Sunday, 27 September 2015

Diary of a Dead Man

I was coming up to my 400th find and wanted a cache that would be memorable. On numerous occasions, various cachers have told me about a night cache called Zombie (GC2A3MP) and they all say the same... it is a must do. I have to agree; the puzzle element is very well put together and is difficult without being unsolvable. The physical part, although in need of a little maintenance - up to 30 fire tacks? We came across about ten - was still an enjoyable adventure.

As this was a milestone cache for me, I wanted to be a little creative with the log which - unsurprisingly - was a little too long for the Geocaching website and so I have made it into a blog post. Enjoy ;D

"Legend has it that lurking in the woods in a place called Croxley, is a man guarding a terrible secret. At least, he used to be a man until others greed and hunger for profit and power forced him to make a tremendous sacrifice. Tales of geocachers going missing in search of this tortured, soulless being are whispered in country pubs all over the Home Counties at Geocaching events. It was at one such get-together that I first encountered utterings of the tale of Dr. Elgin and discovered the existence of his journal. My curiosity piqued; I took it upon myself to investigate this story further.

Progress was slow at first; there is such secrecy surrounding what happened five years ago at Croxley Biomedical Research Facilities that distinguishing fact from fiction was proving to be a challenge. One thing I knew for certain though was that Elgin's Journal held the key to everything; I just had to gain access to it.

For many nights, I worked on the diaries, unlocking it piece by piece. I had mixed feelings as the story unfolded in front of me ranging from anger to empathy and then to doubt. Harbinger's zealous pursuit for riches led all those connected to the project down a devastating path of destruction. Was I being arrogant too? Was my thirst for the truth leading me down an equally dangerous path?

It was late one night when I uncovered the final piece of the puzzle. This was of little comfort however as I sat in a dark room with nothing but the glow of the laptop for light. What started out as a mere need to satisfy my curiosity had become an obligation, a duty, to protect all that Dr. Elgin has sacrificed himself for. I'm just a geocacher though, with only 399 finds to my name, what were my chances of survival against the undead?

Going alone to find Elgin would have been suicide so at a recent geocaching event I recruited a few other cachers to join me on my mission. They needed some guidance with the journal which I was happy to provide. After all, it was essential that they read it so as to understand the gravity of the task at hand. Nobody could go into this blind; too many lives were at stake.

Today was the day. Today I would help keep humanity a little safer for a little longer. All the necessary preparations had been done, a rendezvous time was set, we would reach the coordinates stated in the journal just after sunset. I tried to carry on as normal during the day and not think about the horrors that awaited us this evening but it was futile. The prospect that I may end up as Elgin's next meal was unsettling to say the least. The relentless rain hammering on the windows that day intensified the inauspicious feelings growing in my gut.

The rain had stopped by the time we got to Croxley. Whether or not this would turn out to be a good omen or not was yet to be seen. The woods were dark and unwelcoming; the mud thick beneath our feet. The fingers of tree branches dripped water like blood that spattered on our heads and for a moment I questioned the sanity of what we were about to do. Then I remembered that the future of mankind was at stake, secrecy about the project must remain intact. We were here to ensure that nobody had discovered Elgin or any of his work, just as other geocachers had done before us and many would do after us.

Negotiating our way through the woods proved to be problematic because there was no clear path for us to follow as promised. According to the stories, there should have been a "breadcrumb" trail left by Elgin to show the way but it appears that time has devoured them. Fearing that we were going round in circles, we retraced our steps to where we started. I called a friend, codename Smokeypugs, as I knew that they had undertaken this task before. Though his words were cryptic, his message was clear, we had to persevere in our search for Elgin, we were close, so very close. With a feeling of foreboding, we continued on our quest, still unsure about what we would find so deep in to the woods. And then we got separated.

The journey home was pensive, each of us lost in our own thoughts. I know now that nothing could have prepared us for what we saw that night. The smell, the sound, the sight of a man that once was. It will haunt my nightmares forever more. My encounter with Dr. Elgin invokes feelings of empathy as well as disgust and horror. It is imperative that the world does not learn of his whereabouts; if the virus ever got out it would mean the end of the world as we know it.

I am getting a little concerned now as Nigel's health doesn't seem to be improving…"

Monday, 18 May 2015

One Year Already?

