Believe me, I’m not trying to talk you out of attempting a five terrain, five difficulty geocache. I’m just trying to keep you from acquiring any scars or a metal plate in your neck. Geocaches are ranked from one to five based on difficulty and terrain. Five is the most imposing. Let’s be clear — preparation is key. You should known the geocache rating before attempting the cache. The ratings exist for your safety. But, say you’re part of the “Lost & Found” documentary video crew? And it’s your job to produce a video on completing a 5/5?
This is one (tall/uncoordinated) Lost & Found video producer’s perspective on one particular 5/5 named “* river and lakes” (GC6982). Completing this 5/5 only really requires three attributes. They are endurance, balance and agility.
I sorely lacked two out of the three. I’m a teetering 6’4” with the balancing skills of an unmanned bicycle. My default while falling is to land on my forehead. It’s a precarious landscape for anyone who’s crowning athletic achievement sits atop his refrigerator even now. (It’s a bowling trophy from when I was 11.)
The cache owner and three geocachers were all bush-whacking to the cache ahead of us. Lost & Found videographer Reid was capturing the zigzagging footfalls of the geocachers. The terrain we faced for “* rivers and lakes” is a Paul Bunyan-scale crisscross carpet of fallen trees, inches thick ecosystems of green wiggling moss and glossy boulders with the traction of ice.
The cache sits inside a U-shaped canyon at the base of a waterfall. It’s a near vertical descent through thorns and an inviting thorn-ridden shrub aptly called “Devil’s Club.” After a half hour, I’ve already realized waterproof boots are waterproof… unless your foot slips three feet into a stream and then the boots become sloshing bags of water.
It’s about this time that I think a thorn catches my ear. Suddenly my ear is wet and it’s cold. I think I’m simply in a wonderful form of shock and that I’m bleeding. I reach back to feel the blood. I think, “This can’t be worse.” It is worse.
My fingers curl around “something” attached to my ear. I pulled it forward and stared eye-to-antenna with a giant banana slug.
I named the slug “Signal.”
This Signal was placed gently back into his or her habitat. It’s a relationship I won’t forget though.
The geocachers and Reid reached the cache moments later (relatively) unscathed. Then we had to hike back out, the same way. Signal didn’t make a repeat performance. I was left with just a few scratches and memories of a wet and cold kiss from a banana slug.
Most geocachers have similar stories. And like the Lost & found documentary crew, they’ll do it again. Why? You tell me. What keeps geocachers going back to the trail?
Soon, you can watch the adventures of the hardy geocachers who attempted this 5/5. The Lost & Found video is scheduled to post on Tuesday, September 14th.