Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Prospector

Note:  This was selected as one of the top 3 submissions for Fright Week 2012 on cachecrazy.com. I am posting it here for posterity, and for anyone who may have missed it when it ran on cachecrazy. I suppose this means I am a prize winning author now, eh?

It was a fine October day for geocaching in the Klondike mountains, Chris MacDonald thought to himself as he stopped to take in the view of the valley below. This is going to make an excellent blog post was his next thought as he shifted his pack and turned to keep moving. No time to rest, he had a goal to accomplish before the day was over.

He was at the halfway mark of a 9 mile hike to Pikes Pass. His goal was to complete a 6 part multi-cache that promised a tour of an old mining settlement from the Gold Rush era. The cache was published 6 years ago, but has never been found.

A couple hours later he was getting close to ground zero for the first stage. As he approached he saw what he was looking for, an abandoned cottage that a prospector called home during the rush. He took a few steps closer, but what he saw next surprised him.

There was a man sitting on the steps of the cottage. He was not sure what he should do - there should be no one around for at least a days hike.

The man spotted him, looked him over, and smiled. He called out with a heavy mountain accent “Howdy! Are ya on tha hunt too?”. He flashed a GPS, a Magellan eXplorist, to show that he was in fact a geocacher. “I saws your GPS hangin’ from yer pack”, he explained.

“Yeah, I am”, Chris replied. “I didn’t expect anyone else to be up here”. He thought about the situation for a moment and added “So... do you... uh... wanna team up and find the cache?”.

“Sure thang”, said the man, “My names Jim Dunnigan, but most people be callin’ me Hacksaw Jim”.

“Chris. Caching name ChuckleMan134. Pleasure to meet you”, Chris said, shaking hands.

“I already found this here stage”, Jim said, “Why don’tcha find it yerself, and we can move on to the next one together.”

“Sounds good to me!” Chris said, already glancing down at his GPS, a brand new Garmin Montana 600. The arrow pointed him into the building. He entered and quickly found the container he was looking for - an altoids can in the pantry. Inside was the coordinates for the next stage. He entered the numbers into his GPS and moved towards the door. As he was leaving he glanced down and noticed an old newspaper from 1889 sitting on a rickety old table. The headline read “6 Prospectors Missing - Foul Play Suspected”.

Neat! Chris thought, as he went outside. He followed Jim down the trail, and wondered what adventures the day held for him.

For the next hour the pair went from stage to stage. The second stage was a lok’n’lok behind an old outhouse. The third was a film canister near a saw mill. The fourth hidden in some rocks beside an old bridge that crossed a creek. The fifth was hidden in the wooden supports at the entrance to an old mine.

Instead of coordinates to the final location, the fifth cache simply had directions. “Go into the mine 150ft to the first intersection.The cache is on the ground, 20ft down the shaft on the left.”

“This looks like fun!” Chris exclaimed.

“Sure does”, Jim replied. “I need a break tho - why don’tcha go ahead and I’ll catch up”. He pulled a water bottle out of his pack.

“Uh, OK.” Chris thought it was weird, but was anxious to get inside the mine and find the final cache. He pulled out his flashlight and headed into the darkness.

It was spooky in the mine. He could hear the wind howl at the entrance. The wooden support beams cast weird shadows. Water dripped from the ceiling. He was pretty sure he saw a rat. There were old mining equipment - shovels and pickaxes - leaning against the walls. He was surprised none of this stuff had been muggled.

Once he got to the intersection he shone his light down the shaft. Sure enough there was an 50cal. ammo can sitting on the ground. He walked up to the cache, knelt down, and opened it.

“What the...” he called out in surprise. Instead of a log book, the ammo can was full of GPS devices. “Why on earth would these be here?” he wondered aloud.

He heard a noise behind him. He turned around just in time to get a glimpse of Jim swinging a shovel at him. Stunned he fell to the ground. His flashlight shone against the wooden support beam. He blacked out for a minute.

When he awoke, Jim was standing over him. He swung the shovel again, and yelled “No one is gonna take m’treasure! Ya hear? No one!”

As darkness fell over him for the last time he read the words carved into the beam: “Here lies Jim Dunnigan: Murderer of 6 men.”



It was a fine day for geocaching in the Klondike mountains. Bobby Thompson had just arrived at the first stage of a 6 part multi cache that promised a tour of an old mining settlement from the Gold Rush era. It had not been found in 7 years.

He was startled to find someone else sitting on the steps as he approached the old building.

The man spotted him, looked him over, and smiled. He called out “Hey there! Are you on the hunt too?”. He flashed a GPS, a new Garmin Montana 600, to show that he was also a geocacher. “I already found this stage, but why don’tcha go inside and find it yerself, then we can team up on the rest.”

“OK, sounds good”, said Bobby. He entered the building, found the next coords, and started to leave. As he was leaving he noticed an old newspaper from 1889 sitting on a rickety old table. The headline read “7 Prospectors Missing - Foul Play Suspected”.

“Neat!” thought Bobby, thinking how cool it was to see an old paper like that. He shouldered his pack and followed Jim down the trail, wondering what adventures the day held for him.

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