Sunday, January 24, 2010

Geocaching in Brazos Bend State Park

I had a good day today and so did “Big John” and “Texas Slim” Graham.  They’re father and son and since it’s a tradition of mine to award trail names to folks I hike with, these are the names they are stuck with from here on in.

John is a Safety Specialist at the Plant where we work and since his ten year old son, John Michael has never did geocaching, hiking, or trail finding, I figured it was time and high-time, he got a moniker fitting a real Texas boy.  Texas Slim and just Tex for short will do him nicely.

We did a shake-down hike and geocaching adventure this morning, to brush the cobwebs off my GPS skills, since I hadn’t looked for caches in about 8 years and teach them how to read a GPS device. 

You see, I bought a GPS (global positioning satellite) device about 10 years ago with the intention of participating in this hide and seek high-tech game of treasure hunting, but my bride was not interested in walking ankle-deep through water or knee-deep through briars out in the woods to accompany me, so I gave it up.

Now, years later, I decided to take it back up and use it as a tool to get my young friends off the couch and onto the trails.  This year we are going camping, hiking, kayaking and geocaching together and I see it as a win-win for all of us.

Today, I met my two trail buddies at the park entrance at 8am and we parked at the first parking lot.  Before I left my house, I visited and copied the coordinates to 6 caches and printed out a back-up copy of hints and instructions for each cache.  It’s a good thing I did too, as I had accidentally typed one number incorrectly into my device, throwing that location off by 8 miles.

Off we went, packs on our backs and reasonably dressed for the cool and mildly windy weather. The sun was coming on strong and was most welcome to boot.  I think this was Texas Slim’s first venture into the wild and since we were off the trail, more than on it, he began muttering little ouches and grunts to alert (mainly his Dad) that he was getting poked, stuck and whatever.

Being the son of a man who showed little sympathy for discomfort amongst youngsters, I began explaining to him that everyone who hikes, camps or spends time out of doors will get irritations, injuries, campfire burns, etc. and it is just something we all learn to live with – yes, including the fact that our feet hurt after walking for 5 hours.  This had a calming effect on him, as he didn’t utter another complaint – a real fast learner.

As we headed from geocache to geocache, I explained to my 2 tenderfoot companions the things I learned from my Dad, hiking buddies, brothers, my brief exposure to Boy Scouting and books on how to keep safe in the woods.  I pointed out poison ivy, the very real possibility of venomous snakes near the caches and most important of all – watch for the American alligator, which inhabit this park and almost any body of inland water here on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Of the 6 caches we attempted to locate, we found 2, not bad when you consider that 3 of those 4 might be missing or damaged since they were placed.  I should have checked the online comments from other geocachers, but like I said, I am rusty.  One cache, called the “Just a Swinging” cache was apparently located yesterday and the folks who found it said it was hidden very well; we just gave up thinking it was missing and we were the loser on this one, to my shame.

All in all it was a wonderful experience and did indeed shake the dust off our equipment and ourselves.  We have a big camping trip planned for the end of February at Pedernales Falls State Park and there are about a hundred caches hidden there.   We plan to find most of them and in the process get exercise, sharpen our orienteering skills and most of all have fun in the great outdoors.


John said...

Bert is a great mentor, and many could learn from him. A Great writer on adventures that are in our backyards. Get out with your kids and seek what is right under your nose:)

WG Fitts said...

Great article and great work Bert..You are so on target to give our young people a way to get out and experience the natural beauty around us..And may I say more parents like the one in your article should take the time to get kids off the couch and put way the X Box and learn the outdoors..
When I read 75% of our youth can't even get into military for being unfit that tells me they have to much tail time...Its time to take action and you have Bert..

Proud to be a Veteran
WG (REN) Fitts

manglews said...

It is really important to take a GPS
with us when we go for camping and for
Mio Navman Spirit S500T

Anonymous said...

Thanks BB. I enjoyed the read and the video. Buddy C.

Anonymous said...

Great, Bert! BTW, my trail name = Snarky SP

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the read! JD

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bert for sharing this. It sounds like so much fun. Keep blogging about it. Linda

Blue Angel said...

Very nice are one cool ole fellow....

Anonymous said...

Now how did I know you’d be a geocacher? Thanks for the blog on Brazos Bend State Park. We’re supposed to go on a cub scout campout there next month and will have to check out the geocaches. My 7 year-old loves the ammo-can ones, because he can always find something he likes in them. J We haven’t finished the Baytown area yet either, so we still have plenty of work to do. PJ

Jen said...

I'll be going to get that parks and wildlife challenge cache soon. If you do a lot of the geocaching, the new GPSr's will download the coordinates, hints, last 10 logs, etc, with no need for printouts. Will come in handy someplace like Pedernales.

washington dc camping said...

in this modern world, GPS is the essential gear for campers and everyone should have it.

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