Just think about it: This cache was placed 82 days after I started geocaching and I started a looong time ago. 3657 days later is was finally found.
When Jim first came up with the idea of going after a cache in China I thought what a nutter ... and this is why we like him. It was about the time Anna prepared to climb a little hill in Alaska. Without doing any research, I imagined a weird trip which would go like this:
• Flying into China.
• Finding some antique overland-bus taking you to a ferry terminal.
• Making the way across to Hainan on a rusty bucket which is in commission since the Vietnam War.
• Hiring a dodgy minibus steered by a drunk driver which takes you in the middle of the island.
• Going on a multi-day trek bush-bashing through the jungle where every path is overgrown, mosquito-infested and paved with other poisonous animals*
In a nutshell it sounded like at least two weeks of my precious annual leave which I'd prefer to spend in the mountains (you know the real ones with ice, snow and glaciers). So I put the idea of ever doing this cache aside or basically left it with Jim's imagination of an achievable adventure within a foreseeable future.
Months passed and somewhere in May I had Anna on a sat-phone who in the meantime made it half-way up her mountain in Alaska while Jim posted his infamous "booked!" message on facebook. Stuff it. Why should everyone else have the fun and I'm missing out, which meant I booked the flights to come along for the ride. The whole preparation from there on wasn't exactly targeted however A LOT of things have changed in ten years and made our life easy:
• We took a brand-new plane (A320) to fly in from Hong Kong
• The PLA was so kind to build a 5-star resort with an amazing poolscape in Sanya ... which Jim picked as a basecamp
• I think since Hainan has some strategic value in the region, the roads are in pristine condition. Plus they obviously think that pot-holes are bad for army-trucks so the inland-roads are solid concrete. Yes. No pot-holes at all. I know we are talking about China.
• Sanya can a bit hot in summer which means building a mountain-retreat is very logic. Building a mountain retreat 50m from the trail-head to a geocache which hasn't been found for ten years, is shear luck
• Hiking and walking can be quite dangerous especially if you don't have clue and the trail is steep and full with obstacles. Either you regulate the people going on the hike or you terraform half of a mountain into a boardwalk. Guess what: We climbed up a boardwalk which could have been in any major botanical garden only it gained over 400m of elevation along the way
• The final 500m of elevation were finally a tiny bit of an adventure and reminded me of various climbs I've done in Indonesia (Mt Rinjani, Mt Gede and Mt Pangrango) - hot, humid and a lot of fog & clouds
• And finally GPS technology itself changed for the better. Back in 2003 I started with the old etrex yellow and found 400 caches before I moved on to another unit. On that day I not only had five GPS capable devices with me but also two GLONASS units and a satellite tracker. Getting lost was not an option.
In the end we made it to GZ where a sign clearly stated the elevation. Also the hint and the coordinates matched, so we started digging and excavated half of a tip within that tree. Every piece of trash kept our hopes up because if nobody cleans this corner, the cache must be there.
And it was
Thanks Ross for this special experience and a well-spend week.
Dear Yeatpoles - thanks for taking me along. When are we going on the next trip?
* I do live in Australia so that's not an excuse.