Before I start this entry I have something disturbing to tell you, so brace yourself… We have only found 1 geocache in the whole of November!!! Shocking isn’t it? For all the reasons mentioned in my last catch up articles and more besides, as this week rolled into view we had no smilies to our name for the month. Sam had three days off school this week and so I suggested that we get out and try and save the world. I refer of course to the epic multi stage cache that we had been working towards completing, Your Mission (GCKZ29). To get up to speed with the story so far, check out my previous mission blog entries.
The information in the most recent diary page we had collected in Sanden back in August led us to a nature reserve in Bedfordshire. As we pulled on our boots at the side of a deserted country road, we were glad of the warm sun that was taking the edge off the biting wind that cut through the open landscape.
With no sight of any Muggleovian agents anywhere we quickly made our way to an information board where we collected a whole host of numbers that we would need to calculate our next location. Having done this sort of thing quite a few times now, Shar was on to it and soon had a new set of coordinates a few hundred metres away. The nature reserve is on top of an old disused railway tunnel and our route took us right to a point above the mouth of the tunnel. At first we started heading down the steep embankment, using the handy but slippery steps provided, but it became apparent that we were not going to hit our mark this way. Instead we crossed over the top of the tunnel and tried the steps on the other side but soon we discovered that these too would lead us to the wrong place. Back up again and this time we branched off the path and into the trees following the arrow directly and trying not to slip down the steep bank to our left.
This time we were on the money and Sam soon spotted and retrieved a container from the trees. Expecting a new diary page that would send us on a drive somewhere else I was surprised when Sam pulled out a single laminated sheet that gave instructions to another site nearby. The instructions mentioned a grid reference and travelling a certain number of metres east and south from where we currently stood. This confused us for some time and we struggled with how to reach our goal. Travelling directly east or south from where we currently were was not an option and so we stood fumbling and bickering for a while to pass the time.
Eventually through a combination of logical deduction on my part and some good informed guessing on Shar’s, we formed a plan and headed off back to the noticeboard where we had collected the information previously. I then resorted to a bit of Pythagoras theorem to calculate the straight line distance from where we originally were to where we should be and we followed another path until the phones indicated that we were exactly that many metres away. A check of our distance from a second point I had calculated and with little hope of it being right, I said we were here. Sam then spotted a very likely hiding place that matched the hint we had been given and we all dared to think for just a second that we had got it right. Unfortunately we had to wait for a Muggleovian dog walker to naff off before we could check it out. Then I volunteered to cross over a metal wire fence that was at just the right height to remind me that being able to stand on tip toes was god’s gift to man. Safely over I stuck my hand in the hollow of the tree and was delighted to find a container holding our next diary page.
Before leaving home today I had taken the time to collate all the code numbers and other hints that we had already found into a single document for easy reference. With the discovery of the last code on this new diary page, we now had everything we required to disable the devilish device and prevent global catastrophe. There was no time to lose, so we went back to the car and had lunch!
After lunch, we drove about 5km away to a different nature reserve, where we found another piece of information that would finally give us the location of the bomb. Shar quickly did the substitutions necessary and then declared that it was 700 metres “that way”.
Hardly daring to believe that we were finally about to find the bomb we set off and after a pleasant 20 minute walk through the wetland reserve we arrived at the coordinates provided. We split up and started searching and in just a few moments Sam announced that he had found it. But what had he found?
Inside a large camo bag, we found an ammo can with a padlock on it. We already knew the code, having collected it on a previous stage of the mission. Sam entered the numbers and opened the can to reveal… a ticking… flashing lights…. LCD display panel… alpha numeric keypad…. BOMB. It was so staggering realistic I had to keep reminding myself it was just a geocache. But it wasn’t a cache, at least not for us at that moment, we were about to disarm the bomb… or blow up the world.
We carefully went over the procedure for deactivating the bomb with Sam a couple of times before we all agreed it was time. With a collective deep breath Sam went for it. As he tapped the buttons in sequence the screen displayed further information, responding to the codes he entered. First code entered, one light…. second code, another light…. third code and finally the last code entered… a pause and bingo the device was deactivated and the display then imparted to us one further set of coordinates. What? wasn’t that the end?
Well we had saved the world and deactivated the bomb, but we still needed to sign the log to claim the cache and in an evil twist, the CO had decided that if we had come this far, we would be prepared to go jus that little bit further. Slightly confused and a little narked we reactivated the bomb for the next agents and headed back to the car. Another drive and a hike through some VERY FAMILIAR woods and we found another ammo can containing the log book. We only just managed to get back to the car as the light disappeared and although the little extra leg was a bit weird, it just added to the sense of achievement we all felt at having finally completed this amazing geocache.
Since we started Your Mission back in May 2014, we have been to 9 different locations spread all across Hertfordshire and even into Bedfordshire. It has taken us 5 fairly full days to complete all the stages and on the way we have had to decipher reverse walking directions, decode Morse code, translate Russian, do lots of maths and formula substitutions. We have tromped through mud and been stung and scratched by nature, been spooked by dirt bikers and gotten lost more than once. There have been arguments and moaning and even a couple of tears. But there has been laughter and smiles and a sense of teamwork and enjoyment that have all been mixed in with, and bound together by the clever and exciting narrative that accompanies the cache. This truly is like no other geocache you will ever do. The level of commitment sounds high, but it has been so well designed so that even if you don’t complete it in one day, which quite frankly is almost impossible and unadvisable, you will be able to finish each day with a sense of achievement and an enthusiasm to continue on to defeat the evil mastermind Igor, honour Agent Wolverine and save the planet!
Well that all got a bit gushy didn’t it? But seriously, if you live vaguely near Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire, just do it. You won’t regret it.
Mission complete, special agents signing off.
This impossible mission concluded on November 25th 2015 and took our cache count up to 1362.