The Things I’ll Do for A Souvenir

This weekend, the Scorpion Expeditionary Force, operating under the team name Austin Area Geo-Herd or AAGH, set out on another trip, this time to scenic La Grange. A trail of mostly Traditionals was established eight years ago for a Texas Roundup being held in the area. We knew we weren’t going to make it all the way to the terminus in Lockhart, but we took a shot because that’s what we do. We gathered at the local Wally World, took care of preliminary needs (sidenote: the last song I expected to hear in the bathroom of a rural store was The Crying Game), and then set off the for the back roads.

We quickly ran into our first problem. After eight years of less than stellar maintenance, the caches were somewhat lacking. Some of them were obvious replacements from previous cachers who had passed through looking for them. Others, especially larger ones, had been damaged by wildlife. Others still had been victims of the Texas sun, bleached plastic often crumbling in our hands. We had permission from the CO to make replacements if warranted, but it quickly became apparent that a lot of the cache conditions, while technically serviceable, were well beyond what we might have been willing or prepared to replace. Luckily, there was a comparatively low number of straight-up missing caches, though enough to offer a little discouragement when taken with the general cache conditions as a whole. Ultimately, had we been better prepared in that regard, we could have put that entire stretch back into proverbial fighting shape.

The second problem was the environment, both natural and manufactured. We encountered more than a few brand-new guardrails on the road that had been recently replaced or fresh fencing and barbed wire in places. That explained many of the straight-up missing ones. Further, in eight years, a location that’s Terrain 1.5 or 2 can become more like a T2.5 and maybe bump Difficulty as it becomes overgrown. Consequently, some of our finds turned out to be more difficult than the D/T would have suggested. And, of course, poison ivy and greenbrier were like a pox upon us. But that was somewhat balanced out by the wildflowers in bloom everywhere. The photographer among us took more than a few chances to document the roadside beauty that sometimes surrounded us.

The final problem, dare I say the villain of all this, was the heat and humidity. This was one of the first really warm weekends we’ve had in these parts for months, with temperatures peaking in the nineties. The looming threat of rain made for some temperature relief but made for a general discomfort I personally hadn’t felt in a while. We were well provisioned with snacks and water, but the heat takes a toll. Our energy steadily diminished until, toward the end, it felt like more of a slog than previous adventures have. After a little more than a hundred finds, a trip into nearby Smithville for bathrooms became the stopping point for the day. We stuffed our faces with barbecue and enjoyed some time out of the heat. While in town, we grabbed a few more caches, primarily because their owner (your humble narrator) happened to be rolling with us. Most of the ones we went to were in good shape, though at one, we discovered only the remains. The broken pill bottle was there, but the log was gone. Since I could verify that they had found it, I told them all to log it as found, but in a couple of days, I’m going to plonk it into the archive. Its location was ill-conceived from the start, and I’m amazed that it lasted as long as it did. And, speaking of archiving, after reporting back to the CO of the trail on the condition of the caches along it, he is considering archiving them and eventually replacing them with something new. I have been told by reliable sources that occasionally resetting the board is a good thing.

In the end, we didn’t make it to Lockhart. The company was good, the caches were sometimes problematic, the weather was vaguely good (though less than perfect), and I got that hundredth souvenir for Wheel of Challenges. I’ll call that victory! And I’d do it again, too, though maybe not in July.

3 thoughts on “The Things I’ll Do for A Souvenir

  1. I’m hoping to get to Vermont next week for a cache-frenzy knocking off more towns I need for the 1498 Towns of new England. I’m at 30 caches so far this month. Most of them were in Austin lol


  2. You all are a different breed of cacher. I don’t know that I would have even started if everything was 8 years old. Weather-wise, I can ONE extreme per day per geocaching. It can be humid, OR hot. Freezing OR windy. Never both!


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