Due to this, that, and the other thing, aside from completing your mission, we haven’t been able to cache since the end of October. It hasn’t been for the want of trying, believe me- in fact on 2 occasions we even packed the car and drove to a starting point only to sit and watch as the rain splattered heavily onto the windscreen.
But finally, we managed to align the planets and stick two fingers up to the weatherman and get out and find some caches. Not wanting to press our luck and mindful that we hadn’t been stomping the trails for a good while, I planned just a small group of caches in the Chilterns… practically our second home this year.
As we squelched away from the car and onto the footpath that would take us the short distance to our first cache, there was a momentary feeling of being out of place. But after just a few mud sucking steps and a gust of cool wind in my face and I was right back into it… like I had just been caching yesterday, as opposed to 6 weeks ago. It was somewhat of a culture shock to cache in the winter, muddy, cool environment compared to the last time we were out which was unseasonably warm for October with not a sniff of mud to be seen. As we stomped to the first GZ though, I had to remind myself that the balmy 12 degrees centigrade that we were currently enjoying was still staggeringly mild for England in the third week of December.
Our first cache, was a nice simple tub hidden in a multi trunk tree and it was nice to see that it had recently been afforded some TLC, presumably from the cache owner. The container was dry and clean and a nice shiny log sheet greeted us. Now this was a pleasant start indeed. Our second was just a couple of hundred metres away and was practically leaping into our arms as we arrived at GZ. The container that was meant to be hidden under a fallen tree was not hidden at all but just sitting there at the side of the path amongst a few logs. After we had signed the log, we made sure to do a much better job of hiding it than the last cachers.
A big gap of about a kilometre now stretched before us to the next cache icon on the map, but I knew that the walk would be broken up by the final of a puzzle cache that was lurking a short distance from our footpath. The puzzle had been one of those rare ones that I had known how to solve the instant I saw it. There was nothing on the cache page, totally blank but the title “telnet 143” was enough for me to solve it. My smugness as solving it was soon wiped off my face though as we failed completely to actually find the container. There was no doubt of the GZ, we had the cords right and a hint pinpointed an old telephone box but despite thorough searching, the cache was not to be found. Having since contacted the CO, it appears there may be one little teeny spot that I didn’t search, and it just might be in there… bugger. Oh well, a DNF for now, hopefully we will return one day.
This minor diversion had taken us off the footpaths and onto a country lane but it was back to nature again now and, boy was nature ever abundant in the form of “glorious mud”. A sneaky magnetic micro on a metal kissing gate was our next find and I got a chance to slid the smugness back on my face after Shar failed to find it on the gate she was searching, I walked over and found it on the gate in the first place I looked.
The loud boom of a shotgun rung out in the distance as we made our way along the muddy footpath back towards a narrow country lane where we found our next cache. This was an easy pluck from the bottom of a hedge and then it was back off across some fields, in the direction of the gun fire, for the next cache. It was quite a long walk around the edge of farm fields and it wasn’t long before we heard the sound of another single shotgun blast ring out. Slightly odd, I thought, two isolated single shots spaced so far apart. I shrugged it off but after finding our next cache, which had drifted from its original hiding place in a breeze block under a trough to be found eventually by Shar in the grass behind it, I heard another single shot and I got to thinking. They seemed to be about 15 minutes apart. I voiced this to Shar who knew immediately that it was an automated bird scaring device and not some shell frugal farmer. She could even see the puff of smoke from the direction of the shot but there was no one over there. What a clever idea I thought, and how dense of me not to realise what it was sooner. Are those things safe? Do they go off all day and all night? Do the neighbours get pissed off? These and many more questions… will not be answered today.
Our last cache was just a couple of hundred metres away, as the crow flies. But as the bird scarer was keeping the crows away and there being no direct footpath leading to it, we were forced to back track the way we had come and then take a different path making the route about 700 metres in all. Not to worry, this was our last one and again we managed to find the magnetic micro lying in the grass where it had fallen from its metal post hiding place. I feel a bit as if we were doing maintenance today, putting other people’s caches back where they should be.
It may only have been 6 smilies and we even had a DNF, but after such a long break away it sure was good to be back out… in the mud… finding geocaches again. Happy days.