Hot on the Trail
A family outing on the Delaware Geocaching Trail proves quite an adventure.
(page 3 of 6)
It’s almost noon when we park the minivan near the nature center at Lums Pond State Park, located a few miles south of Newark. The van’s thermometer reads 87 degrees.
“Maybe we will see a skunk ape,” says Audrey, a fan of “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet. “Skunk ape” is another name for Sasquatch, or Squatch, as we like to call him.
The first cache, called “Lums Pond Trail #1,” is actually back at the park office near the entrance. It’s a bit of a hike, but that’s why we’re here now, isn’t it? I’m thinking this whole deal will take a couple hours at most, then I’ll reap the real treasure: a vanilla shake at the nearby oasis known as Kirkwood Creamery. Now that sounds like a Father’s Day treat.
The Web site said the first trail’s difficulty is only 1 ½ stars out of five. The terrain is also 1 ½ stars. The cache size is regular, meaning it’s an ammo box that’s a little narrower than a shoebox, but taller.
Trying to avoid crushing dozens of tiny frogs along the edge of the woods, we follow the GPS’s lead and head north toward the park office. We wave to the woman who’s working the booth, whom we just drove past minutes earlier, and note the rat-a-tat of a woodpecker. A bright blue dragonfly whizzes by. Then, there’s a noise and movement just inside the woods.
“It’s a skunk ape,” says Audrey. So we take turns imitating the high-pitched call we saw a guy do on “Finding Bigfoot.” People driving by must think we’re nuts. Considering how hot and humid it is today, I think we are, too.
It takes about 20 minutes, mostly walking, but Audrey discovers the first cache.
(Spoiler alert: Keeping with the spirit of geocaching, we won’t divulge the exact locations of the caches we found or even key landmarks. However, we will share some details to give you a taste of the experience.)
A beautifully scary spider watches as Aud uncovers the cache. A large tick also watches from Audrey’s leg. When the drama is over, she opens the case, records our team name, “Mystery Inc.,” in the logbook and Jake places a plastic frog in the box.
Just 20 minutes into our adventure and we’re all sweaty and we’ve drained our first bottle of water. If we were inserted into Discovery Channel’s “Dual Survival” reality show with expert survivalists Dave and Cody, we wouldn’t last 10 minutes.
We enter the park office to cool off. As we leave I thank the young staffers, telling them, “Hopefully you won’t have to send out a search party.”
Then we strike out to find the next cache. “What if they hid it in a pile of elephant dung?” asks Jake. “Elephant dung is good. You can light it and eat it.”
Dave and Cody would be proud.
Audrey’s not so optimistic: “If I get Lyme Disease from that stupid tick, I’m never going out in nature again.”
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