An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveQuick Evening Jaunt to the Virgin River Gorge
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Quick Evening Jaunt to the Virgin River Gorge
Saturday, 06 September 2003 10:41 PM MDT
Cache Visited: Virgin Gorge #4 I-15 Rest Area
Travel Bug Dropped Off: Fruitty Tutti
Travel Bug Picked Up: Top of the World
Saturday, 6 September 2003 - 8:00 PM MDT (-0600)
You see, it's like this. The Fruitty Tutti travel bug I picked up yesterday, while a friendly little thing, was chomping at the bit all through the night last night and all day today, prodding me to take it somewhere so it could continue it's journey, to see more of the world. Now I really wanted to oblige, since cache hunting was something I hoped to do today. But by 7:00 PM, I hadn't yet had a chance to go cache hunting. And to make matters worse, I still hadn't yet found my GPS. While I've found caches before without using a GPS, it's much more difficult.
Scouring the Geocaching web site for a close, easy-to-find-without-a-GPS cache turned out harder than I thought. I wanted to head south from St. George along the I-15 corridor, towards Mesquite, Nevada and find a cache there if possible. There were a few that I supposed I could get to in my car (my Blazer is still out of commission, so I'm still avoiding dirt roads as much as I can), so I printed off the cache info and a map or two and took off.
All that net surfing took a toll, in time. As I drove to the freeway on-ramp, the sun was snuggling up with the western horizon, threatening to set and make my GPS-less cache hunt a hunt in the dark as well. Then I noticed my car's gas gauge was nearing empty. If I stopped to get gas, that meant less light to hunt for a cache.
In this state of hopelessness I drove south on Interstate 15, across the Utah border into Arizona, and entered the Virgin River Gorge, where the unassuming Virgin River has managed to cut a gash in the mountains southwest of St. George, exposing some amazing geology. In the lowering light of the now-setting sun, the tops of the hills, cliffs, and mountains catching the last rays, the Gorge was ablaze in desert colors, and the turbulent geometry of rock, carved by wind and water, was emphasized. Wow!
As the freeway curved this way and that, snaking down the canyon, I had to make a decision. I had enough gasoline to get to Mesquite, but not enough light to find a cache once I arrived, at least not without a GPS. Up ahead, a freeway exit drew near that I was familiar with, the Cedar Pockets Rest Area exit. Several times in my cache hunting expeditions, I've taken this exit, to hunt caches hidden in the nearby hills. In fact, I remembered finding one of Drifty's caches, Virgin Gorge #4 I-15 Rest Area just up the hillside northwest of the freeway just off the upcoming exit.
The opportunity was too good to pass up, so I signaled and made my exit. There was enough light left for me to park at the base of the hill, and begin climbing to the cache hiding spot. I knew exactly where it was at from when I'd found it in March, 2002.
What I forgot, however, was how far up the hillside the cache location is. No, it isn't far at all, but it is not insignificant for someone like me to ascend those vertical feet. My heart got pumping, my breathing quickened, and even though the evening air was not hot (it was cooling down and was even rather pleasant), sweat began beading on my forehead and dripping down my face. It felt good, the bit of exercise, and I can always use it. And compared to a year ago, I'm in better shape (though I've got a way to go before I'm where I want to be), in part to cache hunting.
Before I knew it, I was heading on up the hill past the barrel cactus that stands sentinel over the cache site. Since I had a good head of steam built up, I continued on up to the base of the closest cliffs for good measure, before turning around and meandering back down the hill to the cache site.
There it was, in good health, hidden in a nook beneath a large jagged boulder. I extricated it, opened it, and examined the contents. Not bad! The cache was quite full, with a good variety of items, ranging from interesting to some junk that every cache seems to collect.
What was that! There, in the ammo box near the bottom, in a plastic bag. It looked like another travel bug. Yes! What a serendipitous decision, to bring Fruitty Tutti to this cache. I could trade one bug for another, for Top of the World. I made the trade.
I sat down on the hillside, overlooking the narrow band of green that marks the banks of the Virgin River snaking through the canyon below me, listening to the ever-present and ever-changing buzz and rumble of cars and trucks whizzing past on the freeway, interrupted now and then by the sound of a bird or some other wild creature inhabiting the hillsides, cliffs, cactus, and caves around me. It was peaceful! I wrote a note in the cache notebook after having read some others' entries as the peaceful evening grew dimmer. The gorge was beautiful, harsh and barren, yet rugged and majestic, all at the same time, a canyon of seeming contradictions.
The hike back to the car was quick, and before I knew it, I was headed back to St. George. What an enjoyable short hike and travel bug exchange this turned out to be. I didn't find a new cache, but I did get a chance to revisit an old friend cache and enjoy the jagged beauty of the Virgin River gorge.
Thanks again, Drifty, for your excellent cache. Thanks, Miss Fry's Fifth Grade class at Timpanogos Academy in Lindon, Utah, for sending out a friendly travel bug to meet me and encourage me to send it on. And thank you, Mengarelliott, for your Top of the World bug, and thank you, Randyana GEOnes
for placing that bug where I found it.
Oh, and as if this wasn't the perfect way to spend an Saturday evening hour, I found my GPS shortly afterward, while washing my car. Yes, it was lurking in my car, beneath the passenger seat.
St. George, Utah