In which we celebrate 15 years since the birth of geocaching by staying in and watching the telly. Nah, just kidding. We went caching.
On May 2nd 2000 the United States government flicked a switch and the GPS satellite network, which had been restricted to military use only, was made available for anyone to use to pinpoint their position on the planet. The next day a man called Dave Ulmer hid a bucket of goodies in Orgon and posted the coordinates, N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800, on an internet newsgroup and the hobby of geocaching was born. To celebrate the 15th birthday, Groundspeak were offering a special souvenir to anyone who could find a cache on May 2nd or May 3rd. As well as the souvenir, it was promised that unlocking the graphic would reveal what their annual summer challenge would be this year. Not that we need an extra incentive to go caching, but this seemed like a good day to head back to Chesham and find some more caches in the Chiltern Hundred. You can use the following link to read all about our previous Chiltern Hundred Adventures.
Our plan was to try and complete the first ring. The Chesham ring has 49 caches in it and we only had 6 left to get in order to finish it. One of those is number 37 which we had to log a DNF on last outing but the others would be new to us. Studying the map I then plotted us a route back to the car that would take us past some caches on one of the other loops, the Chartridge ring. I am starting to feel as if Chesham is a sort of second home, now that we have visited so many times over the last few months. Even Sam is starting to recognize some of the landmarks as we drive into the area. This time he remembered the pub that Shar had incorrectly parked at in on our last adventure. She just loved being reminded of that one.
Sometimes your planned circular walk isn’t quite evenly distributed with caches, some parts of the walk have clusters of hides and other parts have none at all, that is just the way it is when you are making up your own caching trails. I have long since learned that if there is a particularly long section without caches then it is best to start with this bit first. The last thing you want to be doing after you find your last cache is to then have to walk a long way back to the car. That is to say that I have learnt that in order to keep Shar and Sam in good moods that is the best thing to do. Whilst bodies are fresh and resolve is strong I hit them with the worst of the walk and then it can only get better from then on it. So that is exactly what we did.
After parking the car we then had a walk of just over a kilometre to get to our first cache. I knew however that this meant that when we finished our last cache of the day we would be less than 50 metres away from the spot where we parked. It has to be said that we probably couldn’t afford to live in this part of Chesham, judging by some of the houses that we copped an eye of as we set off on a gentle downward slope, although lack of consistent 3G signal means I could never live there anyway so it is purely academic.
CH039 – To Rose Acre (GC1EHEC) is one of the more urban caches that we have encountered on the Chiltern hundred so far. 95% of the hides are along footpaths and in woods, but sometimes, I guess, suburbia just gets in the way. To be fair it was still hidden in a tree so that is sort of rural, but the tree was right at the side of a 4 way junction. Thankfully it was a quick find and Sam was determined to grab it, even if he had to stretch right up on tip toes to claim it. As always with our Chiltern Hundred caching, we got down to the signing and maintenance shuffle, placing a fresh log sheet and laminated bonus code card into the container before securing it back safely in its hiding place.
The route to our next cache took us off the road and onto a narrow footpath that led between houses. It started off at quite a gentle slope downwards but soon it became very steep indeed and we were glad that the ground under foot was dry and firm. travelling up or down that footpath in wet and muddy weather must be treacherous. Sam eventually found CH040 – Pednor road view (GC1EHEF) after a short search, the hint confusing us all as it said it was at the height of my pipik. I confess I had to google what my pipik is. Even after we did know, it still took a while to find the well hidden cache. Do you know where your Pipik is?
After this the footpath broke out from between the houses and continued downward, albeit not so sharply into a vale. To our right the views were pretty impressive overlooking a farm and the countryside beyond. Both CH041 – Pednor Mead farm view (GC1EHEN) and CH042 – Rose Acre view (GC1EHEX) were both found in the tree line to the left of us as we made our way down, enjoying the good views and decent weather.
We found a lovely spot to have some lunch near the GZ of CH043 – single tree (GC1EHF2), however it was barely just gone 11 o’clock and a little early so we resolved to wait a while. The tree where we found the cache was a gloriously massive lone tree that was protected all around its base by undergrowth. The trunk was a veritable treasure trove of places to hide a geocache. I could have hidden 10 caches in that tree just as easily as the one we found. For us this cache marked the completion of the Chesham ring of the Chiltern Hundred. We have visited all 49 of the caches on this section now and just have niggling number 37 to revisit, which we planned to do later this day.
Arriving in the bottom of the vale we turned right onto a lane for a short walk where we could link up with a part of the Chartridge ring which would allow us to cache back to the car. The Chartridge ring starts at number 83 in the series but not wanting to do anything the conventional way we picked up at CH099 – Pednor Road (GC1EWC0), which we found without much problem after a pleasant, and flat 800 metres walk along the lane. We had a much harder time at CH100 – Great Friar’s Hill (GC1EWCB) which was a bit further along the lane though. Using the hint we located a couple of very likely hiding spots, one on either side of the road. But despite 15 minutes of searching, the cache was nowhere to be found. Being convinced that we were looking in the place indicated by the hint, in the end we elected to put out a replacement container. Reading lots of logs we realised that the original container had been replaced a couple of years ago and it just so happened that I had a container that matched the replacement one that had now gone missing. We are generally very reluctant to put out replacement caches and we tend not to do it at all when we are out caching normally, but as we have undertaken to maintain the Chiltern Hundred caches, with the CO’s blessing, as we find them, we are keen to make sure that, if at all possible, every single one of them is available to find for future cachers.
