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Found 12 caches in the month.

January started with my Unknown cacheCutmill puzzle being solved by Tjapukai. It was obviously difficult as it had taken him six weeks. He also solved Unknown cacheEt tu Brute which I had placed the previous week.

Within a few days of this an extended cold snap began: initially icy and then a week of snow. I was the first person to solve Colinsmudger's new puzzle Unknown cacheCondor but frustratingly we were snowed-in. After five days of waiting it had thawed enough for us to travel to Bracknell to collect the cache, and I was relieved to still be the FTF.

The road outside my house

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheOrder from chaos by Tjapukai. This puzzle had been published at the start of October, and I had looked at it on-and-off since then. Then one evening I tried again and suddenly realised how to solve it. We were the third to find it but what made it most memorable was that the field entrance was flooded to nearly a foot deep. My daughter had wellies on so managed to get across, but I had to climb through a thorn hedge and ended up with bloodied hands. When we got back to the car she wouldn't let me drive until she cleaned them up. So after all that we celebrated with a coffee in Dorking.


Found 22 caches in the month.

When you create a cache it has to pass a review before it is published. If it's a puzzle it will usually take longer to be reviewed and often you might have to make several rounds of modifications to it. This month I submitted a new puzzle Unknown cacheRadcliffe and Watson and was amazed at how quickly the reviewer published it. In fact the first I knew of it was about an hour later. I had stayed up late to watch the Winter Olympics and on checking my phone found a text from the Woking Wonders asking me to confirm their answer. I rang them back to find that they had already braved the icy roads and had just signed the log.

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheX Marks the Spot XI: Bouncing balls? by Tjapukai. One of my favourite puzzles of all time. I described it as a masterpiece when I logged it, and looking back now I wouldn't disagree. The final location is really beautiful too.


Found 27 caches in the month.

For me this was a month with two good series of caches: AGTSSP by Parmstro and the 5 Treasures of Durga by Richiecactus.

Parmstro's Unknown cacheAGTSSP - A guide to solving (simple) puzzles series was a tribute to Tjapukai's Unknown cacheA mega-puzzle of many parts. Tjapukai had classified puzzles into 13 different types, and the AGTSSP series consists of one of each of them. Despite its title some of the puzzles aren't particularly simple. However the supporting website does explain many techniques for puzzle solving, and I have often recommended it as a good introduction to puzzle caches.

The caches are hidden in the Box Hill area. It is very heavily wooded in places so finding them without a GPSr is well-nigh impossible. We ended up returning with a borrowed one to finish off the series.

The 5 Treasures of Durga was a series of five traditional caches with a final puzzle. Each of the traditionals contained clues about a crime (the theft of the 5 Treasures). To solve the puzzle you had follow in the steps of Hercule Poirot and solve the crime. The caches were published over a period of about a month and we managed to be the First to Find for three of them.

Can Poirot find the missing Treasures of Durga?

It seemed that my attempt at setting an easy puzzle with Unknown cacheEt tu Brute had failed - only two people had found it since the start of the year. So I had another go with Unknown cacheUngentlemanly conduct. This was much more successful. Woking Wonders found it the day it was published and by the end of the month it had had five finds.

My cache of the month: Traditional cacheThe 5 Treasures of Durga: Clandon Hall by RichieCactus. This was the fourth of the traditionals and was hidden in a surprisingly difficult place. We couldn't find it on our first visit but neither could anybody else, and we managed to get the FTF the next day just as it was getting dark.


Found 33 caches in the month.

We had a short break in Disneyland Paris over Easter. While we were there found a few caches, one of them a virtual Virtual cacheLe Roi Arthur at the Sword in the Stone.

Bobcat pulling the Sword in the Stone

I created a new puzzle Unknown cacheTeleport. I thought this would take quite a while to be solved and so it proved.

