A “cache machine” is geocaching social where someone sets up a route that people can follow to make a high number of geocache finds in a relatively short period of time. On Sunday, I attended one in Belfair, WA.
Since Belfair is not too far from home, I planned on driving up the morning of. Traffic on Sunday/holiday weekend/at 5am/westbound was far more benign than I anticipated. I rolled into town pretty early, but it was still dark and I hadn’t met up with my geocaching buddy to start. Rather than wait in the parking lot for half an hour, I drove back into town, looking for an open espresso hut. I passed a few of them, losing hope that anything would be open on a Sunday/holiday/weekend/at 5am, when I saw the “open” sign up ahead.
About the last thing I was expecting on a cold (20F) morning was to be greeted by a barista in a swimsuit:
Barista: Generic banter about holiday.
Me: Unspecific response. Reciprocal inquiry of same.
Barista: Unmemorable follow-up. What can I get you?
Me: Medium mocha.
Barista: Comment about local sports team event occurring later.
Me: Unmemorable follow-up.
Later, I discovered that I’d found Belfair’s “Espresso Gone Wild.” Except for the swimsuit aspect, which I thought was more weird than kitten-killing, it was completely tame.
I met my geocaching buddy at 7am and, unable to convince him that he needed coffee, too, we set off for the first set of caches. Complete. Chaos. Though it was completely dark (still), you could see the bobbing headlamps walking back to the cache. In fact, they just kept it out for the next person to put back. Once back to the car, it’s a quick drive up the street to the next.
After the tenth cache like this, we decided we’d do the route backwards in hopes of avoiding the Blitzkrieg of cars. A few other folks had the same idea, but soon we had enough spacing that it became enjoyable again. There were a lot guardrail and gate hides. By the time my geocaching buddy would pull the key out of the car, I’d have the log out, signing it for both of us.
Then we came to the first toughie – a hike to an ammo can that currently resides somewhere among a clear-cut fir forest. Debris was everywhere, there was nary a hint, and we all found ourselves playing the Follow-the-Garmin game. With nearly a half-hour invested, we gave up. Later on, we found out the cache owner visited and had a hard time finding it. As he is a high-volume person himself, he allowed us to record the find while he updated the page for others.
The next really tricky one was a NIAH (needle in a haystack). A pile of gnarled logs harbored a “2.5 difficulty” micro. We conjecture it was more like a 4.0, but one of the local cachers made the grab. The cache was well-hidden up and inside a nook of this thing. He happened to bring a flashlight.
The next bloc of caches were nicely-sized containers located in a wilderness park. Finding all three took about forty minutes, but it was enjoyable hiking time. This is why we geocache! Unfortunately, it’s a bit at odds with the concept behind a “cache machine.”
We had a series of guardrail micros that helped bring the overall average up. The only memorable one was “Lake Tahyua,” where we ran into a local geocacher using the Cache Machine as an opportunity to educate the community about Letterboxing. He was quite the personality: older guy, self-taught, bright, enthusiastic, energetic, eccentric and convinced everyone who’s not Doing It His Way is wrong and must be corrected. He seemed nice enough, but I could see how his personality would clash on the forums.
We continued along the (reverse) route, picking up a cluster of caches in a campground area. Here, we worked with another group of long-time cachers. They were pretty pleasant, and much mellower than our friend at Lake Tahuya. As I was walking by one of the cars, my (new) Oregon 450 picked up a “Chirp,” a wireless beacon that they’ve installed in their car, using it as a mobile travel bug.
By now, it was late in the afternoon. The posted route would have us doing some interesting out-and-back for a small handful of caches. Because we didn’t want to miss the post-event shindig at JR’s Grill in Belfair, we skipped those and anything whose description suggested it was more than a few minutes’ walk.
Total for the day: 61 finds (59 traditional, 1 multi, 1 puzzle), 3 DNFs. Whew!
