Easter 2019 – Day 7 & 8 – Up and down in France

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To make up for the plans we had to drop, we decided to geocache all night. So we spent around 32-33 hours in Power Trail Héraultais, and a couple hours in each end to get from and to the hotel (Foix-Girona).

Approximate time out caching/traveling: 37 hours
Total driving distance: 763,2 km / 474.2 mi
Total caches found: 506
Total DNF: 71
Famous places visited: The Navacelles Cirque
Most memorable cache: GC1TMEM Cirque de Navacelles
Biggest surprise: Driving down The Navacelles Cirque at sunrise
Weather: Sunny, clouds, some very light rain
Temperature range: 1-21°C

We’re not there yet

The (new) plan was to find as many caches in Power Trail Héraultais as we could manage before sunset the following day. But we still had about two hours to drive before we got to the start of the trail. We decided to start with GC69WJJ PTH#01.

After stopping at a rest area, a gas station and a random challenge cache along the way, we arrived at the first cache. The first cache was found 10:52:25, which marked the start for us on this trail.

A great start

The first 100 caches of the trail was perfect! And we both agreed that this might be one of the best power trails we’ve visited. Awesome views along the way, almost no traffic, and easy caches. Also very few DNFs. We finished the first 100 in about three and a half hour.

Then not so great

Then things started getting difficult. Frequent DNFs, much more traffic and it was generally both harder to stop and harder to find the caches. So we ended up skipping several, and driving a bit randomly in an attempt to avoid the worst traffic. We stopped taking the caches in the correct order, and instead took the ones near us. When we eventually ended up on GC6BFKG PTH#1980, which was on a dirt road, we at least got away from the traffic for a bit.

We got quite a few DNF here as well, and it appears that the trail is not in perfect condition anymore. But, the weather was good, and we had gotten away from the traffic, so this was a lot better than the heavy rain in Spain!

The perfect tip

Heltinnen communicated with some previous finders, and had gotten some great advice from proftonks. He told us about their most effective day on the trail, which started on GC6AJ61 PTH#768, and potentially could end up back at the same. So we decided to hit the highway, and make our way up to #768 – this would later prove to be the best decision we made on this trip. Thank you, proftonks!

We need some food first

Since we were going to cache all night, we figured that we needed something to eat. There’s not much of that along the trail, so we stopped to get some fuel along the way and then some food in Le Caylar.

Caching through the night

The sunset didn’t last long, and was over by the time we finished eating. We found #768 at 21:16:13. It was a lot easier to find the caches now, even in the dark. Lot less traffic, and much easier to stop. The caches were mostly easier to find as well. There was still some scattered DNFs through the night, but it was generally better than earlier in the day.

A major milestone

In the middle of the night, something big happened – we both hit some major milestones:

thomfre: 20 000 finds
Heltinnen: 16 000 finds

A couple power naps

I forgot to leave my winter hat in the car at the airport, since the weather in Norway was kinda cold when we left. We did expect sunny and warm weather in Spain… Heltinnen was very glad that I had forgotten to leave it, since she needed it here – it was as cold as 1 degree.

When it got both cold and dark, we felt the need for a power nap, twice. They helped, and ensured that we could continue caching for several hours more.

Wow, we did not expect that!

The view got better and better, and when the sun finally returned, we arrived in The Navacelles Cirque – which we did not expect at all (since we didn’t have much time to plan or actually look at anything regarding the trail). The roads were narrow and steep, and the view breathtaking. This alone was worth all the hours we spent to drive up from Spain!

The trail continued to take us down and up and down again, and we really got to explore this beautiful area. We’re so glad we decided to do this part of the trail!

The traffic did get a bit worse than it was during the night, but it was still nowhere near what it was the day before. This really was the perfect part of the trail for us now!

Just a few more

When we got to GC6AN8H PTH#1049, we decided we would get enough caches by going back to GC6AF82 PTH#658 and continue to where we started the night.

This once again brought us up to several great viewpoints. We still encountered a lot of DNFs, but decided to keep trying to find as many as we could. We eventually ended up at GC6AJ5W PTH#767 at 16:44:47 – more than a day after we started. We ended up finding a total of 502 caches in the trail itself, and one cache not belonging to the trail in The Navacelles Cirque. All in all, a number we’re pleased with!

Time to get some sleep

We still had a couple hours to drive to get to Girona, where we had booked a hotel, so it was time to hit the highway. We only stopped at one cache along the way, and made it to the hotel before sunset.

It started raining shortly after we got back into Spain – once again proving that we made the right decision when we changed our plans.