Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Geocaching: Another FTF: ho-hum, but not a ho-hum FTF

I scored one FTF (first to find) on a geocache in 2007, one in 2008, a record three last year, and just found my third of the month in January 2017. So they've become more routine, and perhaps less deserving of their own posts.

Except this one was pretty cool. I got an alert that one had been published a few miles away from me, so I headed out. (As it turned out, another was published during the drive about a thousand feet from my original location, but I missed that one.)

The fact that it was named "King of the Hill" probably should have prepared me for a bit of a challenge. The description said, "There are plenty of difficult ways to the cache, but I will say there is an easy way to it."
 The satellite imagery gives some hints as to the difficulty. It's in a stand of trees -- but how do you get there from the road? The beige strip to the southeast of the cache is actually a concrete gully, so you have to pick your spot. You can't see the elevation changes, but that also factors in.

As it turned out, near the clearing, there's a place to hop over the gully where the vegetation is not too thick, and then there's sort of a trail heading up. The hint really narrowed down the number of possible hiding locations, so once I was up there, it wasn't too hard to find...and then my pen wouldn't work to sign the log.

Now, sometimes it's possible to take a picture of the log, or count making an indentation in the paper as "signing", but this seemed inadequate for a first-to-find claim. First I tried breaking open my pen to see if I could get ink out that way...no dice. Then I tried dipping the pen in a nearby berry; that sort of worked, but didn't. Fortunately, in the process of doing so, my pen started working again.

Given the terrain, I didn't think it would be found as often as some other caches. It was found again three days later, and then a day after that. That finder forgot their pen, so despite my forgetting to take pictures of my adventure, I do have a picture of my scratching at the log from them.
So, what does this do for my stats?
Well, most obviously, it is a record FTF month for me.
Also, the hike up the hill made the terrain a 3.0, but the ease of finding the cache was rated 1.5. That's a new combo for me, the 28th out of 81 possible.
And the cache was hidden in the waning days of 2016, although not published until January 2017. That's my first December 2016 find, for Month 126 (75 to go).
Finally, it's my first FTF in Fairfax County, Virginia. Mildly amusing, and a stat that Project Geocaching keeps track of.

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