Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bears Go East: Rhode Island Delorme Challenge (In A Day)

The following events happened on July 1st, 2013
My family and I are on an epic road trip up the eastern coast of North America.  Our ultimate destination is the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to fill the miles in between with as much adventure as we can manage.

Last night we arrived in Rhode Island, which meant I could do something I have wanted to do for well over a year now:  The Rhode Island Delorme Challenge... in a day.

If you are not familiar, a Delorme Challenge is a geocaching challenge where one has to find at least one cache per page on a US states Delorme paper atlas.  Normally it takes months to years to complete a Delorme challenge due to the distances and time involved (for example, North Carolina has 77 pages, and getting to them all takes over a thousand of miles of driving).  Rhode Island, being such a small state, only has 12 pages.  Which means, when you add the final, only 13 caches are required to complete the challenge, with approx 200 miles of driving.

A cacher friend I hang out with online, brdad, expressed interest in joining me for the hunt. A couple months ago we started planning, and came up with a route, and a list of 2 good looking caches per page (one to qualify, one as a back up in case of DNFs).

I selected highly favourited caches if I could, so the list was a fairly distinguished collection of some of the best caches Rhode Island had to offer. If there were no favorited caches for  a page I simply picked the first cache on the page that had recent finds.

So today, I, along with the company of brdad and his wife msteelee, left the hotel at 6:30, and spend the better part of the day driving around Rhode Island, and systematically grabbing all the caches on our list.

We started by grabbing both caches for each page (cause why not?) Until after lunch when we started getting short on time so we switched to one cache per page.

We had a wide variety of experiences.  We saw lots of history, ruins, wildlife, local lore, modern art, and everything in between.

One of the first caches was this old pound, which is an enclosure used to contain stray animals back in the days of yore.  If you saw a stray cow walking around town, you'd stick it in the pound until its owner came to collect it.  We actually found caches at two separate pounds during our day.
The first pound had some animals as swag, so I did a carefully controlled historical re-enactment of what a pound looked like full of period accurate animals (not to scale).

A view of an abandoned railway bridge.  The bridge is left permanently up so ships can pass underneath.

This tree had a hole in the trunk large enough for msteelee to stand inside of it (note: theoretical assumption - not actually tried).

A self shot capturing a 1500ft bushwhack through thigh high, soaking wet underbrush along a barely discernible trail.  At the end was a deer, and a geocache.

brdad and msteelee hiking towards the final.

The day was wet, but we managed to avoid the rain until we got to the final GZ.  As soon as we laid hands on the final cache, the skies opened up and we got thoroughly drenched.  It was a soggy trudge back to GZ, but it didn't stop us from having fun (or finding two more caches along the way back to the car).

We ended up finding 21 caches for the day.  19 for the challenge, and 2 afterwards.  It took us about 11 hours to complete the challenge from start to finish.  It was a great deal of fun, and some of the best geocaching experiences I've had in quite some time.

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend finding yourself a small group of dedicated cachers and trying out the Rhode Island Delorme challenge for yourself.