Thursday, March 30, 2006

GCC276 Away Team Mission

A premium puzzle geocache. (Premium=you have to be a paying member to see this cache's listing)

I'd pretty much worked this puzzle-cache out a while back. You need to triangulate from 3 radio antennas. I'd found a site online that listed the rough coordinates. They seemed too rough, so I went onto google maps, and tried to get better coordinates. I was able to zero in on 2 with a little work - especially when I noticed the shadow from the antenna masts. The clues give you bearing from these coordinates. I printed out a google map and did a rough by-eye location for the solution cache. I figured I could use google earth to tune the coordinates.

Then I put it away for a while. Last week, I was emailing with a close neighbor who geocaches - it turns out they had been working on this one too! We compared notes, and it turned out we were in the same basic area. They made to go back through their notes too to get what they figured out.

I figured I could use the line function in google earth to calculate the location. Turns out the line function in google earth does not give you bearing. So I went online and found a web page that lets you find distance and bearing for 2 coordinates. So I did trial-and-error to come up with a matching bearing with a distance past where I estimated the cache to be for each of the 3 reference locations. I was very pleased when the 3rd line crossed the same spot that the first 2 lines had crossed at. It was about 100 feet west of the coordinates the neighbors got. And mine was just in the trees, so I was feeling pretty good about the numbers.

So we decided to join forces on Sunday to find this cache. I took my 3 pirates, and they left behind their junior searchers. We detoured to get one cache along the way. It was not far off the route, and turned out to be pretty easy. I spotted what must have been the formation hiding the cache, but I let Pirate #2 confirm it and retrieve the cache. We did some trades and logged the cache. Then we were back on the trails. We were able to take a different trail from the detour towards the puzzle cache. We were at the turning point before we knew it. Pirate #3 was being a little cranky, so I wound up carrying him a little bit.

We got to the area. An area with rocky outcroppings and trees. And the hints say pine needles cover the cache. So it seemed like we were in the right spot! We searched up and down. I checked out a bunch of likely places. Then some less likely places. Then I did some more digging in needles in some likely places. Still no luck. We were also looking for a pink ribbon. We did not see that. I went up along the trail and found a weather-beaten wooden bench placed by the parks department. Not around there. I went along the ridge for part of the way. Still no go. Then I remembered that one of points was a cardinal point. 90 degrees. That meant I should be able to get to the longitude for that coordinate, and walk the line. And I did. But then I found out that the coordinates that the neighbors had were different than mine! They got them from Magellan.

So that gave us a corridor maybe 50 feet wide instead of a line. But that didn't give us the answer. We still couldn't find it. The pirates had finished their snack and were getting bored. So I did one more sweep around the ridge. No luck. We gave up. On the way back down the trail, we found another spot that we wondered if it could be right. So we spent another 10 minutes searching in this area. Finally I had to say enough for us. We left the neighbors checking one more spot.

We got down off the trail in time to just make it home to hand off Pirate #3, who had a show to go to. Or I could take them to lunch and meet the Mrs at the arena. Called on the phone, and agreed to do the lunch thing. Took the pirates to Micky-Ds or as I like to call it, the evil M-pire. And then M&Ms stole my line!

I heard from the neighbors - they got some clues from the cache owner. The copied me on the clues. I emailed some with the owner too. The neighbors decided to take Monday afternoon to try again with the hints. I could not join them. The went with their 2 junior searchers. The stayed until dark, and did not find it.

We got some more hints from the owner. I pointed out the variety of coordinates possible for the antennas, and suggested listing the source for the coordinates. Because it turns out that the coordinates he used were different than the ones I found online and the ones I calculated on the maps. I sent him maps of the different coordinates.

So it turns out the coordinates for the 90-degree was .009 less than mine. Then he said we needed to search further North. North? That would either mean that the coordinates were even further off - or they were not exactly 90-degrees.

They were not 90-degrees. I'd planned to take Thursday afternoon off from work to try again. Turns out that is exactly when the neighbors wanted to try again. So we agreed to meet at the trailhead.

I met the 3 of them there. They had along the elder Junior searcher. I cam alone. The 4 of us headed up armed with much more specific clues from the owner. Any more specific and he would have had to lead us up there by hand. :) We got to the area pretty quickly, and assaulted the location. About 5 minutes up from the trail and we were in the area. Not a minute goes by, and the ribbon is spotted. Less than another minute later, and Mr.Neighbor finds the cache! Wahoo! Yet, finding it that quickly with how much we spent looking for it before was almost a let down. Yet having done it quickly gave us time to think about more caches.

