zhanna’s adventures

zhanna’s adventures

From Gnome Homes to Dwarf Dwellings

Tonight’s geocaching adventure was a special treat after a long and busy week. We’re waiting for the next installment in the “freaky fairytale” series!

Today's Geocache



    Hi JK, NH, and PS!

    The saga of “Rich, Zhanna, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” began late last week. As usual, Rich and I were thrilled to see another mystery cache pop up close to home. We had to resort to some sophisticated forensic analysis in order to coax the mirror to speak, but even so, we solved the puzzle rather quickly. We even entertained thoughts of a first find … only to have our hopes dashed by the notification that the cache was disabled until Saturday’s event, and that the first stage wasn’t yet in place. Almost a week went by before we had an opportunity to attempt the adventure.

    In a break from tradition, we stopped before the hunt for pizza and beer at The Library. We needed fuel for our quest—and we were aware that this very well might be our last meal, so we wanted it to be one of our favorites.

    Our first hint that we were in for something really special was at the first stage of our adventure, when as if by magic we received through the air a message directing us deeper into the woods. We had truly entered the enchanted forest!

    At the first dwelling, we were greeted by a dwarf who invited us in to share a mug of wine and a piece of bread. After verifying that we were fit for the journey (we needed to have a special type of lantern, which we did), he briefed us on the dangers of our mission and offered to act as our guide as we trekked through the woods to our next destination. Darkness was falling fast, and—he warned us—we were descending into the depths of a nightmare.

    This friendly dwarf brought us safely to the dwelling of his pal, another dwarf, who was readying for bed when we arrived. When he agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to accompany us to our next destination, the first dwarf returned to his home and we set off again deeper into the forest.

    The third dwelling, built of stone, was the most colorfully decorated. A very shy dwarf lived there. He pointed out the coordinates of our final destination, but knowing the daunting challenge that we would face, he would not accompany us. Neither would our sleepy friend, for whom it was well past bedtime (as it usually is). The dwarfs told us that when we arrived at our destination we would find another of their kind, but that he was very protective of his young queen and may not allow us passage. Except for this small bit of advice, we were now on our own.

    Having strolled in this particular forest before, although typically in the daytime when its magic powers are weak, Rich and I had an idea where to go. (Actually, we thought we had deduced the final location in advance, but the dwarfs warned us that subverting the magic forces in this way could not possibly end well.) Somehow we were fooled by the labyrinth of pathways, some of which we were sure had not been there in the daytime, and we headed in the wrong direction for a short distance. We soon realized the error and corrected our route. At this point I saw a bat fly directly overhead, which seemed to be an omen confirming that we were on the right track.

    Although we’d had an idea what awaited us, the final stage of our adventure was beyond ALL expectation. We spent a few moments wondering whether what we sought would lie on the surface or beneath. Fully expecting the elaborate nature of our quest to continue, into further darkness we went, quietly sneaking along. The damp chill accentuated the creepy atmosphere. Before long, the light from our lanterns fell upon the guardian and our goal just beyond him.

    Remembering the dwarfs’ warning, I attempted to cast a gentle sleeping spell on the guardian. I’m out of practice, but I must have done something right, because he didn’t move the entire time we were there.

    We found poor Snow White looking quite expired indeed. We extracted the log sheet from the core of the object that killed her. We signed our initials, took nothing, and left a homemade decal for Prince Charming, if he ever stops by.

    Fully spooked and completely satisfied with our adventure, we took a few moments to gather our wits before retracing our steps back to the car. The woods were eerie, strangely peaceful, and exceptionally dark. There were no dwarfs to be found, almost as if they never even existed.

    Thanks for a spectacularly creative nighttime adventure that we will always remember! icon_smile_big

    Howdy JK, NH and PS!

    There’s one type of cache that’s not in Geocaching.com’s list, and that’s “Masterpiece”. It’s plainly obvious how much creativity and meticulous execution were put into this elaborate nighttime escapade. Zhanna and I had every intention of searching for this cache last Friday night but suddenly you guys pulled the rug out from under us by disabling it until the Event Cache on the following night. icon_smile_tongue Just kidding! But we had to wait an entire week before we’d have an opportunity to try again.

    OK, where to begin? Since the days are so much longer this time of year we had to reverse our usual routine of going for celebratory pizza and beer at The Library in Jessup at the end of a successful cache hunt. Today we dined before starting out. We wanted to wait until almost dusk but we weren’t sure how long it would take to find all five stages. So, after stuffing ourselves with some of the finest pizza in the area, we arrived at the parking area with plenty of daylight to spare. This didn’t seem to be a problem because the first stage doesn’t really depend on darkness. And our UV flashlight is bright enough that we deciphered the second stage easily. We even took a photo without needing the camera’s flash. Just like stages one and two, stages three and four were easily and quickly found.

    Zhanna and I are quite familiar with the trails and terrain on this part of the mountain, but we did manage to get a little tripped up heading for the final stage. There’s been a lot of work done in this area over the last 10-12 years due to the underground sewer pipeline that traverses it, as well as the mine fire in the lower section. I mistook a different trail for the one I thought we should take so we lost several minutes before realizing our error and then backtracking to the correct trail. I should also confess to one other small detail regarding the final stage. We had already guessed its location based on a rather obscure “hint” posted in the online logs for another local cache. (Something crazy is coming, indeed!) However, we weren’t absolutely certain of our guess so we figured it best to continue as directed.

    The last stage was … how can I best describe it? … a MINDBLOWER! icon_smile_shock It was so much creepier and more chilling than we had anticipated from the story. Complete darkness had fallen around us by the time we arrived at this most intriguing feature. Believe it or not, I had been aware of its existence for many years, having frequently hunted and mountain biked on these trails, but I never had a chance to investigate it more thoroughly. I was totally surprised by its extensiveness. I think the scene at the last stage is really going to totally freak out anyone who stumbles upon it accidentally!

    We found the “logbook” without too much trouble, but this sub-atomic, nano-sized sign-in sheet took some delicate determination to extricate. We were even a bit puzzled as to how we should record our visit! So, we simply placed our initials in two of the spaces provided. Lastly, we didn’t take any items from the cache, but we did leave a nice Geocaching.com logo decal for a future finder.

    The hike back to our car was quiet and peaceful, if somewhat eerie after what we had just experienced. We spent the entire drive back home talking constantly about all of it. Thanks for another fun-and-fright-filled nighttime mystery adventure. icon_smile_big

    ~Rich in NEPA~

    P.S. We will come back another day to search for The Huntsman bonus cache.

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