Ok I admit it I am a Geocaching addict. I started this exploration adventure around the beginning of May and I just can’t stop. It’s got so bad that Imogen has started to talk Geocaching to anyone that will listen. Our current weekend routine involves getting up at 7am and driving out to get a few caches before breakfast.
The best way to describe Geocaching is as it says on this T-Shirt!
Geocaching in the Woods… In the Dark!
To protect the experience of this Geocache Trail details will be vague, but the story is more detailed.
It all started off when Stephen Coulson suggested we did a Cache in the Gosforth Park Woods. Apparently you needed a torch to shine at reflective dots on trees. This seemed a little more interesting than the normal caches we’ve found so I was in.
We arranged to meet at 10:15pm and walk over to the race course. It was getting darker and darker as we walked up the main road. As we got the to Border Minstrel pub I noticed that the bar staff were cleaning out and shutting up for the night. The conditions were perfect except for one detail.
The first part of this hunt was to find the starting location, which was hidden in a “camouflaged” location. Usually these things are hidden around tree bases, fence posts or road signs… this one wasn’t. After about 30 minutes of rummaging around bushes and trees we eventually spotted the starting details. These were hidden in a 35mm film canister, but encrypted in a way that only made sense if you aligned the symbols correctly. There was a few cars moving around so we quickly wrote down the details and headed off to the woods.
I had Imogen’s pink micro torch from Go Outdoors, Stephen had a more rugged Man’s torch with CREE LEDs. Show off! My torch lit the path in a beautiful yellow glow, while his out shone mine like a nuclear blast. It was so noticeable that I barely could see my torch light while his was in the zone! Needless to say, I have since bought two CREE LED torches. They are super bright and worth every penny.
We made it to the woods and tracked over tree roots, jumped across ditches and plodged in muddy puddles. Totally insane and a little eerie if I’m totally honest. Stephen then piped up with a little safety advice.
Stephen “You need to watch out for getting branches in the eyes when in the woods in the dark. When they were making Blair Witch, the film makers used to clear a path of branches to make the site safe”.
What had already started to be a little eerie started to get worse as soon as he mentioned Blair Witch. Every so often I’d lose sight of Stephen and he’d then come back saying “I heard breathing in that direction.” Then a loud crack of a branch would go off in the distance. After about 1 hour in the woods shining our torches around looking for a reflective dot we gave up and decided to double-check the starting location from the hidden cache.
As we got back to the starting point we saw the security guards. car shining it’s head lights directly where the cache was hidden so we had to abandon for the night.
A few days later…
Stephen popped back during his lunch break and confirmed that we were in the wrong woods at the race course. I’d misread a 5 for a 6 and it put us in the wrong woods. After talking to someone at the Border Minstrel they said that the woods we were in were known for “dodgy” activity!!! Luckily we didn’t see anything or bump into anyone!!!
Back to the right woods. We shone our torches around and PING a light reflected back at us. It was like Indiana Jones finding a secret access key. We walked to the tree and shone our lights around again and PING another dot, then another, then another. You’ll get the idea, there was about 25 dots to follow through these woods and during daylight they are totally invisible, it was very exciting.
(I’ve added a white circle to suggest what we saw because it doesn’t photograph well).
Eventually we ended up at a Tree that had 5 dots arranged into a X. X marks the spot, or the location of the final cache. We’d read a clue that it was in a rotten tree stump and sure enough it was.
This has to be one of the most elaborate Geocache hunts I’ve been on, but totally worth the effort.