August 20, 2006

Startling Discovery on a Failed Expedition

On the way back from Rochester today, we stopped at Country Whip in Acushnet to get the kids some ice cream. I convinced Maggie to let me park the car close to a nearby cache and run to get it while they finished their snack.

I grabbed my gear and ran for where I thought the cache was, about 400 feet into some small woods. When I got in there I was surprised to find that the floor of the woods were covered with ferns. Starting just 1 foot off the trail in every direction, ferns were growing about 18 inches off the ground, out of the pine needles and rotting fallen trees. “Well, there’s a new twist” I thought.

After fumbling around for a few minutes, I wasn’t getting anywhere and I knew that time was running out. I couldn’t see through the ferns and the cache description led me to believe that the cache itself might be covered with pine needles, so I was wondering if I was going to have to trip over the cache to find it. I turned around and shuffled some underbrush to see if I could make contact with anything.

Suddenly, the ferns erupted right in front of me! I jumped back and banged my shoulder into a tree as I saw a small spotted fawn bounding away from me, back and forth toward a nearby hill. I pressed myself against the tree as my heart pounded from the shock, from hitting the tree and from the excitement. I’d never been that close to a wild deer before.

The fawn stopped at the crest of the hill, now about 70 feet away, and looked back at me. I didn’t have my camera, so I reached for my camera phone, but the trees and the distance were going to make it an iffy shot. As I moved to get a better angle, the fawn decided it had had enough and ran off. No picture.

I found this picture of a fawn hiding in foliage. Although that fawn appears to be hiding in some poison ivy, the one I saw was almost completely hidden by ferns. When I startled my fawn I was about seven feet away, give or take a foot. It was amazing.

I took a moment to try to regain my calm geocache-seeking mind, but then it occurred to me that if I couldn’t see a deer a few feet in front of me under the ferns then I wasn’t going to find the cache very quickly. I should do this cache when the ferns are less plentiful.

I returned to the car with only my story and no cache find. But that somehow felt OK.

Posted by James at August 20, 2006 12:50 AM
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Come to my house. Last year we had one living in the "thicket" made by pines in our backyard. Let me walk right up to it. Then I made animal control encourage it back to the woods so a) it wouldn't get hit by a car and b) would stop wrecking my darn weeping cherry. :)

Posted by: pippa at August 20, 2006 10:44 AM

Tame animals always upset me, because I know how cruel people can be.

What James didn't mention about this cache was that it was between two lakes. There was a lovely "no swimming, polluted water" sign a few feet from the idiots fishing in the lake.


Posted by: Maggie at August 20, 2006 12:54 PM

I'd say a fawn is a pretty good "cache." :-)

Posted by: Julie at August 20, 2006 2:30 PM

Too cool. I love random encounters with wildlife like that.

Posted by: leslie at August 21, 2006 10:18 AM

Excellent! I love running into wildlife like that. And those encounters are getting fewer and farther between thanks to the overdevelopment of America.

Posted by: briwei at August 21, 2006 5:57 PM

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