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Find out why life is great in the NC High Country. Check out my recent article in South Florida’s Pinecrest Magazine:
A Treasure Hunt with GPS Coordinates
The High Country of NC is located very close to the Tennessee state line. Today we spent some time geocaching in Tennessee’s Roan Mountain State Park. Although best known for its beautiful fields of rhododendrons, the Roan Mountain State Park has a lot more to offer.
For those uninitiated in the world of geocaching, it’s a wonderful outdoor activity for individuals and family members of all ages. It’s a treasure hunt using GPS coordinates. The hidden “caches” vary in size from micro (think old-fashioned film container) to macro (large ammo box). Each container will have at least a log book to record your visit and, depending on the size, room for trade-able items such as pins, coins, small toys, etc. It’s customary if you take an item from the box, to leave another behind. “Travel Bugs” are items with serial numbers that are meant to be moved from site-to-site. We love travel bugs, but they are rare.
Playing this world-wide game is fun, easy and free. Go on-line to http://www.geocaching.com, create a name for yourself, family or partner and look up the area you’d like to search. A zip code entry will help you get started. There are literally thousands of hidden caches and they are all over the world, in both urban and very remote areas. You simply enter the coordinates you find on-line in a handheld GPS unit, (including one from your car) or a smart phone (download the app for free). The one downside of using a smart phone when you are out on a trail, is that if you lose reception, you will literally be clueless. In an area with good service, a smart phone can direct you to hidden caches near your current location.
Enterprising players can also hide caches for others to find. Today, thanks to the Trailbreaker team, we had a nice assortment to look for. They have gotten permission from the park service to place their caches throughout the Roan Mountain State Park and have done an excellent job with their clues and with keeping their sites maintained. It was a rare treat for us to actually meet them just after we found one of their hidden treasures.
I promise when you geocache you will find out interesting information and see things you never saw before (even if you’ve driven by dozens of times).
It was a beautiful day for a drive along the Watauga River. Following along Old Watauga River Road from Valle Crucis we drove on a paved and unpaved narrow road through tranquil, pastoral farmland and ended up on Hwy 301 between Tennessee and Boone. Sometimes the road took us right along the river, other times climbing high above; along the way we saw the occasional fisherman trying his luck, a father and daughter setting out to tube and one mother with kids having a quiet picnic by the clear, calm water. Like a pristine mirror, the river reflected the dramatic gorge and blue skies. We’ve had a fair amount of rain in the High Country this year and the landscape is as green as is can get. The only wildlife spotted today were the cows and calves grazing on the hills. We’ll be back.
For information on the Watauga River Basin visit: www.water.ncsu.edu/watauga.html