Co-FTF with Ms Sunshine! Dang, where to begin on this one...? I noticed the challenge not that long after it was published, and figured there was no way I'd ever get it, even though I did go on a few random element runs. Sometime late last fall, some Twin Cities cachers (probably Sharknose Bunnies) had the idea to make a more regular habit out of hiding elements around, and I even hid a couple of those. That got my numbers up, but still nowhere close to qualifying. However, sometime late in 2011 I realized there was a series of caches named after the first 100 elements in Houston, Texas, and that I'd be there for work in March 2012. Given the number of element caches that were being hidden, I figured there was no way the first-to-find on this challenge would still be available at that time. But, as the date for my trip drew nearer, I started wondering. Then, about two weeks ago, I found out Ms Sunshine would be in Texas around the same time to bring her son to camp, and she was interested in the elements series down there too. So, one thing led to another, and there we were in Houston.
On your 12/7/11 note, you described those caches as "a power trail that uses the first one hundred elements." I don't think those can be described as a "power trail," at least not this time of year. I learned from Houston area geocachers -- http://hgcs.org/index.php?/topic/7390-anybody-want-to-cache-the-elements-power-trail/ -- that the caches are in a flood storage area, it had rained a lot in Houston (who knew it ever did?), and that many of the caches are underwater. Nevertheless, Ms Sunshine and I decided to try for as many as we could, and before I knew it, I was taking a vacation day and looking for elements in Houston. It started out okay, with only ankle-deep water, but before I knew it, I was looking for caches in water up to my armpits. (See the attached picture.) We cached for maybe ten hours the first day and hiked maybe 12 miles. We tried to plan it so that we'd park in one place and end up at the other person's car so we didn't have to walk all the way back. However, at one point, we were encountered such a severe water hazard that we had to double back two miles to a car. When all was said and done, I had found 75 out of 100 of the elements, and DNF'ed several that were probably underwater.
We made it back to Minnesota needing only a few caches each. It was sometime around here that we realized we needed to solve a puzzle to get the final cache, and that it had the "UV light needed" attribute. Eventually, we were able to track down UV lights, and we had some help to crack the puzzle, but we got it done. We picked up our last element this evening (ununtrium) and made our way down to Cannon Falls. Ms Sunshine found the cache in short order; to our surprise, no UV light was needed.
Thanks, Boreal Walker, for putting together such an absurdly difficult challenge that it qualifies as a lonely cache without ever having been found, and that it sat unfound for so long that two new elements were named while it was unfound. Thanks also to everybody else who hid element caches in Minnesota that enabled us to qualify for this tough challenge. My list of qualifying elements is in the notes below. I did hide two elements, but I was able to make a list consisting solely of finds.