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15 Hours,102 Finds and Two Very Tired Geocachers! –Part 2

Dana stretches for gold!

Dana stretches for gold!

10:15

Another DNF! This one is all the more frustrating because it’s part of the five-cache series . Without the coordinates,we can’t go for the bonus. Everyone looks for this longer than we should. Outlaw has found it before,but says the container has been changed and his experience is useless. We finally give up.

10:25

We need a lift and get it with a small camo’d nut jar that TreyB quickly grabs . This is one of the few caches we’ve found that isn’t a micro. Outlaw explains that power caching runs are nearly all micros and nanos because the quest for quantity demands that players look in urban locations. Since shopping malls don’t lend themselves to ammo box hides,most of the targets are small. The rest of the day’s experience bears this out.

After 3 1/2 hours,we’ve found 22 out of 25 caches sought. At this rate,we’ll never hit our goal. Outlaw says some high-density areas are coming up that will yield big numbers in a short time. We take a bio break and then head toward a new run beginning almost seven miles away.

In the car,we talk about good ideas to throw off muggles. Those are bystanders who look on,often suspiciously,as geocachers go about their searches. TreyB comes up with a good one:carry a tape measure and pretend you’re measuring a fence as if to replace it. Since so many geocaches are located near fences,it’s a perfect cover story.

10:40

The trick to this puzzle is to read the description carefully . The coordinates are actually written out and hidden in the text. TreyB says you can find them by pasting the description into Word,filtering out the spaces between the words and then searching for numbers.

10:45

We walk 250 feet down a path and find our first ammo can of the day . It’s an easy find under a tree.

11:00

Outlaw thought he had entered the corrected coordinates from this puzzle solution,but they aren’t in our GPS,which direct us to a location 420 feet away. We have to fall back on what Outlaw calls FPS (Friend Positioning System). He basically tell us the vicinity in which to look and TreyB makes the quick grab. We’re at 28 net 25. At this pace,we’ll need to cache until almost midnight to hit 100. That isn’t an option,as we have an event cache to attend at 7.

11:10

Are we beginning to cut corners? PnD look for a couple of minutes before Trey jumps out of the car and strides toward a tree. “Have a look at that rock,”he says. Underneath is a film canister. Whatever it takes!

11:16

The solution to this puzzle is related to the interval between musical notes . It isn’t a hard one to figure out if you read music. Fortunately,Outlaw’s wife does.

11:18

Another container gone missing. Outlaw pulls out his third film canister of the day as a replacement.

11:19

To solve this one,you only have to know the correct order of the reindeer on Santa’s sleigh. Piece o’fruitcake.

11:21

A quick skirt-lifter that the group lets Paul handle solo.

A “skirt-lifter” is a geocaching term for light-pole caches,which are micros hidden under the plastic shirts that protect the base of many parking lot light poles. We’ll do a ton of them today. They’re fast and predictable but,as we’ll soon see,they can also be a clever diversion.

11:24

The coordinates are a little off on this one,so Outlaw offers guidance. Dana finds the camo’d metal light switch cover within a minute. It’s the same color as the box to which it’s attached,making it particularly challenging. Micro caches are frequently painted to blend in with their surroundings.

11:30

There are several caches close by,but we instead drive a couple of miles to our next goal. Outlaw and TreyB explain the reason:instead of bouncing from side to side of a highway,it’s faster to knock down a series of caches heading in one direction,then turn around and find another series coming back.

11:36

TreyB hasn’t logged this one yet,so he takes the lead. It’s a film canister hidden under a URP (unnatural rock pile). That’s The Outlaw’s term for a suspicious pile of rocks that frequently conceal caches. Owners often use URPs to just barely conceal containers. Experienced finders learn to spot them quickly. As a hyper-experienced finder,TreyB has no trouble with this one,though Paul and Dana don’t see anything out of the ordinary .

11:49

The clue is the cache name spelled backwards. We end up pounding the object upside down to dislodge a match holder. It’s a quick find once you know the naming trick.

11:50

We’re at 35 finds with three DNFs after nearly five hours,which is way off the pace we need. Outlaw improvises. We’re going to go off the plan and pick up a few caches that weren’t on our itinerary in order to catch up a bit. We’ll use what Outlaw calls TOPS (The Outlaw Positioning System) for these unscheduled finds. Basically,he’s going to lead us to within a few feet of our goal and then let us search.

Our first target is a match holder suspended from a fishing line hung into a hollow stone pillar. Paul finds because he’s the only player tall enough to see over the top.

12:02

We log our second unscheduled find and head back on course.

