Geocachers Roy Joseph (Rojo464) and Paul Fox (Pauleefox) drove through the rugged desert of Eastern Utah searching for five geocaches on Tuesday the 17th of August. But they never made it past their second find. What they encountered instead led to grateful tears and news headlines.
Roy and Paul had finished finding their second geocache and were looping around for a third – called “Bugy Softwear” (GCGMJT). The area of the desert that they searched is referred to as the Dolores Triangle. It’s one of the most barren regions of the United States. The average temperature in August bakes the cracked ground at nearly 100 degrees F (38 C). Bumping along in Roy’s jeep the two men stopped. Just head of them, a mini-van sat wedged into the sandy soil.
Paul says, “We saw the van in the gully from the road above it. Out here a vehicle in that position is either abandoned or there is somebody in need of help. Either way we needed to check it out.”
Roy adds, “When we first saw the car we could tell it was stuck. But it looked odd with the towels over the sun visors. We were concerned with who might be in the van. With it being in such a remote area we knew we had to make sure the occupants could get back to town.”
They drove the jeep next to the stranded vehicle. Two women looked out. Roy says, “When we stopped beside the van the daughter said ‘Thank God’ and then started crying.” A mother and daughter had been stranded in the van for two days.
Roy says he’s prepared for geocaching in the desert and they were able to offer immediate help: “I have a backpack I carry with water, snacks, SWAG, a first aid kit, a short rope, and batteries. In the Jeep I carry tools, spare parts, a tow strap, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, extra water and some blankets.”
This wasn’t his first encounter with someone needing help, but never before has the situation been this dire. “We have helped strangers get unstuck, hauled a bicyclist to the hospital, given water to hikers, but this was different – both these two women could have died.” After the rescue, the mother and daughter will be okay.
Paul says the situation is a first for him: “In my 64 years I don’t believe I have ever been in a position to rescue damsels in distress before.”
Both Paul and Roy have been geocaching for at least three years. As the news broke, the reaction from the geocaching community flooded their email in-boxes. They say comments like Nancy Nagel’s post on the Geocaching.com Facebook page hit home. She said, “I always say that geocachers are the nicest, kindest people! I am so proud!”
Roy says, “We, too, have met some really nice people while geocaching but I am really surprised at the number of e-mails I have received from them.”
Paul explains geocachers this way: “The geocachers I know and have met are not the type of people that I would be afraid to meet in a dark alley. It is always good to have story to tell that puts geocaching in such a good light. Lots of people just don’t know what it is.”
Both say they’re ready for more geocaching. Roy says, “I like being in the great outdoors, the exercise and the places geocaching takes me.”
And no matter who or what they encounter, they’ll be prepared. Roy says he’s glad this unexpected encounter ended with hugs and heartfelt thanks: “We are just thankful that we were able to help the women before it became a more serious situation for them.”