The Eagle’s Tour takes the searcher on a journey of discovery, learning about some of the many recreational opportunities that are available in Northern Virginia. Along the way, the successful adventurer will also pick up some knowledge of basic cryptography, mathematics, digital logic, astronomy, and steganography. The solution to each cache often relies on one or more clues acquired in previous stages; with attention to details you can avoid backtracking. Please post notes about your stage-by-stage progress. While most people have teamed up to work this cache, it's entirely possible to succeed on your own.
The listed coordinates lead to the headquarters of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority in Fairfax Station, VA; you do not need to visit this location. The NVRPA is the steward for twenty-one Northern Virginia parks with more than 10,000 acres of land, including historic sites, protected natural areas, and recreation facilities. Your mission while searching for this cache is to discover and experience some of these recreation opportunities, and I encourage you to give each one a try.
All caches are on NVRPA property and are accessible by road and/or trail; very little off-trail travel is needed. In spring and summer, many of these areas have a substantial number of insects and other small wildlife, including mosquitoes, ticks, and the occasional snake. Venomous snakes are fairly uncommon in Fairfax County, but copperheads do exist in the area. Other interesting and less dangerous wildlife includes deer, box turtles, and a variety of birds including great blue heron. Later in your search, osprey and bald eagles may frequently be seen. Poison ivy and thorny Virginia creeper are common, though the cache locations avoid them to the extent practical. Please exercise care to minimize your impact on the environment as well as the environment’s impact on you.
In keeping with the GoldenDaze priorities, all areas after stage 1 are suitable for canine companions, but keep in mind that Fairfax County leash laws are in effect on all public land in the county.
Stage 1: The Fields of Clay
Your quest begins here:
38276 86023 45782
Plan to visit this destination during the following times:
Monday and Tuesday: not available
Wednesday through Friday: 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, and holidays: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Safety note- drive directly to the coordinates; do not bushwhack in from other directions. Help: for "b", assume the 5-letter variant that starts with an "S".
Stage 2: The Blue Blazes
Two lines in a plane intersect at a single point. Your next destination can be found at the intersection of the lines:
y = -0.1777694x + a
y = bx + 658.0687
You can hike directly here from The Fields of Clay, and from here to The Trail without Footprints, if you have the time and the desire to scout eighteen delightful miles of forest and trail. Otherwise, a park entrance is a reasonable hike away.
Stage 3: The Trail without Footprints
A mountain bike is recommended for this cache, but hiking and horseback are also possible. Choose an appropriate trail accordingly. For biking, use the trailhead located just across from the main parking lot near N38° 43.423’ W077° 19.811’. For hiking or horseback, use the trailhead along the access road by the park entrance near N38° 43.611’ W077° 19.261’.
Park Manager’s note- Hiking is not permitted on the bike trail for safety reasons. Hikers should stay on the hiking and equestrian trails.
Stage 4: The Influence of the Sun
Operatives of the Caching Intelligence Agency have recovered this schematic for a solar-powered digital decoder circuit from the wreckage of a Russian Bear-D reconnaissance bomber. (Click for a larger view.)
Unfortunately, the Russian flight crew was careless with their in-flight coffee before they bailed out, and one of the circuit’s logic gates cannot be identified. You will need to reconstruct the circuit to correctly decode the location of this cache.
The following message was intercepted moments before the crash at 08:38 AM on March 4th, 2005:
Stage 5: The Influence of the Moon
We are all drawn to the moon. She tugs at our hearts and minds, ever at the edge of our consciousness. Her light is a cold reflection of the sun’s warmth. Moonlight casts ghostly shadows in the dark around us. In a full moon, humans can walk in darkness as naturally as cats. In a new moon, only stars fill dark nights, and humans walk blindly. The moon has physical impacts on our earth that you must grasp to find this cache.
This stage is only available when those effects are at a minimum. Plan carefully to avoid wasting all of your effort; it would be a shame to come out here for nothing. You must use a boat for this hunt. A canoe or kayak is worthy of your pick. A large boat is probably too risky, as this spot is quite shallow. You can rent a suitable boat in the park from April through October; otherwise you’re on your own. Watch for bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, waterfowl, and beaver.
Safety note- This is an active waterfowl hunting area, and numerous blinds are present. Waterfowl season in Virginia begins on September 1st and continues on-and-off until late January. Cachers are likely to be an unwelcome distraction in the early morning hours, so plan your visit accordingly. No hunting is permitted on Sundays, making it an ideal day for caching.
Stage 6: The Eagle’s Overlook
When you arrive at your final reference point, examine it closely, for it tells a story of the past to the curious observer. Your quest is now nearly complete. Walk 119 feet west, 177 feet south, and 51 feet up. The final cache awaits you.