Letter Re: Buried Cache Retrieval

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013

I recently found an old issue of American Survival Guide magazine (now defunct), with an article that described a cache that had been buried 20+ years earlier, and how well it had fared. Extremely well so the article went, but the land and landmarks had changed over that length of time and it almost wasn't recovered.

For long-term storage like that, remembering where you stashed your cache could be a concern. You might find that a fire has removed all of the trees, and erosion removed any other landmarks you may have used for a benchmark. Or the area has since been developed and you arrive to find a strip mall/parking lot right on top of your valuables.

There are many ways to cache your stash, and different ways to make “X” mark the spot. You just have to remember where that “X” is, and never, ever forget. During the Spring, Summer or Fall, you may only have to worry about heat, rain, insects, poison ivy, or other preppers looking for their stash. That is not the point of this article.

It's February up here in my part of the United States. And it's cold. Very cold.

Which brings up the reason for this article - Winter cache retrieval considerations.

The temperatures for the past couple of months in my area have averaged right around the freezing point. In late January we had to put down a beloved family pet, and we wanted to dig a nice, deep hole in the back yard and give her a proper burial. I went and got my dependable old shovel out of the shed, but it wouldn't even make a mark in the frozen ground. I went back to the shed and brought out my post hole digger. Same result. My grandfather's old pick/mattock worked some, but it seemed like it was going to take days with that old tool!

At this point I was wishing for a motorized ice auger, something that would break through the ice without it breaking in the process. I went back to the shed and brought out an ax and a hatchet. It took two of us in fair physical shape 3½ hours to dig a 3' x 2' x 3½' hole. Turns out that there was 8" of frozen topsoil that we had to painstakingly chip through.

Where have you buried your cache, and in what part of the country? If you're down South and it's a mild Winter, you might not have a problem getting your goodies out of the ground. In nearly all of the Northern states, unless you're having a very mild Winter, you are going to have a problem.

If it's a cold, hard Winter like most of us up here are having now, and you find yourself in an extreme, immediate-need situation to access your cache, will you be ready? Do you have an ax, a hatchet, or whatever tool that will work for you, in your “at the ready” supplies so you can chop out that frozen ground if need be?

Are you in good enough shape to break through and access your carefully-hidden supplies? Will you have enough time to dig that hole and retrieve your (name your life-saver) before the rotating-oscillator-contacted Schumer blows your direction? Do you have the right type of transportation, clothing, footwear, and most important, tools to go and get your stuff in a safe manner without risking health, limb or life?

Since only you know what supplies you have on hand, and what you've saved for that fast-approaching “rainy” day, I suggest you rethink what you are doing, have already accomplished, or what you're thinking of starting.

No one knows when the balloon will go up, the hammer will fall, or the Schumer starts flying your way, so make sure you have the right tools and other equipment to access your hidden treasures where, and especially what time of year the need should arise.

Hopefully this is enough information for you to re-evaluate any preparations you may have made. I hope I've left out enough information so you will start thinking about your own personal situation as it stands right now and any possible scenario you might have to overcome when Mother Nature and circumstances throw that curve ball at all your plans. Get ready while you still have time. - Steve in Iowa


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