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Castle of the Ancients

A cache by derektiffany Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 09/19/2014
Difficulty:
3.5 out of 5
Terrain:
3 out of 5

Size: Size: regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

 Portions of this cache are close to a location used as a Vulture nesting site. Please take care to follow the story closely and not disturb these creatures. Thank you!

Letterbox Hybrid This geocache contains an inkpad and hand-carved stamp which should be left in the cache container. Follow the story below for clues to find the cache. GPS usage is involved, and having typical caching tools on hand may help. Conway Robinson State Forest is open dawn to dusk: No night caching!

I, Sir Conway of Robinson, on this the fifth day of July in the year 2015, do hereby recount the tale of my most recent quest, in order that others may follow should they so choose.

I started my journey at a shelter, at the entrance to an aptly named forest. Passing a mechanical spring of some sort, I headed upon the nearest trail into the woods. I resisted the temptation of smaller, minor paths, but instead stayed true upon the yellow marked route which my map indicated would be the quickest way. At the first major intersection, I noticed a blue striped tree (which I recall seeing on a previous journey), and noticed signs which made me feel eerily under watch. While the right might eventually lead to my destination, I choose instead the left towards a pile of stone and another mark of yellow. Interestingly, I soon passed an area in which it appears deer are unwelcome. Shortly I came upon an unnatural clearing of some sort through the woods. Perhaps an old highway or trade route? My map noted it as "Me Thane Lane". My path led me left and upon this way only a short distance, before turning again right into the woods (marked by a sign, but it didn't seem of the sturdiest construction). Soon I came upon an area which my map noted as "High and Dry", though I admit to not understand why, as it seemed a bit boggy and damp. Immediately thereafter I found myself at a most unnatural rift in the earth. It was almost as if an ancient giant sword had been drawn against the land leaving an exposed scar. My map noted it as "Manassas Gap", and a trail led away upon the crest of this rise, but again I chose to remain straight upon the yellow marked path. In short order I passed over an odd pipe of some sort, and then came upon another intersection. Here, a convenient stone allowed me to sit and rest as I considered the (again, familiar looking) yellow marked tree across from me. From this stone, in due course, I decided to go left along an unmarked trail and away from the yellow path I had been following. One must, of course, consider the direction I was facing when making this decision ...

There was not much of notice until I came upon the next intersection, at which point I again saw a blue mark upon a tree. I made note of this point as my destination appeared to be getting nearer. I turned and proceeded to the left. However after about 70 paces (or 140 steps, or 325 feet) I fortuitously stopped. I found myself between two blue marked trees. Upon one of which, a white marking seemed to denote the existence of three halves of something. To my right I could see open fields through the trees. They reminded me of a nearby battlefield I had visited. But to my left I saw what seemed evidence of a much more ancient war. An outcropping of rock caught my eye. Or was it an outpost of the Ancients? Their castle was only over the next rise. I investigated these mystical stones, and between the two largest and top-most of them I found a cleft, inside of which upon a marked stone, I did find inscribed upon numbers which seemed would aid me in my journey ...

Returning to the trail, I did proceed North towards the castle. In short order I found myself at an intersection, at which point I went right upon a new orange marked path. And around a turn, and a bend, I did shortly find myself overlooking the Castle of the Ancients which I had heard tale of. It was indeed a fantastic sight. Stone and rubble of what was once mighty towers and parapets lay strewn about the landscape. The chasms and clefts below my feet did indeed appear to provide fabulous opportunities for exploration. However, I spied a pair of hissing sky spirits which had taken residence to raise their young, and strongly advise not entering the rooms below and within the Castle; especially in the warmer months of the year. Doing so may significantly anger these ethereal creatures. I vowed to return in a colder season to investigate more, but in the mean time carried onward in my quest. *

Listen closely as this may well be the most difficult part of your journey. My dear friend Sir Isosceles of Geometria would have enjoyed this part of the adventure. In the central part of the castle, I spied a triangular skylight with a tree growing next to it. I positioned myself at the shortest side of the triangle, near the tree. The angle opposite me pointed downhill, out what I assume was once the gates or entranceway to the Castle. I plotted an imaginary line from this point, through the side closest to me, and turning so that my back was to the skylight, continued this line out towards what appeared to once be the outer walls of the Castle. There, I spied two smaller, similar triangular skylights which I proceeded to investigate ...

Above the closest, I found a small alcove in which I uncovered a stone marked with what I recognized as an ancient symbol of the Order of the Geo. At the furthest, I investigated a small ledge within to find similar. Be careful with these tokens as they may well slip from your grasp into the emptiness below, and if not replaced carefully may well be prone to shift with time and weather. Between these two reference points, a large section of the castle appeared to have come down and lay at an odd angle. I carefully slid down along the face to the front and there I found a small alcove which I was barely able to fit myself into. Along the back wall of this alcove, in an almost shrine-like manner, was a small shelf upon which I did find again a similar object as I had seen before, inscribed with numbers. Upon reflection, these points formed a pleasing triangle, almost equilateral in nature. Perhaps the Ancients were fond of this particular shape ...

Leaving the castle, I did journey towards a new point guided by the numbers which I had found. Upon arriving there, I did see downhill, a living ancient guardian, appearing to hold and protect some of the last remnants of the castle. But uphill, I also spied a downed guardian, apparently fallen in an ancient battle. At its subterranean feet, I did find, the object of my quest ...

Upon completion of this journey, you may find directions to continue on to the Tower of the Unknowns, if you so choose

* Forgoing the prose for clarity, in spring of 2015 a pair of vultures established a nesting site at the "Castle". These sites can be sensitive, and repeated disturbances can cause them to be abandoned. Vultures are a beneficial species, and as migratory birds have special legal protections under US and Virginia laws. They will often re-use a nesting site, which are frequently in areas such as a cliff, a cave, or a rock crevice. Please take care while at this site, stay outside and do not venture "within", especially in Spring and Summer (April 1 - September 1).
Winner:
Best Other
Nominee:
Best Kids Cache
Most Outstanding Location/Scenery
Most Creative Cache
Best Camouflage
Cache of the Year

Background image from: jsbanks42 on Flickr

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Sbyybj gur fgbel, svaqvat gur vafpevorq bowrpgf pna or uneq.

Decryption Key

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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