On Sunday I went to reconnoiter the site for the cache. It was a rainy afternoon so I dressed in a few layers — with a rain jacket on the outermost layer.

Starting out at the trailhead was a piece of cake. Walking to the start of the trail takes you past the pond, then the newly reconstructed wetlands on your left. Up until you get to the start of the trail it doesn’t look like a trail at all though.

The first few stages of the trail were easy. Up until the chin-ups (long since broken) exercise I was retracing my steps from last week. I even found the mud pit that sucked off En’s shoe as she stepped in it. Slurp.

Last week at the chin-ups (stage 8 ) we headed left (north) where shortly thereafter we encountered what seems to be the last stage: 19 – Travel bars. This is where we wondered what happened with the intervening 10 exercises? This time I followed the path less traveled and headed straight ahead. Before long I happened onto #9 – the spring-over-bar. #10, the rings, were intact too. What looked to be 11 had no sign though and the next one appeared to be a few stumps. The stubby 4×4 that held the sign was just a few inches tall. Broken.

A few hundred feet up I found a fort that had been constructed with 11 and 12. A bit towards the West was the sign for #13. I gave up looking for the site for 13 after wandering for a bit.

This is where I really realized how disorienting it can be in the woods. You can tell from where I was walking that I was searching for the “ramp down” that we found last time. Without the GPS I would’ve been a lot worse off — I could feel the start of a panic set in after walking around for half an hour. A panic that was quickly quashed by looking down at the Garmin that was showing a full topo map of the area. Even without that I would still have my iPhone as a backup.

With a bit of backtracking around a ravine I was able to find the ramp. On the bottom is where we’re going to hide the cache.

Looking around I found a bridge that had been crushed by a falling tree. It went the opposite direction that we walked last time, heading north. Next time I want to explore in that direction. My hunch is that the exercise trail loops around counterclockwise and heads up towards the last exercise. I think if we uncover the other stages we can piece together the entire loop.

The mystery continues!

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