Sunday, November 22, 2015

Geocaching safety and a dose of common sense

Geocaching safety and a dose of common sense
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association

I remember the day I decided that if I was going to geocache, I had to have a first aid kit with me.  I had scaled 18 feet up the side of a semi-demolished building in old Goose Creek, Texas to get one of aaronbarbee’s infamous soda tube trial caches.  The end of the wall was fired brick and razor sharp and I was cupping one with one hand and retrieving the container with the other when it dawned on my that I had no way to sign the log without a 3rd arm.

On my way down, soda tube in my mouth, I sliced through the palm of my hand on the sharp brick.  Now mind you, I could have fallen and broken no less than 27 bones, but I did not.  Instead I went to my cachemobile and found a rag to stop the flow of blood.  I signed the log and carefully made the 2nd climb, replaced the cache, and came down.

I learned two things that day.  One, I needed a first aid kit and two; Aaron Barbee is a twisted sadistic individual, even if he is my friend. 

Our chosen game has inherent risks; snakes, spiders, scorpions, ticks, chiggers, killer bees, hornets, wasps, not to mention falling down a slippery bayou bank into alligator-infested waters and I haven’t even left Texas.  Your area has these and more, most likely.

One risk we face in East Texas is briar patches.  I’m talking 7 layers of thorn briar patches.  Sometimes when I exit the woods, I look like I had been accosted by Freddy Krueger with a piranha in each hand.  One time I walked across an old dead layer of thorns and I was 4 feet above the ground.  My hands were so wet from sweat; I let a one inch branch slip out of my hand and knocked my front teeth out.

Safety is no joke while out in the wild, but that is not really what I want to discuss.  I want to talk about being aware of the greatest predator on earth, other humans.  I am a black belt with many years of training and have a concealed handgun permit and regularly carry a Glock Model 30 .45 ACP on my hip while caching.  I am a 2 time Vietnam Veteran and a graduate of the Baytown Citizens Police Academy and I am still wary and susceptible to mischief while caching.

I am a big guy of 240 pounds and I exercise regularly at the gym, often doing 5 Group X classes a week and yet under current conditions, I can still be mistaken for an easy target by crazed criminal druggies.  I live in one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the US and we have our share of parasites and they freely walk among us.

Now, here we are, standing behind Home Depot or some other giant store and the woods in front of us has a geocache we want to find.  We park and locating device in hand we plunge blindly into said woods and what do we find but a tent and bunch of stuff that tells our senses someone is living there.  What should we do?

I’ll answer that one for you.  Go!  Get out and the sooner the better.  What kind of person camps in the woods behind Home Depot?  Right!  Probably not a reputable character.

More times than not I will find myself at the end of a dead end road looking for a bison tube on a red/white barrier.  No one is around and it is the perfect place for mischief.  While you look for the cache, keep one eye on the woods.  Sadly, one of the safest places to look for a cache is in downtown (name the city) on the Greensheet box where someone has hid a nano.

I often cache alone.  I watch my back due to my training, but many don’t and I fear it’s only a matter of time before one of us falls victim to one of these monsters.  When I am “way out there” I would rather see a feral hog than a human.  There is no predator more dangerous than a human.  The best advice I can give it to team up with other cachers.  The second best advice is to take precautions to defend yourself and by all means stay within the law.

I don’t want to die out there, I just want to find some caches and come home the same way I left.

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