Pearls of Wisdom
I was spending new years day with my family about 15 miles away. We had a lovely roast for lunch and we were all watching Indiana Jones (Picking out the blunders they made in the film!) and contemplating some cheese and crackers for tea when my at 6pm inbox was filled with new cache publications. I am notified for any caches within a 20 mile radius, so didn’t expect much, however there was a trail of 12 caches, Pearls of Wisdom, that looked close by. It turns out that they were very close by and just a couple of miles down the road. The plan was to get them at first light the following day. There was also a nearby puzzle, Cosmic, published and after I had solved it within a few minutes I started to think that someone may be crazy enough to beat us to the FTF’s and the plan changed to finding the caches that evening. 13 FTFs… The chance just couldn’t be missed! My mum wasn’t too pleased with me shooting off from the day with the family, but remarked “it’s ok, we know you’re obsessed!” (Obsessed? Me? )
We gathered together 4 torches, gardening gloves, a TB for swapping, changed the batteries in the GPS, printed a quick OS map, grabbed a pen, loaded a new pocket query and rushed off to the parking coordinates. We’ve never done a night cache, and we’d never done any night caching, apart from the times when we’d be out on a trail when darkness approached. We never really had much luck with caching at night on those occasions, so thought we’d have a real struggle.
As we walked along the track to the first cache the area started to look familiar. The footpath signs also looked familiar. It was an area where we had visited in the summer where we had planned to lay a trail of our own (not the same exact loop, but part of it), however never got around to it! Nevermind, there are plenty of footpaths still needing some caches! 😉 We cautiously approached the cache, my heart was beating slightly faster than normal. Would we find it? Would the logbook be blank or has someone beat us to it? The first cache was a micro. We popped the lid, pulled out the bag, unraveled the logbook and looked all over it. FIRST TO FIND! YES! We were off to a good start… The second cache was a little harder to find, but we managed it after a minute or two. The hint for the third cache was “Under the obvious” now, I imagine it would have been very obvious in the daylight, however in the dark it took a good 5 minutes to locate. Just as we were thinking we may have to give up!
The footpaths on this trail were superb. Of all of the trails we’d walked in the past couple of months we hadn’t encountered such good footpaths. Next we had to sneak past a house. There were lights on and I could see heads near the window. Eek! We devised a story that if anyone saw us we would say that we had walked the trail during the day and lost something, so came back for it. Nobody came after us though and we made another find.
We carried on around the field and as we did one of our torches packed up. We switched to another, but that immediately died. Luckily our phones also have a torch function on, so that was switched on to light the way. At this point we still had 3 torches lighting the way. Micros hidden in ivy aren’t fun at the best of times, however in the dark it was twice as bad. I couldn’t believe our luck when after a few minutes we actually found it…
We continued around the trail, finding all of the caches and marking our name, however #9 was also a church micro. G-G-G-G-Graveyard? In the dark? Yikes! I’m a complete chicken and have always vowed never to enter graveyards at night. Well, when you’re after an FTF those things don’t matter anymore, right? We hurried through and made another quick find. We passed over a stream and onto the next, however our hearts sunk when we saw a light in the trees. As we got closer it was clear that the torch light was at GZ. We approached quietly. It was another Geocacher, JF20938. I’d bumped to him before back in May when I had been out for an FTF on my own. We said Hi and had a quick chat, however it was him who came up trumps with the cache. He had seen our log in cache #1 so changed tactics and did the rest backwards. A good idea, I would have done the same! I read his logs the following morning and had to giggle at his entry on this cache, “I looked up to see two alien figures hovering towards me through the trees – surely no human possesses that many LEDs!” Yes, we did have a lot of lights! Ha Ha!
We carried on to the last two caches. We had got 9 FTF’s so that wasn’t bad. Good job we had changed our plans and came out in the evening rather than waiting until the morning otherwise we would have had 0 FTF’s! We found our final cache, a bison tube and then headed back to the car.
After the trail it was on to the puzzle. I had solved it after about 10 minutes, and was about 80% sure of my coordinates. I knew I had the right idea of the puzzle, but there was always the chance that in my haste I had miscalculated some of the numbers. It was quite a long walk to the cache, and the footpaths were extremely muddy. Nothing like the great paths on the trail that we’d experienced earlier. We got to a large cluster of trees and the GPS said 70ft somewhere in them. After venturing in the GPS said 51ft, and totally refused to budge from there. There were hundreds of likely candidates for GZ, and in the dark the hundred candidates turned into thousands! We searched for 5 minutes. Nothing. We returned to the opening where the signal was better and tried pacing out 50ft. 5 minutes of searching and there was again nothing. I was beginning to think that I had indeed wrongly calculated the coordinates. I turned back towards the opening and got lucky and spotted a very likely candidate, followed by some camo. IT WAS THE CACHE! I looked down at the GPSr and it said 4ft!!! What a fine time to decide to work! We signed the logbook to claim another FTF and quickly took a photo. We thought we saw lights in the distance and we heard some voices. We hurried. It was spooky. We popped the cache back and continued back to the car. There were no lights apart from house lights and the voices must have been very far away. It was just the dark playing tricks on us!
We ended the night with 10 FTF’s, the most we have ever got in one day. Not a bad start to the new year!