One Puzzling Day

We had put off our trip up to New Hampshire twice. Hayden was sick the first weekend, and on the second weekend it was over 90 degrees and there were passing thunderstorms.

I had taken the two days after the Fourth of July off, so on the 5th we left to head north at about 6 AM, with our packs full with maps, water (lots), snacks, some minor medical supplies, sun block, bug spray, and extra batteries.

Sue and I had worked on the “EyeD10T Jones and the Caches’ Key” in June. Sue did most of the puzzle work. There were a total of 22 of these caches; 20 could be solved for at home, and the last two required field work based on clues found at the first 20 cache sites. There were only about four types of puzzles, so once we figured those out, it was pretty easy to solve the remaining puzzles.

Using my new Garmin eTrex30 GPS receiver, I loaded up the 20 caches and a map of the state park they were hidden in. This allowed us to determine which paths in the park each cache was nearest to and how to find each one while minimizing the amount of hiking necessary.

In the end, we decided on three parking locations around the park. The first was to the east, and allowed us to grab two of the caches, which were a bit away from the others. It was also here that we decided that we needed a lot more bug spray. The park was almost completely forest, except for a big pond and pockets of standing water: a mosquito paradise. At this first stop, we also picked up an unrelated puzzle cache. Besides solving “EyeD10T Jones and the Caches’ Key”, I was trying to accomplish a couple other geocaching challenges: 1) to find 25 puzzle caches in one day, and 2) to have over 17% of all of my cache finds be of the puzzle variety.

We then drove south a bit and parked again. From here, we would try and gather 17 caches from the series, and one additional random puzzle cache that was also in the park. The hides were clever. There were plastic spiders hanging from trees, a giant mouse trap with a fake piece of cheese on it, and film canisters tucked in rock walls, to name a few. Each had a clue as to the final two series caches, and a log inside of it we could sign. The only other person we saw the whole time was a horseback rider, who asked us how we could stand all the bugs.

The large pond had lily pads in bloom, there were low-bush blueberries ripe to be picked, and small frogs hopping across our path in several locations. It was quite a nice location, but we were getting tired. We had hiked about six miles by the time we got back to the car, ready to go to the last parking location at the north of the park.

From this trailhead, we found the last of the 20 initial caches. Sue put together all the clues, and we headed off to cache #21, which was about ¼ mile away. We were greeted with a combination lock on the cache. Using the clues we had gathered, we popped it open no problem, signed the log, and took the old-style key along with the coordinates for the final cache location.

It took us a while to find #22. The foliage cover was dense, and was causing havoc with my GPS. Sue’s iPhone battery had died, so we could no longer use its compass. Finally, I gave up on the electronics and just looked around. It had to be within 75 feet of where I was standing, and we weren’t going home without it, after having spent almost 8 hours to get to this point. No rocks walls or stumps were in the area, and it had to be fairly large. After looking though several groups of leaves and branches on the ground, we finally came up with the cache. The key opened the ammo can cache and we were able to sign the final log, signifying our success at solving “EyeD10T Jones and the Caches’ Key”!

At this point, we had found 23 puzzle caches. We still needed two more to meet the challenge of 25 in one day. Sue found another puzzle series in the area, called “The Meaning of Life” which featured questions about the Monty Python movie. You had to answer correctly to go on to the next cache. We found the first two of the series and called it a day. Hayden was really starting to complain about his legs, and the heat and humidity of the afternoon was getting to us all.

We ended up home right around 4 PM. Sue and I both have puzzle find percentages well over 20% now. It took us almost 10 hours and 8 miles of hiking, but we finally finished what we had set out to accomplish. This cache series and our last big canoeing adventure to Ugly’s Cache, this geocaching hobby has turned into some good exercise.

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