Friday, May 11, 2012


Hello?  Is anyone out there?  For those who have checked this blah-g daily, desperately clinging to the hope that I would post something to amaze and astound you...the wait is finally over!

Truthfully, I don't have all that much to share - but I will say that posting here again has been on my mind for a week or so.  And here I am.  In all my "where the hell have you been for a year" glory to share with you a short little outdoor-related story. 

Tonight I was graciously invited to meet Sir Hucklebuckle of West Seneca at his palatial woodland mansion of Treestump.  According to Huck, Treestump is 70 or so acres that his Grandparents bought for a cool $7,000.  We are talking World War II era dollars, but still...these days a chunk of land as superb as Treestump could probably easily fetch a quarter of a mil without breaking a sweat. 

Anyway, it had been a difficult week.  You see, between the stressors of work and life, I attended a wake for a member of our WNY geocaching family.  Zoggy20, the son of Howie and Jan passed away at the far too young age of 30.  In fact, he was only two days older than Adam - my younger brother.  The amount of sadness in all that is far too much express, as I am only 7 or so months removed from losing my younger Cousin Tom.  Far too much sadness all crammed into the last week - and it took it's toll on me. 

So...Huck's invite came at an opportune moment as I was sitting at home alone not exactly crapping our rainbows.  Neat trick though.  I'll show you sometime.

I had to accept the invitation, as I have been to Treestump a few times but have not done too much exploration.  Off I went - and shortly after arriving Huck was giving me the low down to this exceptional track of land.  Crammed into these 70 acres are two rather large ponds, and tons and tons of tall hardwoods including maple, ash and cherry.  There are also several groves of pine that line the long drive back to Chateau H-to-the-Bizzle.  Pretty radical stuff.  So we wandered around, did some cache maintenance on the aptly named Treestump cache.  In the midst of all this good time exploration, we ended up along Schmuck Beach.  Here I discovered a very large and impressive beaver dam.  It's amazing to me what nature can create - such a complex and unique structure - and here it is in the middle of no where.  That's an amazing feat to me...but then again, I'm a pretty simple fella.  It was then Huck pointed out a beaver swimming towards us - a good 70-80 feet away.  He swam in circles, at moments checking out these odd looking creatures along the banks the pond.  Huck and I stood there in silence marveling at this impressive animal. At some point I went to swat away a few pesky bugs, and this motion was enough to cause him to slap his tail on the water (a signal to his nearby beaver folk that danger is afoot!).  The splash was huge - as was our unbridled giddiness.

Dusk began to settle down upon this beautiful little pond - so I had to capture this special moment, and I thought I'd share it with you:

Don't act like you aren't impressed.  Haha.  Pretty friggen' awesome right?

I could probably have set up shop here, had a little camp fire, and spent the entire evening gawking at this awesome sight.  Of course, that wasn't in the cards, and eventually we hiked back up the hill to our cars.  During subsequent conversations, the idea of getting peanut butter pie at the Eagle Inn was floated out and met with raucous approval.  Now that's how you put an exclamation point on a kick ass night kiddies.  :-)

Much thanks to Huck for showing me around, and inviting me out for a Friday night walk that was certainly needed. 

Side note to Cayuga: Dude, this fella is hella out of hiking shape.  It's time to slowly ramp-up my sissified hiking chops.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A sojourn of dinnerriffic proportions.

Last weekend while I was playing in Letchworth with Adam, I was reminded about how I wanted to do have a weekday cookout picnic in the park with my family.  So later that evening, I chatted with the fam about it, and everyone was on board (and eager to boot...that's rare!  Hahaha).  So with the hamster set in motion, plans were made to grab some charcoal and hotdogs and have a cookout this very evening!

The easiest of the decisions was where to have our little gathering.  My thought was to do it in the Tea Table picnic area overlooking the gorge and where Wolf Creek Cascade funnels down into the Genesee River.  It's beautiful, easy to access and has charcoal grills!  I couldn't think of a better place to spend a Thursday evening.  So when the plans were set in stone, I knew we'd be coming here!

The picnic was a blast - and many hotdogs, sausages and other goodies were consumed.  The best way to document the fun however, is through pictures!

