The Fun Begins...
When I had finished
making plans for the rest of the weekend, we headed up the trail back to
the crossroads and then onward toward the other two caches. As we
drove along we came to spot where the road was muddy and many had gone
around the mud. A tree lay between the two paths. I stuck to
the trail and as I passed the falled tree, a branch rubbed my sidewall
and tore a four-inch hole... Inside the Jeep Mike and I heard the
"PSSSST!". I stopped right away thinking optimistically that I had
popped a bead. Au Contraire, Mon Frere! This was a
full-blown, never-to-be-repaired, flat...And a brand new tire!
That kept us
busy for about 40 minutes. First the jack sunk into the mud so
I cranked four stones under the jack one at a time until we hit some
solid ground. Then I fished up my tool box because the lug
nuts I replaced the crappy factory ones with are larger than my lug
wrench. Then I fished out my wheel lock key. You know,
just the usual stuff when you're having fun with tires...
Update: I replaced all the lug nuts with high-quality lug nuts
that match my lug wrench!)
While we were
making the swap, Mike noticed a walking stick bug and made a
photograph of it.
With the tires
swapped I stopped to ponder options. The spare was in good
shape though it did have a plug in it. In the several months
in had been on the spare holder, it had not leaked but had also
never been used. I checked the plug and shaved some of the
protruding portion off so that it would be below the level of the
lugs on the tire. But I needed to decide if I wanted to
continue without a spare...
I reasoned in
that "get-there-itis" way that this was flat tire number two in five
years of wheeling.
The other had been
similar in the way it happened and had a similar outcome - I
just put the spare on.
time I popped a bead I had been fortunate that Jim had his power
tank along and we just put a cinch strap around the tire and
reseated and inflated it. I figured the worst that could
happen was that we'd be walking out to go get a tire if we got
another flat. That wasn't a pleasant thought, but I didn't
think there was much to worry about. And barring a
catastrophic failure like this, I had my air source and a plug kit
if we got a basic flat.
So we proceeded
up the trail with a little more attention to the surface. We
reached White Rocks and continued on toward Cache Twenty-Two.
Along the way we stopped to follow the trail straight up the hill.
We sawed up a fallen cherry tree that was blocking the way. At
the end, it reconnected with another trail above leaving us about
3-tenths of a mile from Cache Twenty-Two.
I was ready to
get out and walk up the hill to the cache but Mike pointed out we
could probably follow one of the trail branches around the contour
of the hill and get closer. So we did, leaving us about one
and a half-tenths of a mile from the cache. It's all good.
I parked the
Jeep and we walked down the hill through the briars. I made a
bee-line and pretty soon I reached the cache. Since the owner
of the cache asked to keep the location and what's located there
quiet, I cannot post the pictures. It's an interesting place.
Here's a shot of Mike nearby.
We stopped for
a while to each lunch and talk. Then we walked back up the
hill, back through the briars, and sight-for-sore- eyes, reached the
Jeep. From there I backtracked to White Rocks where we stopped
to see how the cache was.
We had used up
most of the time for the afternoon so we made a quick stop at Polly
Takes the Plunge.
I had wanted to
go check out the second stage again (or is it the first stage?) but
instead we just checked the cache. Inside was a disposable
camera that was used up so I sent the cache owner a message asking
if we could get it processed and returned to him to be posted.
Not hearing from him, I decided it was probably OK, so I took it.
Mike and I signed the log.
It was all
downhill from here. That is to say we followed the trail down
and out to pavement. Once there we drove down 857 a ways and
made a pit stop for air and snacks. Then the rest of the way
to my house where Mike continued with his day. Overall, tire
fun notwithstanding, we had a great day on the trail!