Woodrow Wilson Bridge Challenge
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3 virtual stages based on the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge leading to a normal cache in a park.
Finding this cache will take you on a tour of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge like no other. Views few have seen, some only a handful have seen, rock scrambles, beached tree hopping, miles of bike riding/hikes, hundred foot bluffs overlooking the Potomac, 15-inch civil war cannons, vintage dumping grounds and more await you.
The listed coordinates are for the first of three virtual stages where you will gather information that will give you the coordinates of the final traditional cache stage. I would recommend using a bicycle for the first two stages though it can easily be done on foot -- it just takes longer. The entire cache can be done on a road bike if you are experienced but most will probably want to drive between some of the stages. You may even want to split between days.
To get to stages 1 and 2 (you can do them in either order) you need to get to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail. This can be accessed from the Virginia side or the Maryland side. There is street parking available in Old Town Alexandria at S Washington and Church Streets or Jones Point Park. It also connects to the Mount Vernon Trail. On the Maryland side you can park at National Harbor ($$) or at the park-and-ride at Oxon Hill Rd and National Ave. This involves a nice hill climb on the way back.
At stage 1 you are looking for an embedded brass strip demarcating the border between Maryland and DC. Count the number of dashes between but not including the triangles. This will be A.
Stage 2 is a bit harder to get to. You need to count the number of drainage holes at the base of the bridge on the Maryland side facing Virginia. This can only be done from below the bridge. Yes, you can get there. The simplest way is to walk down below the causeway of the trail leading from the island to the Maryland mainland. Then you can skirt along the trail abutment until you are under the bridge. There are signs indicating an area off limits from 15 December - 15 June, but you don't need to enter that area. Outside of those dates it is quite an interesting walk along the beach though. You can also take a shortcut by hopping the fence (where it's not too HIGH) along the trail closer to the main bridge. Nothing indicates this is not allowed, but use your own judgment. A boat on the Potomac could also get you there quite easily. Once under the bridge count the round drainage holes cut into the concrete base facing Virginia/West (when looking at them YOU are facing MD/East). This must be done carefully as some of the holes are obscured and they are not evenly distributed. These are not the pipes hanging under the bridge. The number for B will be 1 LESS than the number of drain holes (I miscounted myself originally).
As a check, the prime factor or factors of the number for stage 2 (B=drain holes-1) is/are also a prime factor of the number for stage 1. Which means they could be the same number. It is important to do this check as it is easy to be off by one. If you don't like math hopefully you know someone who does. :-) Example: if A were 15 (it's not) then B would be multiples of 3 and/or 5 which is 3,5,9,15,25,27 etc.
Now you're off to stage 3. You need to get to Fort Foote Park, waypoint provided below. You can do this by bike if you are an experienced road biker. Follow the trail up the hill to Oxon Hill Rd. Take a right and then right again at Fort Foote Rd and follow that to the park. It is an "official" bike route, but there is not much support. There is also parking so that's fine too. At the north end of the park there is a trail (waypoint provided and there are OTHER trails so make sure yours starts at given waypoint) that leads down to the shore. From here you have a nice view of the bridge.
You can see a green channel marker. Counting from the Maryland side find the bridge support that is centered on the marker. Count where the supports meet the water. So if the green marker is centered on the fourth "V" you would get 4.(This marker seems to be gone. Instead look for the tallest (from your viewpoint) building beyond the bridge. Standing at the end of the trail counting from the right find the support the tallest building beyond bridge is behind, and subtract 1.) This will be C and it should be smaller than A or B. I suppose the Washington monument is technically a building but it doesn't count in this case.
For extra fun instead of taking the trail back you can head up the bluff and walk along the edge. Not for kids though, and while there is a faint path you may have to do a little bushwhacking and/or climbing up and down a steep slope. Well worth it if you ask me, and also be sure to check out the cannons and displays at the south end of the park.
Now you need to get to the southwest end of the Henson Creek Trail (waypoint provided). Again you can bike on the road or drive. Street parking is available. If you drive, it's not necessary to bike down the trail since the cache is close to where you will park, but it's certainly a nice trail for biking.
To calculate the coordinates for the cache add 513 + A + 10 * B to get thousandths of minutes for latitude, and 021 + 10 * C for longitude. If A, B and C were zero then the coords would be: N 38 45.513 W 77 00.021. If your numbers don't match the checks above or something is wrong contact me with what you have and we'll straighten it out.
NOTE: cache was relocated 07/31/2012 (see log entry) and above calculation changed to point to new location.
[Final Stage:] Glcvpny