The lane turned out to be quite busy, although not with cars, but instead all manner of other recreational road users. We saw walkers, joggers, horsey muggles and loads and loads of cyclists. There is nothing more surprising than to emerge from a bush at the sider of the road to find a family of bi-wheeled muggles whizz past you with various choruses of “morning” or “thank you”. They should fit bikes with sound generators so that I know when they are coming. Despite all this traffic, we made a quick find at CH101 – Wych Elm Farm view (GC1EWCK), actually Shar found it as Sam and I had past it blissfully unaware that we had gone too far.
Still further along the lane, we had real problems at CH102 – Wych Elm Farm (GC1EWCT). To the right of the road was a short line of trees covering a small bank. From the hint and the logs we knew that the cache was somewhere in those trees. We broke through up the bank so that we were behind the trees and searched every nook and cranny for about 20 minutes before finally we admitted defeat. Unlike ch100, where we were convinced we had found the hide, here we just weren’t sure that we hadn’t just looked in the right place yet. There was a lot of branches to search and after Shar stepped in some poo left by an unknown beast, we all started searching a little less vigorously. This one has gone on our list of caches to return to for another go some time.
From a frustrating DNF to a staggeringly easy find at CH103 – Westdean Lane view (GC1EWD0). This one was nestling in the branches of a tree at the road side and was extremely visible, although not to me – I did not regain my sight whilst on the road to Chartridge. Shar and Sam spotted it way before we had fully arrived at GZ. I am amazed that it remains unmuggled, but it seems to evade detection somehow.
A little further along the lane we turned right and started the climb up the hill towards the place we had left the car. After descending into the vale and then walking along the bottom of it for the last 5 caches, there was no avoiding the inevitable. A couple of horsey muggles trotted past us, one of the riders apologising for just “sitting there nattering to her friend” while we struggled on foot. I thought about this but then thought that at least I didn’t have to clean up horse poo when I got home… well most of the time I don’t. Shar spotted CH104 – Westdean Lane (GC1EWD3) nestling up in a tree but thankfully it was reachable from the ground. Sam spotted a couple of loose golf balls lying near the container but both were damaged which he was a bit disappointed about. He needn’t have worried though as on our walk up to the car we must have spotted about 20 balls in the bushes and lining the road, we were walking alongside a golf course and it appeared the members were lacking a little ball control.
Finally at the top of the hill, and just a stone’s throw from the car we were at our last GZ of the day, CH050 – Westdean Lane (GC1ER4K), which is technically on neither the Chartridge or Chesham rings but instead on the Asheridge ring. It turned out to be a very clever hide indeed. A quick search found nothing much at first except a tall sign post that was hinted at in the description. There was nowhere on the sign that a cache the size of a coke can could be hidden and so we were scratching our heads when Shar suggested that perhaps the cache was inside the pole. I reached up but was disappointed to find that the post was capped with a hardened plastic top. On a whim I tried to remove it and found to my shock that it came off with ease and low and behold the cache was wedged in the lid. It was a perfect fit for the large bore of the post and a most excellent and muggle proof cache. It was a good way to end our caching for the day and due to my brilliant planning we were now only a few metres from the waiting car. Due to my less than perfect planning we hadn’t found anywhere to stop to have lunch so we sat and ate it in the car instead.
After eating we returned to ch037 to give it another go and see if the intelligence we had acquired about being on the correct side of the barb wire fence would help us. Alas it did not, we had been on the right side of the fence the first time and it was horribly apparent that going away and coming back with fresh eyes had done no good at all. We are tending towards this being a replacement but still I was not sure so we have put the cache on watch which means we will get emails if there is any activity over the coming weeks. If anyone finds it, we can contact them to try and get a nudge in the right direction.
All in all it was a lovely days caching in the beautiful countryside of Buckinghamshire and we did more than enough to earn our 15 year souvenir.
As for the big reveal about what Groundspeak has in store for us over the summer, well it went live on the official blog the day before anyway so it is probably fairly common knowledge by now. Over the summer there will be five challenges to find a cache with over 10 favourite points, a D5 or T5 cache, a mystery cache, an event, mega or giga and either and EarthCache or CITO. Achieving all 5 challenges will earn you a sixth souvenir as well. If you want the full info you can check out the Geocaching 2015 Road Trip announcement on the geocaching blog. It looks pretty achievable and could be fun collecting 6 new souvenirs over the summer. Happy Days.
This geocaching adventure took place on 2nd May 2015 and took our geocache total to 1039.