Friday, January 30, 2015

The Four Cache Loop Phoon

This past Saturday I joined 12 geocachers to do the amazing Four Cache Loop geocache hike up east of Huntsville, Texas on the Lone Star Trail.  13 miles of hiking, the often muddy trail with 20 something water crossings.  It rained Wednesday and Thursday and some who planned to attend dropped out figuring the waterways would be impassible.

They missed an excellent fairly dry, cool weather hike.  Of course, along the way, buns hit the ground numerous times, including my own.

The perfect sunny weather was a calm-winded 32 degrees when we started and rose to the low 50’s at end, 7 hours later.  One of our group wasn’t really prepared for the rigors of the trip and became a walking casualty about 2 miles in.  Since I organized the first half of the trek, I refused to leave her side and by the 6 mile mark, I was pushing her along with my hand in the middle of her back just to keep her going.

She was game, but hopelessly out of shape and I warned her to half her next challenge… and then half it again.  The trail is 11 miles with often elevation changes and water crossings.  At the halfway point, we planned a detour to get the infamous D.B. Cooper cache, which was off the trail a ways and added a mile or more.

For some time I urged her on, telling her it was only one more half mile, when it was actually triple that.  She gave it her all, but every so often, she would flat stop.  Brian Miles (better known in geocaching circles as 4 Miles) and I would chat about geocaching and hiking while she rested and we would start again.  The main group would travel a good ways and then wait for us, as we only move as fast as the slowest hiker.

Eventually we arrived at the designated lunch location, which meant sitting on a forest road. Originally I had convinced our weakest hiker she would get a one hour rest before we tackled the last 6 miles.  But after the struggle to get here, it was quite apparent there was no way she could finish the hike.  Fortunately, another group of geocachers arrived from the east, only showing up to do D.B. Cooper and after we ate and relaxed, she followed them back a mile or so to their vehicles.

In the spirit of spontaneity, before we parted ways, we posed for a mass Phoon photo.  Phooning is described as “To stand motionless on one foot, tilted forward at the waist, with one bent arm held in front and the other bent arm held behind.”

Now mind you, this is an intrepid bunch of people who would rather ford streams and climb slippery banks, then invest their time watching the Ellen DeGeneres show.  We phooned to create a historical moment in time that we can relive again and again.  Not to mention we can rub the photo in the face of our friends who didn’t come “due to the weather”.

From here on we moved at about a 3.5 mile an hour pace and about 2 miles up the trail, we began to encounter a large group of maybe 50 college-age hikers coming towards us.  Another Houston area geocacher and Lone Star Trail volunteer named Tom, who we all know as Great Birds, was leading an over-night hike and camp group towards us and we stopped and chatted with Tom briefly.

As I passed by the many young hikers, I blurted the great line from the movie Airplane, “Everyone who ate the fish got sick” and the old timeless staple, “You can’t get there from here.”  Both silly lines may have been lost on them, but maybe not.  They looked pretty bright.

Canine Queen was leading us and she bumped up the gait to about 4 miles an hour and I dogged her every step.  FYI:  Our median group age was probably 50 years old, give or take and this group was taking no prisoners.  Split evenly between men and women, I will never be found guilty of making jokes about the female gender’s ability to bang their feet on the ground (or race on a stationary bike).  By the by, I think Canine Queen is close to 50, but I feared to ask.  She’s an alpha female after all and even though I can hold my own; there are some paths I would rather not trod.

Our next phoon photo will be taken at the Baytown Nature Center Nurture Nature Series just before Chrissy Butcher’s survival class.  Maybe you would like to join us at 9:45am on February 7th to join in the fun?


Anonymous said...

Diana Christensen Thornton: The phoon platoon.

Anonymous said...

After we walked the 400' from D.B. Cooper Jr. to the main forest road, I let the poor tired hiker ride my bike the last 3/4 mile to our vehicles. She did great!

-Larry Houston

Anonymous said...

I actually left 50 behind a good while back. :-)

Canine Queen

Unknown said...

Many years ago when I thought of placing Four Cache Loop little did I know that it would still be alive and active today. Thanks for sharing your adventure.


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