One year ago today, I found my very first geocache called Woodland Walk and so started the slippery slope towards - a healthy(?) - addiction! I am still far from being an expert cacher, however I no longer consider myself a newby. So, here are my top five highlights from the past year...

Geoblogging Fun

I started this blog and I was featured in GAGB's online Seeker magazine. This is a big deal for me as I am in no way a literary genius; that's Nigel's talent, just take a look at the log he wrote for this cache! People do read this blog though and I receive some wonderful comments about it for which I am hugely grateful for.

A Respectable Record

I have found 355 caches so far; not a huge number but not too shabby either. It's not all about the numbers for Nigel and I though, we have as much fun going out for a day to find one or two caches than we do on a day where we find twenty or so. Ultimately, we have found a way to get outside, find new interesting places and spend more time together. I do like to look at my stats though so here are a few of my favourites:

Eventful Events

As well as numerous local events - mainly BBH (Beds, Bucks & Herts Geocachers) events - Nige and I attended our first Mega event, The Halloween Mega 2014. You can read about the fun we had at this event in one of my previous posts, Mega Mud, Mega Monsters and a Mega Event. We also attended a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) event with a bit of a difference called Cache In, Tree In - Escapade 2014/15. We joined many cachers, as well as locals, in planting some trees in the Forest of Marston Vale. I'm not talking a few trees here and there; a few hundred trees were planted altogether. When we were done that day, it struck me that I would probably not live long enough to see all these trees develop into a thriving forest. It truly was a humbling moment.

Becoming a Cache Owner

When I first started caching, I never realised how frustrating/disappointing/unhelpful those four simple letters can be until I became a CO. I always make the time and effort to write interesting logs for my finds now. This past year, I have hidden four caches now; two traditionals, one mystery and one multi cache. Oh yes, I also hosted my first event on Pi Day this year which seemed to be a success (although, I think the lure of a souvenir helped with that). It was well attended and it was much easier to organise than I thought it would be.

My aim going forward is to own different types of hides; I am currently working on a Letterbox Hybrid and am hoping to submit it for publishing soon.

New Friends

This time last year, I never imagined that I would meet so many new people, let alone actually make some new friends! This would never have happened if it were not for the Facebook group called Beds, Bucks & Herts Geocachers. They are such a friendly bunch; a little cake obsessed... but I love cake!

My first year of geocaching was memorable in many ways and I hope to make many new memories over the years to come. Until next time...

Sunday, 22 March 2015

FTF: Fudged That Find!

When a new cache gets published on, I don't go rushing out to find it. If you have premium membership to, you can set it so you receive email notifications when a new cache is published. I have set it up for a radius of only 5 miles from my home location. Even so, I don't tend to go out to claim FTF (First to Find) unless the cache is less than half a mile from my current location... I'm just not that motivated to make the effort. I have been caching for nearly a year now and my FTF count is a grand total of two caches; one found by chance and the other found practically on my doorstep!

Having said that, I do sometimes like to run a search on Project GC - a nifty little site that can perform all sorts of wonderful geocaching tasks for you including profile stats and challenge checkers amongst others - for unfound caches. This last week, I found one such cache that was published on March 10th and had yet to be found. It is a Mystery (aka Puzzle) cache called In the Footsteps of Sgt Palmer by cachers bill&ben. As I perused the cache page, I felt I had a good chance of getting FTF on this one even though it was 20 miles away from home so started work on solving over the coming week.

I failed to get FTF, I was so very close but was beaten to it at the last minute. For a brief moment, I was a little gutted when I got the notification that someone else had found it... who wouldn't be? The epic adventure I had finding this cache totally made up for it though.

The log that I wanted to post for this cache was too long so have decided to post it here instead and is as follows:

Mission debrief by Agent K

Access to PGC is possible again after Pi Day fiasco. Have performed a search for incomplete missions. Will start work on following Sgt Palmer's footsteps soon. No other agents have found it yet and it's been out for a while, so haste is needed.

It took a lot of patience but after identifying the cypher in the video, I painstakingly wrote it down and decrypted it. Now awaiting confirmation that I have the correct coords. Still, no other agents have completed this mission. Am monitoring the situation carefully.

