Mystery Cache

Harvard Hairball

A cache by JWCOREY Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/18/2010
In Massachusetts, United States
4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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How Geocaching Works

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Geocache Description:

This is a mystery multi-cache. There is no cache at the listed coordinates. All stages of this multi-cache are within 2.5 miles of the listed coordinates in a Harvard conservation land. You must solve the puzzle below to determine the coordinates for all of the stages. You need to make some keen observations and in some cases, a few things will require some savvy web searches.

This cache requires you to determine the missing elements from twelve different lists. Each list provides 9 out of 10 elements that will associate to a common theme. The elements in each list can be ordered and unambiguously associated with the numbers 0-9 or 1-10 based on a theme. For example, a list may be the first 10 states that entered the union, or they could be words that started with the first 10 letters of the alphabet. The zero in each list may correlate with zero or with 10 depending on the context.

There is one missing element in each list. The number associated with the missing element is the value assigned to that letter for determining the coordinates of the 5 stages to get you to the final cache. The stage 1 cache contains a worksheet with instructions for finding the intermediate stages and getting to the final cache. The final cache will also require one more list to be solved in the field.

Once you have determined the 12 missing elements (one in each list), you have what you need to determine the coordinates in the field.

Here is a brief analysis of list B as an example. The theme is rather easy to see: Baseball.

  • AL lineup: An American league lineup has 10 players (including the DH) so this is the 0.
  • Center: This correlates with 8, the number an official scorer uses for the position of centerfield.
  • Clean-up: Clean-up is well known baseball jargon for the hitter that is 4th in a lineup.
  • Curve: This could be a 2. That is the signal that most catcher's give a pitcher when they want a curve ball.
  • Home: Hmm, It is the 4th base but there is already an element associated with 4. Since home plate is a pentagon and the only 5 sided base, this must be the 5.
  • Inning: Hmm, this might be 9, but then the element would have been innings, not inning. This could be 3 but a full inning has 6 outs, not just 3. This value must be 6.
  • Leadoff: This must be a 1 since leadoff is the first person in the lineup.
  • NL lineup: A National league lineup has only 9 players since they don’t use the DH rule.
  • Stretch: Ah, the 7th inning stretch. That is easy.

Ok, I have 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Aha, 3 is the missing element in this list, so B=3. This example was an easy one. The other lists may be simple or complex depending on your background and perspective. A few will take some web research and analysis.

Once you know the values for all 12 letters you have the information you need to complete all the intermediate stages in the field. SO, BRING YOUR PUZZLE SOLUTION INTO THE FIELD. You need to know the translation of A-L into the digits 0 thru 9. Some digits will associate to multiple letters.

If you want to go into the field without solutions to all the lists, go ahead and take the risk. You may be frustrated with a lot of searching, or you may get through it with superior Geocaching sense.

Stage 1 coordinates:
North: 42 BG.GHE
West: 071 BE.KDJ

You can check your answers for this puzzle on

If you want verification of your values A-L, feel free to email the cache owner.

There are hints for 4 of the Harvard Hairball lists in the Rattlesnake Runaround Cache (GC2K3KD).

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Chmmyr: N tbbq ohmm zvtug uryc jvgu bar bs gur yvfgf, n TCF crefcrpgvir jbhyq uryc jvgu nabgure naq n gvzr crefcrpgvir jvyy uryc jvgu gjb bguref.
Pnpurf: Gur vagrezrqvngr fgntrf ner nyy va cynva fvtug ohg lbh arrq gb or ybbxvat sebz gur evtug cynpr. Gur vavgvny naq svany pnpurf ner abg va cynva fvtug naq fubhyq or jvagre sevraqyl vs gurer vf yrff guna 2 srrg bs fabjcnpx. N yvggyr rkcybengvba znl or arrqrq ng fgntr 1 ohg n fabjcbyr vf cebivqrq nf n znexre.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 1/31/2017 10:49:34 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (6:49 AM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum