As some of you know by now, Liz and I are always up for a little adventure. And that’s just what we got while attending the “Going Caching 2013” Geocaching Mega Event this past October. The event was held at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, GA, and we couldn’t have asked for a better location to attempt their A.C.E. Challenge (Adventure Challenge Expedition)! We are fans of anything that has Adventure, Challenge, and Expedition, especially if it revolves around Geocaching; so we had to test our skills out in attempt to complete the Challenge and capture the souvenir Geo-Coin that they were giving away!
After breakfast, we headed over to the main event area to get our name badges and instruction packet for the A.C.E. Challenge. This was not a timed challenge, nor was it based on who finished first. All participants were given a card that we needed to get stamped at each of the special cache locations to show that we completed the challenge. If you completed one of the six tasks then you would be entered to win prizes at the end of the event. But if you completed the entire challenge, then you would be given a commemorative Geo-Coin. This was a great way to enjoy all the great outdoor activities that FDR State Park here in Georgia has to offer. Plus, it was a LOT of fun to complete this challenge.
First Stop, “Air Mail”
Liz and I looked up at the 6 different challenges that were all cleverly named to match the theme of History and Mystery. While the participants scattered in different directions, we decided to try our luck at the closest stop, Air Mail.
As usual, we didn’t have a trail map so we bushwhacked our way straight toward the cache. Through the woods and down a mountain! Luckily, our Garmin Oregon 650T didn’t let us down with the terrain maps!
Finally, we came up to the cache with a small family that was just finishing the task. We stood back so they could complete the stage and reset it for us. As we made our move over to where the family came from, we see a pcp pipe on a tree. We had an idea of what to do. Thinking that this stage was called “Air Mail,” we figured it out.
Liz was able to use her hot air to retrieve the cache, but we discovered that it was only a set of coordinates to another location about 7 miles away! “Oh man” we both sighed. So we knew what kind of a day it was going to be…not easy! Since that one was so far away, we decided to hit up another nearby cache in the meantime.
After a little more bushwhacking, and a really nice hike, we crossed over a creek and ended up at the cache location for Spitting Cobra. We had an idea of what we would have to do for this one, since it was located right next to the creek. We needed water…and a volunteer!
Liz volunteered to hold her fingers over a hole in another pcp pipe on a tree, while I took my water bottle and made multiple trips to and from the creek. Each trip I filled up the pipe more, and Liz had to keep her fingers steady to prevent the water from spilling out of the holes and allow the cache float to the top! Once we had enough water, the cache popped out the top and we were able to make the grab, sign the log, and get our stamp. As we walked away, Liz didn’t get out of the way quick enough and water gushed out of the pipe – drenching her legs, which I found quite hilarious.
“Ace Up Our Sleeve”
Next we decided to tempt our faith and head to “ACE Up Our Sleeve.” We knew that this was going to be a water challanege, so we put on our life jackets and picked out a canoe. I had a little trouble getting into the canoe, I tripped over into the lake and got a little wet! Luckily our Garmin is waterproof (and the car keys did not fall out of my pocket) so we were good to go. Liz of course thought this was hilarious and continued to bring it up throughout the day, but anything to bring a smile to my ladies face.
Read also: Geocaching in Pine Mountain, GA
After gathering ourselves for successful attempt this time, we got in our canoe and paddled over to a line of ducks floating in the lake. We had to search under each duck to find the right one that had coordinates on it and a hole punch. The hole punch was to prove we were there and got the coordinates ourselves. Then we followed the coordinates to Sock-Monkey Island, where we had to locate our stamp. After getting the stamp, we took our time paddling back to shore to turn in the canoe. It was a beautiful day to be on the water, and we were really enjoying the canoe ride! It was really nice to sit back and relax.
Walking through History at FDR State Park
One of the next Challenges took us to one of my favorite spots in FDR State Park. Growing up in this area, I’m quite familiar with the park and enjoyed visiting it over the years. The Challenge took us to overlook that FDR used to entertain his guests with an outdoor bar b’ que and a great view.
We first did some hiking through the woods, following a bunch of trails and multiple clues! We even had to spot a rock on the ground with a code etched into it and used a crayon to reveal it on a piece of paper. We had to decipher the code to locate coordinates to the next stamp. This was a tough one – and a lot of cachers were a bit confused! So Once we completed it, we were ready to enjoy lunch on the viewpoint and take a break.
The A.C.E. Challenge Bonus Cache
On our A.C.E. Challenge stamp card we noticed that there was a Bonus Cache. Some of the coordinates were listed, but a bunch of it was blank! We had to fill in the numbers. Luckily, our good eyes noticed that the stamps we were collecting had numbers woven into them creatively! Brilliant! If we were able to complete all 6 of these cool caches, then we would be able to find a 7th bonus cache…and why not?!? The first 6 caches we found were so creative and fun. So we knew the bonus cache was going to be pretty awesome.
We made our way to the bonus cache late that afternoon. This was perfect because there weren’t many others around at the time and we enjoy finding caches on our own rather than following a crowd. After a while of walking on a trail toward the coordinates, we see something very odd in the woods…a kiddie pool! And, it’s full of yellow rubber ducks! Obviously, this is not a normal sighting along a trail at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. “What in the world?” I looked at Liz and laughed!
After flipping over a bunch of rubber duckies, we noticed that some of them had letters on the bottom. When we had all the letters we struggled to unscramble them! For the life of us, we could not figure it out! Then finally, Liz realized it. “Look up” she said to me as I was kneeling on the ground focused on these ducks! I looked up and noticed something a little strange hanging above us from a tree, a Mother Duck with a box! We locate the string holding it up, and lowered the cache down. We used the letters from the duckies to open the cache and get our bonus Going Caching 2013 Stamp. A pretty awesome way to finish up the A.C.E. Challenge.
Completed Geocaching Adventure
We have now completed the A.C.E Challenge! We returned to the main event area and turned in our cards with all the appropriate stamps and received our very cool Geo-Coin. It’s tough to beat the feeling of accomplishment, especially with such a cool souvenir and long lasting memories of this event.
Next Best Geocaching Town in America: Pine Mountain, GA
This was such a great challenge for us because it gave us a chance to explore some of the hundreds of miles of hiking trails that exist at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Some might say that these are the best trails east of the Mississippi, and we can easily see why. FDR State Park welcomes Geocachers from all over the world with open arms.
After the GoingCaching 2013 Mega Event, FDR State Park left 150 caches from the event for future cachers to enjoy and discover. How awesome is that! Considering that right next door to FDR State Park is Callaway Gardens, another tourist destination that has almost 60 caches hidden within the resort grounds, Pine Mountain Georgia is definitely a Geocacher’s Paradise.