I said I never could do it. I said I never would even bother to attempt it. It sounded so simple yet would require a tremendous amount of effort. The challenge? Find at least one Geocache every day for 99 straight days.
The challenge was laid out by Miles (aka peanutbutterbreadandjam) with his cache called, creatively, “99-day challenge – Calgary, Alberta” back in July of 2010. Soon a thread started on our local caching forums talking about who was working on the challenge and for sharing tips on how to meet the goal. I posted this on August 10, 2010:
“I’m that last person who will give advice on this thread. My longest streak was something like 21 or 22 days while on vacation, and by the time I reached that point I didn’t care if I ever saw another cache.”
Not content to let sleeping dogs lie, I had to follow up with this gem:
“For me, when I set a caching goal it becomes a thin line between a ‘challenge’ and ‘too much work’…
So, how is it I find myself here just one day away from completing the 99-day challenge?
I didn’t set out to complete this challenge. What I wanted to do was replace my beaten up and aging Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx before vacation. I bought a new Dakota 20 from GPS City and wanted to give it a trial run before we left, so after work on Friday, June 17 I detoured to “World Pin Trading Cache” in south Calgary and made my first find with the new unit. I had no idea at the time it would set me off on this journey.
Day 5: Summit of Mount Manuel Quimper
Like any addict, I remained in denial for a long time. On July 11 I posted this quote on the local forums:
“I’m not officially working on this challenge, but I reached 25 days today, which is my longest streak ever. I suspect it will either end this weekend when I am in Saskatchewan in a cache-thin area, or shortly after I start back to work next week.”
I think internally I knew I wanted to use the head start vacation had given me to complete the challenge. I was too afraid to admit it to anyone. As long as I was the only who knew I was trying then no one else would need to know if I failed.
Day 31: Humboldt, Saskatchewan
Day 38: Summit of Ha Ling Peak
By July 28 (Day 42) I didn’t try to hide it any more.
“I’ve also burned through the three "’safety’ caches I had – caches close to my commute route that sounded like they would be easy finds for those days when I didn’t take time to plan anything else or the weather was bad.”
The first real threat to the challenge came on July 30…
“I’m at Day 44 now and I twisted my ankle out in Kananaskis so if the swelling doesn’t go down I’ll be making a list of Terrain 1 [wheelchair accessible] caches along my commute route if I’m going to keep going. Still having fun, which is good. As soon as it stops being fun I’m done.”
I hobbled my way for a week or so, picking off caches that were easily accessible. As the ankle recovered over the next week so did my spirits. Sunday, August 7:
“Well, I crossed over the halfway point this weekend – today will be day 52.”
The first day where motivation became a factor was just a few days later. Thursday, August 11 was a really bad day at work. I remember I missed lunch and was dragging my butt. On the ride home I was struggling just to stay awake. I had left my GPSr at home. Things were looking grim, but I used my iPhone to locate a cache while we waited for a pizza to be ready for pick-up. It was a difficult find and if Shirley hadn’t spotted it I suspect the streak would have died that day.
Day 65: Summit of Mount Burke
Day 73: Summit of Mount Allan
Since then things have gone pretty well. I managed to keep the streak going during our family reunion on the September long weekend by going into the city early one morning and then by dragging a number of the in-laws out for a long hike to find a cache the next.
No matter what, the challenge will end tomorrow – win or lose. I’ll either find a cache and reach the 99 day mark or I won’t and it ends. If I do complete the challenge I will likely continue to push my streak further by a day or two. I don’t know, I haven’t thought about how I will end it.
This seems like a good chance to reflect on the streak and the memorable moments.
From a purely statistical standpoint:
Over the course of the last 98 days, I have found 303 caches hidden by 160 different people.
170 of those caches have been in Alberta, 125 in British Columbia and 8 in Saskatchewan.
Thanks to being on vacation the bulk of my finds have come on weekdays – 163 weekday finds vs. 140 weekend finds.
During the streak my most productive caching day was August 7 when I found 27 caches. (Not bad for being on a sprained ankle!)
The closest cache to home that I found was 9.05km away. The furthest was 846.04km: Tofino Beaches – Tonquin.
During the Ghost Town Convention in mid-July I found the caches that would go down as the furthest north and east:
– St. John’s Church Fire N52 21.625
– Marysburg Assumption Church W105 04.292
I found a cache on the summit of Mount Allan which, at 2813m, is the highest maintained hiking trail in the country. I found nine caches at sea level. In between I knocked off some memorable summits / hikes:
– Cox Hill
It’s been a great summer and the streak has certainly played a part in that. I’ve been more motivated to spend time outdoors than at any other time I can recall. Not bad for something that started purely by accident…