Countdown Craziness and Cacti

A bridge
A bridge

Rich casually mentioned a new puzzle cache a little over a week ago. I love puzzles, so I was intrigued immediately, and we both began working on it. And it drove us nuts until last night! We tried everything we could think of, focusing our efforts on the geocacher in honor of whom the cache was placed (thinking that the numbers we needed might be found among his statistics somehow).

Finally, yesterday morning, Rich had a major inspiration that led us in a completely different direction, and it turned out to be correct! It was so cool to see everything fall into place once he made that initial discovery.

We were unable to make the trip yesterday, but we decided that today we’d take a drive to the area, retrieve the cache, and then look for a few benchmarks nearby. On our way home, we’d stop at the Cactus Man to see what was new this year!

Finding and retrieving the cache wasn’t quite as easy as we had expected. I can’t give too much away, but I’ll say that it required a few unexpected activities, like wading in gnat- and rusted-bridge-part-infested water just to finally spot the geocache … followed by the realization that we had no idea how we would be able to retrieve it. We found a tool and used some coordinated teamwork to retrieve it. It must have been hilarious to watch, and we were initially thinking we would recreate it for a few photos, but once we had signed the logbook and put the cache back where we had found it (or nearly so), we were both just ready to leave.

We searched for a few benchmarks along the way, both before and after the geocache, and stopped at the Cactus Man as planned. He had a lot of beautiful new plants, including some nice Mammillaria matudae. But Rich and I both liked a Pilosocereus and a Pachycereus pringlei the most, and that’s what we bought. (See photos below in our geocache logs.)

Today's Geocache

    Hi, TeamAJK and 0;)Angel!

    As Rich mentioned, I’m usually a quick puzzle solver, but you had us stumped with this excellently crafted challenge. We stared at this puzzle many times across the span of a week, trying this and that with no meaningful results, and just basically driving ourselves and each other crazy (“Did you figure it out yet?!”).

    Then yesterday morning … a breakthrough! Rich had an inkling that we began to investigate, and almost immediately we knew we were on the right track. It was only then that we caught on to the subtle clues right under our noses.

    With the coordinates and hint in hand, it was time to take this to the next level. We headed out early this morning ahead of the approaching tropical storm, hoping to make the find and get home before getting wet (Ha!). The day was cloudy and misty, but the conditions were actually a welcome break from the recent searing heat.

    Spotting and retrieving the cache were more challenging than I had expected, so that for the first few minutes I was sure I had something wrong or I was just missing something big. Without a pillar of hope in sight, we were almost ready to leave. But I stuck to it, one careful step at a time, and eventually a beam of inspiration struck. I caught a glimpse of the cache. My immediate reaction was “How?! What?!” but with some coordinated teamwork we landed it.

    Rich and I have visited this general area before, for another geocache and to search for a nearby USGS benchmark. Today we took the opportunity to check on that benchmark, which is still in good condition just as we left it 15 years ago. We rounded out the day’s adventure with a few more searches for nearby USGS benchmarks and a stop at the “Cactus Man” roadside cactus and succulent nursery in White Mills.

    Thank you for a doubly challenging geocache that made for a very memorable day (week, actually!) of exploration! And congratulations to CaptainMath on his incredible achievement!


    Howdy, TeamAJK and 0;)Angel!

    First, I’d like to extend a hearty “Congrats!” to CaptainMath for his amazing achievement. Perhaps one of these days we’ll have the opportunity to meet up with him in person, out on the trails.

    Now for the story of two “moments”.

    Zhanna and I sure do love a good crypto-puzzle challenge. She is the real puzzle nerd and typically figures them out in a flash. I have to admit, however, this one had us both stumped for a solid week. Then, one morning—quite unexpectedly—we had the first of our moments—our “Ah-ha!” moment, to be exact—and the solution became glaringly apparent. Tada!!! With the answer finally in hand we could now begin to appreciate how cunningly this puzzle had been crafted! I wished we had noticed those significant little “tell-tales” sooner. [Wink, wink!]

    For us, however, there was yet one more added aspect to solving this geo-mystery puzzle. This one gave us the second moment—the “déjà vu” moment. It turns out that we had been here before! Just a little over 15 years ago we found a different geocache in nearly this very same area. And, in addition to that, we even managed to find a USGS benchmark right here, too. (For which Zhanna subsequently submitted an official USGS recovery. She’s really good at those, too.)

    And so this morning we felt triply obliged to make the long drive out to Pike County in order to complete the daunting physical part of your geocache hunt. Of course, locating and retrieving the container proved to be a bit more of a task than we anticipated. But with a bit of ingenuity and teamwork Zhanna managed to make the perfect “catch”. We signed the log, took a few photos, then searched for the old benchmark. Yes, we found it again, pretty much like we had seen it 15 years ago.

    Thanks for a fun-filled and memorable geo-puzzle-challenge cache hunt. I’ll let Zhanna fill in a few more details from today’s geo-adventure.

    ~Rich in NEPA~

Today's Survey Marks

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