Chiltern Hundred Leg 8 – Fathers Day

On Sunday it was father’s day and that meant it was my choice as to what we did and no one was allowed to complain or whinge. I expect you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that I wanted to go geocaching. Being so close to completing the Chiltern Hundred (see my previous Chiltern Hundred blog articles), I was keen to get out there and take another bite out of the 109 caches.

We parked up near number 50, a place we have used as a starting point before, but this time we commenced with the very last cache in the series, not including the bonus. CH109 – Towards The Bell (GC1EwE4) was just a short walk from our parking spot but it appeared that the no whinging rule had been forgotten as Sam couldn’t seem to walk 5 paces without complaining and having to take his boot off to remove the razor blade / broken glass / needle from inside. Eventually we did make it to GZ, but failed entirely to find the cache. To be fair this wasn’t completely unexpected. From my research this one had most likely gone walkies and seeing as we were continuing our maintenance of the series for drsolly, we put out a new lock n’ lock as per his hint and signed the log. The one good thing about doing the maintenance is that if the cache is missing, we get to put a replacement out and be the first to find it.

Sam poses holding his trackable stick in a field. His hood is up despite it being june.

Hobbit or moody pre-teen

It was Sunday morning and there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic around even though the weather was dry and warm, a perfect climate for caching. Despite a little garden waste, grass clippings etc., at the GZ of CH083 – Cogdells Lane (GC1ETVD) we made a quick find in the bushes to the side of the footpath. There was a brief discussion about the definition of what a tree stump was. Sam argued that something that stood taller than he did couldn’t be classified as a stump and therefore couldn’t be the home of the cache as the hint said it was in a stump. He then proceeded to find the cache in the “tall” stump and was confused. I argued that if a tree was cut off below where any branches grow then it is a stump. Perhaps there is a dictionary definition but to be honest, I can’t be arsed to look it up.

We back tracked just a little to the GZ of The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra (GC160W1),a puzzle cache that I had solved and Sam and Shar made a quick find of the interesting cache container which in a previous life would have held a computer hard drive but now was home to a log. The puzzle was one that I found staggeringly difficult, but everyone else in the logs said it was easy. Don’t you just hate that. In the end I found a web do-hicky thing that I just had to feed numbers into and it did all the hard work for me. It is surprising how many of these handy do hickies there are.

Our next cache, CH084 – Cogdells Farm (GC1ETVN), gave me an opportunity to get up a tree. I always enjoy doing this although I know my tree climbing is probably considered pretty pathetic to more seasoned squirrels, but no matter.

Paul stands in the bowl of a tree. He is partially obsured by the branches of the large tree. The perspective of the shot does not give the impression that he is far from the ground although it was about 5 foot up.

This photo doesn’t do it justice but I was actually UP a tree.

We were being treated to more of those glorious Chiltern views as we descended into the woods and Sam spotted the next cache, CH085 – Capps Wood (GC1ETVY). He saw it practically from the path even though it was set back about 15 metres.
A pretty view of the Chiltern Hills through the over hanging branches of a tree

Chiltern View

Our next two finds, CH086 – Bellows Wood (GC1ETVW4) and CH087 – Great Pednor Farm (GC1ETWA), took us further into the woods on a gentle downward slope and then back up out of the woods up a mother of a hill. The hills do seem to be getting a little easier than they were when we first started caching but the steep ones still hit hard, particularly Shar. She has a special method of getting up which is to just ignore everyone and everything and steadily make her way up, stopping every so often. It does mean I am left to fend for myself up the steep hills but so far this hasn’t ended in disaster. Once a the top we broke out of the woods and the wind hit us straight in the face. It wasn’t cold but it was apparent that we were now no longer in a shelter valley. We also found lots of walkers which we inconveniently kept having to pass on a narrow path at the side of a field.

ch088 – Pednor Lake (GC1ETWC) was a mercy mission for us. The cache had been disabled by the local reviewer as it hadn’t been found for almost a year and was most definitely missing. Our job was to get a new container there so that drsolly could enable it again and avoid it getting archived. When we arrived at GZ which was a gate at the end of the field, we found a woman had plotted up and was eating her lunch. After a quick conflab amongst ourselves we decided to pass on to the next cache. because of the route I had planned, we would be backtracking to this point after the next one anyway so that we could pick up a different path to head us back towards the car via another clump of caches.

