Monday, December 5, 2016


Yeah, it's been a long and eventful week...I still haven't gotten around to posting about last Saturday's exercise in insanity!  Time to fix that.

I've been working on a particular geocaching challenge sporadically for about three years now.  There are 81 caches in this particular series, one each of all the difficulty and terrain combinations.  I only have a few of them left to do, and the ones I haven't done yet are all evil beasts for one reason or another.  Hence the not-done-yet part.

The night before Thanksgiving, I was texting a friend about his plans to meet up with some other cachers who are experienced climbers--he was hoping to finally be able to get a cache on his bucket list that is about 50 feet up a tree.  I jokingly asked him if his friends were willing to travel one state over, since two of the caches in the series I'm working on are totally unreachable without climbing gear.  (One is high in a tree, the other is at the top of a sheer cliff face.)  To my surprise, I got a note back within hours saying "Absolutely; what about Saturday??"  Gulp.  Troops were assembled, logistical arrangements made, and five of us met up Saturday morning near the cliff cache.

Up by the cache container

The experts had decided in advance that we were starting at the top of the cliff and rappelling down rather than trying to climb up from the bottom.  Now, I haven't rappelled since a summer camp in high school, so I was basically starting at square one.  "This is the harness, this is a carabiner, this mechanism is how you lower yourself," etc.  The experts were lovely people, had top-notch equipment, and were as patient and thorough as you could possibly want people who are the only thing standing between you and death to be.  It was still quite nerve-wracking to climb down over the top edge of the cliff though...the best advice I got at that point was, "Don't look down!"

Rappelling down

Three of the five of us rappelled down, and the female half of the climber pair actually made the find while doing so.  The other newbie and I were just happy to get down safely...hanging in midair while searching was not in the cards for us and that hide was really evil anyway.  One down, one to go!  On to the tree.

Catapult in action

The second hide was about 35 feet up a tree.  Not too bad except that there are no branches below the level of the cache container...if you have no ropes, forget it.  The guy half of the expert team broke out a giant slingshot and easily catapulted a weight at the end of a long line over a fork high in the tree.  Then they attached a heavier rope to the end of the lightweight line, used the line to pull the rope over the fork in the tree, anchored the rope to the harness, and all of a sudden everyone was looking at me.  Double gulp.  I get to be the guinea pig on this one.  Attach the harness, put my foot in the stirrup, get a quick lesson in how to climb ropes (much more complicated than rappelling down, probably why we did the other one first!) and up the tree I go.  Very slowly, but surely.

Almost there!

All the way up!

Luckily, the coming-down process is a lot like rappelling and took way less time.

Two for two and such an awesome day.  Talk about an adrenaline rush.  (Technically two of them.)  And no injuries at all.  The most amazing part??  The guy climber is so phobic of heights that he can't look down while he climbs, but he does it about a serious badass!  Two caches I never thought we'd get, two new friends and so much fun...that was a day for the plus column in a big way.  YEAH!!!

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