Over Memorial Day Weekend I decided to gather with a few of my Geocaching friends and hike on the beach. Our target was GC8AAE – New Inlet/No Inlet. A few months ago I biked across Bald Head Island on a caching trip and found all of the nearby caches except for this one. After a long hot day on bikes I just wasn’t prepared for such a long hike. We set off today as prepared for the hike as we could be! The sky was clear blue, bright and sunny. We were exposed to direct sunlight for the entire hike. I’m surprised I didn’t get a worse sunburn than I did. I should have worn a long sleeve shirt and bigger hat for this one. The temperature started off around 85 degrees and finished up in the low 90′s.
No Geocacher can in good conscience drive right by an Earthcache on the way to somewhere else. Since GC1C0C8 – Coquina Outcrop is only available at low tide we decided to meet up at the Fort Fisher Museum and Visitor Center to make the quick hike over and snap some pictures.
Rob's son (sitting), my nephew and I studying a Coquina Outcrop at low tide.
After picking up the Earthcache and a few other nearby caches we moved over to the Fort Fisher State Park Visitor’s Center. Since this is where you have to pay to drive onto the beach we thought it would be a good place to start the hike. The first stretch was up a dirt road with deep sand. By the time we actually got out on the beach I was wondering why we had left a perfectly good 4×4 vehicle behind!
Ankle deep sand for the first 0.8 mile of the trip!
I was surprised to see the number of vehicles on the beach. They literally stretched end to end for almost four miles! Most of the people were fishing but there were a lot of folks hanging around playing on the beach. They watched us walk by and most were very friendly. I wonder what they thought of us hiking by with big packs on when they drove out?
Why were we the only ones not driving?
Of course, any visit to a remote stretch of beach will almost certainly include an encounter with a sea turtle nest. I’ve seen a lot of these growing up near the beach. We paused for a minute to check out the nest and then moved on.
We had to hike around a few sea turtle nests.
You never want to see a sign like this with the tide rolling in. We picked up the pace for the last mile and a half or so of the trip out. By the time we got back to this area we were caught by the tide anyway. Ah well, what’s wet feet (and pants) amongst friends anyway?
Nothing like a little pressure to make the hike go by faster!
After what seemed like a lifetime we finally made it to the target! We only had time for a quick rest and stretch. We had a high tide to beat! The sign listed below is not the target sign referenced in the cache description. That sign was about 100′ away.
Success! Now we have to hike back to the car...
All in all this was an excellent hike! The heat posed an real challenge however. My nephew was overcome by the heat by the end of the trip and we had to bail out about 800-1000′ away from the end. After a tense half hour or so he started pulling out of it. That was not a fun experience but I’m glad we all got out ok. I’m proud of him for the effort! He sure picked a tough hike for his first! We hiked 8.65 miles in 4:46 with 1:10 stopped for breaks. I wound up losing the average speed numbers when I forgot to turn off my GPSr as I rode with my nephew on the tailgate of a passing truck. I think we were hiking around three miles per hour though. I’m ready for the next one!