A Great Birthday

We were talking earlier in the week and the Island King asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday - which is today. My two favorite things to do are to spend a day at the beach or to spend a day in the woods and for today I chose hiking in the woods. We got up this morning and drove up to Timber Lake for a day of hiking, picture taking and of course, geocaching.

We got to the lake and had a nice picnic before starting our hike.

The kids were hungry so we unloaded our picnic stuff at the first table we came to which was an old concrete table with two stumps for seats. After we got everything all spread out we looked down the trail a little farther and saw a real nice picnic table with enough benches for everyone.

It was too late to move but we learned to explore the area better before picking a table LOL

The Island King has been looking for just the right piece of cypress to make himself a walking stick out of and today right after we got there he found the perfect stick. He worked on it for a while during lunch. He wrapped some parachute cord around part of it for a handle and the stick worked great.
After we ate it was time to start our hike. We followed a nice clear trail that ran along the edge of a swamp and then up higher through dense scrub oak and pine thickets.

We were looking for a geocache and after hiking a little more than a half mile we found it.
There was a pretty little dolphin charm in the cache that the Youngest Island Boy claimed and then gave me as a present.
The next cache on our list was on the other side of the lake so we needed to hike back the same way we came in. That sounds really simple, especially on a clear well marked trail, right? I don't know how we did it but we got lost. One minute we were walking on the trail along the edge of the swamp and then we started climbing really high and the trail stopped looking familiar. Now we're on a trail that isn't clear like the one we'd been on but yet we didn't veer off the main trail so I have no idea what is happening. The Island King was leading and it wasn't long after the trail started getting really thick that he came to a stop. This was the end of the trail.
I have nothing against bushwacking my way through the woods when that's necessary but we were on a wide, well marked clear trail just a few minutes ago and I tell the Island King that I think we need to turn around and go look for the real trail - the one that will take us back to our picnic spot. Unfortunately for us the Island King LOVES to use his machete so he says that we've come farther than I think and that there's no reason to go back when he can blaze a path forward. Well, ok. So he starts hacking his way through these thick bushes and palmettos and these wicked briars hanging from the trees and growing up from the ground. We hunch over and try to follow but he'd hack open enough space to squeeze through and then it would close back up before the next person could come through and he'd have to hack some more. This went on for a few yards and then I decided that I just wasn't going to do this any more. The kids were hollering and we were all being ripped up by the briars and saw-palms so I told them to turn around and try to get back out the way we'd come in. I told the Island King that he was welcome to hack his way on back but that I was going to go back, find the trail and then walk easily on back to the picnic table. The kids and I managed to plow our way back to a clearing and it wasn't long before we heard the Island King crashing along behind us. When he came out into the clearing he grinned and said that was serious brush but that he could get us through there if he needed to LOL
So now we're all standing in this clearing and there's no sign of a trail at all. Island Girl wants to know why we can't use the GPS to find the trail and I have to admit to everyone that because we were hiking on such a well marked trail that I didn't turn on the breadcrumbs feature and I didn't mark the location of our picnic site. They all looked at me like I was crazy and then of course had to comment on the fact that I always mark our beginning spot and turn on the breadcrumbs but today - when we're lost - I've forgotten to do that LOL We decided at this point to head back downhill towards the swamp. The farther uphill we went the thicker the brush got and we know the trail runs along the edge of the swamp so if we can find the swamp we should be able to find the trail. Off we go, plowing our own trail but this time it was through a pine thicket and there wasn't much hacking needed. A few minutes later we found the swamp and were able to work our way around it until we came to the trail. Quite a while later we came back out at our picnic spot. I still can't believe we got lost LOL We rested for a while and then it was time to hike around to the other side of the lake to look for another geocache. This cache was a little over a quarter of a mile and this time I marked our beginning spot and turned on the breadcrumbs before we started off LOL The cache logs for this cache said that finding this cache would be a mild physical challenge but we really didn't think anything about it. We hiked along a trail up on a ridge around the backside of the lake and stopped when we got close to the cache coordinates. At the bottom of this ridge were two big old magnolia trees but they were right at the edge of the water and probably 10 feet down from the ridge we were on. The Island King and I looked at each and he said "You know it's gonna be down there around that tree, don't ya?" Yep I knew we'd be climbing down the hill and hunting right at the edge of the lake. There are thick reeds and stumps everywhere and I'm thinking that this would be the perfect place for a gator to pop up and eat one of my kids. But being the fearless creatures that they are they were already down the hill and checking around the bottom of the trees before I could say anything LOL It wasn't long before the whole family was down there looking for that cache. We looked and looked and looked some more but didn't find it. It was hard climbing back up to the trail and we were really glad we had the Island King's new walking stick.
We hunted all around the top of the ridge thinking maybe the coordinates were off but still didn't find the cache. We were just about to declare this a Did Not Find when the Youngest Island Boy yelled "I found it!" The Youngest is a natural tree climber and after hunting the cache for a few minutes he gave up and started making his way up into the tree. The cache was hidden about halfway up the tree way out on a limb in a knot hole.
This find belongs entirely to him because we would never have found it without him. It was such a relaxing day and I enjoyed every minute of it. There is something so relaxing about wandering through the woods on a nice day. And since it's my birthday my family has cooked dinner and done the dishes for me. I could get used to this LOL