The Long Drive for FTF’s

Recently, some new caches popped up in my area.  They were located out near Wauneta, a small town on HWY 6 in Southwestern Nebraska.  In that area were five caches I did not have.  Of those five, two were brand new.  Having just been in contact with the owner of the two new caches regarding some problems with one of my caches (and confirming the problem), I decided to go out the next day after fixing my cache.

After taking care of my cache, I cut up from HWY 34 to HWY 6 and continued to Wauneta. Knowing the rough position of everything, I decided to go after D Den Cache first. Low and behold, I get myself lined up with the cache map wise, only to find myself a mile away. The description gives an alternate route based on a set of parking coordinates that is supposed to be easier, but longer. Why can’t a person post coordinates with the statement “Easier and shorter”? It always seems the easier route is farther away. Anywho, I parked my car at the spot I was at, double checked the description, and then began the first of several barbed-wire limbo attempts as I went after this one.

The description lists being in a certain field. Once in this field, I began the hike. I had a water bottle, my PDA and GPSr, and a few trade items. Because of the cloudy and cooler weather, I took a jacket. That was a mistake as it began to clear up and get a lot warmer and muggier before I got back to the car. The hike wasn’t too bad, but going up and down small hills is a strain on the leg muscles if you are more used to nothing more than gentle slopes. I followed my GPSr on the way there, which was another mistake as I found myself on top of a hill with steeper sides in front of me. Yet, I was able to see the prize at this point. In front of me was a small canyon with a large tree, which matched something in the hint. With some minimal climbing, I found myself inside the canyon.

At this point, I was really missing the camera I left in the car (I had also seen some working dung beetles on the way there, which would have been a great insect shot). Cursing what was just another bad choice I had made while going after this, I began walking through the canyon before I reached some water and realized I should have gone around on top. Climbing up the side, I worked my way around to the goal and began searching. It didn’t take much to find this, though I did break off a rather large slab of rock I was standing on, thankfully without injury. I took a $5 FTF prize and left a small toy. Packing up, I began the long walk back.

The downside of all of this was just before I got back to the road. Once back, I had to cross through barbed wire fences again. Choosing the route I got through before, I almost made it when I barb barely caught my jeans, and put a small tear in them. Nothing big, but annoying that I was SOOO close to the end when it happened. ARGH!!! I’m not starting the day off great, but I did get back with the FTF listing on this one. While definitely a hike to get to it, and it will probably be passed up by anyone just driving through, the view was pretty cool at the site, and there were some nice shots along the way.

Now the next cache, Wauneta Overlook, was a lot easier to get to. I still had to walk a bit, but this time It was barely .1 miles total, and only because the unmaintained road had a pile of sand in just the right spot to make it harder for my car to get over it. Easier just to walk and avoid it a problem. This was another quick find once there, and the view of Waunita was cool. That makes two FTF’s in a row.

Next, I went after Wauneta LGC, which stands for Little Grand Canyon. A small fenced in pullout along the road North of Wauneta, it boasts an impressive view of the rolling hills in this area of Nebraska. Impressive enough that when I later realized I forgot to turn on the auto-focus on my camera, I made a point of driving back on the route to make another stop. The ammo can here was a quick find, and I’m sure the car that pulled up to turn around was wondering why I was sitting where I was.

Next was the Wrightstone House. While I can’t find any information about it, the property is pretty cool looking. The cache is next to an old abandoned house that is down a dirt road. The road gets a bit too sandy as you get near the house, so I had parked a bit up the road from it and walked down. Of course, I get down there then decide I want my camera, so I go back for that. I get back down to the cache only to have the batteries die and head back for those. Fun. I got some interesting photos out of the whole ordeal though. Here is one of the house and surrounding area:

At this point I headed back to Wauneta, making that quick stop at the previous cache to retake the photos just in case. I then headed out to Enders Reservoir near Enders, NE to get Bill Hill Lookout. This one annoyed me a bit, not because of how it was hid, but how to get out to it. Based on the map, I tried from the East, then from the South, then from the West, all the time thinking that the route from the North wouldn’t make it to the cache. Each time, I kept running into some form of blockade, whether it was very unmaintained roads, gates followed by very unmaintained roads, or just plain non-existant roads. I even called 8601 to verify what road I needed to be on. That ended in a gate. Eventually, I made it to Church Grove Campground, a small campground on the North side of the Reservoir. Previously, the closest I got was 1.9 miles. This time I was .38 miles. So I parked…and found no trails. As I was leaving, I found a “Foot Traffic Only” sign and parked. Walking in the right direction, I got to .2 miles before reaching running water wide enough to avoid. Frustrated, I gave up and got out of there. I then made my way back to McCook.

Getting home, I got on and logged my finds, then began looking at the map. At this point, I made a discovery. For Big Hill Lookout, the road from the South is marked as a road on the map, but satellite images don’t show anything. At least nothing noticable. Looking closely, you can see the faint outline of a path that has been driven on, but not maintained. What I did find is that the way to this cache was from the West, and I had actually gotten on the road. However, it wasn’t marked at all, and as you first get on the road, it looks like a driveway to two different houses. Apparently, behind some trees and just beyond where the road dips down the road continues on. I can confirm it because either later that day, or before I got there, the guy who owns the two FTF’s from this day had got out to the cache and signed it. That was frustrating. To find I was actually in the right spot and not realize it. Because of the mileage, I won’t head back out there just for that cache. But if I find myself driving through on my way somewhere else, I’ll make a stop to get it.

So after a long drive, I logged four caches, including two FTF’s, bringing my total to 619. FTF’s are easier to do out here because a cache can last a bit longer before being found (one of my lasted at least a month), but you have to be willing to put on the mileage. On this day, I was willing.


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