Today we found our first FTF!!! In the geocaching world an FTF is a “First To Find” which as it suggests means that you are the first person to find the cache after it has been published. The pursuit of FTFs is a whole complete sub culture within the game and some people make it their goal to find as many as possible. Every hobby or sport or pastime has its fanatics or geeks and FTF hunting is where you will find some of the geocaching addicts. FTF Hounds will drop everything at a moment’s notice when a new cache is published. But how do you know when they are published? Within the website there is a mechanism to email you with an alert if a new cache in a predefined range from your home is published.
Full on proper FTF Hounds have been known to get up out of bed in the night, or skip out of work, or leave a half eaten dinner on the table in order to be in with a chance of being the first person to write in the log book. A “virgin” log book is the fix the FTF hunters crave.
So have we drifted into the dark side of FTF Hunting? Nah! I do have the alert configured to let me know of new caches and our attitude is that if one comes up and it is not too far and we are not doing anything else, we might as well give it a go. We have been in with a chance on a few new caches over the last couple of months but have never managed to get there first. Today all that changed!
The cache that got published today was a puzzle cache which as far as FTF Hunting goes are a little easier to claim as you have to solve the puzzle first and if you manage to do that quickly then you have an advantage over those that cannot solve it. The puzzle today was Who Is and is owned by the legendary drsolly who is one of the most accomplished cachers in the UK with over 30,000 finds. I believe he is currently running in 2nd place although was number 1 for a long time. I knew instantly how to solve the puzzle and within a minute I had the coordinates in hand. At this point the adrenalin starts to flow as the thought of possibly being first to claim it starts to sow its seed in your mind. As it turned out we had nothing special planned and were just about to head out to St. Albans to do some caching but it took us about 5 seconds to agree that we wanted to try for it even though it was in completely the other direction, over towards Amersham in Buckinghamshire
We quickly gathered our bits together and grab some coordinates for the sat nav in the car to get us there. All the way there in the car the excitement was building, but the nerves are there too. You have no idea if you are one of a hundred people or one of two that are currently doing the same as you. The cache could already have been found even though the online listing shows no log to that effect. It is possible that people find it but have to delaying logging it online for a while. In this case you could get there, locate it and then be disappointed to find someone else’s name already in the physical log in the cache.
Once we arrived we quickly set about trying to locate the cache. Into a small cluster of trees and we set about it. The trees were thick in places and the GPS signal was a little erratic and after 20 minutes we still had nothing in hand. Furtive glances back toward to the car by Sharlene every now and then confirmed that so far no one else had arrived but surely it was only a matter of time.
Finally as Shar and I had split about 20 metres apart searching the trees I heard her shouting to me. Yes! She had found it and not a moment too soon as only a short minute later than another cacher arrive, also looking for the cache and found us holding it and in the process of signing the wonderfully empty log book. I was surprised at how elated I was at actually being first and how I couldn’t wait to get back and post our log for all to see. Our first ever FTF. From time of publish at just after 9 o’clock it took us just over an hour and this is quite a long time in terms of FTFs apparently.
One thing I did notice though is that we were certainly excited and this did seem to affect our usual calm, collected and organized geocaching manner. On preparing to leave I couldn’t think straight as to whether we had everything. Sharlene had to go back because she forgot her coat. When there at GZ we barrelled into the bushes and in our haste I wasn’t paying attention enough and took a crack to the head from a branch. Then later Sharlene, for some unknown reason, just grabbed a bunch of nettles full on and obviously got stung big time. Maybe it was the anticipation of finding the cache first… maybe we were just having a dizzy day. lol
I don’t see us becoming FTF Hounds just yet but it is certainly an intoxicating feeling to be on the hunt and to be the first name on that log book.