Usually logging a DNF (did not find) for a geocache is disappointing to say the least. But on a beautiful spring day in March of 2008 one of the geocaches that I didn’t find turned out to be one of the most memorable.
Most of the time I enjoy geocaching with my 2 sons but on this particular day the weatherman had forecasted a beautiful day and I got the bug to go alone. It was a weekday and the boys were in school anyway, so I decided to get out early and try to find a list of 8 caches that I had loaded into my GPS.
I figured I would start out by hunting for the geocaches that were the furthest away and work my way back home. My first target was a 2 part multi-cache that was about 10 miles away and ended up being my first DNF for the day. I found the first part but at the second part I was getting a lot of GPS “bounce” and just couldn’t zero in on the cache. I wanted to get in a good number of finds for the day so instead of searching anymore I just headed off to the next geocache.
I found the second geocache and then headed off to Allamuchy State Park where I would be hunting for 6 more caches. Being from Northwest NJ, we are fortunate in the fact that there are tons of rural geocaches that we can hunt for and still be close to home. My sons and I had geocached in the park before and I wanted to find some of the geocaches that I thought might be too difficult for the 3 of us to do together. There was also a cache that we did not find on a previous outing and since it was in the area I thought I would give it another go. (I did locate it this time)
The caches that I was looking for formed a big circle so I headed off and worked my way up the mountain and found the next 2 caches. The second geocache was in pretty bad shape and the logbook was very damp. By this time it was lunch time and I decided to empty the cache container and dry everything out while I had a bite to eat. I found a nice sunny spot and laid the logbook out so it could dry out a bit. After lunch I signed the logbook and put all of the contents back in the geocache container and then continued on my trek.
During the afternoon I found 3 more caches. By now it was getting late and I head of for my final search for the day. Arriving at ground zero I discovered the area contained a lot of places that someone could hide a cache. The fact that there were a lot of leaves on the ground didn’t help any. At one point I was down on my hands and knees searching a pile of rocks and I heard some russling in the brush a short way off. Always on the alert for muggles I stood up and looked around to see who was in the area.
To my surprise it wasn’t who, but what was making the noise. About a hundred feet away I spotted a big black bear. He was following his nose and didn’t seem to be aware of me (yet) so I snapped a few pictures and made my way back to the trail. Since there were no leaves on the trees yet I was able to keep my eye on him and made my way down the trail and over a footbridge that crossed a large stream. Soon I was on a gravel road and now the bear and I were separated by a large stream. So I headed up the road to get a better look at him. He was a big bear and had a pretty bad limp in one of his front legs, so I hoped that if he decided to cross over the stream I’d have plenty of time to get back to my car.
The bear came down to the stream for a drink and was paying any attention to me so I just stood there watching him. A few hikers came by and I pointed the bear out to them so we all had a great time watching him. Soon another hiker came by and told me that this bear had lived in the area for a long time and he had seen him on many occasions. Apparently the bear was pretty old and his limp was due to arthritis. Nonetheless he was a magnificent fellow and spotting him made for the perfect ending to a great day of geocaching.
So I headed back to my car and went back home. Of course the first thing I did when I got home was jump onto the Geocaching.com website and log my finds and did not finds. It was a lot of fun explaining to everyone why I did not find the cache.