A Thousand Times a Caching · Mar 1, 12:20 PM by admin
I suppose anybody that knows Kili or Bust will also know that I couldn’t let a milestone like this pass without some comment or other!
I am reminded of a recent game of golf I played (poorly!) with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for a while. During the course of some rather indifferent putting one of my friends asked the other what this geocaching business was about that I was involved in and why it was taking so much time away from something as “vital” as golf. As the character being asked had quite a limited view of the world outside of golf, I listened carefully and expectantly while my other friend tried to explain caching to him “in laymans’s terms”. After the short synopsis our man just shook his head and said, “what, all that way for a little plastic box?” Then with a long incredulous stare at me, while obviously trying to work out where I belonged in cloud cuckoo land, he just turned away muttering, “what a waste of time!”
That “waste of time” has taken me on quite a journey over the last couple of years, through three continents, finding every conceivable kind of cache you can imagine. Apart from meeting the wonderful array of characters that make up Geocaching both here in Ireland and abroad, there has been an ever growing list of highlights, just a few of which I will try to pack into as short a space as possible. I am bound to leave something out so please forgive me in advance!
The very first two caches I tried to find in Dublin (Spooky and The Phoenix) were DNFs (it took some time and a tiny technical adjustment from Donnacha to find these later). The first actual physical find, Butibamba, was on a beach in Spain. I gave up on the “useless” but really misunderstood GPS, and I went in search of the cache using a spoiler picture which was facing out to sea from the cache site. I walked for hours along the sea front (not exactly a chore in glorious sunshine!) trying to figure out exactly the angle from which it was taken. Not for the last time, naked sun worshippers stared suspiciously at this shifty character with the photocopy held out and staring at the sea as if in search of some divine inspiration. Despite the occasional over protective male consort and some female Mediterranean glares, believe it or not, I found the cache and the “success” reward for that little piece of determination hooked me instantly. I have never quite been interested in cache contents, bugs and coins, though I understand the enjoyment that others gain from these. It was simply working out the information, making the physical effort, enjoying what was there to be seen or interested in along the way and yes, of course, getting that little “kick” at the eureka moment!. First to finds are nice but again, not my prime interest.
Since then I have travelled to every tiny out of the way place on this beautiful island, like a bloodhound, seeking out caches. I have also found them across much of England and Wales, the Isle of Man, Spain and Portugal. One each in Peru and Kenya and a couple in Tanzania.
I have cached with my wife Joan all around Ireland and Andalucia. I have searched for them with each of my four sons and one time with all of them together in a magical trip to Kerry. Several times I have had some precious caching trips with my granddaughter Robyn here in Dublin. I have also had the great pleasure of caching trips with many of Ireland’s great cachers including Steve of Windsockers, Hezekiah, Donnacha, Marcus, Wildlifewriter and many more.
The trip to Happy Humphrey’s excellent series of tricks, quizzes and obstacles in the Isle of Man was a caching trip that will remain in the pleasure dome of the memory for years to come. My 500th cache find was in that trip and it turned out to be a double 5 star cache. Several caching trips in the Andalucian sunshine have fond memories, particularly one 20 mile drive into the mountain wilderness to find Spain’s oldest and surely most beautiful tree. I know all trees are lovely but if you ever get a chance to see “Castano Santo” up close as I did, you will immediately grasp where Joyce Kilmer was coming from with his famous poem:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Very early morning treks down the western coast of Ireland in summer, visiting timeless terrain, historical monuments, ancestor’s homesteads and literally walking through the ancient art and folklore of this country. The magnificent trek to high altitude in the intimidating Andes before joining the famous Inca Trail to the Sun Gate over Macchu Picchu in Peru and the lost city itself with it’s virtual cache. The 32 county, 24 hour frenetic extravaganza with 3 other cachers which provided so much fun and excitement in it’s planning and successful conclusion. Doing a Don Quixote, standing alone in the unnerving wind of huge power turbines at Tarifa and watching whales and dolphins trafficking through the straits where the fingertips of Europe and Africa almost touch. Bleary eyed trips with the ever willing Steve and Alan to the North and other far flung parts, at ungodly hours of the morning. The north coast event and all the beautiful cache treks in that scenic part of this island. All the event caches I have attended, in particular the UK/Irish one in Wales and the one for the incredible Wendy and her equally wonderful dog Caesar when she visited Dublin. The damp “deliverance” of a trip to the Peak district in the north of England. The inexplicable feeling, of self indulgence I suppose, strolling gently along the river at Asleagh Falls near the border of Mayo and Galway, at dawn, and watching the otherwordly colour of the sunlight arriving along the mountains. The physically demanding trip to Kilimanjaro which not only provided me with my Geocaching name and one of the worlds highest cache “finds” but also the trip of a lifetime, an incredible Safari and a busload of new friends.
Another pic from the Kili trip which may convey, in the body language, the exhaustion, breathing difficulties and determination of the remaining trekkers. This was taken by a person who turned back at this point and pictured the rest of us continuing on up just as dawn was breaking (CLICK PIC TO ENLARGE)
More high points included Dino’s “All at Sea”, Donnacha’s early mountain caches, Hauke’s spellbinding scenery in Kerry, Bootle’s fabulous island caches, Marcus’ unforgettable trip to Beginish and some more surreal sunshine, Sir Steve’s clever tricks and superbly researched historical caches in his beloved but “ever spreading” north County Dublin. Hill walks in the Wikklas, the Mournes, the Cooleys, the Galtees and a particularly fabulous trek along the huge massif of Benbulbin with the ubiquitous mountain guru, Hezekiah!
The thrill of locating the tiny focus of such trips while taking in as much as possible of the surrounding area is difficult to explain properly. What I do know is that usually a cache takes me somewhere that it would never have crossed my mind to visit in a million years but for Geocaching. I guess this is a benefit of “the game” that we all seem to enjoy!
During a recent country drive with my mother, not far from ninety years young, I brought her to The Devil’s Glen in Wicklow to find a cache and she was able to tell me stories of old about hikes and cycling trips to the area long before all the chugging and clogging multitudes of cars and while the earth was still plentifully cocooned in Ozone.
I have rowed, waded, walked, cycled, driven, sailed, flew, climbed, crawled, swam, scrambled and fallen towards caches. I have been scratched, torn, bitten and punctured. I have been towed (twice), elated, embarrassed, relieved, disappointed, surprised, roasted, frozen and drenched but always fascinated while finding caches. I have been watched by the police, questioned by them and ultimately helped by them in the pursuit and placing of caches and they have helped others find mine.
Setting caches has been most enjoyable for me, though living in the heart of a large city, I don’t have ready access to the best of nature’s beauty spots. It is a great and regular source of enjoyment when I open my mail to find daily reports from touring cachers who seem to get a kick out of my Dublin “tourist trail”, man made, beauty spots. The comments are usually positive and they vary widely and interestingly while providing worthwhile foreign perspective on our little efforts here.
I think asking someone about their favourite cache is like asking them to name their favourite poem. It is simply impossible to answer. It is down to the day, the weather and the mood as much as the quality, location, approach and presentation of the cache. It would be easy to nominate St McDuagh’s Church, Slieve League, Atlantic Whirlpool, Woar Wars, Jack the Bachelor, The Bradda Lode, Kilimanjaro or Macchu Picchu among the many great, great caches that make up my thousand finds. But I could just as easily say that it is hard to get past the perplexed look on my granddaughter’s face, then aged 4, when she poked her little arm inside the head of a statue in Merrion Square, with no help you understand, and then her face dancing like Christmas lights when she realised she had found “the little box”.
Yes, a shockin’ waste of time, this caching business!
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