I think some cachers are missing out.
I’m willing to grant this: There are good powertrails, and there are bad ones. I won’t point out the ones I did that I don’t like, just so I don't upset some cache owners that may run across the blog... I do like to believe that when it comes to my trail…I got it right though.
So I did my research, and I looked at powertrails I had done in the past. I saw what worked, and what didn’t. I looked for the little things that make all the difference: putting the numbers first in the name so they don't get cut off in the GPS description, having something at ground zero to signal you are at the right location. (I used firetacks on the trees) I ended up breaking my trail into two distinct sections and in mid-April of 2012, I hid 72 river caches along the relatively straight, and gentle Dowagiac River close to home.
Here’s where I break a misconception about powertrails. The misconception being that these are lazy cache placements. My plan was to hang DNA tubes from tree limbs that you could grab from your kayak. (I’m willing to admit these are a crummy container, but on a river, nothing will stay dry forever, so I elected to go with something cheap to replace) So, I had to not only cut and insert logs in each container, I also had to cut and attached a length of wire to each one. Between the plotting out of my trail, the preparation of 70+ containers, the making of 70 caches pages I probably had just under 80 hours of work in. That’s BEFORE even getting in the kayak with the GPS mind you!
When I did finally get out in the water, it took me 4 trips to finish placing all 72 caches. At an average of about 6 hrs of hiding trip out, that’s an additional 24 hours of work put in. I didn’t just throw these caches out there. I carefully selected each location on the river, I averaged out the coordinates AND wrote down a hint for every cache.
THEN, I had to go home and enter the coordinates and hints in each of the 72 pre-made up pages I had. A process that took an additional 4+ hours because I double-checked every cache to be sure the coordinates were correct and on the river.
In case you lost count, that’s approximately 108 hours of work that I put into the series! Does that sound like a lazy cache owner to you? I know that I quickly earned a LOT of respect for the placers of the “E.T.” and “Route 66” series of caches. These are series that are often called out as being “lame, stupid or lazy.”
As is to be expected, things can easily go wrong when placing 70+ caches all at once. First off, I made the mistake of wiring the containers, but just sitting the caches in the wire loop. This meant that many immediately fell out of their wire holders and were swept away to parts unknown. I’m sure some have made their way to Illinois and Wisconsin by now! My second problem was when the farmers chopped up the brush along the creek in the shorter section of caches. Roughly half of the 25 caches in that section went missing before they were even found! This meant another 6 hour trip to the river to make necessary repairs.
After the caches were published, there were some people that reacted with a bit of frustration. Most in the area did not own kayaks. However, the trail did exactly what I had hoped it would do, it spurred people into action. They couldn’t ignore 70 caches like they could the 5 or 6 kayak caches I had hidden before. It wasn’t until late summer of 2012 that a big group finally got together to tackle the river. It ended up being an awesome day. The group consisted of 15+ cachers from two states spending an entire day kayaking down the river. Thankfully, they invited me along. It wasn't until this day that I finally got the big payoff from hiding all these caches. Don't take my word for it, check the photos:
In 2013, a lot more local cachers finally got kayaks of their own and since that original trip, I've accompanied a few other groups down the river as they worked on my series of caches. Each new trip seems to create a new memory. Several of these memories have caused me to create nicknames for specific areas of the river: "AddHam's Snag","Tom Kat's Folly" and "Badger's River Den" are a few of these. As you can guess, there are great stories to go along with each of these. Stories that are too long to tell here.
Not every powertrail is perfect, I'll be the first to admit that. But I do feel it is pretty unfair to lump them all under the "lame" or "stupid" category that some cachers do. I like to think mine is an exception to that stereotype. (At least I hope it is!) I think what people get the most out of my kayak series is memories, even more so than numbers. In the end, isn't that what it's all about anyway?