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheIt wouldn't happen at Wimbledon by iamafatturkey. This was a really good puzzle involving a Youtube clip and a cipher. I tried to go for the FTF at lunchtime but couldn't get to it (I was wearing my work clothes). Agglet, Gullands, Gary Honey and WW2 met up the following day and found the cache using some special equipment (they offered me the chance to join them but unfortunately I was detained at work). So I collected it at the weekend with my children (and our own special equipment). Very entertaining.

This also happened to be the 100th puzzle cache that I'd found (and at that point well over 30% of my finds were puzzles).


Found 29 caches in the month.

The first geocache was placed on 3 May 2000. There were a number of geocaching events held to celebrate the 10th anniversary. We went to two of them Lost and Found Event Cache10 Years! Woking, UK and Lost and Found Event Cache10 Years! Epsom Downs, UK.

Getting wet on Epsom Downs

My Unknown cacheTeleport puzzle lasted nearly a month before it was found. I was surprised that it was roop1, a cacher who we hadn't heard of. This was actually only their sixth find, so it was very impressive for them to solve such a difficult puzzle (nobody else was to find it until August).

Generally in your first year or so of caching you become obsessed about getting FTFs. I was no different. In May we were the First to Find on twelve caches spread over eleven days.

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheMirror Mirror by RichieCactus. A Star Trek themed cache. Although it has the "Unknown" icon it isn't really a puzzle. It is only designated as such because the cache isn't at the given co-ordinates (because of a "transporter malfunction" it is now some 25 metres away and at a higher altitude). It soon became clear that this would involve some climbing - but which tree should we choose? A fun cache in a lovely area, and we were the first to find it.


Found 30 caches in the month.

In June I went to a Pixies concert with my work colleague Brian. On the journey home I mentioned geocaching and he challenged me to create a puzzle on the Unknown cachePixies over the weekend. So I did. Woking Wonders were the first to find it two days later.

For my 50th birthday (on the 20th of this month) I received a new Garmin Oregon GPSr. So no more wandering around aimlessly in woods, desperately trying to fit landmarks to a Google Maps print-out!

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheMichelmersh Mystery Meander #11 by Chilihouse. This was from a series of puzzles set around the pretty village of Michelmersh in Hampshire. Most of the puzzles were fairly straightforward, but this one was a little trickier and was my favourite.


Found 35 caches in the month.

We had a GPSr now. That meant I could begin the task of collecting all the puzzles that I'd solved but which would've been impossible to find just using a map. However my favourite cache this month wasn't from this backlog, it was a new one: Natterjacktoad's Unknown cacheCo-operative Cluedo Cache.

As its title indicates this was a co-operative cache: not a puzzle in the normal sense of the word. Instead everybody takes turns to post notes on the cache page, and by doing so the answer to the puzzle is gradually revealed.

In this case they were guesses for a game of Cluedo (the identity of the murderer, the murder weapon and the location). The co-ordinates for the cache were determined by a formula involving each of these. This was a really entertaining puzzle (hilarious at times), and I was impressed at how well Natterjacktoad managed it all.

I created a new puzzle Unknown cacheHull City. This one wasn't found immediately, it lasted three days. Nichan88 was the first and as with Teleport it was a cacher who I hadn't heard of before. I was very impressed by this as it was only their eighth find (and nobody else was to find the cache until October).

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheCo-operative Cluedo Cache by Natterjacktoad.


Found 55 caches in the month.

My friend Richiecactus was approaching his 1000th find and wanted something unusual to mark it. He decided upon a couple of extreme caches and invited us to join him.

We started with Traditional cacheBridge Over Troubled Water 3 by xxxdjsniperxxx, where the cache is hidden somewhere under the bridge.

With Richiecactus at the Troubled Water bridge

The second one was Cache U Nutter's Multi-cacheTunnel Vision. To get to this cache we had to go through a tunnel - a culvert under the M23. Interestingly we later heard a podcast of the cache owner taking a reporter from Radio 4 to get the cache.

Getting Tunnel Vision

Returning from Tunnel Vision

My cache of the month: Multi-cacheTunnel Vision by Cache U Nutter.