A grill, and a little something to look at.  I love being spoiled.  Too bad we forgot
the cooking's all good - we got twigs baby!
The view from next to our picnicy spot
Mom holding down the picnic area.  These stone tables are pretty kick ass!
The boys...
...the girls...
...and Ellie!
Pretty good looking crew here...
Then the goofing off began....

This was fun evening, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.  Heck, even with poor planning we still managed to all come away full.  I love my family.  :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sometimes "the end" ain't all that bad

For several years now I've been parceling out my cache finds in Letchworth State Park.  The reason being that I didn't want to get to the point where there would be no more to find.  That remained the popular logic for the vast majority of my caching career - but recently I've found myself compelled to get into Letchworth and work on finding them all.  Every single tasty delicious one of them.  I'm not sure where this unexpected motivation came from, or even how it started.  All I know is that as I continue to do it, the more I enjoy it, and the happier I've been.

And faithful followers...I need the happiness.  So why go seagull on my own parade right!?!

Of all the caches in the park, only five still remained free from my grubby clutches.  So for fun (and because I haven't done one in a while for poor Jeffie), here is a list of the remaining unfound by Szuchie caches in Letchworth State Park as of the Tenth Day of the Seventh Month in the Two-Thousand and Eleventh year:
Interestingly enough, of those five - one of them is a cache I would consider in the top five placements in the entire park.  Of course I would have to find it first to fully verify such a statement.  ;-)  The cache that I speak of is none other than the End of 18 by Roadkill.  As the name implies, this cache is located at the end of 18...trail 18 that is!  Us cachers are a clever bunch eh?!?  Haha. 

Trail 18 is a 1.75 mile trail located along a ridge that leads out to Kisil Point - a spectacular vista that overlooks the gorge and the mighty Genesee River below.  It's really an amazing trail - because throughout most of your hike your walking along the rim of the gorge - and in several spots there are exceptional spots to take in the sights.

This morning I decided that I would visit the end of 18 to see what I could see and find both the End of 18 by Roadkill and the almost as cleverly named Near the End of 18 by Jaspie Joe (which is a 50 foot pitstop on the trail on your way to the end of it).  Normally I would have just tore off after these caches, but today I smartly decided to stop at the house on my way east to see if anyone would be interested in joining me.  I was pleasantly surprised when my brother Adam decided to come along for the nonsensical fun.  :-)

This made me happy, because I would be able to share this cool spot with him - and assuredly have plenty of laughs and chuckles during our hike.  We arrived in the park, and found an adequate spot to begin our trek.  Early on during our hike, I got to finally show Adam was poison ivy looked like.  He's smart as a whip kiddies, because for the better part of a half-mile all I heard was him pointing the stuff out, and occasionally cursing the very existence of the stuff.  See, older brothers are good for something!  Haha. addition to that, we discovered something else along the trail that we were mighty impressed with:

A pavillion in the middle of the woods built by CCC workers in the 1930's!
There's only a handful of spots that I've been to in Letchworth where you find impressive structures like this still standing - and in the middle of the woods no less.  So of course before we continued on, we had to check it out. 

The view from inside the pavilion.  Not too shabby!
After we sufficiently explored, we returned to the trail.  Here the trail started along the gorge - and in a couple of spots there were some gorgeous overlooks to be had. 

We spent a little while at this spot enjoying the beauty in ever direction.  The Genny was looking a little parched due to the lack of rain we've had - but the lush vegetation along her banks was really cool to see in contrast to the dark colors of the forest.  While we were in awe, we quickly lost track of nature and proceeded to goof around a little bit.  Here's Adam doing his best Christopher Columbus and in doing so looking very astute.  Hahahaha.

Adam searching for new lands...preferably with girls and beer.
After finishing our overlook shenanigans, we continued down 18 until we started downhill towards the "knife ridge" and the first of the two caches we were after.  It was a short hike before we were signing in at Near the End of 18.  This stop in the book, we made our way to the End of 18 cache - my goal for the day!  Here Adam found the cache pretty quickly, and while we waited for a few hikers to make their way out of our sights, we signed in to officially complete one of the best caches in the park!  I was pretty happy...of course I do have a pretty suggestive personality.

With the geo-business over and done with, we were now dedicated solely to enjoying Kisil Point in all it's glory.  It was spectacular, and outside of some trail traffic upon our arrival, we had this section of Letchworth all to ourselves!

