Long lost APE cache is found!

A group of Seattle-area geocachers has claimed a historic victory against muggle forces by rescuing an APE cache more than five years after it went missing!

The History

In 2001, fourteen geocaches were placed in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to support the movie Planet of the Apes. Each geocache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an Alternative Primate Evolution (A.P.E.). These geocaches were made using specially marked ammo containers and contained an original prop from the movie. Mission 9: Tunnel of Light was one of those caches.

Located about 60 miles east of Seattle, the container was placed by Geocaching HQ co-founder Jeremy and the father of the geocoin, Moun10Bike. The cache was found more than 3,000 times, surviving minor disturbances over nearly 10 years. There is even a Mega-Event (Going Ape) created by the Washington State Geocaching Association to honor this famous cache.

Sadly, Mission 9 was muggled and then archived in June 2011. Moun10Bike wrote at the time, “The decision to archive was not taken lightly, and was not easy for either me or for Groundspeak. However, the rule with Project APE caches has always been that once the container goes missing (which is part of the identity of the original series of caches), then it is no longer an APE cache, and thus must be archived (or at least have its APE status removed).”

While the community mourned the loss, a tribute cache was placed and the Going Ape event continued each year. But thanks to the incredible efforts of dedicated cachers, there is a new chapter in this APE cache’s story.

The Search and Rescue

In April of this year, cachers Winos_Seattle and rambudo met up with Geocaching HQ co-founder Bryan Roth. As they chatted, the subject of the lost APE cache came up. Winos_Seattle wondered if the container could possibly be found. Over the years, some have speculated that it’s unlikely that whoever muggled the heavy container would have carried it nearly two miles back to the nearest parking area. Perhaps they simply removed it from its location and discarded it nearby?

But even if that were the case, the area is hilly and densely forested. A rescue effort would require detailed planning and keen eyes. Sounds like a job for geocachers!

With encouragement from Bryan and Moun10Bike, and after months of planning, the search commenced on October 1. The group of 10 included Winos_Seattle and rambudo, as well as other Seattle-area cachers Sproutter, Lamoracke, _Shaddow_, DSVaughn, Curious Joe, gsbarnes, KnightWolf74 and Princess Trouble.

After hiking to the tribute cache, they split into three teams and spread out into the surrounding forest. Equipped with two-way radios, each team was assigned to one of three zones. Within minutes, one team had located what turned out to be muggled tribute cache containers. The other teams found a variety of swag and logbooks, including ones with signatures from 2011 and 2014 (likely from the tribute cache).

Following an extensive and courageous effort, a joyous call eventually came over the radio, “We think we found the original container!” Down in the woods below the original cache location, behind a tree with the open end of the container facing down, was the Mission 9: Tunnel of Light cache. Distinguished by stickers affixed to the inside, as well as some Planet of the Apes trading cards, the cache had fared remarkably well over the years.

Photo by gsbarnes

After a lot of celebratory high-fives, the group phoned Moun10Bike, who was shocked and delighted by the discovery. A couple days later, Moun10Bike, Bryan, and others at Geocaching HQ welcomed the triumphant searchers and the long-lost APE cache. And now that the container is recovered, we’re left with an important question.

Photo by DSVaughn
The triumphant search party hiking out with the APE cache. Photo by DSVaughn.

What’s Next?

The Planet of the Apes caches enjoy a special place in geocaching lore. Today, only one active APE cache remains: Brazil’s Mission 4: Southern Bowl. Given how the global geocaching community treasures the APE cache series, we feel it’s very important to hear what you think should happen next.

Photo by Love
Bryan and Moun10Bike examine the APE cache container. Photo by Love.

Should Mission 9: Tunnel of Light be returned to its original location and reactivated? Should it be kept safe from muggles and instead be displayed at Geocaching HQ as an artifact of the game’s history? Are there other ideas that should be considered?

We encourage you to make your voice heard by completing this survey by November 27, 2016. (Note: The survey is now closed, so we’ve removed the link from the blog) We’ll gather the ideas and later give you a chance to vote for your favorite in early 2017.

In the meantime, please join us in reveling in the knowledge that what once was lost has now been found. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who made it happen!

Several members of the search party at Geocaching HQ. Photo by Love.
Several members of the search party at Geocaching HQ. Photo by Love.
Hopelessly addicted cacher and Geocaching HQ's PR Manager.
  • hcy_de

    Please restore the original cache – there is not much change to find such rare cache type.

  • GJ Deenen

    Great idea to solve the mystery of the lost APE cache in Seattle.
    But the mystery is solved now and the case is closed.
    There is no need to un-archive this special APE cache unless you un-archive all APE caches around the world.

