Today I said goodbye to my first geocache.
I placed it in June 2008, three months after I started geocaching. Since that time, I have placed about 40 more, but this first one was special.
It was special because I chose a majestic rock outcrop, one of the best – if not the best – view in Evergreen. It wasn’t just any scenic perch – it was my mountain biking destination weekly for about 5 years. These were the years when my kids were babies. I never had time on the weekend to hit a 10-mile loop in a nearby park. Instead I would pedal from my house up Fern Gulch Road, a steep, eroded track winding through pines, aspens and abandoned cabins and head for the rock.
And I was never alone – my dog, Iko, loved to come with me every step of the way. Iko could be off-leash, which made the trip more pleasurable for both of us. It got so that if he saw me touch my bike, he would start barking like crazy until he was certain that he was coming with me. And he was a good rock dog, smart, sure-footed and he cut a majestic, wolfish profile against the blue western sky.
We brought Iko home from the pound about one week before my first child was born. Iko was a faithful friend and guardian for my two boys while they were growing up. He went with us when we moved down the hill to Golden for 2 years. But just a few days before we moved back to Evergreen, Iko was hit by a car on Lookout Mountain Road.
A couple years after we returned to Evergreen, we began geocaching. Naturally, I placed my first cache at the rock where I had enjoyed so many Power Bar breaks with my brindled buddy. Where I relaxed in the summer sun while Iko sniffed about the rocks. Where I would gaze at Evergreen Lake and Mt. Evans before jumping on my bike and bouncing down the gloriously rough road to my home, trying to be back before my kids awoke from their naps.
The geocache lasted for 9 years. It was remote enough that it only had 36 “official” visits during that time. I would check on it about once every year or two, riding my bike to it on most of my visits. It was always enjoyable reading the comments in the logbook, most of which filled a full page. The logbook also revealed another truth – an lot of stoners began finding, and writing in, the geocache logbook. Though the notes were peppered with stoner slang, most writers seemed to love Iko’s Rock. I appreciated that. One even said “Iko sure had good taste.”
About 1 month ago, a visitor posted a note on the geocache’s webpage that the property was bought by someone who was bulldozing a driveway next to Iko’s Rock. Sure enough, the day I went to check on it, I saw a port-a-potty parked where I used to park my bike. The second-to-last person who logged the geocache mentioned meeting the owner right before hitting some golf balls off the rock. The last log was the new owner – the guy signed it “Jimmy Chicago” and said “it was nice meeting you too.”
The construction crew had taken a substantial bite out of the west face of the rock to accommodate the building site below, making the rock more exposed and treacherous than before. The geocache was lying out in the open, between the roots of a spruce tree. The camo-tape I had wrapped around it was faded to light blue and the container smelled of tobacco (someone had made a cigarette offering). I thought about Jimmy Chicago. Even if he was cool with strangers visiting the site, he would probably be concerned about liability and start to get stressed about the geocache. I couldn’t really blame him, but it used to be a lot easier when there were fewer houses on top of what was once called “Hippie Hill.” So I climbed up away from Iko’s Rock, tossed the geocache in the back of my car and took off.