22 May 2016 (Sunday) - Damp in Dartford
I slept like a log; I woke to realise that I should really have packed my rubber dingy during the week whilst it was dry rather than leaving it out to get wetter and wetter. It wasn't *that* wet as I stuffed it into a green sack and then loaded it into the boot of "er indoors TM" car.
We collected Suzy and her entourage and set off to Dartford. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I'd done a spot of extreme geocaching there a few weeks ago and said I needed to make a return journey.
We met up with the team and once everyone was together over a dozen of us set off to a bridge over a tributary of the river Thames. There was (and is) a geocache under that bridge. Jo and I had got to it before when we got to it by marching (somewhat gung-ho) into the river and reaching the cache from the river. There's no denying that at that time I was actually armpit-deep in the river, and it is just possible that Joe's comment of "is that a fish or a turd" might not have been the most encouraging thing to say. So today a different approach was taken.
Rather than marching (somewhat gung-ho) into the river and reaching up, ropes were strung up and hardy souls were harnesssed. Several of our number got to the cache that way. Personally I thought that they should have taken a dunking but what do I know?
As this went on "Furry Face TM" was quite contentedly digging into the side of the river. Something had got his attention; it was quite good that he was constructively ocupied and not getting into mischief.
From here we went along to a culvert through which another river got to the river Thames. There was a geocache about fifty yards into that culvert. Those who advocated messing about with ropes were somewhat scuppered here. There was no way a rope would help. There was no choice but to get wet.
The plan was that we would have got here at low tide, but the earlier messing about with ropes had taken longer than expected. I'd done this one when I last visited Dartford; today the water in the culvert was a *lot* deeper.
The chap who'd hidden these extreme caches had joined us today; from here he led us on a littlle extra bonus; ropes and slings up a disused telegraph pole. Several brave souls went up. I didn't. Realistically I think I could havee done it, but I know my limitations. I *could* have done it but I would have taken too long, and time was pressing. We needed to be elsewhere for high tide.
We made our way back to the cars, and pausing only briefly to climb a tree, we relocated to what was my prime target for the day. A difficulty one - terrain five cache. *Really* easy to see, a pig to actually get to. This one was attached to the top of a wooden thing in a river. Clearly visible from the towpath; only accessible by boat. T5-D1 was the *only* one of eighty-one possible D-T combinations I hadn't previously found; there are only two of these that don't involve *serious* tree-climbs within fifty miles of home. So getting that was a "must-do"
We arrived at high tide; I was amazed at how high the water was. It was probably twelve feet higher than when we were last there. On the last trip to Dartford we'd arrived at low tide. The wooden thingy was then standing in mud.
I got into "HMS Badger", a ten-yard sail and one wet bum later saw me doing the top-secret geo-aquatic-rituals. I was soon joined by a couple of geo-canoes.
After a while I got out of the dingy and others got in and had a go. We messed about on the river for a while before relocating again.
There was a cache a little way away under a bridge. Supposedly *very* hard to find. We'd got a hint or two from previous finders, but eleven of us (with a combined geo-score of about 48000) spent the best part of an hour in the river to no avail. So we went to another bridge and found a cache under that one instead.
We'd been rather lucky with the weather; we'd had a little drizzle toward the end of the day but it was only as we got back to the cars that the rain really started. We said our goodbyes and within ten minutes of setting off home so the torrential rain started.
Once home I gave my little dog his tea, he got a shower, and he took himself off to his basket where he went straight to sleep. He's had a rather busy day. as had I....
I put on-line the photos I'd taken during the day and realised I felt quite exhausted.
I only got to add four finds to my geo-total today, but it's not always about the numbers. Today was good fun. I quite like aquatic geocaching. Maybe I need to upgrade HMS Badger....