On Melvin’s Mud & Sticky Chiggers Geocaching

On Sunday August 12th I competed against the mightiest Geocache of Middlesex County: Melvin’s Multiple Madness. It breaks down to a 7 stage multi-part through the title marsh of Cheesequake State Park. One branch of the Cheesequake Creek – Melvin’s Creek – is the focus & locus of the hunt. You can’t park within a mile of the first stage so your first challenge is just getting there. The best looking route by satellite images takes you through a NJ Superfund Site. Once you make it to the actual marsh you have to cross the Melvin twice and the mud/silt is deep & unusually viscous. What sinks into Melvin’s Mud stays in Melvin’s Mud. I sank up to mid thigh on the first crossing and even deeper on the return trip. I was fortunately strong enough to pull my legs out but, alas, I was stronger than my boots. The mud ripped them in half. Litterally. It took the sole right off of the leather upper and wouldn’t give it back. Henceforth I shall call it:

Melvin’s Creek – the eater of Soles.

Walking across a reeded tidal marsh full of mollusk shells and Superfund runoff in stocking feet was an adventure to be certain. You can read the full account of my adventure (and see the photos) by clicking here.

While not slogging through the marshes I’ve been busy hiding the Speedway Cache. It’s not published yet as this writing because I’ve been slowed down by work, rain & CHIGGERS! Otherwise known as the Harvest Mite, Chiggers are small (I mean small, dude!) mite/spider/ticks that cluster at the tops of tall grass or low branches and hop on as you go past. Its not uncommon to have dozens and dozens fall upon you at once. If they make contact with skin, like a tick, they’ll seek out a safe place to eat. Then, like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly”, they squirt digestive enzyme and slurp up the liquefied you. Obviously the body doesn’t take kindly to this kind of treatment and responds with itchy painful red welts. Anyway, Nicol park, like most of New Jersey, is susceptible to chigger breeding and on my last visit I must have walked through a few hives because my right leg was covered with’m.

Not just a few dozen though.

There were HUNDREDS!

And they were HUNGRY!

And they don’t brush off!

And they don’t squish!

And they were making their way up and down my pant leg looking for MEAT!

And I, having popped out for some lunch time woods walking/coordinate verifying, was wearing my work clothing that I couldn’t shed without losing my job (and possibly freedom). What was I to do? First things first: Get the pants off! Done. Hide pants in trunk! Done. Get back in car before traffic on Rt. 34 notices me! Done. Drive back home, bathe in DEET-ful “Deep Woods” Off, Shower off anything I just killed, put on new clothing and drive back to work 30 minutes over my lunch break. Final step: work late to make up time. Oh, and itch all day for the thought of hundreds of mighty mites drinking my skin. One chigger is a nasty thought but two gross? Too gross.

Four days later the pants & shirts I was wearing that day are out on my back porch. I’m waiting for their short lifespan to pass before I go back out there. In the mean time I’ll scratch at my dozen or so potential chigger chomps and be glad that I noticed them before I got back in the car. *shudder* Mental note: Duct Tape or Lint Roller = essential late summer/early autumn caching gear!

Dang, now I itch again. Scratch these:
Melvin’s Multiple Madness
The Harvest Mite (Chigger)
Two Gross

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