One of the main objectives for our trip was some specific old geocaches – “grandfather caches”, and GCD was one of those Do Not Miss ones. It was a prime reason for us being in this area in the first place. So, after a breakfast we cooked at our rental cabin, we drove out an hour or two to Hyak, across the highway from the Snoqualmie Tunnel where we would spend the afternoon, and drove up a rough service road to the parking area for the Mt Margaret trail head.
While we were getting out of the car, a man drove up behind us and started talking to us. He seemed nervous and his conversation choice was just kind of odd, and I had a hard time letting go of that the rest of the hike. There has been an issue up along this trail and along the Lake Annette trail nearby with a “geo-pirate” – someone with a vendetta against geocaching who was destroying all the caches in those areas. Recently, this had caused the archiving of the last remaining APE cache in the US. I thought maybe this man could have been this person, or possibly a theif or a murderer. Frankly, this man made us both so nervous that we felt unsafe during our hike, and had a hard time letting go of that feeling enough to really feel comfortable on the hike. Perhaps he was just a lonely old man…in the end, nothing was taken or harmed, but it just set a vibe that made everything not feel right.
Also, the hike was harder than anticipated, at least for J. I had at least read the cache page and was aware that it was not going to be an easy hike up due to the elevation climb, but J was not expecting that and was really not in the mood for hiking or carrying a pack. He was sore from the previous hiking we had done and his backpack was pretty heavy with camera equipment and the laptop (so the electronics would not get stolen from the car). So I was bouncing around excited and just loving it, but he was anti-hiking and several times suggested we turn back around. But no! I really wanted to get this cache so bad! This was also my favorite kind of hiking experience. The air felt crisp and clean, the mountain views were beautiful, the birds were singing, the weather was just right.
What wasn’t just right, though, were the trail conditions as we got closer to the cache. The hike is about two miles, one way. As we got less than half mile from the cache, the trail became more and more challenging. Snow lay over the trail, and had iced over, making the way slow and dangerous. As it turns out, after looking at the logs, someone falsely logged a find on it a few weeks earlier, with only a cache note of “thanks”, making me think it was somewhat passable, but really the last true find on this was the previous October, some eight months back before the winter. We started to realize that this was going to either be a lot more risky and challenging than we thought, or that we would have to give up. It says on the cache page that the cache is impossible to find under snow, so some months of the year it is not possible. I guess I was thinking summer would clear things up, but we were just too early in the season.
J was all in favor of turning around, but I really did not want to. I was about to try to talk him into waiting for me, while I went up by myself (I thought there was a way I could get around the snow and get up there – turns out I wasn’t crazy for thinking that because that is what the next person did, a few days later) but he didn’t think it was safe (probably wasn’t), and as I was about to argue with him about it, I saw a tree in the distance moving suspiciously, which made me question if there were predators ahead. The idea of meeting a predator out there alone with no weapon scared me into agreeing with him, and we went back down the mountainside, defeated.
Just two weeks later, cachers were logging finds on this cache again, and the snow was melting. Several of our friends found this cache later in the summer, around the time of the Groundspeak Block Party, which attracted a lot of people to the area. For us, it was all in the timing, and our timing was bad. This cache now has becomme another “Potter’s Pond” – another epic cache that J talked me out of due to prudence. I am the reckless one, he is the cautious one – the yang to my yin.
GCD, we will back, another year. Hopefully a warmer one and later in the season.