How to DNF a DNF

Sometimes, expectations don’t match reality. Sometimes, geocachers are absolutely fine with that.

The team of intrepid Geocaching HQ’ers who left Seattle on Friday, June 27th were expecting their weekend culminate in a hike halfway up Mount Rainier. At 10,080 feet in elevation, the Camp Muir hike wasn’t one to scoff at. For five hours, the team would slog straight up rock, ice, and snow. Virtual caches GCA69 and GC1192 would be waiting for them at the top (hopefully holding a sign, flowers, and hand warmers). Logging these, one very old T5 and another very old T4.5, would be the ultimate payoff.

Alas, despite fervent pleas and several bouts of sun-dancing, the team of geocachers was not able to ward off the mantle of clouds that hung over the mountain. When the big day came, Mt. Rainier was to reveal itself for only a few seconds before vanishing shyly again.

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At that point, the team found itself on the cusp of failure.

A triple DNF hung across their shoulders—two for the caches, one for the mountain itself. They had no back-up plan, for the hike up to Camp Muir had consumer their very beings. It was the only ascent they’d considered, the only slope they’d trained for. The team was inconsolable.

Inspiration hit them like a bison charging down a mountain. What do geocachers do when they DNF? They break into song of course.

Explorers, sleuths, adventurers,

finders, keepers, hey!

We the brave, the geocachers,

three dozen finds per day!

The song, which was sung to the tune of “Ronda Alla Turca”, rallied the team immensely. They realized what they had to do to cancel out their DNF: find some more geocaches! Unsurprisingly, the surrounding cliffs, valleys, trails, rivers, and lakes were dotted with geocaches of every type. In little time, the team was hiking merrily along a thin, winding trail rimmed with wildflowers. The prospect of two more caches at the end of the trail lifted their spirits immensely.

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The team thought about all the reasons they loved geocaching, and added one more to the pile: A DNF isn’t synonymous with failure. Lots of things can get in the way of a find. Weather turns south. Batteries die. The dog eats all the snacks. Does that mean the adventure is over? Nope!

Three tips to DNF a DNF

1) Bring a friend. Someone with Pollyanna-style enthusiasm will do nicely.

2) Look around. Are there other caches nearby? Go find ’em.

3) Plan for a return trip. A DNF isn’t a permanent status.

4) Try singing the song mentioned above. Try singing anything to the tune of Ronda Alla Turca. It will cheer you up, we promise.





Alex is a Community Volunteer Support Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. When things get crazy, she sends in the big puns.