Adam at a nearby spot overlooking the Silver Lake Outlet.
Killer sneaks yo.  LOL.
I was extremely glad Adam came along with me to explore this amazing area.  We don't get to do too much stuff with just the two of us, so to share Trail 18 and all the scenery made my day.  I love my brother. I'm cute!  Haha.  With all the caches found and the sights saw, we returned back to the main trail and made our way home.  Of course I had to capture at least one more picture before it was all said and done:

The first indian pipe I've seen this year!  I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty excited. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Echos of St. Helena

Lately I've been having a rough go at work - and when I leave I feel physically, mentally and emotionally drained.  Typically during these infirm moments, I would go home, curl into a ball and be pretty useless and/or unproductive.  Which would only add to my frustration and...well...depression I guess.

Lately however, I've been making a consorted effort to get out and blow off some of the stress and frustration I feel.  This has taken the form of several high-quality cache hikes in Letchworth State Park.  As a matter of fact, I've spend probably five of the last seven days in the park - which as I look back at it, surprises me.  Today was one of the tougher days as of late - and after work I was tempted to fall back into my unhealthy routine.  I'm proud to admit, I instead forced myself out the door on a collision course with yet another fine cache in Letchworth.

The outlet and metaphorical punching-bag of my post work stress parade was Echoes of St. Helena Etched in Stone by the MaloneFamily.  This cache is set along the St. Helena Trail in the park, and takes you right down to the Genesee River, where you get up close and personal with an old bridge abutment.  This is one of the only structural remnants of St. Helena a now ghost town that existed from approximately 1850 to 1940.  It's a really neat location that seems extremely remote.

The cache hike pretty much takes you right by where I was just two days ago when I was hiking along Trail 13 doing Upon a Bust of Pallas by Wolf Creek.  I arrived at the parking coordinates and started toward the trailhead.

Away I go!
This cache was a puzzle cache - but a much less taxing one on my poor little pea-brain.  Essentially you had to go to a set of coordinates and find the necessary information to give you access to the cache.  Simple enough right!  The hike down towards the flats was pretty - and slowly but surely I made my approach to the Genesee River.

Trail towards the bridge abutment.
The information I needed to find was on an old foundation that once supported the bridge in St. Helena that crossed the Genesee River.  I became more and more stoked as I approached the river, as I knew I had never been down this particular trail before.  Soon the trees parted and there I was...

You can see the opposing bridge abutment on the other side of the river!

This was such an exceptional spot.  I was also really shocked to see how low the river was.  I guess the water tables around here are extremely low - to the point that the rafting group in the park has been canceling their outings due to it.  Bummer for the rafters - but it did give some interesting perspective on how shallow the Genny can get.  From there, I took to checking out the bridge abutment.  I'm pretty sure I found what I needed - but I second guessed myself so I spent additional time checking the area out.

One of the "etchings" I found on the abutment stones!
After enjoying this extremely scenic spot for a bit, I was eager to put my theory to the test to see if I could crack this cache.  The hike from the waterfront to the final cache was a short one, and after a little fudging I finally was able to get my name in the logbook.  Two puzzle caches in three days - not too shabby!  After rehiding the cache, I enjoyed the trail a bit, before packing up and starting back to the Suvie.  Of course I had to make a few stops to observe the views and flora.

When it was all said and done, I did probably around a three-quarters of a mile hike, with a little elevation thrown in for good & sweaty measure.  This was a fun adventure, and certainly something that did wonders for the old psyche.  :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In search of Hugh Hefner's Palatial Mansion...

In the ongoing saga of Szuchie VS. the Unfound Caches of Letchworth State Park, I like to think I'm kicking ass and taking names.  And in some instances contact information, because we all know how important networking is.

The unfound Letchworth cache that presented the most cerebral challenge for me was Upon A Bust of Pallas by Wolf Creek.  This puzzleriffic bugger clocks in at a four-star (out of five) difficulty.  Puzzle caches typically require the would-be seeker to solve a riddle, cipher or some other puzzle in order to get the information needed to determine the correct cache coordinates.  This cache required you to find the meaning of the numbers on the cache page, which would then lead you to a small container that would contain coordinates to the final.

