A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting in on Episode 325 of the geocaching tech podcast, GeoGearHeads. This weekly show has been around in its current form since 2011 and is hosted by DarrylW4 and ChrisOfTheNorthwest with a revolving third and sometimes 4th guest host.
Scott and I have appeared a few times to talk about various subject matters. This week’s topic was “Foolish Cachers III.” I don’t think it was a coincidence that we were asked to join them for this particular topic, since we have a few stories about doing what some may consider foolish things while caching.
We did tell a couple of stories on the show, including the one when I was nearly crushed by a falling tree in the middle of a preserve on a road trip in Tennessee as well as the time I forgot the keys to the getaway car after a 20 mile bike ride.
But I have plenty of other stories about silly or foolish things done while caching. Some are pretty common, such as forgetting a flashlight when caching at night, climbing a tree without a pen, not bringing enough water on a hike on a hot day, or tripping over a log in the woods and face planting into the dirt. But here are a few other stories to make you laugh.
I was out caching with scottberks. Big surprise, I know! He had the solved coordinates to a difficult puzzle and had entered them as corrected coords in his caching app. We headed out to a patch of woods along a walking path behind a neighborhood. It was a lovely walk around a pond and into the tree cover where there was a creek. His coords were unfortunately right in the middle of the creek, making it difficult to determine which side we should be on. We couldn’t find the cache, so Scott resorted to phoning a friend for help. They described one particular tree that was sort of leaning out over the creek and said the cache was about 8 to 10 feet up.
Oh! There it was, of course on the other side of the creek. So I decided I would try to cross over on some rocks, and of course my foot slipped and I ended up calf deep in the creek. Regardless, I made my way over to the tree, feet soaking wet, and tried to climb an unclimbable tree. There was nothing to hold on to and nowhere to step to get up. After a few minutes of unsuccessful and pitiful attempts, Scott decided to come over to help. Yep, he landed in the creek too! So now we both have wet feet and still can’t find the stupid cache. But we were determined. After everything we’d been through to this point, there’s no way we’re giving up on it.
A few minutes more of searching, and I finally asked Scott to give me the coords so I could input them into my phone. He pulls out the piece of paper and reads me the coords as I enter the waypoint into my app. Are you kidding?!? It’s 150 feet down the creek! We double and triple checked, and sure enough Scott had transposed a couple numbers in his entry, so we weren’t even in the right area!
After making our way back across the creek – yes, we had been on the correct side to begin with, and yes we just waded across with our already wet feet – we found the leaning tree and had the cache in had within seconds.
Lesson learned – always double check your corrected coords!
I’ve never really been one to shy away from tree climbs, as long as they’re not more than about 20 feet or so. In fact, I’m usually the one who climbs when Scott and I go out geocaching together, mainly because I’m smaller and lighter, but he does climb occasionally too. So we’re out one day, and come across a hide that’s up about 12 feet or so in a deciduous tree that was pretty easy to climb. I monkeyed my way up pretty quickly and was signing in on the log when suddenly I had a moment of panic come over me. I froze up and clung to the branches for my life. Scott was down below asking if I was okay, and I could barely answer. I have no idea what happened or why I panicked. It took about 10 minutes before I was able to get my arms and legs working again to get myself out of the tree.
For a few months after this, Scott usually climbed the trees for us. Until his near disaster. He was up about 20 feet or so in a pine tree. This tree had a lot of branches and was pretty easily climbable.
He had signed in on the cache and was making his decent when suddenly ~CRACK~ both branches his feet were on broke! I was down below watching his life flash before my eyes. He literally slid down the tree a good 8 to 10 feet before finally being able to put his arms out to catch himself on a solid branch, resulting in a road rash all the way down his face, belly, and leg. He hung there for a minute, processing what had just happened as I stood there, repeatedly asking if he was okay. Once I was sure he was, of course I had to snap a photo!
Needless to say, we were both a bit gun shy for a while about climbing trees. We’re pretty much back to normal these days though, with me doing the majority of tree climbs.
Caching After Dark
I have one last story for you. A few years ago, Scott and I went on a road trip to West Virginia. While there, we obviously did some geocaching. Whenever we are in a new area, the first thing I do is check for older and rare cache types. There was a webcam cache not far from where were staying, and the only opportunity we had to attempt it was late at night. So we
sneaked drove onto a college campus to get the photo for West Virginia’s First Webcam Cache.
Afterwards, we saw that there was a hide nearby with a high difficulty. We drove over to it and stayed in the car while we read through logs to try to figure out where to start the search. Within a matter of minutes, there were two police cars surrounding us. One of the officers came up to the car and told us that they had received a call from campus security about suspicious people and asked us what we were doing.
Usually I’m all about honesty with the police and will explain what geocaching is if the officer hadn’t heard of it. But at this point, I didn’t even want to go there. We were in a car with out of state plates, it was close to midnight, and I had no energy to actually explain what we were doing. So I came up with what I like to consider my most brilliant line. I was looking at a map on my phone after all. I told the police that we were trying to get back to the interstate. Genius, right? Yes, you absolutely have my permission to use that excuse any time. Just be sure to share your story with me!
The police agreed to let us off with a warning if we promised to leave campus and get out of town. They not only escorted us off campus, but literally took us – one police car leading the way, the other following closely behind – all the way to the interstate on ramp. They really wanted to make sure we were gone.
We never did find that cache, but we did get a good story out of it.
No matter how careful of a geocacher we are, we all undoubtedly will find ourselves doing something silly, foolish, and even occasionally dangerous while geocaching. It’s all part of the adventure!