Going Walkies With 101 Dalmations

 

Categories: Goals kjwx Lochb New Zealand

 

One foot had a blister big enough to hide a small cache in and my hands were a mass of thistles but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face last week.

On Wednesday, I flew 500 kilometres to Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, for 10 hours just to complete 101 Dalmations (GC2P7BK), our equivalent of the newly revived ET Highway power trail in the United States.

Although the Kiwi series only comprises 102 geocaches – 101 traditionals based on the popular Disney tale and a puzzle final, all hidden around the outskirts of the Riverhead Forest in the rural community of Kumeu – compared to the Nevada version’s 1500 hides, it is almost as popular in Australasia.

Since barkingmadnz placed the trail in March, it has been completed more than 70 times, earned 31 Favourite points and inspired a group of Australians to fly across the Tasman just to attempt this feat. The owners are now considering a sequel trail but say “a little more planning is needed” first.

My own incredible journey did not start out as a one-day feat. Originally I’d taken time off work to visit the City of Sails on a family matter and, before those plans fell through, agreed to complete 101 Dalmations with Australian geocacher Birgit Loch (GC handle: Lochb).

Unable to contemplate spending a boring week at home and having already pre-signed 150 little stickers with my GC handle in preparation for our Auckland assault, I booked the cheapest airfares possible – arriving at 7.30am and leaving at 5.50pm.

And so our walkies began … Beginning at Puppy #1 just after 9.15am, we completed the entire series plus three of the neighbouring Piggy In The Middle trail (GC31RHQ) just before 4pm – even giving enough time to find another 10 hides before my flight home.

Despite Loch and I having not met nor cached together before, it didn’t take long to get into a comfortable rhythm of “drive, park, find cache, sign log, get back in car”, averaging about 15 finds an hour. And thankfully Auckland’s weather didn’t have us panting too much.

Several factors did surprise me about the trail, though, especially the amount of (speeding) traffic out there and the number of helpful muggles we encountered along the way.

Two motorists stopped to see if we needed assistance, a pig hunter invited us to join him and his dogs for lunch, and the weekly roadside recycling truck driver took great delight in providing some entertainment while we waited to move the car at one waypoint. In hindsight, a roll of toilet paper would have proved the perfect disguise for two lone women out in the wops – next time maybe.

The lack of wildlife was also unexpected. Aside from a flock of cows, the odd sheep and the aforementioned hunter’s dogs, we spotted only three birds the entire drive. I’m still trying to forget the two massive cockroaches I saw fleeing a dead wild pig at another hide, and the slug attached to one container that Loch accidentally threw at me.

At times I wished we could have ventured further into the forest – though the hunter had warned us against doing so – but suspect that had we had time to complete the Piggy series, this would have remedied the problem.

Unfortunately, by the end of the trail, we’d found only four of the six puzzle clues needed so presumed Cruella de Vill (GC2PAXY) would escape our clutches this visit. However, Loch – a maths whiz from Swinburne University of Technology – quickly calculated a possible location to ensure our success.

And what sweet success it was. Wednesday’s geo-adventure was truly a record-breaker for me: My first power trail, most finds in a day (116 up from a measly 18), and furthest find from home.

Upon staggering off the plane back in Wellington at 7pm, I was doggone tired but elated. Even the marathon effort needed to log all my finds the following day couldn’t bring me down.

Earlier I’d worried that 100-plus finds in a day would put me off geocaching for good but it’s actually had the opposite result. And best of all, I’m now eight finds away from reaching my yearly goal of 750 and a mere 42 below Cumbyrocks’ own tally. The gap between us has never been closer, resulting in a barrage of verbal threats from my darling brother about how 2012 “will be the year I never get near his score AGAIN”.

We both know that all his posturing is because he won’t have much opportunity to cache over the next few weeks, while I’ll be returning to Auckland to acquire as many finds as possible. So I guess my tail will be wagging for a while longer yet …

 
 



 

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