Mega Oz Power TrailI had hoped to report this earlier . Thought I'd better give you this last-minute "heads-up" rather than have you miss out...The results of the poll are in!
It seems that the early indications panned out, in spite of some "robust discussion". According to the poll
in the initial "...can of worms" thread, only a minority - about 1/3 - of GCA forum members are specifically against
Power Trails, i.e. there is an unmet need in the geocaching community for this type of cache series
With this in mind, I have initiated Australia's - and possibly the world's - first "Mega Power Trail"
This cache-extravaganza has been timed to coincide with Oz Mega Wagga Wagga. Geocachers from Victoria (and possibly super-keen cachers from interstate) who want to try out the Power Trail concept might be able to add hundreds of extra caches to their numbers for the small investment of a half-day trip from Wagga Wagga to northern central Victoria.
After weeks of planning and a substantial investment of both time and money, this represents the most geocaches ever hidden by one geocacher in Australia - and all in a single week. How many caches are we talking about? One thousand and one (1001) caches!
I am not kidding. All hidden over an exhausting four days. Logistical Issues:
Due to the need to publish so many caches at once, Groundspeak generously put me in touch with the U.S. reviewers who recently published the Power Trail for the Nevada Geocachers. Both were keen to help set a new world benchmark and have pulled out all stops to try and get this ready in time for the Mega Event. Hopefully the local reviewers won't be offended by my subterfuge - I thought they'd appreciate not being asked to publish 1000 almost-identical caches.
Unfortunately publication has been delayed for almost a week, while the reviewer and Groundspeak work together on the cache data. Because of the huge number of caches, Groundspeak were willing to test a direct import of my cache data into their database. I exported a database file from the Excel spreadsheet created with Autohotkey
(and a few code-monkey antics with my original gpx file). A few tweaks were needed at first, but as I haven't heard anything recently, I think we must be close. This means that although the caches probably won't be available before the Mega Event, they should be published "any day now". Fingers crossed...
The big news is that someone in Australia will soon be able to smash the recent world record of 566 geocaches found in one day. You'll have to be quick though; as was the case for the Nevada Geocachers, this 1001-cache series was hidden by my son and myself under a team name ("Team Demon Emu"). (Unlike the Nevada Geocachers however, I did not log the caches as I hid them; their logs are all 2 days prior to the publish date )
. This means I might be attempting the record in my own name soon after the Wagga event - while doing a quick maintenance run
. A motivated, well-organised team still has a chance to claim the prize before me!Technical Details:
I have spent a lot of time prototyping an efficient logging system for this series, and I think you'll be pleased with the result. I call it the "Speed-Log"
. It is a modified bicycle reflector that I've nailed and/or glued to trees along the quiet roads used for this series. Here's the original mock-up I made that shows most clearly how it works; apart from minor hardware differences, the final caches are little-changed from this design:
Although it looks like a generic reflector, the cover slides up and friction automatically advances the waterproof log sheet by about 15mm - ready for you to stamp or write on. Each cache will hold about 25 logs. Now here's the good bit: if you use a device like the illustrated "Speed-Stamper"
(I'm still perfecting it, but it's been pretty reliable in tests so far), you could log the cache in about five seconds! Who said my degree was wasted?
It is based on an inexpensive trekking pole that I've modified. It has a hinged, rubber-footed extension arm that automatically lifts the cover when pushed onto the "Speed-Log" caches. The stamp attachment at the end of the main pole is correctly placed to stamp the exposed log. Your own (small) stamp could be easily attached to the pole with a single screw and a little super glue, and would be ready to go in about 10 minutes. You can try making your own, but if all goes well a very limited number of my prototype
"Speed-Stampers" will be available at the Mega Event for $10-$15, which is around cost. If you're interested, please let me know.
The most efficient way to log these caches is by motorcycle (single person) or car (you need a passenger). All caches are on the left-hand side of quiet, minor roads, so it is quite safe to pull over and park within a meter of the cache and use the Speed-Stamper. You may not even have to come to a complete stop. I reckon 1001 caches in 12-16 hours is a possibility, provided the stamper works properly all day. Here are some photos of the caches to give you an idea of what to look out for:More about the series:
The series was going to be called "Fast Emus Are Ruining My Ego"
, but I've shortened it to the acronym plus four digit number, i.e. "...0001" to "...1000", with the puzzle being "...FINAL DESTINATION".
It consists of 1000 log-only micros (reflectors), and one large, nicely-stocked puzzle cache located within 5 km of the last micro. You will need to note the clue (a "0" or a "1") printed on the outside edge of each of the last 160 caches (i.e. "...0841" to "...1000") in order to solve the puzzle, and will require a binary-to-text converter
to decrypt it in the field. Being binary, you could miss a clue or three and still quickly try the alternatives.
Be aware that there is no 3G wireless in the area, so you might want to consider an off-line decrypter.
If the caches aren't published overnight - in time for those travelling to the Mega event to download the details - I might have to post a gpx file of the cache locations so that you can have them ready to load into your GPSr for after the event. I recommend those whose GPSr won't hold more than 800 locations put them in as Points Of Interest (POIs). This also solves the problem of running two Pocket Queries! (In reality, once you've found the first cache, finding the rest should be pretty easy - as you can almost always see the next cache from its predecessor).
Okay, I need some sleep. Let's see how it goes tomorrow...