Friday, December 7, 2018

The Dweller Goes Missing and States of Confusion

Whenever I know in advance that a geocacher—or group of cachers—intends to hunt one of my night caches, I oftentimes go out walking with them. For my part, I get to check on the general state of things and enjoy a night in the woods; the hunters have the advantage of the cache owner being on hand to steer them completely wrong along the way. Oh, did I say "advantage"? I might have meant "handicap."

Last week, friends Natalie (a.k.a fishdownthestair), Dave (a.k.a. rhodorooter), and Tom (a.k.a. Skyhawk63) had the notion to go after "Dweller in Darkness: The Missing" (GC3G3N7), and, per the norm, I agreed to go walkies on the trail with them. Much to his chagrin, Mr. Skyhawk forgot to show up (shame on Mr. Skyhawk!), but Natalie and Dave had their priorities in order. We hit the Reedy Fork trail, the hunters seeking the glowing fire tacks that would lead them to their destination, while I ended up replacing a number of said tacks that had gone missing.

Stage 1 turned out a little worse for wear and needed some work. I made the necessary reparations, and our intrepid adventurers proceeded after the final stage. Or would have, had there been a final stage out there to proceed to.

Holy shit... I knew Hurricane Michael, some weeks back, had brought more water than I had ever seen in this area, but I had no idea how severe the flooding had been along the Greensboro watershed trails. It was... severe. To totally wash out Dr. Zann's final resting place, the water had to have risen at least 10 feet above the norm. Ground zero was a horror show. And the cache was gone.

Having failed to anticipate the extent of the maintenance required, I had not brought any kind of replacement for the final stage. So, after an exhaustive but ultimately futile search for the good Dr. Zann's remains, we cried uncle and made our way back to that hideous train wreck called civilization.

Now, friend Natalie, devout geocacher and fellow Halloweenie, happened to own a few items that might facilitate the repairs of the Dweller in Darkness, and she was kind enough to donate them to the cause. So on last Sunday, she and I went out in a driving rain to recreate the cache, complete with a new resting place for the good Dr. Zann.

Thus, last night, I met Mr. Skyhawk, his memory somewhat recovered, and Dr. Dave back at the Reedy Fork trailhead to attempt another encounter with the Dweller. This time, all was right with the world, our valiant hunters claimed the cache, and we all headed to a very crowded Uptown Charlie's to meet Skyhawk's lovely wife, Linda (a.k.a. Punkins19) for piles and piles of fabulous chicken wings and brew.

That was Phase I of last night's geocaching adventure. I will hereby explain that friend Dave, not only an intrepid hunter, is the creator of several daunting puzzle caches—a series called "States of Confusion"—recently foisted on the local geocaching community. Let it be known I dislike puzzle caches, at least those that require computer time (most do). I am on the computer all day, five days out of seven, at the office. I write my own stuff during the evening. Every evening. I tend to be on the damned computer far more than I care to be. Geocaching is my means of getting the hell off the computer and out in the wild to hunt some entertaining shit. Having to spend computer time prior to that outing makes me ornery. Dave's puzzles are not as bleeping impossible as many, but they aren't exactly simple or obvious. They require computer work. Oy vey.

During our revelries last evening, one of Dave's new puzzle caches published. And lo, it was not far from my route home. There was no way I'd be able to solve the puzzle on my own before spending that dreaded computer time. But I had it in my head that it would sure be entertaining to somehow find that cache.
In my 10+ years of geocaching, I have been known to occasionally find caches via unorthodox means, pure chance, or a combination of both. In an effort to procure useful information vis-à-vis the puzzle, Skyhawk, Punkins, and I threatened our friend, the CO; whacked him mercilessly upside the head; even withheld a plate of chicken wings from him; but he refused to talk. We left dinner without one iota of additional insight, and the CO laughing at our vulgar ineptitude.

From there, I had to make a stop for a groceries, during which time I grumbled to anyone who would listen about the evils of puzzle caches. I figured when I got home, I'd see what kind of forward progress I might make with the puzzle. However, I knew, from the placement of the puzzle cache icon on the map, the physical container had to reside within a two-mile radius. The cache page included an explicit hint, which mirrored one of Dave's previous hides. On a lark, I decided to return to that particular area and examine a handful of appropriate hosts. Mais alas, rien. Well, it was a worthy attempt. Then, as I drove in defeat back toward Chez Rodan, I saw on the geocaching map another area that might... might... be promising, just off the main road at a somewhat secluded location. I pulled in, and immediately saw a police vehicle parked near just the kind of host I sought. I thought, you know, if I were self-respecting puzzle cache, that was precisely where I might hide myself....


There it was! The cache! Just to be certain I hadn't found some other unpublished hide, I verified with the CO that I was where I was supposed to be. And so... it was done. The perfect combination of well-honed skill, razor-sharp deductive thinking, and pure, blind luck.

Okay, so it was all three of these things except maybe the first two.

I fully expected Officer of the Law to accost me to figure just what the heck I was doing. But nope. Officer of the Law remained parked and left me alone. Go figure. Anyway, for good measure, I determined how to solve the puzzle once I got home. Well, mostly. A couple of niggling details never quite came clear. Damned puzzle caches....

Don't perpetuate these monstrosities, good people. Just don't.

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