Flotsam & Jetsam EXTREME


Well.... I first came across this cache on the final evening of the only other time this year it was manageable, so imagine my delight when I heard of the lovely group from Cornwall planning to do it today! Despite the parking suggestions some distance away it appeared that everyone had the same idea as me, to ignore them and just pepper ourselves along the road near the start point. A few minutes of introductions and name-forgetting, and we were off in search of stage one, which was gratifyingly easy.

After that we strolled lightly to stage two where the full gravity of our task spread before us looking for all the world like hundreds of square miles of sucking oozing probably-sentient mud. The first tentative footsteps were not the gentle introduction to the terrain we might otherwise have liked. Hard-packed mud with a surface like soap, plus a not-insignificant gradient, leant the initial entry an atmosphere best described as day-glo Keystone Cops. And off to stage three. That way? You mean, straight out into the estuary towards, essentially, bugger all? O...kay.... It was jolly good fun. And easier than initial entry since the terrain was flat and the mud quite deep and tended to keep you upright. How deep? Well, a few inches - so it appeared - until I poked my five-foot walking staff into it and it did not stop going down until I gave up to preserve a clean five inches to hold on to...! Riiiiiiight.... We won't be standing still for TOO long then...

Six inches of a five-toot stick

Stage three to four, as intended by CO, was just the right combination of muddy and firm to be a relatively straightforward, if oozy, walk. Somewhere along this walk we found a UXB; Bally interesting, what?! And like the safety-conscious grown-ups that we are we wrestled with the urge to poke it. One wag suggested attaching a trackable code which, on reflection, we REALLY SHOULD HAVE DONE!

Do not hit with stick.

Stage four to five. What's this? Aha! The crossing...! We had walked in a line consistent with attempting the leap of faith, rather than taking the diagonal direct path to the Indiana Jones Crossing and, once there, couldn't quite decide what to do. Walking to the IJ Crossing just to weigh up the pros and cons seemed to me to be needlessly adding to a long walk so, with one buddy, I just waded across and climbed the other side using my frozen toes as crampons...There was every chance in the world that anywhere else on the crossing could have been easier than that route but that one having been demonstrated as non-lethal led everyone else to do it too! I watched (filmed) quietly throughout worrying to myself that any decent human being would point out that it looked distinctly easier ten feet downstream towards open water...! Ach well. No-one died. And I couldn't remember anyone's name so HAD there been any fatalities I think I could have quickly overcome the remorse. ;O)

Stage five was fabulous. The barges, although completely wrecked, remain extremely imposing. It was wonderful to see history in the raw, as it were, rather than with a guided tour, leaflets, and gift shop. I clambered all over wreck one, but regretfully did not explore the second wreck as by then it was very cold indeed and the only thing in my mind was the blissful image of me sitting in the car with the heater on.

That being said, my favourite part of the entire walk was (without giving anything away) the first part of the final stretch to the cache. Properly knee-deep, and very vocal, mud - and thousands upon thousands of I-don't-know-what prehistoric tiny worms that remained only in one's peripheral vision and then darted down holes when you looked directly at them...! Creepy when you stopped to estimate the sheer weight of numbers, and probably physical weight by volume, of these tiny creatures.

After a quick rinse in what, on a normal day, would have been a large uninviting and cold puddle but which under these circumstances had all the welcoming come-hither appeal of a warm bubble-bath, we set off for the cache. By this stage I was personally hypothermic and had to rudely stamp off towards ground zero rather than amble merrily along with everyone else and the unique bon-homie that a only a few hours of wading through thick mud together can engender.

GROUND ZERO! A very satisfying hide indeed and my favourite sort of container - and immediately pertinent to the entire event. I carted it a short distance away so that we would not all draw attention to the hide and everyone at last signed the log.

Thank you followmechaps for a phenomenal cache. It was a brilliant day out, despite my doing it with a running fever and glands up... Your introducing yourself just prior to GZ only AFTER asking if we'd all enjoyed ourselves was, I thought, highly tactical indeed!