Trees

I celebrated my birthday by taking a day off work to climb trees.

And to climb ropes dangling out of trees. And, in one case, to climb ropes dangling out of two trees at once – well, how else do you levitate yourself fifteen feet up into the space between two trees?

“Me Tarzan …..” ::o)

tree

(Not too much of a spoiler, I hope, and in any case I haven’t said which cache. Not going into too many details because most of them were puzzles.)

Ammo Cans

Out for a quick wander round a local-ish series on Sunday. All two-stage multis, first stages a mixture of field puzzles and the interesting novelty hides that the CO is well-known for. All very enjoyable, so far so good.

The final caches are all ammo cans.

Now, I don’t have anything against ammo cans. You can get plenty of swag in them if you want to, they’re reasonably robust (they wear out eventually, but what doesn’t?), they’re pretty much idiot-proof and they close with a nice, solid “clonk” so you know you’ve done them up properly. However, they are worth actual money – they seem to start at about fifteen quid these days – and as such are an obvious target for thieves.

The series CO is well aware of this, having lost quite a few before, and has said that if more than three of them go missing he will archive the series. Which will be a shame, because they’re very good caches.

So … say on the cache listing that they’re ammo cans, say on the listing that you know they get nicked (just in case anyone hadn’t considered the possibility) … and then archive a series that must have taken a lot of time and effort to set up when, as will happen sooner or later, they start to go missing?

Odd.

Wetter than a duck’s posterior orifice

Easter, Dartmoor, wet. Ok weather on Friday, but it then proceeded to piss it down persistently until I was packing up to go home on Tuesday. Down there for the letterbox meet – actual traditional-style letterboxing, not hybrid geocaches – bought a full set of charity walks and managed to get one done. In intermittent hail, which was nice.
Yes, really. Letterboxing is still very, very paper-based. Paper clue sheets, rubber stamps onto more paper etc, and, unlike rain, hail can at least be shaken off before it soaks in. And only *some* of the box sites were underwater …..

It's under the one in the middle.

It’s under the one in the middle.

The other highlights of the weekend were a local geocaching event (cake, yum), and three FTFs. Two hundred miles from home, so I can only assume the locals didn’t want to go out in the rain?

Snow business …

The annual flog up to Scotland has been A Thing for rather a long time. It usually rains. There’s always at least one major disaster (power cuts, people getting avalanched, the time I ended up effecting car repairs with an ice axe in the middle of nowhere …), we end up eating and drinking far too much, and not enough gets done on the hill. But it’s a fun gathering of friends, which is why I keep doing it.

So, 2016 rolls around. A change of location, Cairngorms this year. Invest in big pile of maps to cover the new area, shell out for new crampons (in the optimistic hope that it might be cold enough for some of the rain to be solid), dig out the axe I bought for last year and never got to use, pack waterproofs, spare waterproofs, waterproof drybags, waterproof phone case, waterproofing boot goo …. Can you sense a theme developing here?
And then we actually arrive in Aviemore, and there’s one thing almost everyone forgot to bring.

Sunscreen.

Yes, sunscreen. In Scotland in February. No word of a lie, the weather was glorious. Lovely and sunny, light winds, crunchy snow underfoot, fantastic views. Four good hill days out of four, coming down for dinner with a big silly grin each time. The weather doesn’t come right like this very often, but when it does, it does it in style.

20160228_130236

Looking into Coire an t-Sneachda

Selfie

Selfie

Arty snow-throwing shot

Arty snow-throwing shot

Happy days. ::o)

Double Figures

… which makes me a happy squid.

tengrids

Narrowly avoided disaster with the one that completed the tenth grid, in that while I was groping round the back of a sign for it I knocked it off into a railed-off, shallow pit full of mucky water, litter and fag butts. Thankfully I was able to get round the railings to get in there after it, I found it quickly, and no-one paid me any attention while I was doing so. Which was lucky, given that it was mid-morning in the middle of Birmingham.

I put it back very, very carefully.