We found ch089 – Herberts Hole (GC1ETWM) after a short search and another tree climb. I enjoyed it very much although the cache was later found by Shar who was on the ground. The cache had obviously migrated to a new home other than that described in the hint but at least we had found it… and I still got to climb the tree so that was ok.

When we got back to the GZ of CH087 the woman was still there and she had been joined by a group of teenagers. We decided that if you can’t beat them join them, so we laid out the groundsheet and broke out the sandwiches. When I say join them I mean we sat about 30 metres away near another gate, just out of view… this is England after all, we can’t have too much interaction with strangers, no matter how normal they look! After a while the teenagers finished up and then the woman waved them off and we surmised that she was acting as a support stage for their hike, how cute! Eventually the woman herself moved and we were able to get in and locate a suitable hide for the replacement container. Thankfully the hint had been quite specific and we located the original hiding location quickly and stashed a new lock n’ lock which was enough to save the cache from getting archived.

Did you know that caches can actually be unarchived? It doesn’t happen that often but it is an option for reviewers to perform such an action in certain circumstances if requested by the cache owner.

Sam had shaken himself out of his pre-teen moody after a couple of caches and since then we had all been very much enjoying ourselves as we cached through the Chilterns. As we made the slightly longer trek to our next cache we had a lot of fun communicating with the sheep whose field we were walking through. Having trekked up the nasty hill earlier we got to walk back down into the valley now as we went to find Jump (GC3J8BA) which was a stop gap cache to connect our Chiltern hundred clusters. It was actually a nice cache placed in beautiful surroundings and I was pleased that we had made the detour to it.
This picture shows an open field. Sam and Shar are walking through the field away from the camera
From here we joined a country lane where the last 5 of our caches of the day were placed. We expected the first two to be missing as per the multiple DNFs that had been logged and so we went prepared to replace them. The first one, CH108 – Pednor Bottom West (GC1EWDY), was a bit tricky as we didn’t know what an elder tree was so weren’t sure where the cache was supposed to be. In the end I pieced together enough clues from previous logs to identify the tree and we dropped a new lock n;’ lock.

ch107 – Pednor Bottom (GC1EWDK) was much more obviously missing as the hint was very specific and pointed to the rear of a telegraph pole where there most definitely was not a cache anymore. It just took a couple of minutes to put out another new container and we were off again. I got to climb yet another tree at CH106 – Pednor Bottom East (GC1EWDH), this one was a truly lovely example of a multi trunked ivy covered tree and it was riddled with hiding places for the caches. I think there were 5 trunks in all and standing in my perching point in the high bowl I think it was the fifth one I searched where I actually found the cache.

Further along the lane we had a tricky find at CH105 – Pednor Vale Farm (GC1EWDB) which was hidden in the thick trees/ bushes at the side of the road. When we did finally locate it, we found not one, but two containers. Obviously it had been suspected missing in the past and someone else had dropped a replacement container, only for the original to turn up again. We pocketed the extra container, it being a trade-off for the 4 new ones we had put out today and happily trundled on to our last cache of the day.

It was not the first time we had visited ch102 – Wych Elm Farm (GC1EWCT), we had logged a DNF on it on one of our previous visits. We hadn’t put out a new container as other people were finding it and so we just had to admit that it was us that was being dim. We had returned armed with more info about its location, gleaned from the logs and a previous finder and were determined to find it this time. Our optimisation slowly turned to dread as after 10 minutes we still hadn’t located it amongst the many trees at the side of the road. We bemusedly questioned our sanity and then Shar walked over to where I was searching and plucked the cache out of a tree that I had searched a million times already. There was no time to be bitter because we were so happy at finding it and converting a DMF to a smiley. All that remained now was to walk up the bloody hill back to the car.

As far as the Chiltern hundred goes we only have numbers 90 to 98 to do plus a double DNF of number 37 which we are convinced is missing so might be a replacement job. Other than that all the caches we have already found and maintained in the last 5 months seem to still be in good condition with the exception of the very first cache in the series which has gone missing. It was the very first cache we replaced in the series and it looks like we might be replacing it once more before we finally sign off our maintenance / finding duties and head for the golden bonus which promises to be an ammo can.

I do truly think that our geocaching days are some of the most fun times we have as a family and already look back on the ones we have had with fondness. I hope that Sam will look back on them when he is older and remember all the silly fun we had as a family on our days out. Having good weather, Sam Shar and a slab of ginger cake along on Sunday certainly made it a Happy Father’s day, for sure.

This geocaching adventure took place on 21st June 2015 and moved our total cache count to 1114.

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