Morning - Received email confirming I have coordinates correct. Today is the day. A quick check of my field kit and I can set off.

Midday - Arrived in WGC, I am unfamiliar with the area however my GPSr has adequate maps and the mobile network coverage is good enough that I didn't need to find a wifi hotspot. It's a bright sunny day, wishing I had left my big coat in the car now as I am starting to get hot. The coords have led me to a beautiful area of WGC but there are civilians everywhere out enjoying the warm weather. Fortunately, there's nobody at the coords so I make contact with Commander Ross and await further instruction.

Early afternoon - I have arrived at the next location but had an encounter with a man in a wheelchair on the way here that delayed me slightly. At first I thought it may have been an enemy agent when he stopped me in the street, however he just wanted to tell me how beautiful I was and that my smile had made his day. After a few minutes, he let me on my way and I continued on to gather the information needed to find the next location.

Mid afternoon - I'm feeling pretty hopeless now. I may not complete my FTF mission. I went wrong with the numbers; the location I derived from them was clearly incorrect, they took me to a stable yard. I have returned to the bus station and am sitting on a bench awaiting back up. I sent a message to HQ on my way back here to double-check my numbers; the reply confirmed my suspicions... I only had two correct numbers.

Late afternoon - Agent N has arrived which has given me renewed optimism. We make a great team so hopefully we can solve this. We are going to visit a couple of nearby locations to go over the numbers and will then go for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant where we can reassess the information.

Evening - By the time dinner had finished we had some likely coords put together. We messaged HQ for confirmation however, time was of the essence so we headed out without it. We had yet to receive a reply when we got to the coords, although as we scouted the area, it soon became clear that this was not the correct place either. Have decided to head home and try again tomorrow.


Morning - No notification yet that any agents have intercepted the cache. I have received a message from HQ confirming all but two of our numbers are correct. More frustrating however, is that I have to go to my day job today. It is important to maintain my cover. I will rendezvous with Agent N at 18:00hrs when we will head back out to WGC. Agent N has worked on the numbers today, we are feeling confident.

Evening - Rendezvous aborted for now. I received notification half an hour before I finished work that the cache had been located by other agents. Fortunately they are friendlies so the cache is still safe. They have left a TB to be moved on. Our mission is still active though but there is less urgency now.


Morning - We were feeling "Chirpy" this morning. The coords that Agent N had derived yesterday looked good on the satellite images so we headed out to search for our next instructions. It was another beautiful day with the sun shining and few clouds in the sky. We found parking near the coords and also found many civilians in the area, these were mainly dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Stealth would definitely be needed if we weren't to compromise the cache location. The GPSr picked up the info needed for the final location; a surge of excitement and relief went through me. When we got to GZ, we had to wait for a few dog walkers and a jogger to pass before we started our search. Coast clear, we soon found the location of the cache. We took it away from GZ to open as more civilians were coming into sight; could not risk this falling into enemy hands. We left our mark and took the TB left by Ed2Ed.

This was most definitely a challenging mission and is not one to be undertaken lightly. It requires patience, tenacity and stealth. Enemies may lurk at every corner. Thank you bill&ben at HQ for your assistance whilst I was in the field, it was greatly appreciated. I will mark this cache with a FP and urge all friendly agents to accept this mission if they can.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

THIS IS SPARTA! My 300th Find!

Two caches is what I needed to find today to reach my milestone 300 finds. Two. That's easy. At least, that's what I thought when I woke up that morning lunchtime.

Today we were headed to Aston Clinton to find a simple traditional cache that would take me to 299 finds and a Wherigo called Rothschild Footprint that would be my 300th find.

Having been to a house party the night before meant Nige and I didn't set out until gone lunchtime. Parking at the suggested spot for the Wherigo, we headed off for a nearby traditional cache before starting my milestone cache. We decided to take the long way round as it was such a nice day - if a lot cold - and walked along the river rather than the roads. As we walked along the footpath, admiring the houses and their gardens that backed onto the picturesque little river, it started to dawn on me that having a cup of tea before heading out was not a clever idea. Tea goes straight through me.

The first cache of the day was Alley-way treasure; a seemingly straightforward traditional located in - you guessed it - an alleyway. We got to the alleyway and followed the GPSr to where GZ should be. It took us about halfway through the alley. Looking around this spot, there was no possible place to hide a cache. We figured that the coords must be out so looked at previous logs for a clue. They were all saying what we thought, that the cache was anything up to 70ft away for some people.

