Sunday, 11 August 2013

Back to the Hog

Friends came down for the day yesterday and we headed over to the Hogs Back to do some more of the caches over there and, with enough time, take them to some we did the other day too.

Parking up at 1.30pm, we headed off finding the footpath sign and trotted down the hilly path. Our first of the day was Hogs Back Reservoir (HBR) #16 which was a lovely easy spot for the two little cachers.  Squeals of delight as they 'found' the cache which is always nice.

Away again to JAG002 which confused us for a while.  We were standing on the path thinking we had to scramble up - having checked every possible hiding site around us just in case the GPS was wrong - when Antscroff spotted another path a little further along. Up we all went to look here.  The two little ones got under the holly with ease but we got a bit prickled going through.  I spotted the likely place and the girls went in for the find.  Another one each for them.

Can you spot me?
It was then we realised we could have avoided the holly altogether as the path we needed to be on was carrying on past the cache with nothing but a fern to hinder our walk. Oh well, it's all part of the fun.

The paths crossed around here so we headed off for HBR #4.  The GPS settled and we spotted the suspect hiding place.  However, Madcats climbed a little but couldn't reach the spot she thought it was in. Antscroff was employed as he is much taller than us and made the find.  Good fun but definitely not for shorties.

There's a large Ant in the tree
HBR #3 was next and we soon spotted the likely place from the hint.  Over we went through the prickles and started to explore.  Nothing immediately spotted then Cookie Tiger removed something to look at it and Antscroff made the spot!  Without her doing that, we'd not have seen it. Neat little hide.

We opted to go for HBR #5 next as the circuit is not complete yet.  The CO is releasing them over a period of week (will finally be a figure of 8 apparently) so that new FTF-ers can compete with the local hounds to get a few. Nice idea.  This was a pretty instant spot by me.  Antscroff moved a large item but didn't really take any notice of other ones around there. Having seen one of these type already, I immediately knew what it was and reached for it. Yep!  Thankfully a previous finder had mentioned to hold the fatter part at the bottom or you could easily lose the micro inside completely in the undergrowth.  We all enjoyed this one and a favourite was awarded by me.

HBR #6 was the final one on this bit of path.  As we got to GZ, I spotted a likely candidate and suggested to Cookie Tiger she go get it (well, she is an agile teen) and helped her up the bank with a shove on her bottom.  I'm not sure it was really appreciated but what else are teenagers for? *grin*  The cache was indeed there and she made the find. She threw the container to me and I signed for us all and threw it back.  However, getting down from the bank wasn't easy. She was struggling to hold on and slipping quite badly so I did what any mother would do - I stepped out of the way so she didn't fall on me. Well....  Antscroff gave her a hand down and she got a huge thanks for making the retrieve. The bank is very steep here with little to help you up or down so maybe even a slightly higher terrain rank would be needed.

OK, so now how do I get down?
HBR #14 was next on the list.  Lots of back-tracking needed until this ring is completed.  All good walking areas so we didn't mind. It certainly was keeping us fit!  As we approached, we all headed to one side to start our search but Cookie Tiger had spotted something the other side and made a very quick find. Well done.

HBR #13 was next and we guessed what the hint item would be. As we approached, we were correct, despite our GPS being adamant it was the other side of the track.  This is quite a new release so we were aiming for third to find (collectively) and realised it wasn't a hard cache to get. However, with four of us plus the geokids looking, nothing came to light. Some dog walkers we'd seen previously passed us along with quite a bit of other muggle foot traffic.  S was brilliant saying "Look, a snake" and we all peered in - great distraction technique!  After about 15 minutes we gave up.  Nothing there and DNF logged.

HBR #12 was of the same ilk and same clue so we approached expecting hard work again.  No. There was the cache in the correct location staring us in the face. Our conclusion was that #13 was definitely gone then. I now did a DNF stating how easily we'd found this one. In fact, the difficulty rating should be far lower we felt as it was so obvious.

