heated grips and a windshield which really help. I stopped in Grangeville to warm up a bit. After leaving the highway a little past Riggins I had about 15 miles of uphill twisty gravel road. You can bet I took it easy, especially the curves. I got there about 10:00 and left the Seven Devils Campground at 10:15. I have waypoints in my GPSr for the Hikers’ Trail that makes the shortcut over to Sheep Lake. It took me about an hour to get up to the saddle. It seems like those steep hills aren’t quite as easy as they used to be. From there I made a right turn heading north along that high ridge that faces the campground and parking lot. I found a perfect spot for the skull in a little cave at 8,650 feet elevation. After placing it I continued north heading toward the highest peak on the ridge. I soon met two couples from Nampa so I stopped, had my lunch, and visited with them. I always forget something. This time it was my hat so they gave me some sun screen for my head which really helped. We exchanged information on how we had gotten there and I decided to take the ridge they had come up back down and they would take the Hikers’ Trail with maybe a detour to Sheep Lake.

When I got to the highest peak at just over 8,700 feet I found a great place for the second cache. The container was a plastic peanut jar about 7” square painted with camo paint. I found a big rock that had fallen over and created a little cave so I placed the cache in there with a rock and some wood in front of it. I’m hoping if “The Goat Head” cache goes well I can get permission next year for the multi cache and I won’t have to make another trip in there. My trip back down was much easier except I had developed blisters on the tops of my fourth toes on both feet from going down the steep inclines. The ridge they had come up starts near the parking lot but since that’s not where I was going I veered off to the south and partly slid down a loose gravely sloop until I hit a little bench just above the camp ground. It was only 1:30 so I felt like I had done a lot in that amount of time. I had also logged a cache just before the entrance into the Wilderness Area.

About half way down the road from the Devils I stopped to try a cache that had been out for over a year with no logs. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I missed the trail intended and took another one taking me down a steep wooded hill to the same general area. When I got down there I saw a high overhanging cliff with pitons, carabineers and chains embedded in it to accommodate rock climbers. The name of the cache was “Cliff Hanging Spelunkers”. However, the coordinates took me down a steep talus slope, across a creek and part way up the other side where there was nothing out of the ordinary – just woods. I knew it had to be wrong so I retreated and climbed all the way down, across the creek and back up the talus sloop. However, I went too far up and hit the wrong trail leading me to a dead end cliff. I backtracked and hit the right trail taking me back to the overhanging rock climber cliff. At that point I discovered another trail above the one I had taken in which was the one I should have taken in the first place. That took me to what was described as the cache site – ropes attached in the hillside leading up to some caves. I climbed up to the caves and crawled in the biggest one which circled about 30 feet back into the cliff and terminated in a tunnel about 2 ½ feet in diameter. Fortunately I had a flashlight with me. Unfortunately I found no cache there nor in any other of the smaller caves in the area. The coordinates were 300’ off. I should have known better. The cache was placed by someone who had found a grand total to two caches. Oh well, a disappointing “no find” but quite an adventure and an interesting place even if it did take two hours out of my trip. The rest of my trip was fairly uneventful and I was back home a little after 7:00 p.m. M/W

3 comments:

Hallie said...

Was Nellie sad to not be included in this adventure? Will you look for your lost hat when you go back sometime or have you given it up for lost? The weather looked nice--was it hot?

Leah said...

OMG!

Mike said...

I didn't lose my hat, Hallie, I forgot to take it. Of course, I was wearing my helmet when I left.

Nellie shows no inclination to want to accompany me on the motorcycle.

The weather was absolutely perfect. I began the climb in a heavy long sleeve shirt but soon shed it for a tee shirt the rest of the day.