I mentioned in my last post about a run-in with an officer. It happened at a cache just south of I-70 on HWY 156. The cache is called K-156 Buzzards Elkhorn Overlook, and it is a cache that will make many do a double take when they first get to the site.
The story begins by mentioning a statement from the description: “Be prepared to huff and puff, it’s nearly as far up from the road as it is off the road…” I wasn’t quite sure what expect when I got to the site, but as I was pulling up I saw hills. However, when I pulled up to the site and parked along the road, I suddenly realized what I was climbing into.
The cache is around 200-250 ft from the road, which puts it about that far above the road. The hill is also not so gradual. Rough estimate would put the overal grade at around a 65-70 degree angle. Plus, portions of it straight climbing. Looking at the rating of 2/2, I immediately realized the discrepancy between the rating and what it actually is. I sat in my car along the side of the hill trying to decide whether to go after it or not. Remember my dislike for heights. Well, this particular cache fits that dislike perfectly. But, after some consideration, I thought, “What the heck, let’s do it.”
The first part of the hill wasn’t too bad. Smaller grade through a grass covered slope. As I was going up, I was thinking that so far, it wasn’t too bad. Yet, once I broke through the grass, the hill started to get a little steeper, and I hit the loose material. I started to work a bit harder at this point, trying to maintain a good stance to help stablize myself as I walked up. Looking back at my car, it was around this point that I realized how fast I was going up in elevation.
Now, I stupidly brought my camera. The description mentioned a good view, and I thought I would take advantage of that view for photos. With cars going by down below, I finally reached my first wall. I was probably around the halfway mark, and was struggling with the loose material. Once I hit a good spot to sit down, I evaluated what was left and realized that with what was left to climb. At this point, I didn’t want to try and make it the rest of the way with my camera in tow, but I didn’t want to head back down to drop it off at the car. So I found a stable spot and left my camera there, then looked for the best way to continue.
At this point, I went from steep to small vertical sections with flat sections in between. This wasn’t an easy area to climb. It took another 15 minutes to find my way up the second half of the cliff. But eventually, with some effort, I finally made it to the top. It took about two minutes to find th cache at that point. But it was the work getting back down that wasn’t looking inviting. Then, I got annoyed.
As I was trying to figure out how to get back down, with my legs already a bit shaky, I looked to the South, and saw the nearby fence going gradually down the hill. Making a decision to try it out, I went South and actually climbed down half the hill on a gradual, easy slope. Of course, I need my camera, so I worked my way around to my camera. As I started to do this, I looked down and saw something that I didn’t want to see. No, my car wasn’t being broken into.
I saw a cop do a u-turn and pull up behind my car. I couldn’t do anything about that, but having run into cops once before while caching, I was wondering how I was going to explain this one. But I had to get my camera and get down first. Getting to my camera wasn’t too bad. If I didn’t have that, I would have tested the South route the entire way down. But, grabbing my camera, I now had to look for a route from there. I quickly found another spot that I wish I had used on my way up. I quickly went that way down. As I got closer, the cop got out of his car and waited for me. It only took me a few minutes before I was standing with him.
Down at the bottom, I got lucky. I found that this officer actually knew what geocaching was (or claimed he did). I briefly explained what I was doing and answered a few quick questions, joking as I talked to relieve the tension. By the way, my nerves had my legs shaking a mile a minute at this point. The officer finally asked whether I was moving on and after answering that, we parted ways. I went to my car and put things away, marking off the cache as found on my PDA, and started the car…and the air conditioning. A few minutes later, I was on my way back to I-70 to move on to the next one.
It was a good cache to do, but I now wonder if the route from the South would have been easier to handle. I got lucky with an understanding cop and got back in my car with a bit of a pride at doing a cache that challenged my nerves. I was happy I did the cache in the end.