Friday, May 23, 2014

Road to Traverse City: Power Island

Power Island GC35 is the 22nd oldest still-active geocache in the world.  It is a pilgrimage for some who love the life of geocaching.  To reach it, one must cross a bay, climb a mountain, traverse a marsh, and navigate a beach. After much planning, the hour was afoot for our grand adventure to the Island. I thought the best way to describe this portion of the adventure was via my caching logs.

Another TaCat geo-adventure! TaGeez and I are up from the Detroit-area this weekend to grab Power Island GC35 (with Hearty Soles, Tick27 and Rusty&Libby) and Geocache 612 GC36 (for TaGeez).

Although weather predictions were for 70% chance of rain & cloudy conditions, the day was blue and beautiful! The three teams met for the first time at the Clinch Park Marina. Renee & Rebecca from Wisconsin and Rusty & Libby from Grand Rapids. From there, we walked down Dock A to meet the AMAZING Capt. Mike from Ambitious Charters.

Clinch Park Marina - Dock A

Tick27, Libby, Rusty, and Hearty Soles

TaGeez and scrapcat

On the way out to the island, Capt Mike pointed out key features of the bay. There's still ice at the harbor mouth, but here the water was mirror perfect. As we pulled into Power Island, we could see the Winter damage to the main dock.

Approaching Power Island

Power Island through the Ambitious windscreen

Bassett Island Isthmus

Capt Mike, TaGeez, and the Ambitious.
The official dock was destroyed during the harsh winter

Power Island - Lucky #13 GC4M5XG

We had the island to ourselves and 1 hour to find 4 caches. With great optimism, we set off single file. It didn't take too long for this find. It was a lovely stroll through relatively easy terrain that was blanketed by small violet flowers - the smell was amazing! As requested by Capt. Mike, TaGeez replaced the damaged container with one left by the previous finder.

Rusty, Rebecca, Renee, and Libby

These flowers carpeted the entire trail to the first cache
They smelled wonderful

Power Island Weird Tree GC3VW3D

The aerial maps are misleading. It looks like an easy jaunt from Lucky 13 to Weird Tree to Power Island. Nobody really mentioned that big $&%#ing hill along the way! Oh, the stunned realization that the cache was at the top! I had hoped the terrain rating was due to the boat ride... Wrong! The attached picture does not do the steepness justice as I'm taking the picture at an upward angle.

Kudos to the two other teams who made it to the top faster than we did. TaGeez and I were beat by the time we joined them - I never thought I'd catch my breath. That was a heck of a climb, and I'm so proud we are able to sign the log and claim this cache!

This picture is misleading
This sucker was STEEP!

Power Island GC35

You have to appreciate how important this find is to me. I'm terrified of deep water - I can't swim. I'm scared of boats - I've never been on anything smaller than a ferry. I'm horrible at steep inclines - I'm shaped like a dumpling.

Thankfully, we chartered a boat with the AMAZINGLY professional and charming Capt Mike - he's a gem. I can't recommend him enough especially for the anxious boater. And thankfully I had my FABULOUS Love, TaGeez, to hold my hand during the rough spots!

After making that insane climb up the $&%#ing hill to grab Weird Tree, we realized we had to descend the very steep backside to reach the beach far below. I realize now why my hometown friends had recommended grabbing these caches from the water, if you can do a water landing. The descent included leaf-covered branches, steep muddy declines with no handholds, and crossing a muddy wetland on a small wooden bridge. Did I mention the hill was steep?

Upon reaching the beach, it was a few hundred feet over sand and large stones to the find. Last to arrive, we arrived just in time to sign the log, drop a path tag, and take our picture.

It wasn't until later we realized that TaGeez left his favorite, trademark hat behind. RIP

Original Power Island Log

We're official!

scrapcat and TaGeez with the Power Island cache

Power Island Paddler's Cache GC89A2

After finding GC35, we checked our GPSr and Google Earth and realized we could make the last find by skirting the coast - NOBODY wanted to climb back up that hill! It was a half mile as the crow flies across marshy grass and sand, over ankle-breaking rocks and around animal carcasses.  Again, we were last to arrive but in time to sign the log.
Skirting the coast

Gorgeous view of the bay
Look how calm that bay is!

Libby stopping for a smile
Continuing around the shore, we found a set of very steep wooden stairs to ascend. After a half mile or so bushwhacking back to the dock, we met a smiling Capt Mike, who willingly snapped some group photos of the victors!

Rusty and Libby crossing back to the boat

View right before the dock

TaGeez and Capt Mike sharing a laugh

Capt Mike regaling us about past Power Island trips

TaGeez, scrapcat, Libby, Rusty, Tick27, and Hearty Soles
We were quiet but smiling on the peaceful boat ride back to the mainland. Upon the recommendation of Capt Mike, we retired to the new brewpub in town, The Seven Monks, for celebratory drinks and food.

Last view of Power Island in the wake of the boat

TaCat - all smiles!

Waving goodbye to Capt Mike and the Ambitious

And now time to celebrate!
Thank you to Hearty Soles for arranging the charter.  Thank you to Rusty & Libby for making me laugh as we hobbled up and slid down the hills.  Thank you to Tick27 for keeping us on pace.  Thank you to my love, TaGeez, for sharing another memory.  Thank you to Captain Mike for taking my worries away.

Here are links for all the posts in the Road to Traverse City series:

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