Mountain Walk is a circular series of 20 geocaches to the north of Penycae. We set off on the 5.5 mile circuit with the intention of recording as many of the finds as possible and yet we only achieved 9! That’s a success rate of just 45%, but why did this happen?
In this article we will be taking a look at the pitfalls of geocaching in winter (and I’m not talking about numb fingers and torrential downpours!)
Our countryside ramble started off well enough, with a QEF (quick easy find) at the first hide, but we had to log DNF’s (did not find) at the next two. In fairness, I think the third in the series; Mountain Walk Two, has been discarded during ground-works.
We then managed to get back on track, successfully finding the next 6 caches. The route took us through a picturesque little hamlet, featuring a traditional red phone box, a stream and the odd chicken!
At Mountain Walk Seven we encountered a prime example of a winter geocaching woe, the wet log! Admittedly this can be a year round problem, but in winter it is important to ensure that your logs are securely bagged and in watertight containers.
As you can see from the picture above, the container was a little out of the ordinary, a shotgun cartridge! I am not sure if this container ever had a lid or a cap, but if it did, it was not present at the time of finding. Unfortunately the cache was soaked through and the log resembled a ball of papier mache! If you find a cache like this, please do log a “Needs Maintenance” otherwise the owner will not be aware that there is an issue!
Mountain Walk Nine and Ten are currently absent, so we followed the bridleway to Eleven. As you can see from the photograph at the beginning of this article, there was a lot of standing water and the ground was very boggy.
The return leg of the series includes 11 caches and we only found 2 of them, with 6 DNF’s in a row. We have put this down to one of the unexpected difficulties facing geocachers in winter; the maintenance of farmland! The majority of these caches had been hidden in hedgerows and the farmer had clearly been along and cut them right back.
This image shows the extent to which the hedges are cut. You can imagine that a film canister tied to a branch, does not stand much chance against industrial machinery attached to a tractor! Mountain Walk Twelve was supposed to be a magnetic container, but the gate we found was brand shining new. Presumably the geocache was taken away and scrapped along with the old gate.
Of course these issues are not the landowner’s fault, nor are they the fault of the cache owner. All we can do as geocachers is perform regular maintenance and checks on our hides and record “Needs Maintenance” logs when we find an issue in the field.
At number eighteen, we actually had the opposite problem…a holly bush had completely overgrown a fence post and it was so dense that we could not find any sign of a container behind it!
Mountain Walk Nineteen has clearly been muggled, as it is overlooked by at least two properties, but I am pleased to say that we found number twenty. Despite the plastic baggy being soaked; the log inside was dry, a positive end to the series. A big thank you to Debbswrx for putting this series out. I hope that some of the caches we logged DNF’s on are there after all. Maybe we were just having a particularly off day!
Below is an aerial view of the series, so that you can see which ones we found. The trail starts at the top right hand smiley and continues anti-clockwise.
Groundspeak have written a superb article about Winter Geocaching, with some seasonal tips for finding geocaches as well as for those hiding them!