For our PugWash adventure this month we decided to do something a little different. It being December and not especially conducive to long caching days in the cold, wet and mud we decided to meet up with Smokeypugs just to do a couple of caches and then head back to their house for a pre-Christmas nibbles and board game affair.
And so on Sunday morning we left home and drove to St Albans where the plan was to find a new field puzzle cache by a CO friend of ours and also go in search of bones9 M10 view (GCTWF6) that was nearby but hadn’t been found for over a year, therefore being ripe for a possible resuscitation. The minute we got in the car and started to drive, the heavens open and the rain started. This didn’t bode well. But within a few minutes and the further we got from Watford the rain eased off and the sun even tried to make an appearance. When we arrived at the agreed parking spot, Geoff was already there with Smokey at his side raring to go. Mel was at home preparing the lunch and awaiting our return. As we all got out of the car the rain started again and Sharlene decided that she might just stay in the car if that was ok. No problem, a lads outing it was to be then. We set out across the open field towards our possible resuscitation and the spotting rain turned into a full on downpour. On top of that we were walking into the wind as well and Sam and I were soon soaked to the skin, at least our trousers were at any rate. Sharing a pair of gloves on the hands that we clasped so that he could guide me we set a quick a pace as we could muttering to ourselves that we must be mad. After about a 20 minute walk across muddy fields we made it to a small clump of trees where the cache was supposed to be. The rain had eased off and it was good to be out of the wind. We assessed the damage but apart from wet trouser legs both Sam and I were ok… a bit cold but warming up now that the wind was outside the trees and we were inside.
Unfortunately, the walk proved a waste of time as despite searching an area of woodland of about 40 metres square, we couldn’t find the cache anywhere. In the end we gave up and declared that it was either missing or nowhere near any of the alternative coordinates that we had been given by previous finders. We decided to head back through the mud to the field puzzle, The Iron Chicken’s Other Secret (GC5GC11), that had brought us to this area in the first place. We had walked past it on the way to the woods but decided to leave it for the way back which was a good idea as at least it wasn’t raining on our return journey.
To set the scene, if you can imagine a massive open field with one tree in the middle of it surrounded by a clump of undergrowth, that is where we were heading and that is where we found the cache. But that was only the beginning of the story because then we had to solve the field puzzle to open the container. This looked like a relatively simple affair. It consisted of a metal ring, oval in shape a bit like a big safety pin that was threaded through a metal spiral. There were a couple of circular metal rings that were on the spiral as well and these seemed to block the safety pin ring from being removed. The trick was to somehow get the safety pin ring off the spiral and this would allow you to open the container. Geoff gave it a go first, then Sam had a go, then I even had a bash at it. Then back to Geoff, then Sam, then me, then… well you get the idea.
With the wind whipping across the open fields around us there was nowhere to shelter from it. We stood becoming gradually colder and ever more frustrated passing the container from one to another. Smokey the pug dog probably had just as much chance as we did of opening it but he wasn’t interested. A few text messages to the CO, mjcross, but still we couldn’t figure it out and so, with the patience of an angel Martin, the CO, left the warmth of his house which was a 15 minute jog, in wellies, away and joined us at the GZ whereupon Smokey greeted him excitedly and put his muddy paws all over his trousers. Martin arrived, took the cache from Geoff, told him to watch and proceeded to open the cache in a couple of simple movements of the hand. We were all delighted to see him, and ecstatic to be able to sign the log but nevertheless exasperated at how ridiculously simple it should have been to open the cache. Geoff promptly sealed it back up again and proceeded to unlock it again for himself to prove a point. Thankfully he was able to do this and after signing the log, finally, cold and still a little damp we walked with Martin back to the road where our cars were parked.
My hat would go off to Martin except it was too cold to take it off, but metaphorically I do indeed doff my cap for a fantastic field puzzle that was a nice easy find but a thoroughly impossible nut to crack, until you had figured out the knack. I hope I never come across one of those again, particularly as I wasn’t paying close enough attention when he opened it and I had decided not to “have another go” in favour of getting back to the car and ultimately back to Geoff and Melissa’s for nibbles and board games.
We arrived back at the car muddy but laughing and joking and bid farewell to Martin before heading off to Hemel where we spent a fantastic couple of hours playing a board game called Talisman which I can thoroughly recommend, and stuffing my face with sausage rolls, wedges, pork pies and, of course, cake, this time a wonderfully rich chocolate fudge cake crafted by Shar. All washed down with a couple of beers.
Despite only having earned the right to log one smiley it was a truly enjoyable and interesting day, as indeed all of our PugWash adventures tend to be. Happy days.
This geocaching adventure took place on Sunday 7th December 2014 and took our geocache count to 864.