|Waypoint Name||SZ||D||T||TOD||Time btwetween||Notes||Placed|
|TRR1||Belfair Waterwheel||R||1.5||1||7:23||0:08||Cool icicles||3/19/06|
|X3MQ||Romance? – Grab a Tic Tac!||S||1||1.5||7:28||0:05||7/11/06|
|116W9||Blue star – Honoring Those Who Serve||S||2||2||7:33||0:05||3/5/07|
|VMR5||North Mason Travel Bug Chamber||R||1.5||1||7:35||0:02||4/26/06|
|217QH||POWER’S OUT – WENT POSTAL||M||1.5||1.5||7:41||0:06||11/20/09|
|WE05||GPR #2 – Mission Impossible!||S||1||1.5||7:51||0:10||Diverged from group||6/19/06|
|14M2H||Tree Farm: One Degree of Separation||R||1||1.5||7:55||0:04||7/24/07|
|2KX94||Things I “Hate” About Caching||NA||2||2||8:13||0:14||1/1/11|
|15BRQ||Spotting this Cache is Easy!||M||2||3||8:15||0:02||8/22/07|
|2KRG8||Sparky the Fire Dog||M||1.5||1.5||8:25||0:10||12/30/10|
|1JDA8||STOP, LOOK & LISTEN||M||1.5||1||8:50||0:07||11/23/08|
|1JDA0||Dump and Run||M||1||1.5||8:57||0:07||11/23/08|
|1JD9V||The Blue Gate Special||S||1.5||1.5||9:05||0:03||11/23/08|
|MMJN||Tahuya #2 – Eleven||R||2.5||3||9:48||0:29||DNF, but CO said we could log it||1/29/05|
|13EQC||GPR2 – #5 Prudential||R||1.5||1.5||10:04||0:08||6/21/07|
|1BH0A||Tail of the Tiger||NA||1.5||1.5||10:20||0:09||DNF||4/22/08|
|2AW2X||Tri as you may||S||1||1.5||10:25||0:05||6/26/10|
|WVBG||That Way To Seabeck||M||1||1||10:30||0:05||9/20/07|
|1YE2J||Tangled Mess II||M||2.5||2||10:58||0:28||Hardest find||9/8/09|
|2K47P||It Came From The Other Side||R||2.5||2||11:30||0:00||Found w/Great Library||12/6/10|
|PD9J||Thunderbird Track #5 – Stream||R||1||1.5||11:36||0:06||6/25/05|
|1W4A7||stumped on holly||S||2.5||2||11:59||0:06||7/19/09|
|12M3M||Bedrock Travel Bug & Gecoin Motel||R||1||1||12:17||0:09||5/6/07|
|22BP8||Bison by the Blue Gate||M||1.5||1.5||12:23||0:06||12/27/09|
|22BQ3||Bison by the Babbling Brook||M||1.5||1.5||12:35||0:05||12/27/09|
|1C5J8||1 Time At Band Camp…||M||2||2||12:50||0:15||DNF||5/11/08|
|1X2J5||Must Love Oysters||M||1.5||1.5||13:01||0:11||8/9/09|
|22BTT||Closer to Fine||M||2.5||2||13:23||0:22||12/27/09|
|1F462||Stuck on Mason||M||1||2||13:25||0:02||Added||8/9/08|
|2EWH0||One Degree of Separation: Tree Farm #26||S||2||2.5||13:49||0:19||Added||9/5/10|
|1C5N9||Out In The Stix||R||1.5||2||13:59||0:10||5/11/08|
|1C5K3||This Ain’t No KOA!!!||M||1||1||14:15||0:16||5/11/08|
|1C7XD||Quik Clam Cache||S||1||1.5||14:22||0:07||5/11/08|
|1X2HV||Six Point Maple||M||2.5||2||14:28||0:06||DNF||8/9/09|
|1D004||Zone of Influence||M||2||1.5||14:41||0:13||6/5/08|
|1D00A||X marks the Spot||S||1.5||2||15:09||0:07||P+G||6/5/08|
|1D00G||Robbins Lake Cache||S||1.5||1.5||15:42||0:21||Hike||6/5/08|
|1CZZV||U turn to Tee Lake||S||1.5||1.5||16:01||0:04||6/5/08|
|15PH2||Road to Oblivion||R||1.5||1.5||16:08||0:07||9/4/07|
|2C1YC||I may take up yodeling||S||2||2||16:16||0:08||7/20/10|
|JACT||MC||How Easy to Forget (A Different Kind of Cache)||R||1||1.5||16:29||0:11||4/27/04|
|14WYV||NOT BOAT RAMP||S||1||1||17:00||0:04||8/4/07|
|2JD01||E||Belfair Cache Machine dinner||NA||3.5||3.5||17:35||0:16||1/2/11|
|292WK||big beaver pond||R||2||1.5||skip||5/23/10|
|1GYPX||H-006 Hood Canal View||M||2||2.5||skip||10/5/08|
|1C750||Let’s Do The Jigg !||R||1.5||2||skip||5/12/08|
|2C7YV||micros are boring||L||1.5||3.5||skip||7/24/10|
|1GF19||Mission Oriented H-007||R||1.5||2||skip||9/20/08|
|21M03||N.O.P.C. FTF Challenge #6 – Enduro trail||R||2||2||skip||11/30/09|
|15JMZ||Not the Maple Syrup Kind||S||1.5||1.5||skip||8/31/07|
|2BY73||one along the way||S||1.5||2||skip||7/18/10|
|15CEY||One Degree Of Separation:Tree Farm #27||S||1.5||2||skip||8/23/07|
|15HPX||Rendsland Creek Cache||S||2||1.5||skip||8/30/07|
|1JD8E||?||SANDHILL SERIES FINALE||R||2||2||skip||11/23/08|
|15JN1||THE BURMA ROAD MICRO||M||1.5||1.5||skip||8/31/07|
|2KREB||EC||Theler Wetlands Tidal Marsh||NA||1.5||1.5||skip||1/1/11|
|28QAV||Tiki Lucky Cache||?||2.5||1.5||skip||5/18/10|
|2FYV0||Too many micros||L||1.5||3||skip||9/29/10|