While attending the GeoFest in the Parks event at Chewacla State Park, we learned the details for the Alabama State Park Diamond Treasure Challenge. Hatched in the mind of the uber-cacher simply known as Woodnutt, this challenge requires cachers to find 8 caches hidden in 8 different state parks. Finding the caches is the easy part; opening them is a different story. These are NOT park-and-grabs. Once the cache is opened, cachers must stamp their passport with the stamp inside the cache to prove that they did, in fact, open the cache. Decode/unscramble the stamps to figure the final location where cachers must turn in the passbook before claiming the prize. The first 75 cachers to complete the challenge earn the rare Diamond Treasure Challenge Geocoin.
Completing this challenge would require us to visit 8 state parks, drive hundreds of miles criss-crossing our state, spend $$$ in gas…but it yielded lots of fun memories.
Our first stop was right there in Chewacla! I wish I had a picture of the crowd of 50 or so geocachers huddled around a large, wooden treasure box in the woods. No one had any idea about how to open it. Numbers were carved around the outside. Not just any numbers. These numbers could be combined to reveal details about the 2013 Iron Bowl. We were in Auburn, so it made sense. However, those numbers didn’t have anything to do with unlocking the chest. Several of us had Woodnutt on speed dial. He was contacted until we had enough clues to open the lock. Word of how to open the chest spread quickly throughout the campground.
The second DTC cache, we found on our way back to Tuscaloosa that same weekend. We decided to take a little detour to Wind Creek State Park.
“We’re here to find the Diamond Challenge Geocache,” we explained.
“There have been several people looking for that today!” the attendant replied as he asked for money to enter the park.
We handed over our debit card.
“Ummm, I’m new and haven’t ever done one of those….y’all just go on in. Good luck!”
We only had about an hour before sundown when we had to be out of the park. We rushed to GZ and stared at the chest. And stared at it some more. We tried a few number combinations, but nothing worked. I had to call Woodnutt to ask for a hint. We opened the box, stamped our passports, and got back on the highway headed for home.
On March 22, we traveled to Oak Mountain State Park to take a stab at the DTC cache hidden there. Once again, we found ourselves staring at a chest without a clue about how to open it. We found a hidden magnet, but weren’t sure where to put it or what to do with it. After half an hour of playing around, we got lucky and opened the chest.
On March 24, we set off on our most fun busy day when we visited DeSoto State Park and Guntersville State Park. Those two chests were quite simple to open compared to the previous three!
On March 26, we visited Paul Grist State Park. The DTC cache was not an easy find. It is very well camouflaged! It’s camo job is unlike anything I had ever seen. The good thing is that there isn’t a combination code to figure out in order to open the chest. After finding that one, we spent the rest of the day hiking around the lake, enjoying a picnic, and canoeing.
We still had Gulf and Lakepoint on our list. But they were going to have to wait until the end of the school semester.
In May, we made a trip to Gulf State Park. The caches hidden there are some of the most creative we’ve encountered. The DTC cache was so simple to open, though; it was almost a total let-down.
Finally, in June, we picked Hannah up from summer camp and hit the road for Lakepoint State Park. We stopped for interesting geocaches along the way.
There were only 2 caches we wanted to find at Lakepoint that evening: the Diamond Challenge cache and the ASP cache. I LOVE looking back over our tracks. I’ve marked a few things on this map. You can see where we found the DTC cache. The boys had it open before I made it down the trail, so it must have been pretty easy. And with that, we had the final stamp we needed to claim the Diamond Challenge prize!To find the ASP cache, we had to stop by the administrative office to pick up a few tools that we needed to open the cache. We also had to figure out the coordinates to the cache. With those items in hand, we drove and parked as close as we could to the cache. Then there was a short hike to GZ. The photo doesn’t show it, but a severe thunderstorm was rolling in at the same time we were trying to find these caches. We were in a bit of a rush.
We found what we needed, grabbed a bite of dinner between Eufaula and Columbus, and spent the night at Karl’s sister’s house just outside of Auburn.
The next morning, June 7, we headed toward the closest WorldWide Flash Mob (WWFM) event we could find. It was held right on the border between Georgia and Alabama over the Chattahoochee River.
After a quick lunch at what my children dubbed “the fanciest Burger King EVER,” we made our way back where it all began: Chewacla. We proudly walked into the office with our fully-stamped passbooks to sign the log and claim our pretty coins.
Quite the whirlwind geocaching/roadtripping adventure! We visited interesting places, met interesting people, and had a blast.