Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Going APE

One of the bucket list caches for most of us is the last remaining APE cache in North America. Of the fourteen caches placed, only one other remains in Brazil, so finding the one near Seattle is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most of us. Mission 9 (the last remaining APE cache in the northern hemisphere) has been maintained as of late by the well known cacher Moun10Bike (recently hired as a Groundspeak Lakey). With thousands of Geocachers decending on the area for Geowoodstock VIII and the Lost & Found Celebration that cache would certainly be seeing most of them hitting this iconic cache. With the closure of the tunnel and limited parking available, it was expected to be a big mess. So the Washington State Geocaching Association (WSGA) created an event at a nearby, larger parking lot to facilitate the crowds.

"Going APE!" was a rather simple design -- an event the day before Geowoodstock VIII near a popular cache with refreshments, drawing, socializing, and bus service. For only $25 cachers (including ourselves) were able to reserve a seat on one of those buses which would ferry them from the event several miles away to the best access to the cache. The intelligence of this arrangement seemed obvious enough when I'd first heard the plan. (It was really driven home when reports started flying on Twitter about Geocachers who had completed the APE cache in the days before having their car windows smashed and most or all of their valuables stolen.) The WSGA made sure the buses (four school buses) were constantly in motion giving people easy access to the trailhead from the event and back. They set-up a tent at the trailhead for everyone to check out on their return, purchase the special edition coins, and of course to get any help. Along the winding trail up, which could easily have been lost in either direction, they tied orange ribbons to guide us to the old railbed turned trail. At that intersection they had placed a sign guiding visitors to the APE cache (of course we and most of the other cachers needed to grab photos of that sign) along with a couple of cachers in APE costumes at the cache itself. Despite the icky Seattle rain and cooler temperatures, enough cachers turned out to justify mega-event status for this one and things still seems to flow pretty well. With that many cachers on the trail there were some points of congestion, specifically around the caches along that trail. It's certainly a long way from the typical caching most of us do where we rarely encounter another cacher.

The feature which gave the cache it's name was the now closed "Snoqualmie Tunnel." It's more than two miles long and would have provided easy access for cachers to grab the APE cache till it was shut down due to unsafe conditions. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad opened the tunnel in 1914 at Snoqualmie Pass and used it through 1980 when the railroad went bankrupt. We were only able to walk a few feet up to the portal where it had been gated, but I'd have loved to have gone through the tunnel which turns through the mountain. According to many of the locals though that day is coming soon. Perhaps I will have another chance to make it out here once that's reopened, but I'll be bringing my bike this time as the Iron Horse Trail seems like a great time for cachers on bike. Especially through a couple miles of tunnel.

No comments: