"When you go to hide a cache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot.
If the only reason is for the cache, then find a better spot."
.... Briansnat


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Legacy of Conservation GeoTrail

This trail seemed to take forever to complete. We started with a bunny find on the easiest cache in December 2010 and were never able to return to the hunt. The preparation for being one of the hosts for GeoWoodstock in Pennsylvania, my constant travel for work, and Ali returning to work all seemed to keep this trail from being found. There were a few caches in the series which we had already found. We revisited most of those in the first year or two. In spring of 2012, we had grand plans to find a number of caches during a trip to Williamsport, but some tough weather limited that trip.

In the end, we made a big push to finish the geotrail in May and June before it closed June 30th. We were lucky to enjoy two series of adventures with Eva while she was still with us. We finished the trail on June 21st.

We were really glad to have the opportunity to complete the trail. The caches were our kind of hides with a mix of tough hikes and tough climbs with a few surprises. About half the caches were like a highlight reel for many of the most beautiful places in Pennsylvania. The rest were often just plain wonderful walks in the woods. The pictures below are some of our memories of this amazing journey.

We had to look a couple times for the hide at Chapman State Park. This cache didn't gather many favorite votes, but we have a special fondness for Chapman. It was the Legacy of Conservation cache closest to our home and super place to go for a shorter hike. Depending on the day, you can see tundra swans passing through or an eagle hunting at the park. It is also home to Winterfest, one of our favorite geocaching events and one we have had the pleasure of hosting multiple times.

Smokey played a role in this geocaching trail. We enjoyed spotting this one with topo map pants at S.B. Elliot State Park.

Our Spring 2012 trip brought us to this quiet stream at a new (for us) state park.

This stream was in the land of the first Pennsylvania State Forest purchase.

Hyner View State Park has a great view, a benchmark for finding, and a scary looking hang gliding platform. The weather was tough on this cold, damp, spring day, but we enjoyed another visit to yet another Pennsylvania State Park.

Any reason to visit Cook Forest State Park is a good reason. We made our journey here on a blue-sky day.

Spring along the Clarion River in Clear Creek State Park

One of my happiest memories is an afternoon Ali and I spent at Kinzua Bridge when the bridge was still intact. We walked across the bridge with its awesome view and dropped though the valley on the trail across the stream and back. The happiness of that memory is so vivid that it hurts for me to return to this park. Seeing the dead remains of this magnificent piece is so painful I would rather not return. We came here and made the journey to the Legacy of Conservation cache and onto the remainder of the bridge on a cold, windy morning. I would be okay if this were my final visit.

We enjoyed Dobby's Home so much we visited it twice. :-) Both trips were memorable hikes in Elk State Forest. We enjoyed a return to pick up a card for the geotrail.

Some pictures will never capture an area. The cache called Coke and Hollywood was located at the largest coke oven banks I've ever seen. There were three banks of large numbers of big coke ovens. I've been to the ovens in Leetonia, Ohio and those are a large complex, but the number of ovens and the size of the ovens pales compares to the one's at this cache. A picture can't capture the sheer size of the operation.

I was born and raised in Ohio, but have grown to embrace Pennsylvania as my true home. I am happiest (except maybe when in California or Virginia) when exploring and hiking the trails here. Huge rocks are a part of the landscape that has become a part of me. Umbrella Rock and the trail leading to it is a super place to visit. This was our second visit to the area.

We missed the best time to take a walk along Kettle Creek where river otters were re-introduced to the state. We missed a spring visit which we could tell from a walk along the trail had been filled with an abundance of wildflowers. There were huge red trillium leaves along the one side of the old road and a large variety of other spring flowers. Our visit was close enough to spring that we could still see the large numbers of wildflowers which had bloomed. We also spotted the rather large bear paw print in the fresh mud.

Finding a Legacy of Conservation cache while visiting Leonard Harrison State Park was just icing on the cake. We've visited this beautiful place many times over the years. Being able to make a long hike here on a perfect day was an anticipated treat. The falls on the trail from Pine Creek to the state park at the top are not to be missed. We were thrilled to return, and the cache was fun.

Sand Run Falls was a new place for us to see. The hike was fun and challenging, but the falls were the star of the show. They were tall and running fast. We took photos at the bottom and made our way to the top of this powerful falls before hunting the cache.

Raven's Horn was a super hike to a great overlook in Tiadaghton State Forest. It was a no frills climb to the overlook with a nice return loop. We were doubly treated here since the rattlesnake was out for a perfect afternoon. There were so many posts about the rattlesnake it would have been a let down to miss it. I never go out of my way to find poisonous snakes or bears when on the trail, but knowing this snake was at least somewhat used to human traffic made me hopeful of an opportunity to take some (telephoto) images.

The trail for the cache Painter Cleft was a super hike, but a tough walk on a narrow trail in an area once known for mountain lions. The journey had a wonderful waterfall on the way and followed a beautiful stream. It's not hard to squint and see one of the creatures deep in this wooded area.

One of our last finds on this journey was a cache owned by George1 and used by the Legacy of Conservation for the trail. It was a series of falls Sproul State Forest. Like so many George1 caches that we found as side journeys on this GeoTrail, this was a wonderful locattion. George understood the real purpose of geocaching.

The Legacy of Conservation used a different method for cachers to prove they had visited a cache. Rather that an ink stamp which can dry out or be taken from the cache or a punch which also seem to always get lost in geotrail caches, this geotrail had a series of customed designed cards with people and subjects related to Pennsylvania conservation. They were baseball card-sized and really well thought out. They were a fun part of the geotrail.

The coin for completing the series was one of the best looking coins I have seen. Coins for most geotrails appear to be designed for the lowest cost point and with the easiest possible method. In general, many new geocoins seem to fit that description, but these were really well done. It is not trackable, but it is a prized memory of our fun.

At the end of the trail, this became our favorite geotrail. The Allegheny GeoTrail and the Seaway GeoTrail both have special memories for us, but the locations we visited on this trail were lifetime memories. I think our positive memory of this trail was enhanced because it was only thirty caches long. The lower number of caches meant a greater percentage of special places to visit. Once we actually found time to hunt the trail, the number of caches on the trail gave us the opportunity to seek other nearby caches which interested us, or as in the case of Pine Creek Gorge, hike into the park rather than park at the upper lot and find a relatively quick multi. We look forward to Redbat's CCC Legacy of Conservation GeoTrail and hope to complete it before the final month. ;-)

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