Mr.Neighbor took a reading with his GPS on the 90-degree coordinate. My GPS isn't that fancy, so I was glad he could check. When he checked, it said 91-degrees. That is quite a difference with the coordinate being probably over 2 miles away. Specifically, the final location was probably about 300 feet away from the closest we had searched on Sunday.

I had realize when I was loading coordinates for other caches in the area on Sunday that this would be my first puzzle find! Ironic since I'd put out my own puzzle cache 4 months ago. But I finally got to claim a puzzle find! I added it to my profile page that night. :)

So we wound up doing another 3 caches. The next one we started up a trail, but decided we were going the wrong way after about a half mile. So we turned back and went another way. That one worked pretty well. We only did a light bushwacking the last 100 feet. Mrs.Neighbor spotted this one. It was a cool container.

We checked our GPSs. Only 3 tenths of a mile to the next one. That is closer than the first 2. At least as the crow flies. We wound up bushwacking and playing scrub limbo following deer paths for about a half an hour. Lots of deer droppings. We even saw 2 deer at one point. Then we came to a valley. We worked our way down the valley. It got very steep towards the bottom. Bottom travel was used by most, either on purpose or due to a slide.

Then we were in a box canyon. A tiny little trickle of a stream ran through. The GPS said the cache was somewhere way up in the rocks on the other side. Without thinking about it too much, I decided to head up the stream to see if there was some way out of the box. It was really steep - I just barely managed to make it up. And all the of the neighbors were following! Okay - that works. They made it up the rocks and then we were in slightly easier terrain. But then we were going up through scrub again, and down another hill. Then we hit a trail - perpendicular to our course. We followed it a short way, then we were bushwacking uphill again. We heard, then saw some mountain-bikers to the West. Finally at the top of the hill, we were less than 100 feet from the cache!

I pulled up the listing I'd loaded on my palm. I started reading it to help us find the cache. After a couple of pages, I hear thunk-thunk. It seems Mr&Mrs.Neighbor had found it probably about the time I started reading. It was rated at the simplest level for a find. I had to laugh at myself for reading and reading when it was already found.

We did our trades, then took the main trail back towards the West, where we had seen the mountain bikers. In spite of looking like the trails weren't always going directly where we wanted to go, we doggedly stayed on the trails and followed the signs towards the trailhead parking.

As we were heading along the trail, I couldn't help but wonder if there were any other geocaches along the way. There was! Less than a 1/10 of a miles, and closing fast. It was so nice to see the distance go down so quickly after the really long time at the previous cache. It seems Mr.Neighbor had the same idea, and he had started checking about the same time I did.

It was a micro-cache. And I've developed a bit of a phobia to micros. Mostly because so many have stumped me. But we tried anyhow. The description said that enough people had a hard time with this that asked him to check it! Not a great sign. So I put my palm away, and joined up with the group searching. I looked down at a spot where 2 of them had just passed, and said 'is this it?'. I'd found it very quickly! I might be getting over my micro-phobia! This is the second one I've found of this type - and the other one jumped out at me too!

We signed the logs and made for the cars. It turned out we went right past the place we had turned back when we were headed for the second cache. There were still more caches in the area we wanted to do - but we needed to get back. So we will have to hit the area gain to get more of the listed caches.

A wonderful day of geocaching! Exhilarating hiking! I got some great pictures. And with geocaching friends. This was a really good afternoon!

GCC276 Away Team Mission $ Puzzle 3.5/2.5
4krejcis MrWitzAbout
Found-It log: March 30 by WitzAbout
MrWitzAbout (only WitzAbout) - my 2nd try along with 3/4krejcis on their 3rd try. We had some hints that helped a lot. Mr.4krejcies spotted it first. Turns out I was too literal on the 90 exactly - it may help to round up. Pink ribbon is 2 very small ribbons - one 2 inches long, the other just a tiny piece tied further along the branch.
I'm glad we could help the federation members transport back to the bathrooms at Palmer Park ;-)
I like the Trek theme! This was a fun, yet a little frustrating cache. I'm really glad we were able to find it this time!
TNLNSL - Thanks for the cache, the challenge and help! It was really nice to be able to do this with the other team.

Amazing View on the Way

Marker Along the Trail

Not much left to flutter

1 comment:

gulo said...

this cache already looked hard as it was, after reading this blog it seems 3x as hard, thanks :P