  • Herbert van Hulten

    1. Please put it back where it has been for 10 years and unarchive it. I
    don’t like the idea of setting it up at Geocaching HQ. Geocaching is
    about the experience, not about visiting a museum where you can see what
    once was . . .
    2. Triggered by many of the comments in here: please
    think of loosening the rules for geocaching and currently archived
    caches instead of keeping this very strict attitude. In my experience,
    all these rules have not particularly added to the fun of playing
    Geocache. Many of the rules seem to be there for political or incidental
    reasons only and hamper the fun. Remember this is a game first. I
    personally would love to see a revival of virtual caches and to be able
    to actually create an earth cache . . .

  • Steve Elsbrie

    Was the cache intact? Did they find the lid? Did they find the log?. From the photos it appears that the answers are no. Therefor the cache wasn’t found, only part of the container. It sounds to me that the players who want it reactivated are only interested in the APE icon. So I say place what you recovered in HQ and move on.

  • Marshall Peters

    I guess for them, it won’t matter what happens to this cache.

  • Shannon Smith

    Though it would be cool to have APE cache to the badge available again, it is undoubtedly cool that the original container has been found, the specific rules of the APE game says that it is to be disabled after being muggled. And yes the original container was found but it was still muggled. I don’t believe it would be fair to the cachers who found it previously. I say to display the container with its story because it is a cool story. And leave the tribute cache as it stands. And to be clear I have never found an APE cache myself and still feel this way.

  • Matthew Humphrey

    I know I’m not going to Brazil anytime soon but Seattle might be a possibility. I say unarchived it at the original spot. Chain it to a tree and maybe make a padlock on the cache. I think they should also put a minimum find count to get the code for the lock. That would stop muggles from getting at it. I do not the are grounds for it being kept archived but this is no ordinary cache. This cache is at the original spot and when it was archived there was no 90 day requirement. Please keep it active!!!

  • Jones Damm

    From my opinion the Ape cache shall live! I know it has a history value but over time it will end up as “just another ammo box” even at HQ. The story could be told at HQ without the box, pictures or another box like that one and still bring happiness.

    I am so luckly that I have found the “Reclaimed” or copy cache ( GC300N0 ) and the location, the walk though the tunnel is essential and another reason to put I back. Some has suggested to let it live in HQ I don’t think it will ever be possible and the whole idea of “tunnel of light” is completely gone.

    But then how to secure the cache for muggles?

    I maybe have a good solution for that. HQ (or Moun10Bike) could contact the local authorities (I don’t know the system in USA -WA but it could be a Forestry-Agency, land owner or some sort of a mayor) and tell the story of this very special geocache that there are one left in the hole world and the get permission to put it back in concrete so it can not be stolen or removed! Then repaint it give it oil and silicon so it can stand the weather make a nice sign that tell the story at put it on the box and put it back 😀 Something like the original geocache!

    Anyway it will bring more happiness and joy for those who get the opportunity to find that it can ever bring at HQ. For this one time “Indiana Jones” can’t say “It belongs in a musseum” 😉

    I hope one day to find at least one Ape cache 😀

  • Jones Damm

    Yearh.. The Code is more what you call guidelines, than actual rules… 😉
    Please put it back!

  • Antoine Pin

    Yes. It was intact when we found it. Original and intact, minus the lid which was muggled months before the core body was taKen.

  • Misha LeBlanc

    Since it has been located and is such a sought item in my opinion I feel that it should be archived and made available to be found by other cachers!

  • Francis Francis Almeida

    That is great they found it!
    I think ape cache it is what It is because there is just one left, the mission 4 . Let leave that one in the museum and there is one in a safe and amazing Atlantic Forest , everyone should be in that area in Brazil, just amazing!

  • Sam Smith

    I say reactivate the cache. Hopefully work with the entity the owns/controls the Iron Horse trail to reinstall it at it’s former location and concrete it into place. I went up the day Moun10Bike installed a new lid on the cache and logged my find then. I hope others have the same opportunity.
    And thanks to those who searched and found the original cache! Great Job!

  • Goldenwattle

    Unless the Geocacher lives in Brazil 🙂

  • Aenders

    So it’s too expensive for me to visit HQ or Brazil, I think it’s an idea to send the Ape around the world for one year to the biggest GIGA-Events an then place it in HQ museum. So everyone in the world has the chance to get this rare icon 😉

  • Constance Safford

    My father asked me to post this: I have what I believe to be a ape cache box. I know there is no way for me to be sure but it has painted ape logos on it but it was empty when I acquired it. I have since stenciled official US geocache on the container in hopes of preventing another theft by unknowing people. It was found at a local southern cal swap meet and purchased for $35 (a normal price for that size amo can). I have made a couple attempts at placing it in panamint valley but seams every time there has been a problem with its location and I had to retrieve it. It is currently sitting on my back patio. Any idea what I should do with it? Really wanted to place it somewhere cool in the desert.

  • Kate Jacques

    I smell a rat. The cache was lost in 2011. The rescue crew appears to have found the container and associated items in a short time. I cannot quite get my head around this. Surely someone hunted before now. Did HQ get a tip of some sort?

  • Steve Rewa

    If there’s only one of these left, it seems likely that this will vanish again before too long. If it can be fixed to the location better, then I’m all for reinstating it. Otherwise, I think the container is too cool to lose it again.

