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Sunday, April 14, 2013

General Coffee State Park, Georgia --- a great day of caching!

sumajhuarmi on the hunt
A great Georgia State Park to visit is General Coffee State Park just east of Douglas, Georgia. We were in a conference in the area and had a free day. Of all the days that week this was the most beautiful day. Given the warnings from the cache owner about the need for insect repellent, extra water for hydration, etc. it was great to go after these caches on an unseasonably warm spring-like day in February. We pulled into the main gate of the park and over to the side to visit the ranger station and store. We began our search with a cache at the welcome sign. It was proving to be difficult. We finally gave up. We went into the store to purchase the necessary $5 day pass for the park (one pass per vehicle) when two female rangers told us they would help us locate the cache. Sure enough they helped us find this nano of a cache. We bought our pass and headed out.

Spanish moss everywhere!
We drove the car about 1/4 mile into the state park where we left it near the first series of shelters. From there we began the 2.8 mile circuit to pick up geocaches. The Seventeen Mile River runs north/south through the park. We began our search on the west side of the river. The second cache we looked for eluded us. While we were looking for it a couple drove up and asked if we were geocachers. Turns out they were also. We had the pleasure of getting to know davissa, a couple from near Atlanta. They gave us a clue and we were able to find the cache. The coordinates for this cache seemed to be significantly off. We reported that in our log later. We said good-bye and headed down the trail while they headed up the road in their truck.
My favorite kind of cache

The boardwalk crossing 17 mile river
We found several nice caches along the way. We were traveling along a trail bordering the river to our right. It is a slow-moving river that actually looks like a swamp with all the cypress trees in it. I was carrying some travel bugs to drop. It was great to find caches large enough to receive them. As we were just tracking up to Steel Magnolia (GC45WQP), divissa appeared coming down the trail from the opposite direction. They had searched for this one the day before with no luck. We found our ground zero quickly and there it was.
17 Mile River

Swamp edge caching
We moved on down the trail. Finally the trail gave way to a camp area. We came upon some campers as we cut across the open camp area. The trees were full of Spanish moss. The next cache promised to be interesting. It was Rollin' Stones Gather no **** (GC45TTP). We began to search the area and soon came up with the unique container. By this point we were in sandy land with Georgia pines all around. Some of the smaller trees were loaded with Spanish moss.

We continued our hike around the loop at the northwest end of the park, cutting off the trail to join a new trail. We were able to find all the caches along the trail. Thanks to a local Boy Scout troop we found an ammo can too.

I particularly enjoyed the boardwalk that crosses the Seventeen Mile River. There is a cache on it as well. We darted across the boardwalk to the other side to pick up one cache, not knowing whether we'd get to do the caches on the east side of the river. We then came back and tracked down the trail to our car. Before leaving we hit some more caches near an interpretive farm representing the type of log cabins used during the mid-1800's.

We looked at our watches and decided we better try to get a few more caches in before going back to the hotel and preparing for the evening speaking engagements. We drove across the river on the highway bridge and turned into the east side entrance. We had the pass code so we punched it in and the gate swung open for us. We drove up that rode, stopping periodically and gathered in about four more caches before time to go.

It was a great day. But it wasn't over yet! Two days later our conference leader brought the whole group speakers out to the park to see the log cabins and staged farm community. I told the director of missions about geocaching. He and one other speaker went with me to find four more caches along the edge of the park at the highway. They were amazed and seemed to have had a good time.

Come try out General Coffee State Park. It will be worth your time to find these caches and see what a south Georgia swamp looks like.

Pastor Joseph Lee on the Meeks cabin, home to his cousin and currently home to a geocache

A new geocacher (left) and the Director of Missions for the Smyrna Baptist Association (right)

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