More groups should take geocachers’ lead in cleaning recreational areas
I love Reelfoot Lake. Some of my happiest memories from my childhood are when my grandmother, Naomi Cole, and my late grandfather, Dee Cole, would take my sisters and me fishing.
We’d spend a Friday night with them in Wynnburg and get up bright and early on Saturday morning. We must have been a sight — Grandfather in the front, Grandmother in the back and the five of us girls right in the middle — each with a pole and Grandfather with four.
There were always rules when we went fishing — don’t lean over the edge, because you might capsize the boat; keep your lifejacket on or near you at all times; and don’t throw your trash into the lake.
The last mentioned rule brings me to the reason for this column.
My youngest son, Matthew, and I traveled to Reelfoot Lake Saturday morning to join the Geocachers of West Tennessee in a mission to help beautify Reelfoot Lake by picking up trash along the bank.
The group initially had the clean up scheduled in March, but it snowed. Saturday wasn’t as warm as it was earlier this week, but it was tolerable.
Geocachers are tech-savvy scavenger hunters who uncover hidden treasure known as “caches.” They find their treasure by using GPS (Global Positioning System) units. The local geocachers leave the caches for someone else to find and log their “finds” on the organization’s Web site. There are more than 490,000 hidden caches worldwide.
Despite the fact that the tech-savvy hunters many times hide their caches in God’s landscape — such as Reelfoot Lake — they’re very careful not to damage the environment or leave things behind which will harm wildlife.
Geocachers across the world have “Cache In, Trash Out” events where they spend a portion of their day helping to preserve natural beauty.
I wish the duck hunters who use Reelfoot Lake for their pleasure would do the same. And you may ask why the jump from geocachers to duck hunters. Well, let me tell you. Saturday, Matthew and I didn’t just go to the lake to take photos for this paper, we participated in the clean up effort. All over the shore line were these flared plastic tubes. We, geocachers included, must have picked up hundreds of them. We’d get a portion of the bank cleared and the water, which was slapping the ground so hard it foamed, would bring more our way. I wasn’t familiar with what these things were, but one of the geocachers said the state officer assigned to Reelfoot Lake said they are used in shotgun shells. There’s no telling what kind of damage those plastic tubes cause to the wildlife at Reelfoot Lake. It would be nice if more groups like the geocachers cared enough about the areas they use for recreation to have clean up days.
Spending the morning with these modern-day treasure hunters intrigued me. About a dozen members from the Geocachers of West Tennessee attended the event, with several coming from the Memphis area.
Cgeek (They use code names to log their finds.) told about her fear of pandas and her attempt to overcome it by having a panda “travel” to China. Others told of fancy caches which had to be opened in a special way or travel bugs which had been picked up in one location only to be found in another. A cache can be made of most anything that’s weather-proof. There is one which is a five-gallon bucket, I learned, or they can even be smaller than a dime. Known as nano caches, they’re magnetic and can be attached almost anywhere. Cgeek said her favorite spot to stash the nanos is on welcome signs.
Responsible geocachers always get permission to place their caches, whether on public or private property, according to Phillip Senn of Troy. Some caches will last as little as a few months, while others have been active for many years.
Excursions can be set to fit any time frame — from a couple of hours to several days. Many of the geocachers stopped along their routes to the event on Saturday. Coordinates for local caches are found on the club’s Web site.
Geocaching started after the U.S. government removed a satellite scramble which had limited civilian GPS unit accuracy in 2000. It’s an activity which can be enjoyed by all ages and any group size.
For more information about the local group, visit its Web site at www.gowt.org.
Associate editor Donna Ryder may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.18.08
geocachers, Reelfoot Lake