12:07

What would we do without our experienced guides? PnD both look down a hollow metal pipe and move on. TreyB looks in the same pipe and sees a fishing line wrapped around a metal rod. Suspended from it is a camo’d match holder.

12:13

Dana finds a black-on-black key holder stuck to a utility pole .

12:18

“Grab a fork,” says the hint. The cache is inside a tri-forked tree with a few rocks in unnatural places .

12:30

We log our fourth DNF of the day . Little do we know it will be our last,a fact that will contribute to our being able to reach the 100-find goal.

12:41

Another example of the value of experienced cachers who have cell phones stocked with friends who can quickly help with tricky hides. The film canister is actually 100 feet away from the coordinates,but Outlaw knew this cache owner was a little careless with puzzle solutions at times. He had called in advance to get the correct location,saving us from a certain DNF. Some veteran cachers have phone numbers of 100 or more friends in their address books. When they’re out in the field and stumped,they can phone a friend for assistance. They’re also more than happy to drop whatever they’re doing to provide the same assistance to others who call.

12:50

Looks like a sure skirt-lifter but there’s nothing there. Then Dana spots a key holder about 12 feet off the ground. She climbs up on the light pole pad and stretches to make the grab .

12:55

We stop for lunch at a fast-food place and plot the afternoon’s strategy. We have barely 40 finds after six hours and less than five hours of sunlight left. Paul says there’s no way they’ll get to 100,but Outlaw says we’re going to step it up in the afternoon. “We’ll get to the mid-90s for sure,” he says.

1:28

We begin the afternoon with a micro hidden the tip of a fence post in a shopping mall .

1:34

A traditional ammo box lies about 75 feet into the woods across from a golf course . As PnD enter the woods,they hear a rustle and two small deer dash up the hill in front of them. The deer watch curiously as Paul grabs the find and drops off a travel bug.

Travel bugs are small objects tagged with unique serial numbers that geocachers drop off and ask other cachers to transport around the world for them. Some have traveled over 100,000 miles. PnD always pick up and drop off a bunch of TBs when they travel so as to hurry them on their journeys.

1:43

Another quick traditional in the woods. Paul finds quickly. Dana admires the beautiful log book . You don’t often find fine paper in a geocache!

1:50

We begin a run of 11 in the Quick Sax series. There’s nothing fancy about these. They’re all easy park n grabs intended to help people trying to build their numbers. We start the run with 46 finds to our credit after nearly 7 hours. Our only hope of getting to 100 to knock these off very quickly.

2:31

We complete the Quick Sax series,saving time by sending Paul out solo to grab the micros and quickly place a sticker in the log book. Dana hands him each sticker in advance and logs the time of find. We average less than 4 minutes per find during this sequence and run our total to 57 on the day.

In the middle,we stop for our only find inside a place of business. The container is a beauty! We won’t show it to you here for fear of spoiling,but here’s a link if you’re interested.

2:35

A quick park n grab brings us to 58 with four hours to go. We need to average one every six minutes from here on to finish by 7.

2:41

It’s all about speed now. Outlaw points out a bison tube directly about Paul’s head while Paul searches fruitlessly. We’re running out of time and can’t mess around when the cache is staring us in the face.

2:42

Outlaw’s improvising again. We’re going to swing by a couple of unscheduled caches and then start a big series of more than 30 to the north. We log a quick skirt-lifter. Our second quick grab,a hanging bison tube,is missing,though. It’s apparently the victim of tree-trimming.

We come upon our most amazing hide of the day. The coordinates point to a lamp pole,making this item appear to be a quick park n grab. However,the micro is actually hidden in the nearby leaves. This is no ordinary micro,though. The cache is actually disguised as part of the surrounding foliage. If Outlaw hadn’t provided such ample clues,we never would have found it.

2:55

We head north for a nine-mile drive culminating in a series of thematic caches placed at the side of a country highway. Our ability to knock these off quickly will make or break our 100-find goal. We have an extreme unnatural advantage:Most of these caches were placed by The Outlaw himself. Although he doesn’t remember the precise location of each and every one,we can count on him to keep us close.

The Outlaw is meticulous about record-keeping. He takes detailed notes on every find and hide on the theory that they could come in handy if a fellow geocacher calls him needing help. He placed this string of containers in honor of a friend,but he was too rushed to take detailed notes at the time. So our hunt has a dual purpose:it will run up our numbers quickly and also enable Outlaw to document his hides in detail. Dana’s knees are sore from swinging into and out of the back seat all day. She decides to stay in the car and take dictation from Outlaw. TreyB and Paul will do most of the searching.

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