  • mzmony

    Since it wasnt really missing, just moved, it should be reactivated. I find lots of caches that are not near the coordinates for whatever reason. I saw nothing in the story to indicate how it was determined to be ‘muggled’ which would indicate human activity. How did it get just down over the hill fromt he original site? Could the last finder have placed it unsecurely so it slid maybe in a storm, or even dropped it
    ? Could it have been a bear? There were mentions of beans in one of the containers and bears are very clever about opening and tossing things around.

  • Rocksngrease

    I agree with Dudley

  • funkymunkyzone

    This. Really really this. If you want true adventure to get an APE icon on your profile, book tickets to Brazil. You won’t regret it.

    Reading through the comments it appears most want this one reactivated because they are already going, or can easily go, to Seattle. So they are really only thinking about themselves.

    Geocaching is a global game. All the very best caching experiences require you to travel to the cache location sometimes far far away. The APE cache in Brazil is one of those very best caching experiences. Let the APE cache attention stay on Brazil.

  • funkymunkyzone

    I agree Eugene. Part of the awesomeness of travelling to Brazil to get a find on the LAST remaining APE cache was that it was the LAST.

    I have been to Seattle and found the tribute cache too but like many others I was too late to find it as an APE cache. Bad luck, that’s life. Move on.

    Book tickets to Brazil and have an amazing adventure if you want an APE icon.

  • Bigguy In Texas

    No matter what is decided about the fate of this cache, I just want to commend those amazing geocachers who risked life and limb to find it. KUDOS!

  • Be1

    Nope. It’s archived. There is another cache at the same location. And it’s a muggled area, obviously.

  • Bart Flentje

    The find of the container is just too perfect. Is this a conspiracy? It was all too convenient that it was archived just two months prior to my visit back in the day. Someone knew I was coming for it. Instead I had to sign the fake one and not get the icon.

  • Sam Crow

    Like the idea of touring it to original locations.

  • Rick Lee Watts

    I will someday make the pilgrimage to Brazil to claim that cache, but I would also like to return to the Seattle area and claim the reactivated APE Cache there also. So, put it out with the icon.

  • Antmelba

    Rules were made to be modified, so hey if we took a vote we would never stop blogging, lol.we need this west coast ape so since it will just sit around let it go home,muggles r here to stay ,so get over perfect geo caching an live a little, those peeps put a lot of evert into finding this,antmelba

  • isitjustsomuchhype

    Why is it unfair to cachers who found it previously to rehide and reactivate this cache at its original location in its original container. How are they robbed of some sort of glory by letting others find it hidden exactly as it had been previously?

  • isitjustsomuchhype

    While i like your idea to do one based on Harry Potter, i dont understand why you are against reactivating this one. It is my understanding that this is the only one of the lost apes found. So they are not playing favorites.

  • isitjustsomuchhype

    For some, a trip to Seattle would be every bit the adventure as a trip to Brazil. The Apes didnt start with the intent to put attention on one area, so its seems completely out of spirit with the purpose of the series to limit it to Brazil, when it was not intended that way. From the sound of how this seattle one was set up, it has a specific experience associated with it which is every bit as valid an adventure as a trip to Brazil.
    Reading these comments from people who seem to think the finding brazil one is some elite claim to fame, i almost wish someone would come and muggle that cache just to get you people to open your minds to the spirit of the game…..its adventure, no matter howxlose or far away it takes you.

  • funkymunkyzone

    You wish someone would muggled the APE cache in Brasil? Wow. Just wow.

    No, I think you missed the point. The Brasil APE cache did not become the only one left by design, or with the intent on making Brasil a geocaching destination. It just happened that way. It is what it is. It became the last APE cache and a lot of people have gone to considerable effort to get a find on that last cache of this type.

    A visit to Seattle is a big deal for a lot of cachers, I agree, including myself. Been there, done that, logged the replacement tribute cache. But it appears that a significant number of the “pro reactivation” camp simply want it because of some combination of it easy for them to get to because they are local or relatively close, they’ve already got plans to go to Seattle and want more bang for buck, or most disturbing, geocaching is all about North America and how dare some other part of the world have something it does not.

    No, I say let bygones be bygones, this APE cache was archived, let it go and let the Brasil APE cache remain to be the last one. After all, the Original Stash was recovered, at least bits of it were including the original can of beans, and yet that much more significant cache was not reactivated.

  • funkymunkyzone

    Also… the spirit of the game is adventure, correct, not an icon. The adventure of the location, the hide…. not the icon.

  • David Cornell

    I would like to be able to somhow log this one without going to Brazil. I agree with the previous post, place the original in the museum and place an APE cache somewhere else so that we could still earn the badge and the trifecta challenge

  • Antoine Pin

    I disagree with Dudley and you’re welcome.

  • Mathieu Gc-Bigou

    Some news about the survey results ?
    I planned a trip to Seattle next summer, I would be so happy to discovered this APE!