My dear readers...if you know know I'm pretty honest when it comes to puzzle caches.  I'm just downright bad at them.  And it's not so much that I'm a complete moron (I mean I'm close...haha), but it's mostly that I don't have the patience to sit in front of the confounded computer trying to decipher something when I should just be able to load some coords into my GPS and instantly be able to jump into the woods and go for a hike. 

I decided though that since this particular cache was in Letchworth, I wouldn't give up that easily.  Interestingly enough, it didn't take too long for me to figure out what I was supposed to do.  Doing it successfully was a whole 'nother matter...but I was half way there right?!?  So I spent a couple hours screwing around until I had coords that sounded ballpark.  I would never consider them right, because c'mon...they were my coords.  Haha.

I was rather proud of myself.  At least I thought I was proud of myself.  I wouldn't know for sure unless I went into the wilds of Letchworth to verify it for myself.  After returning to work today, a little peace, quiet and solitude was definitely in order, so off to Letchworth I moseyed.

The clue on the cache page was "Trail 13."  Guess who's possible first leg coords were under 500 feet from this spot:

Damn I may or may not be good!  At this point I was feeling pretty optimistic, so I grabbed my gear and hit the trail at a pretty fast stride hoping to verify my ghetto-deciphering.  Before I hit my zero though, I was quickly impressed by this trail.  It was my first time on it, so I had to take plenty of notes for future return visits.

There was a ton of maple, oak and ash going on along this trail, and inspecting some of the bigguns was really enjoyable.  Soon I was very close to my calculated coordinates.  I took a deep breath and headed off trail towards my zero.  Truth be told I was a little nervous.  If I screwed up, I'd probably be forced to scour the entire woods in the hopes of accidentally discovering the first leg.  It's been done, but certainly takes a lot of time.  Haha. 

My GPS read eight feet when I spotted a great hiding spot.

And there it was.

For being a simpleton, I did pretty good!  I snagged the cache and popped it open.  There were the coordinates for the final - I had done it.  Sure wasn't finishing the Appalachian Trail or anything, but it was a win.  And I'll take a win any day of the week!  Smiling, I punched in the final cache coords, and rehid the container back where I had found it.  It was time to celebrate...and when you're miles away from the nearest Szuchie Palmer, you party the only way you know how.  Find a tree, take a leak, adjust everything that needs adjustin' and then go about taking pictures of the scenery.

I was excited to get my hands on the ammo can awaiting me at the end of this cache, so down the trail I trotted.  This particular portion of the trail is pretty short.  It follows a few hundred feet along side the road in Letchworth - but if it wasn't for the cars making noise as they passed, you'd probably never realize it.  In total, this section probably measures under a half mile.  Their is a offshoot on the trail, that takes you downhill towards the Genesee River that adds another three-quarters of a mile to this trail (so it's not a loop per se, just a big goofy looking "T"). 

I arrived at the final cache site, and quickly had the box in my mitts.  I was one happy camper.  Since the trip went faster than I expected, I hemmed and hawed a little about checking out the spur trail that headed down towards the river.  Oddly enough, I heard Cayuga in my head urging me on (or at least the parts I could's hard to understand him when he's cramming clams and beer into his face).  There was going to be a heck of an uphill climb on the return trip, but I would have felt guilty not exploring down down down the hill I went.  It was pretty overgrown, and in spots you could tell it doesn't get a ton of travel.  Also the rain we got earlier this Spring has washed away a few sections and exposed the shale rock underneath.  It's pretty cool actually. 

One of the gullys that saw a lot of action this Spring!
After a short jaunt, I arrived at the road Adventure Calls Outfitters use to take out the folks rafting down the Genesee.  I was glad I had continued on to see the blue skies hovering over the Genesee River valley.

I soaked this up for a little while, feeling complete peace and solitude.  It was a very good feeling for me - and I felt like I charged my batteries a bit (as corny as that all sounds).  I did an about face and proceeded back up the hill.  It wasn't too bad, and I did work up a good sweat before completing the upper loop and arriving at the other access point for Trail 13.  While taking a breather, I had to capture it for posterity!

Feeling an exuberant sense of joy and mirth about the entirety of my expedition this afternoon - I hiked the road back to the Suvie - a smile adorned across my face.