It has taken me a while to work out how & what to say in this blog. I’m not even sure I am happy with the title either.
Last night became a sad night for Kent Geocachers!
On Tuesday a few local cachers had decided to attempt a dedicated night cache but they were very unsuccessful. They couldn’t find a single fire tack and had even done 3 PAF’s (phone a friend). I was one of those friends! To be honest, with a reasonable torch, fire tacks are incredibly easy to find, and the guys who made the first attempt were not inexperienced cachers, so the night cache should have been a doddle!
So through conversations on our facebook group, we arranged a second outing for Friday and I decided to join them having completed the night cache back in October 2011 and was able to remember the route, just in case they really needed my help. I was, however hopeful that I wouldn’t be needed and the group would easily find their way to the final location with ease. I just refused to believe that the night cache was really that hard to find.
At 7pm, a horde of cars & cachers met at the parking waypoint (10 teams plus 3 children) and discussed what they could expect to find on a night cache. I explained that fire tacks were reflective and the torches would pick them up straight away, and off we went.
About ten minutes later we arrived at the start point, rallied the children to the middle of the group so they wouldn’t get lost in the woods and proceeded along the straight path, ten torches trained on the trees either side of the path, anxiously searching for the first tack, which I knew should be about 100 metres up the path.
We reached a junction, roughly where the first tack should have been seen. We all searched around for quite a few minutes, I knew it wasn’t meant to be so hard, and then we spotted the tack. It had been stripped of its reflective coating (see left photo).
At least we knew we were on the correct path, and so we soldiered on, hoping to find another, and another, then another. The tacks were originally placed about 80 metres apart in a pretty obvious direction. As we followed the path, I became increasingly concerned by the lack of reflections. I mean, with 10 good torches and several head torches too, we should have seen something!
We then came to an intersection, which had become a clearing since my last
Here I was shown the only piece of reflective material that the first team had seen on Tuesday. I went to get a closer look, and was appalled to find that it was indeed a fire tack, which had been smashed against the tree. By now the whole group were beginning to feel disheartened, and shocked!
Perhaps it was kids having a laugh! They wouldn’t know that these little reflective shapes were part of a trail……
This was when the group began to rely on me! I am so pleased that I could remember the route, and pretty much remember where to locate the fire tacks too. This came in very handy, as we found the next tack had been smashed, and the next one obliterated, and the one after that, and the next one and then another….… We quickly realised that this had become a deliberate sabotage and not just local children with nothing better to do.
Finally we came to a path I recognised as being the one that would lead us to the final resting place of the cache. There were no visible markers at this point so the larger part of the group stayed on the main path, shining their torches down the slope while I headed gingerly forward to check the geocache was still in its rightful place.
I was ecstatic to see that the container was still there, attached to the tree, where it was supposed to be. I called the group to join me and hung back, having already found this spot 3 months ago.
Everyone was just as pleased as me to see it, this made the last 40 minutes not feel quite so bad. Maybe it was just youths having nothing better to do with their lives but wreck an obvious trail!
Our joy was short lived, however! Smif 247 slid open the container to retrieve the log book, stash and travel bug from inside but he was not prepared for what had been used to replace the contents of the cache!
Someone had not just destroyed every single fire tack that would lead us to the geocache, but had taken it upon themselves to remove the log book, stash and travel bug (Stickie) before filling the container up with excrement (poop)! HOW! WHY! The container is securely attached to the tree trunk and is placed about 5 ft up!
Most of us have been caching less than a year, and have racked up a heck of a lot of finds between us in that time, but not once has any of us found a cache that had been so deliberately defiled.
In total shock and horror at our find, it was decided that everyone log it as found, but giving their version of events, and I would log as maintenance.
With heavy hearts we back tracked along the trail, taking photographs for the cache owner, discussing the malicious activity that had taken place since the last find (6th Jan 2012) and working out in our heads what we were going to write in our logs.
I really hope that this will be the worst experience I have when geocaching. I have had my fair share of DNF’s along the way, but this is the worst mindless act I have ever come across. The forest night cache was once a very enjoyable cache with 19 favourite points and a good amount of watchers. Now the cache owner has had to regrettably disable it and has said that they are considering relocating it.