Thursday, 31 October 2013

Swanning around Salcey

Yesterday I got a Late Pass; ladysolly would be bridging all evening, so I could come home late. I decided to go to Salcey Forest to have a go at the Halloween caches recently set there.

I parked at the free car park there (where else?) and got the bike out. I started off with battery number 6, which gave me 13.8 kilometers and 6.5 amp-hours (it's supposed to be 10, so it's deteriorated somewhat).

The first cache I did, was one I've done before, but I hadn't got the code number from it. It was actually at the car park, and I found it immediately, but it's on a length of nylon line, and I could not get the container out. I pulled the line pretty hard, but I didn't want to break it, so eventually, I left it be.

My objective today was to get all the caches south of the east-west road that cuts across the forest, and, hopefully, some of the ones to the north.

So I set off along the track. The tracks in Salcey Forest are a mixture of excellently surfaced bike tracks, and horribly squishy muddy paths. It soon became clear that most, or nearly all of the fun "scary" caches had been replaced by micros, which I thought was a shame, because it wasn't even Halloween yet! And that also meant that some of the clues were no longer relevant. Never mind. After doing a few caches, I found myself at the site of "invisible man", where there was also a family of two adults, two small witches and a teenager were building a sort of dwelling out of the branches lying aruond here. That made me worried that maybe the cache had been disturbed, so after searching for 20 minutes, I gave up. But later on I met up with two cachers who had done that cache, and they described to me where it was, so I went back and got it.

One of the tracks was so muddy that in dragging the bike through the thick mud I stepped in mud that was deeper than my boots, so I got a slightly wet foot. And speaking of boots, the Hi-tec Euroboots I got from Amazon have been very good; comfortable and waterproof, but one of the tags where the lace pulls the boot close to the foot, has broken. I might be able to repair it, but in case I can't, I went on to Amazon and bought another pair for £45. And, while in a purchasing mood, I've noticed that some of my underpants are not fit for purpose (and some not even fit to be used as cleaning rags) any more, so I went on to Sportsdirect and got ten pair.

It was 3 pm by the time I'd finished the south part of the forest (including some at Hartwell) and got back to the car, where I had lunch, changed the used-up battery #6 for a freshly charged battery #7 (which gave me about 8 amp-hours before it died). Then I went and picked up the Invisible Man that I'd failed on before, and then north.

I was very pleased to be able to get a Salcey Trail cache that I'd DNFd when I went to look for it a couple of years ago, and then I found another in that series. But by then it was fully dark, and I was on my head torch. But after I found that cache .. well, it took me about two minutes to locate the cache, and then another 20 minutes to find my bike. In the dark, I'd got confused about which way was what. I do have something that is supposed to help me with this - a flashing red light to hang on a tree that I can see from a distance. But I hadn't used it.

I also visited the Piddington Oak, which is long dead, but impressively big. I saluted it in the appropriate manner. Or possibly in an inappropriate manner.

I got back to the road a mile or so away from the car. I have a good headlight, but it was at that point that I discovered that my rear red light wasn't working. So I gave my rear reflector a clean, and told myself that there wasn't much traffic, I'd be OK. In future, I'm taking a spare.

I got home at nineish, spent about half an hour in my post-caching routine (mostly that was spent in power-cleaning the bike, which was heavily caked with mud), then had to cold collation that ladysolly had left for me.

49 caches done and a couple of DNFs, and a great day out.

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