It was lunch time. JLondon and Master Cacher were at lunch with Rotor Rootie and Lady Traveler. 8601 and I were in Perry, MO trying to track down some ponches. And we had half an hour before we needed to be at the starting line for the competition. Oh, and did I mention that the rain was getting worse?8601 and I found the ponchos after going to two different stores. They were cheap ponchos, but our logic was that it was better than no ponchos, and might add a bit of time to what we were willing to put up with. Doubts had already been seeded about continuing with the competition as the weather worsened, rain making the slopes muddier and our clothes wetter. We had already stopped at the cabin to change clothes, but I didn’t have another pair of hiking boots, so the change in socks didn’t last long.
We made it back to where the dining hall was in enough time to pick up JLondon and MC, then go around to where the competition waypoints were being loaded into everyone’s GPSr’s. I found Byonke in there running a computer, laughing and telling us that the ponchos wouldn’t last long. I just stated that we figured they wouldn’t but that even the extra layer is better than nothing. We loaded our GPSr’s and hit the road to drive to where the team competition started.
When we got there, we got everything that was going with us and went to the starting tent. Signing in, we found that only one other team in our bracket had shown up. Our spirits were a bit high that we might get lucky and only be competing against one or two other teams. Unfortunately, but the time the race began, we had four other teams to compete against. At this point, we decided to do what we could so that we could say we competed, and use the lessons we learned for another day.
So what happens at this point at MOGA? When you check in, each member of the 4 person team gets a map and punch card. At each waypoint is a large pill bottle with a numbered punch inside. Find the punch, use it on the punch card (making sure to punch the correct number) and rehide it. The goal is to get all 30 punches in three hours, and be back before time runs out. For every five minutes you are late, you lose one punch in your score. Oh yeah, there are two team competitions. Two person teams must stick together, yet a four person team may split up in four different directions. Punches are cumulative between the team members. Ideally, we would have done this, or at least split into two groups of two. However, with the rain getting worse, we decided to stick together for safety.
When the race began, I was almost laughing as some people litterly ran to get ahead. But they didn’t run long as many went into the woods where running was quite limited. People scattered in different directions, but enough people were headed in the same direction we were that we just followed the line. I should probably point out that the route we took was going up and down valley’s and ridges, with the valleys often having a high amount of brush and small creeks developing from the rain. This made me very happy that I stopped to pick up some hiking poles the night before.
Our first find was not hard at all, though the crowd of people hanging around the spot may have contributed to that. Still, it was a quick find. We had been warned to watch for string tied to the punch, in case the punch got separated from the pill bottle. The first one was in a tree. As time went on, we found this to be the case with each punch. After two or three finds, we found ourselves moving back towards the road. We had made a mistake caching as we did earlier in the day and we were starting to feel it. The constant up and down was not only tiring on our legs, but also slow. As such, we also found ourselves on our own instead of following a group.
Once back to the road, we looked at ourselves and realized that not only were our ponchos well torn by this point, but the increasing (yes, still increasing) rain was starting to wear down on our spirits a bit. We turned back towards the starting line with the intention of grabbing caches along the way. Here is where it got interesting with the hides. At one cache, JLondon and myself struggled to find the container. Master Cacher and 8601 joined a few minutes later, and we soon had a crowd as other teams showed up. Eventually, someone found it burried under a log that we must have missed. We punched our card and moved on. At the next punch, JLondon and myself again were looking for it with two other gentlemen. We found it, but it was lodged inside a log. The openings were large enough that my hiking pole could fit inside, but we couldn’t knock it loose. One of the gentlemen even tried breaking the log, until we finally relocated it and was able to free it up and out for us to grab. We punched our cards and it was replaced.
As we started to make it to the end of the road, we passed one more cache about 500 feet away. Everyone was tired, but I offered to go get it. Grabbing the GPSr from JLondon, I marched on. I soon found 8601 following me into the woods. At the bottom of the hill we found a fast flowing creek to wide to easily cross. But our shoes were already soaked so stepping it in didn’t matter much any more. We searched a few spots before 8601 spotted this punch. As we were punching our card, another gentlemen approached and said that he had found all but one of the seven he was to go after. We discovered that his group had split four ways and we realized that our seven finds wouldn’t be enough.
We marched back, happy at having competed and found some caches while already discussing things we needed to remember for next year. Back at the finish line, we grabbed a cache that wasn’t part of the competition (we later found out we passed two others in that parking lot), and started to put our gear away before we turned in our punch sheets. Once turned in, we sighed in relief and got into the car to leave. We had officially competed in MOGA.
On the way out, I called Rotor Rootie to ask if he wanted to join us at the Wherigo back at the dining hall. He agreed to meet us and we headed over to wait for him. This would be the first Wherigo for myself, 8601 and JLondon, so we were all a bit excited at seeing what this type was like. Built around the Western theme for the event, it marched you through the area to different buildings, each representing different western themed buildings like saloons, jails, churches, gallows, etc. At each spot, you had to shoot the bad guy and rescue the geocacher. If you correctly finished each stage it moved you to the next until you made it to the final. It took about 20 minutes to complete and turned out to be well done. Rotor Rootie said he has seen some that aren’t so good and was impressed with the work put into this one. Along with the Mega-event status MOGA had (my first Mega-event), this added a second new icon to my list of completed caches.
At this point, we headed back to the cabin to once again change. Thankfully, my jeans from that morning were quite dry. The rest of my clothes weren’t, making me happy that I had packed extra clothes. We each changed, then sat down for a bit before dinner, having some laughs and talking about the day.
Winding down, we were ready for dinner after the long day of hiking. I grabbed my stuff, intending to get rid of some TB’s and coins, and we drove back to the dining hall again. Everyone got in line while 8601 and I sat to the side (remember…no meal tickets). I also took some photos of the room. It was packed this time, compared to that morning:
While we waiting, I got rid of a few trackables, even handing one off to a cacher from Illinois that I had met back in February at an event in KC. I talked with a few cachers and then I got to see something cool. Now, for those who haven’t heard of them, Delorme (makers of the Delorme atlases that are used for challenge caches and the Delorme PN-20 and PN-40 GPSr’s) produced a unique geocoin that words don’t do enough justice for. I have wanted to get my hands on one because if you do, they willingly allow you to hold onto it for your collection. Here is what they look like:
As you might be able to figure out from looking at it, the center globe actually rotates on it’s axis. However, I discovered something when I saw this. I realized that it isn’t a true spherical globe and is actually flattened a bit. It doesn’t take away from the coolness factor though. Now I want to get one more than ever.
After dinner, awards were handed out. Each competition, whether individual, two-person, or four-person, had different age brackets. One kid did all thirty caches in the individual competition, which is impressive. The best individual/team from the whole competition was actually a group of four cachers in the 50+ age bracket who grabbed all thirty caches in under two hours. Now THAT was impressive and it got a huge round of applause from everyone. We obviously didn’t win anything with our seven finds, but 8601 did win a free copy of the new geocaching movie “Find Me” during the door prizes.
After the awards, we all went back to the cabin and had a good time goofing around the rest of the evening. I introduced them to twitter and how I keep in touch with other cachers on there. We figured out plans for the next day and later that night, we all went to bed quite tired. I got a bit of reading in before my eyes started going on me, and with that, the day ended.
In the next post, I’ll talk about the next morning, and the return trip. I’ll also have some photos of the cabin we were in, which was quite nice for it’s smaller size.