Thursday, February 11, 2016

2015-10-11: The Quest for the Apocalypse in the Ocala National Forest

Today's Geocaching adventure was planned shortly after the last hike and we couldn't have asked for better weather! The BAG+/- Group consisted of TeamFelixG, clark boys, Daykinator, saylorboys+mom and the two of us. We met up along CR-19 at Morman Branch Creek with a goal of conquering the Apocalypse caches.

But first following east, Barking Moonbat was the warm-up cache. After putting on the gear, we all headed down the short trail leading into the cool water. There were 3 of us who decided to wear knee high rubber boots based upon previous photos. Standing at the roadside looking down into the shallow waters, we thought a good choice on the rubber boots! However, it didn't take but a few steps disappearing into the woods to realize they proved worthless as recent rains made for high tide further down! It seems as the floor of the creek varies from shallow to deep and back again. And as one of the 3, I can say it didn't make any easier on the dry sections with a gallon of water in each boot. A quick find at GZ and we reversed direction back towards the Apocalypse...

Having made our way back to the cars, we continued following the creek towards the west, spending most of our time in the cool waters. We found it easier to move forward instead of bushwhacking through the brush. Which we occasionally did as the creek would twist to the right and left too far off course only to pick it back up again. Also upon crossing the dry spots, those of us with the boots would pause briefly for a yoga pose (see photos), draining the water from the boots. We arrived at Soulbait Springs for another quick cache find and getting ever closer to the Apocalypse.

The next cache along the Morman Branch Creek was called "I get by with a little help from...", Geocaching is a great example of "getting by with a little help from." Because if on days like this if we were to trek out here as individuals, where would the fun be? It's having such adventurous friends to share in the experience that's makes it all worth while. I think we are the newest members of the B.A.G. and have enjoyed each trip with our newest friends.

WE MADE IT! Our quest to conquer the "Apocalypse, When?," "Apocalypse-End," and "Paint Fiction's Apocalypse" caches was completed! We sloshed through the water, we squished through the mud almost loosing one member, we bushwhacked through the brush, we came, we found, and we conquered! Then we celebrated!

But was it really the end? Of course not! We could have backtracked along the coolness of the creek towards the cars. But been there, done that. We've seen that already. The adventure is always to press forward, to see things previously unseen. Plus there were two more caches to get. The plan was to hike all the way down to SR-40 where a rendezvous vehicle was left to take us back to Morman Creek on CR-19. However, due to time constraints of one member of the group, we were only able to grab one of the remaining two caches because they were in two different directions.

We continued bushwhacking south towards SR-40 and towards the next cache called "Outta the Boat." This cache hadn't been found in THREE YEARS! Upon arriving at ground zero, the search began. Most of the time finding an ammo can in the woods is fairly easy. However this one had three years worth of growth and decay to cover it. 

Another good reason to go Geocaching with a group of friends. Not only for the camaraderie, but for having more eyes to look! As we moved about searching and re-searching, saylorboys+mom was practically standing on top of it. Then as she moved away to search another location, I moved into where she was just looking and began poking my hiking stick into the ground when I heard a THUMP! Removing all the debris, I found the three year lonely cache!

From there is was non-stop bushwhacking through the thick palmettos, brush, and occasional briers. There was supposed to be a trail somewhere along the way to make it a little easier, but we didn't come across it until nearly reaching SR-40 and TeamFelixG's pickup truck.

Standing on a fallen tree to see if there's a trail to be found.

We made it back to the transport truck and back to civilization! After driving back around to the Morman Creek parking area, two of us had to depart and head back to Tampa. As if what we just went through the past several hours wasn't enough punishment for one day, the remaining four of us decided to drive further north to find Pat's Island Sinkhole. There was a digital souvenir available for finding an earthcache, and we each still needed one.

So we hopped into our GeoMobiles and drove a few miles north up to Forrest Road 51, then west over to the Florida Trail. There you'll find Pat's Island Trailhead. Another mile long hike through the woods and we found the sinkhole. Three of us climbed down to the bottom and got the required info needed to achieve a find, while Candy stayed up top to take our photo.

Looking down.

It was another GREAT adventure! We found and conquered the Apocalypse, experienced the great outdoors in old natural Florida, and enjoyed the fellowship of friends. I glad you stopped by to read about our adventure. Feel free to leave your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

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