Invisibility

So … cache up a tree by the side of an extremely busy road. Needs a certain amount of faffing with ladders, need to avoid attracting the wrong sort of attention. Need an invisibility cloak.

invisible
I think I look fairly invisible, don’t you? ::o)

That was just one of the “interesting” caches on the hitlist for Saturday’s trip to Nottingham. Others included a gentle culvert wade – there *must* be a word for that nasty moment when water starts to seep in over the tops of your wellies – and a couple of challenges, one of which featured an additional challenge in the form of trying to find somewhere to park near the football ground on match day.

And I did them all in the wrong order. That is to say, the culvert wade came first, so I spent the rest of a not particularly warm day with wet feet. I really am an idiot sometimes.

Going wild on Kinder

A while ago, in a wild fit of optimism, I signed up for a pair of late-night-and-early-morning events, to be held in an area of upland bog known as the Kinder Plateau. As you do. The idea was this: Go for a long walk in the dark, attend the night event, go for another walk, camp over, and the CO will make bacon sandwiches for the survivors (if any) before the walk out.

Fast-forward to the grim reality that is Friday evening. It is raining, and it is so windy that the building I work in has begun to shed roof tiles. I have backache, what feels like the beginnings of the office cold, and somewhat less than zero enthusiasm for trudging into the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain just to get blown over.

But I did anyway, because I said I would. By the time I pulled up in Hope (there has to be a bad pun lurking in there somewhere) the wind had abated somewhat, and the rain was more annoying than torrential. Things were looking up, it seemed. I trogged off up the hill, and presently spotted a light ahead of me.

White light, above me, and moving around. Headtorch, in other words, so I’m not the only lunatic out at this time of night and it’s probably someone else going to the same event. Keep going up, and up, and up, sweating inside my waterproofs, and top out on the plateau to find a whole swarm of headlamps heading in the same direction. I was the first to reach the Madwoman’s Stones (no, I don’t know why they’re called that, and neither does Google, it would appear), but there wasn’t a lot in it. And so commenced the event.

There was even hot stew. Rather good stew. I also learnt that one very good reason for bringing a dog to this sort of thing is that they make excellent dishwashers if you don’t want mucky pots in your rucksack. While we stood there scoffing and chatting, the rain stopped, the clag cleared and the stars came out.

We were still admiring the stars as we ambled over to Crookstone Knoll. Which probably explained why we took a slightly roundabout route to get there – no, we weren’t lost, we knew exactly where we were, and it wasn’t where we wanted to be!

Most of the others had already pitched, tents crammed onto a tiny ledge out of the worst of the wind. But the wind had dropped since, so I opted to stick the tent on the summit instead. And that was how I came to wake up on top of Crookstone Knoll to a dry morning, a view, and the scent of frying bacon.

First wild camp of the year. ::o)

tent

An escalation of escalation methods

Identify interesting tree climb. Arrive at base of tree in pouring rain. Put throwline up tree. Throwline gets stuck.

Swear.

Improvise using a rock, a sock and the other end of the throwline. Take umpteen tries to hit the right place, rain now torrential and can barely see through drips on glasses. Get rope up tree, still can’t reach geocache. Discover rope is now on top of stuck throwbag and own weight has crushed the thing into place, detach line from bag so will at least get that back.

Rain now even worse. Slide back down, give up, and drive back to Brum soaking wet and with climbing kit plastered with mud.

So, a fortnight later, back to the scene of the crime, this time with an escalation of kit. Lovely spring-like morning, went about things calmly and methodically, dealt with a fairly major hiccup with only a minimum of swearing. I still can’t reach the cache, but I now know what needs doing in terms of DIY-ing a particular tool … and I did get my throwbag back!

Isn’t it amazing how much difference rain makes to motivation, morale and a willingness to deal with problems?

That was Saturday. Sunday, by contrast, just involved an amble into an old adit – gentle Type 1 fun, didn’t even have to get wet feet – and spending an hour sitting in the car in a housing estate with a Rubik’s Cube, the solving instructions for said cube on my phone, and a bag of chicken wings. As you do.