August 26, 2004

Search for UMD 1

(May contain small UMD 1 geocache spoilers)

At the end of the workday, Ryan and I decided to take to the woods behind our office where we knew the UMD 1 geocache (GCKAXB) was hidden. Here’s the brief story of our search.

This cache is what is known as a multi cache. That means an initial micro cache (the size of a 35mm film container) contains the coordinates of a second cache. The first leads you to the second which, if there are more than 2 parts, would lead you to the third and so on. UMD 1 is a 2-part cache.

Ryan and I first walked to the head of the red trail. We cut through the dumping area (which for some reason was open) and the track (which was also open, with one lone runner).

I had walked out to the location a couple of days ago, so I knew where the trail began. I was glad to have Ryan with me, because last time I arrived at the coordinates, I failed to find the first part of the cache. It’s partly because I did not read the hint given on the website, and so my search was not thorough enough. Also, after a few minutes wandering alone off trail in search of the micro cache, I smelled the unmistakable presence of a skunk and heard rustling nearby. I regained the trail and fled the woods, concerned that I had overstayed my welcome.

This time, with double the eyes, I was hoping to cut the search time down.

We found the location of the micro cache after wandering the coordinates for a few minutes. Ryan spotted something suspicious, and then whooped in triumph. He instantly declared the sport of geocaching “awesome” as I entered the new coordinates into the device and jotted them down in my notebook. I believe it was at that moment that geocaching Team SimCalc was actually born.

The first cache was barely off the trail, so we regained the trail and set off for the second cache.

There were a lot of interesting things to see on the red trail. Genius (me) didn’t bring the camera. There is always the possibility of a next time. One striking feature of the red trail was an area, just off the trail with huge downed trees that formed mounds of earth nearly as tall as a person. One particular tree formed a 3-sided shelter with its huge root systems and the trunks of some surrounding trees that had also fallen.

Once we knew we’d found the location, we wandered for over a half hour. We didn’t want to leave without declaring victory, but time was slipping away we’d fairly scoured the area. I realized there was a hint on, which I hadn’t read, and I hadn’t bothered to print out the encrypted text. I grabbed my cell phone and started trying to think of people I could call to check the website.

Maggie wasn’t home. Sara wasn’t at the office. Derek… neither of us could remember his number. I tried to get on to AOL IM via my phone, which was a chore, and suddenly Derek’s number came to Ryan. When I dialed it, my phone displayed the message “Calling Derek…” That’s the electronic equivalent of “Idiot, you have Derek’s number in your address book.”

Derek rose to the occasion, declared a member of Team SimCalc on the spot. He gave us the second hint, which allowed us to focus our attention on one of the two main areas that we’d been searching. Indeed, the GPS device was telling us we were right on top of the cache.

At one point I ran through the brush, thinking I had seen the cache itself. When I got there it was just another rock. But I commented that the rock looked somewhat suspicious and the immediate vicinity of the rock did appear to provide any good hiding places. It took Ryan to think “Well, let’s move the rock then.”

Success! Ryan generously considered it a team effort, but I should have thought to look under the rock.

We signed the book in the ammo container, took a couple of trinkets (a crystal for me and a Santa figurine for Ryan). Ryan left some sort of ball and a stake (I have no idea what they were for) and I left a bottle opener.

But best of all, this cache contained a travel bug!

A travel bug is a tagged item that the owner wants to see move from cache to cache. Bugs can be tracked, usually through a website. This particular bug is tracked at When I noticed that the bug was in this nearby cache (I saw it on the website) I knew we had to reach it before the weekend so that I could carry it to its next cache. And, thanks to a team effort, I did locate it and am now temporary holder of it.

I will place it in the next worthy cache I find. Hopefully something somewhat challenging. I’m thinking of taking it to the north of here.

We packed everything back up and re-hid it in a similar fashion.

When we exited the red trail, we knew we were close to the office but encountered numerous muddy and swampy areas under the power lines that made travel impassable. Eventually we found our way around them and declared the evening a complete victory, getting a soda back at SimCalc and enjoying our laurels.

Unless I miss my guess, Ryan has caught the urge to geocache. And Team SimCalc is thinking of where and how it should place its first UMD cache.

On to the next!

Posted by James at August 26, 2004 10:49 AM
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Woo hoo! That's excellent. I've been dying to get into geocaching. Lynnea just got a GPS for her birthday from my family. I'll have to let you know how the San Diego caches are.

Posted by: briwei at August 26, 2004 2:21 PM

I agree with Ryan. Geocaching rocks!

Posted by: Sharon at September 1, 2004 4:40 PM

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