The Hay Creek Watershed in Berks County, just to the west of French Creek State Park, offers a number of geocaching opportunities in an unspoiled wilderness setting. The crowned jewel along the the Hay Creek is GC7F81: Stately Tree. The Stately Tree is billed as the toughest short hike in Berks County and I cannot dispute that fact. It is possible to park within a third of a mile from the cache, but I would not recommend that approach.
The story of President’s Day Geocaching Massacre of 2009 actually begins in March of 2005. The Bushwackin’ Schmo and I were caching along PA-82. We found a number of caches on our way North to the Hay Creek Water Shed. Once there we took one look at the approach to the Stately Tree, we decided that it was time to call it a day.
The following September, I was back in Hay Creek Watershed and made my second run at the tree. I would write in the log:
What can you say about this cache – it is an icon. We tried a gentle sloped approach and were confronted by thorns .3mi out. We backtracked and tried a frontal assault on the hill. I only lasted .17mi before the hill literally beat me. But my companions odragon and mccambjd beat the hill and got the cache.
At this time the “Tree” had become an obsession and I wanted a rematch. The rematch came in March of 2006. I held an event called GCTA1C: The Ed Scott-a-thon. I needed to meet the architect of this evil cache. The event attendees were treated to a guided tour of the Hay Creek Watershed and with edscott’s guidance, I bested the “Tree.”
For many, Presidents Day conjures up images of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree or Abe Lincoln building a log cabin. Truly, our first and sixteenth Presidents were great and inspirational men and worthy of a day of celebration. Their epic stories of triumph over adversities, patriotism and statesmanship should be a model and an inspiration to us all.
To honor this sense of adventure, on President’s Day 2009, a group of hearty geocachers set out from their comfortable homes in Chester County and set out on their own adventure in a remote section of Berks County. Our eight person group was a mixture of different geocaching skill levels and each member had their own reason for coming along this fateful Monday. For some, it was to relive the glorious adventures of the past, the epic EdScott-A-Thon of 2006. Others came with a cocky sense that Ed Scott caches were over hyped and overrated. And still others just want a leisurely walk in the woods. Our plan was simple, we would head up PA-82 until we could drive no further and park at the point where Mother Nature in the form of the Hay Creek, reclaimed the asphalt.
But the Hay Creek Watershed is a patient teacher and had a lesson in store for each member of this hearty band. Presidents Day, Monday February 16, 2009 will forever be etched in this groups collective memory as the Presidents Day Massacre. Half of this group were determined to make the “toughest short hike in Berks County” and the other half were just content to come within a quarter mile of the mythical Stately Tree cache. In every case, it was an epic experience.