This article is part three of a series of articles I am writing to share the story of my adventure to Seattle, WA to attend GeoWoodstock VIII and several other key geocaching locations. In this part, I’ll share the story of the trek to the last Project APE cache in North America.
One of the most iconic caches for this area was the Mission 9: Tunnel of Light Project Ape cache located on the John Wayne Pioneer trail in Washington state. This is only one of two remaining APE caches in the world and the only one in North America (the other one is in Brazil). The cache was hidden in conjunction with a promotion on the Planet of the Apes movie in 2001 and has a special icon, hence the reason why it’s such a popular attraction for cachers.
Knowing that SO many people would be descending on Seattle for GW8, the WSGA decided to put on an event to help ease some of the possible frustrations. There’s limited parking in the trailhead and the other side of the trail can’t be used because the “tunnel” is closed. So event organizers charged a $20 fee which gave you a goody bag with a bunch of stuff, priority access to a coin specific for that event, and then ran buses every 20 minutes to and from the parking area and the trailhead. This allowed people to park in the large lot, take a bus to the small lot where the trailhead is, and then hike to the cache.
When you arrived at the bus location, you had to register your name, then they gave you a bus number and you went on your way. When you were done the hike, you sort of checked-out with the event organizers (and pick up a coin if you want one) so that they would know you had left the trail. Thusly insuring anyone registered with them would not be left behind. VERY well done.
The hike itself was basically split into two parts. From the trailhead, you hike up the mountain for about 1.5K. It’s rough terrain but there is a trail. Think of it like the Dobson trail or other dirt/root/rock trails where you do a lot of looping around here and there but in this case, you continuously ascend the mountain. It wasn’t too hard but I did stop a few times for water. Many other people were struggling to get up but it really wasn’t that bad you just had to take your time.
It was really quite family friendly as well as there were people of all ages from little kids to seniors. In fact, I saw several groups with babies in backpacks climbing up. It was pretty cool to see.
Among the more creative folks going for the hike, this one cacher decided that for this event he’d dress up like an actual ape. He was not part of the event staf but just some random cacher who wanted to have fun while he hiked up to the cache. I can’t imagine how hot he got in that thing.
Once you finish the hike on the Annette trail, you hit the main trail which was basically flat gravel. The hard work was done. This was like walking on a sidewalk compared to the main hike so it was a welcome change of pace. There was a new cache that had been published after I got my query so I managed to snag another find thanks to seeing a large group of people going in and out of a small area of trees. I wonder what they were doing.
Eventually my GPS distance was decreasing quite a bit and as I came out of a turn and over a little bridge, I saw a large group of people around some sort of wooden structure. Upon looking at my GPS, I realized I had made it to the APE.
The container itself is actually wedged into a large pile of wood that I think is actually glued or secured together somehow. It’s a MASSIVE ammo-can. Someone said it was an RPG ammo can? It was about as wide and thick as a regular 50cal but was about 3 feet tall and filled with stuff.
I dumped off another 20 or so travellers, signed the log, dropped my chip, took some photos and smiled as I had logged yet another new icon for my profile, and I was only one day 2.
There were 3 other caches less than .5K from there so I figured I would make my way to those, find them, and then start the journey back down the mountain.
All of the caches were relatively easy to find mostly because there were so many people around that the all you had to do was go to the crowds to find a cache. However, the last one on the trail, is one of the oldest geocaches around and was actually hidden by Jeremy & Elias of Groundspeak and the code is GC79 so you can see that it’s definitely old. This cache is right by the “tunnel” so I snagged a few pictures of it and wondered what it would have been like to do the cache via the tunnel.
See, the tunnel itself runs from an area near the parking area where I caught the bus. The idea was to walk through the tunnel and come out on this side where you could then walk .5K to the APE cache. You can’t see the other end when looking in so once you got in a ways, it would be pitch black, and I imagine pretty freaking cool. But there had been some safety concerns regarding the tunnel so they closed it, and thusly forcing folks to use the other trailhead, and hike quite a ways in.
After taking some pictures, I turned around and started back. This time however, since there were far fewer people going back then there were coming in, I was able to really cruise my way back.
It seemed like no time at all passed before I got to the intersection where I had to begin the descent down the mountain. I was happy that I had purchased a pair of hiking poles for this trip because as I descended, the poles became pretty handy for bracing myself in spots.
I flew down the mountain quite fast, or so it seemed, and got back to the trailhead where I checked-out, paid for my limited edition coin, and waited for the bus. Got back to the main parking area and checked my ticket stub to see if I had won any prizes and luckily enough, I did. I got to pick from a table of stuff so I snagged a fake rock, went back to my car, and headed back to Seattle.
My original intention had been to return and do some caching but I was pretty tired. So I ended up going back to my hotel where I proceeded to crash for a few hours and then I started the rest of my day.
Stay tuned for part IV of this series where I cover the Luau event, and GeoWoodstock VIII.