Found 21 caches in the month.

This month I noticed a new puzzle near Hastings Unknown cacheCSB 57 76. It contained two techniques that I hadn't come across before but I managed to solve it. That was at the start of the week though, and the fact that it was over 60 miles away meant that I wouldn't be able to collect it until Saturday. I decided that I would go for the FTF if nobody else had before then.

To make the journey worthwhile I looked around for some other puzzles to solve. I discovered Unknown cachePete's Puzzle 2 in Tonbridge, and Unknown cacheKiller #5: Burned Alive in Redhill. Neither had been solved yet and both were rated difficulty 5. However most importantly they were on the route I was planning to take, so I solved them on Friday night.

We set off around 8am and arrived at the last one at around 1pm (we had stopped off for some other caches on the way). Our final tally was six caches, with three FTFs in three separate counties (Surrey, Kent and East Sussex).

I created another very terse puzzle Unknown cachePebble. This one just consists of a haiku.

Watts Chapel Compton

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheChurch Micro 1320...Compton - Watts Chapel by Woking Wonders. The chapel is a Grade 1 listed building that mixes Art Nouveau, Romanesque and Celtic Revival styles. It's a lovely location (with a very friendly cat).


Found 25 caches in the month.

After two weeks my Unknown cachePebble puzzle was found by Kermit&Co. I think it probably is one of my most difficult puzzles as the next team to find it wasn't until May 2011.

We went to an event to celebrate a special date in the calendar, Event Cache 10/10/10 10:10:10 at Junction 10 organised by Sandvika. It began in the woods next to Junction 10 of the M25. 10 new caches had been placed in the surrounding area to celebrate this day and we lucky enough to be first to find one of them, Traditional cacheMole Stroll.

Bobcat at the 10/10/10 event

Our 500th cache find was Unknown cacheIn memory of a camel.

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheCanaan by Croquetmike. An excellent puzzle.


Found 14 caches in the month.

At the start of November BaSHful published Unknown cacheSurrey Resuscitator - Challenge Cache. This caused a flurry of excitement with people chasing around trying to find a cache to "resuscitate" (i.e one that nobody had found for a year). There had been challenge caches before (indeed I had found two) but this one seemed different, and caused an upsurge in interest in challenges. BaSHful has a webpage showing which caches have been resuscitated, and another listing other similar challenges.

I created a new puzzle Unknown cacheREALLY SideTracked - Ash Green. This was my contribution to the SideTracked series of caches celebrating railways stations. They are prefixed with "REALLY" if they are, like this one, at a former station on a dismantled line.

The puzzle is of a "turn up and solve" type (as opposed to the "solve at your desk" which I usually set). It took four days before being found by Gary Honey and Woking Wonders. I had created the puzzle using pre-existing components from along the old railway line, so it wasn't easy to judge its difficulty. They considered it to be pretty hard as it took them two visits, with the second one lasting three hours (all in the dark).

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheNoble Deed by Woking Wonders. A really tricky puzzle that took me ten months to solve. I had left the printout on the corner of my desk at work, and the faces steadily became ever more familiar to us. Some even had nicknames as they looked vaguely like two of our colleagues. I was hugely elated when I finally solved it.


Found 10 caches in the month.

I had saved a Tjapukai puzzle Unknown cacheFour letter words to be my 250th puzzle find. It had been published in October last year as, in the words of Gary Honey, the ally of my "Bobcat" puzzle (Unknown cacheIn Memoriam - four letters). At the time I didn't have a clue how to solve it. Over the following year I glanced at it every so often but never made any appreciable progress. Then one day I was thinking about something else, a thought came to me and I knew I'd cracked it - it was a wonderful feeling.

My cache of the month: Unknown cacheFour letter words by Tjapukai.

Cache of 2010: Unknown cacheX Marks the Spot XI: Bouncing balls? by Tjapukai.

Copyright Colin Backhurst.
Last revised: November 2, 2016.