Back we tracked again and decided to opt for the lower field walk to HBR #2.  The path broke away to our left into the cornfields which was lovely.  We had quite a hill to get up in front of us but this cache was a nice quick spot by Antscroff, although a tricky little thing to get out as it was well wedged in.

Antscroff, GeoButtonGirl and Bashtastic (appropriately with a stick!)
Last of this section was to be HBR #1 further up the path.  This is where things went wrong. The path suddenly narrowed significantly so we went in single file between the stingers/prickles on one side and the barbed wire fence on the other.  We made it to GZ and started our search. We were very unsure what the clue meant and even wondered if it was a spelling error.  Never mind, we began to look. In under the holly went the two little cachers - no fear there - to try and search. I was laughing saying to Antscroff I can't believe he asked my 2 1/2 year old and 4 1/2 year old to go in to find it. He didn't of course, they'd just dived on in (we could see there was nothing nasty there, just a bit low for an adult to get to).  No joy so back out they came.  Between us all we widened our search - significantly.  Reading back through some logs it seemed it could be quite a bit out on the coordinates.  We could see possible hiding places but not all were accessible by any means so we stuck to what was, looking up/down, in/around at each one. After about 15-20 minutes, we gave up.  DNF for this one too.  Oh well. Right back up to the main track to let our friends find some we had already found.  The path was ridiculously narrow here and quite hard to walk along unless you put one foot right in front of the other. The prickles, stingers and barb were all close - too close for little faces and bodies.  We decided to carry the youngest ones through this bit.  Cookie Tiger lifted her littlest sister, Bashtastic, onto her shoulders and away they went with MadCats taking up the rear in case of any trips or stumbles.  Antscroff offered GeoButtonGirl a ride on his and she agreed.  Up she went and I followed behind.  Only a few paces in, she screamed and starting crying hysterically.  I looked up and her eyelid was bleeding.  I quickly got her down and spotted the culprit - a wild rose growing high up.  Oh dear, poor little mite was very upset.  Her arm had been scratched too and her eyelid was bleeding quite a bit. I got a clean wipe out and after trying to calm her down (which took a while) gently wiped the blood away and told her to hold it against her eye.  We were well and truly stuck now.  I had to do a hip carry with her, walking almost crablike to get her away from all the nasties with one foot on the path and the other up on the small bank to the left.  I stumbled a little way further on, grabbed the wire of the fence to stop my fall, it gave way but fortunately Antscroff managed to grab me before I went down with her on my hip. Sadly she also went to grab the fence instinctively but right by the barbed wire which then scratched down her arm. More hysteria ensued as she was really frightened now and just was crying that she wanted to leave here and go home.  Unfortunately there was no easy way out. She was screaming in my ear which wasn't helping my concentration but we managed to calm her down to just sobs and carried on. It seemed like forever (about 100m in truth) before we got out of this part.  That was the only area that caused us an issue today.  Not recommended for young cachers that's for sure (and I put this on my DNF log too so others would know).

We popped out on the main track and stopped for another drink.  Our plans to get many more for our friends were thwarted here as S was now very emotional and tired.  We all agreed just to walk back to the car and our friends would stop to grab the two en-route - both of which were fun caches.

The little ones did tremendously well today and walked just over 4 hours up hill and down dale, which is quite an achievement for a 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old.  I'm very, very proud of them.  Even the teen didn't complain (too much).

Back home we came to well deserved ice creams and drinks.  Having a few minutes rest, I left the girls with J and the 3 of us adults whizzed in to Woking to pick up a Sidetracked cache for the souvenir today.  A nice easy cache and dash to finish up bringing my count to 10 for today.

We're meeting our friends again next month but this time to do some caching around Hemel which we're really looking forward to.  Will keep an eye out for the rest of the Hogs Back area to be completed and will go back there when it is (not past #1 of course!).

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