I took a look at the hint. It was quite cryptic. I have a talent for cryptic crosswords though so figured out the meaning of that easily. We started our search but felt a little awkward as it was right next to someone's home; in fact, I was framed by their window at one point as I looked around.

We looked all over and still couldn't find the cache. I needed this find though so tried one last thing; I put a message out on the BBH group saying 'I was at GZ, couldn't find the cache, had anyone in the group found it before?' Thankfully, Smokeypugs came to our rescue. Unfortunately, they only confirmed what we already suspected. We had the right location and were looking in the right spot; the cache just wasn't there. With no other caches for this area loaded on my GPSr - yes, I've learnt my lesson, be prepared - I had to resort to my phone. A quick search on c:geo and some suggestions from Smokeypugs, we were soon on our way to one of the Aylesbury Ring caches.

AR11 Mandarin - Stablebridge Road is one of many caches that make up the Aylesbury Ring series. A circuit that is split into seven sections; each one named after a species of duck. I was a bit reluctant to go for this one as I really want to do this series and would have preferred to do each section all together. However, time was getting away from us, we still had the Wherigo to do and this was the nearest cache to us.

We found our way to GZ easily and before we could get to searching, we had to wait for a few muggles to pass. After a glance up and down the way to make sure the coast was clear, we got stuck in. Searching all the obvious spots revealed nothing but then I spotted something a bit odd. I took a closer look but it still appeared to be a dead end. I thought I would have a fiddle anyway and to my delight, the log book was revealed.

Whilst I was disappointed that we DNFd the last cache resulting in us doing this one, I was pleased that we got to find this one. It has given us a taster of the rest of the series and I am itching to tackle it now (hopefully when the days get longer).

We had lost a lot of time on the previous two caches so it was late afternoon by the time we reached the starting point of Rothschild Footprint. Having successfully completed a Wherigo before at the Halloween Mega, I thought that this would be easy. Quite clearly, one done does not make one an expert!

I sometimes like to sing when I am out caching, on the walk between hides. This time however, as we made our way to the start of my 300th cache, I had the sudden urge to shout "This is Sparta!" much to Nige's chagrin.

I opened the Wherigo app on my phone and started the cartridge for this cache. I started moving about, trying to find the spot where the next stage would pop up but couldn't get it to work. Nige thought it may be my (not so) smart phone so suggested using his Mensa grade Galaxy Note complete with bells and whistles and super duper 4G. That didn't work either. It was getting colder and darker as we walked around in circles. As my mind started wandering to a place where there were luxury toilets with heated seats, I started idly pressing things on my phone only to find the next stage pop up! Hooray!

Finally, we headed off to find each stage of this Wherigo. As the time was getting on, Nige wanted to pick up the pace a bit. I have short legs though that look like Droopy Dog's when I try to walk fast, plus I wanted to read the bits of history that were coming up on my phone as we passed through each stage. By some miracle - read Nige keeping an eye on me and getting frustrated with me - I managed to walk and read at the same time without meandering into the road.

A couple of the stages required us to collect a couple of dates as we went along. We had to use a little ingenuity for one of these as it was so dark we couldn't make it out. We used a bit of paper and a pencil to take a rubbing, which worked really well. It wasn't until we neared the end of the Wherigo that I remembered reading on the cache page that we didn't need those numbers any more to find the cache.

After visiting various cool places around Aston Clinton, we found ourselves walking (in the dark) through a park and a field. I couldn't quite keep up with Nige and managed to lose sight of him for a few moments when, looking up from the phone, my glasses steamed up. I called out that I couldn't see and ran blindly towards his voice as he replied "Keep up you donut!"

We eventually arrived at GZ and found the final location. I am not going to say anything more, so as not to spoil it for future finders. All I will say is that even though I don't like spiders, I went there and I did it!

This was an awesome cache to find for number 300. I loved the Wherigo - once we figured out how to work it - and I loved the final location. I urge everyone to give this one a go... or any Wherigo for that matter. Thank you to happy hunter hp20 for adopting this awesome cache and keeping it from being archived.