For a recent Geodate I had scouted out a cluster of caches in the Misbourne Valley area of Buckinghamshire. Whilst the caches were not a series as such, a rough route between them could be seen and that was all the incentive we needed to pack a lunch and head out for a wonderful day of geocaching… what naive fools we are sometimes.
OK, I’m not gonna tease you or skirt around the issue, I’m just gonna hit you with it right in the face. It was a god awful, miserable day out, probably one of our least favourite days and one that got me questioning why we do this silly hobby at all!
See, told you I wasn’t going to pull any punches. So now you are thinking, “Yeah, but you are here and writing this post and I saw another post about geocaching on your blog recently so you must have got past this blip and moved on, yes?” And that is why I love and respect you dear reader, you are just so darn smart. But let me first tell you why it was such a crap day and then reveal the somewhat startling discovery I made when I came to do my logging.
First off our choice of parking place left us with a walk of almost 2k to get to the first cache. I guess I hadn’t really absorbed this fact fully when we planned it but I certainly became aware of it as we trudged along the busy road to get to our first GZ. Being blind is hard enough but adding loud traffic noise into the bargain meant I was effectively deaf blind for about 20 minutes.
Eventually we turn off the road and try to stop shouting to each other realising that finally the background noise has diminished. Then we are hit straight away with a massive hill. Oh Come on!!! We haven’t even got to the first cache yet.
When we arrive at the GZ, needless to say we can’t find the bloody cache. So enjoyment levels are sinking fast and show no sign of rising soon.
The next part of the walk is ok, along a footpath and quiet lane for a bit. Then we emerge onto a local high street and the traffic noise is back, but this time with added pedestrians. When you gear up for a couple of hours walk in the country, I don’t know about you, but I always feel a bit out of place when I then emerge back into civilisation. It’s not like I am dressed in full camouflage or anything but I think it is more a state of mind.
On the plus side we find two caches along this road. Both magnetic micros on the back of street furniture. Our most favourite caches… not! To be fair we did plan this route of caches so we only have ourselves to blame. Thankfully then we leave the high street again and start heading back into fields and there is even sign of a wood ahead. Now this is more like it.
I was dumbstruck to realise that we had been out for about 90 minutes at this point and only found 2 caches and were basically half way round our walk. It was approaching lunchtime and the lunch was in the car because we thought this would only take a couple of hours at the most. I am starting to wonder whether we were drunk when we planned this.
Anyway so stay positive and lets head to the woods. we like woods, woods are good. Oh wait lets have an argument about how to read a map on the way, that’s what will really help the situation. Take a man who has a relatively good understanding of how maps work but cannot see the current map being used, or anything for that matter, and add in a woman who had little or no map knowledge before she started geocaching but has a perfectly good set of eyes, and you can see where frustration may arise. I end up explaining a concept about maps using examples and pointing in random directions that make no sense and Shar is unable to explain to me how the map relates to where we are and is starting to think I am a total git! She is probably right, I was in a bad mood. It has to be said that neither of us were in great moods by this stage, but we wrestled through it and trudged on, now slightly further apart and Sharlene adopting her, “I’m not really sure I want to guide you at the moment because you are such a git” mode, although this does have a failsafe “I won’t actually let you fall off a cliff or anything but if you happen to trip over a branch right now… so be it!”
We find the correct path, enter the woods and a short while later we find a geocache. It takes a further 5 minutes of stumbling through the woods before we both relent and make our peace, or at least agree to come to the table to discuss terms.
Our next cache is further in the woods in the centre of an enormous cluster of holly bushes and trees. We circle the bushes almost entirely, a distance of around 200 metres I guess, trying and failing to find a way in that looks achievable. In the end we plunge in regardless and take numerous pricks and scratches as we battle through the dense holly to the centre, whereupon we glimpse the path about 5 metres to the side and groan at how easy it would have been if we had just entered from over there as opposed to where we did. No words are exchanged on the matter, neither of us wanting to risk shattering the fragile peace that we have established. We do the business, sign the log and then fail entirely to find a path to our next cache.
What was a distance of a couple of hundred metres as the crow flies, turned out to be a roundabout route of close to a kilometre up and down a hill, before we could finally get close to GZ. This was not made any easier by the total lack of any marked footpaths on either of our maps even though there were very obviously paths through the woods.
It’s about lunchtime now, in fact a little past, but we are still about 3 k from the car and have a half a dozen or so caches to do. I am tired, hungry and quite frankly pissed off with the whole thing. What a stupid hobby this is anyway!
… and breathe.
The Cache was found quite quickly which was good and for a moment I was thinking that if the remaining ones were this easy then we could be back at the car within an hour and it was just possible that I wouldn’t have to kill Sharlene and feast on her flesh in order to stay alive. I had mentally selected her thighs as being a nice juicy and life sustaining meal but now pushed this aside and tried to focus on the task in hand once more.
What you don’t need right now is a DNF yeah? Well have one. There is a cache on this bridge somewhere, but it hasn’t been found for a while and it is likely to be hidden right underneath and here are wave after wave of muggles coming your way to get in your way. Hmmmm… I wonder, is it apple sauce or mint sauce that best goes with human flesh. I suspect, what with Shar being a good New Zealand Girl and having such a love of Lamb that that flavour may well have permeated into her very bones over the years. Mint sauce then.
We are 10 minutes at the next cache and I am just mentally “booking a table by the window” when I almost surprise myself by finding the cache when to be honest I was only half-heartedly prodding at things in the bushes. 3 left and perhaps there is hope.
One look at the thorns at the next GZ and we are sailing past without even stopping. Ain’t nobody got time for that when we are in this sort of mood. Now it is simply a case of let’s get back to the car before one of us dies and the other has to carry their body the rest of the way (or eat it).
A 2 minute DNF at the next one and my aching feet can almost feel the joy of boots being remove with only one more to go. Little is being said between us at the moment although there is an air of hope that we may be nearing the end.
And get to the end we do, we even find the last cache quite quickly. We are back at the car groaning and aching in a matter of minutes and I practically eat the lid of the tupperware box to get at my sandwiches. Mmmmm… chomp chomp… breathe… chomp… hmmm… I wonder what human flesh actually does taste like.
So you can see, it was a less than enjoyable day. Most of our problems stemmed from poor planning and spiralling bad moods. But here is the funny thing. We set out to do 11 caches, only found 7 and of those 7 I gave 3 of them favourite points!!!
Are you nuts?
I know! After that day we were both thoroughly pissed off with caching and I left it a while to log our finds. When I did come to do the logging and actually thought back to the caches, I had to admit there were some pretty good ones. Not A Tractor (GC2YPW7) was hidden under the steering wheel of a tractor in the woods, a bizarre sight if ever there was one. Doctor’s Holly (GC2ZF4T) was in a lock and lock fixed to the bottom of a plastic chair… that was the one buried in the holly.
Thanks Aunt Ula! (GC3NNDC) was a lovely homemade metal spider container that was very cool, and the one I almost accidentally found, Rotary Mower and a Broken Post (GC2XHCW), was hidden very cunningly in the end of a fence post in a way I had not seen before.
We also did come across a little curiosity on the way round that made us smile for a time. This sign confuses us slightly. The building being protected appeared to be a pharmaceutical lab. What on earth has prohibiting access under the organised crime act got to do with anything.
So at the end of the day, it wasn’t the caches that were the problem, it was the planning, maybe the terrain a little, but mostly it was probably us… or maybe even just me.
But you knew that right!
This geocaching adventure took place on Thursday 21st April and took our total cache count up to 1441.