Our final full day found us needing a mere 134 finds to complete the series, a number which prior to this trip I would have regarded as a very significant challenge, however in the context of this trip 134 finds would be a short day compared to the previous one. 17 fewer caches than yesterday, that’s nearly an hour, that is. Most of the remianing ones were in and around Valmondois.
I didn’t think we had time to be complacent about it though. We were going to the location furthest away from the hotel, and were attempting a group of caches whose layout looked, well, unappetising compared to earlier days. Lots of heavy walking across fields and up and down hills. If we were going to finish we were going to have a busy day. We’d need to walk our way around roughly 95 caches and then finish the remaining 40 in the car. That’s as many as we’d walked on any day on this trip. Plus, this 95 were over worse terrain than the previous 95. At least the weather had stayed good though.
We started down in Valmondois, parking at a “backup” location after discovering that my chosen car park was full. This area started off through urban landscapes on an old railway line. It then headed off up some hills and out onto the agricultural plateau where most of the series was to be found. We had a bit of a problem at the start because the GPS was playing up. I eventually realised that this was because the memory card had come slightly loose. This happened during the process of changing the batteries at some point since the previous evening. Once that was fixed, we were rockin’ and rollin’ again.
On this first walk of the day we covered 10.75 km in 3 hours 20 minutes. We found 42 caches while we were at it. Quite slow going by the standards of this trip, but some of the terrain around Valmondois was harsh.
From here there was a group of about 9 caches that could be done in the car. We did those next, if only to give our feet a rest for half an hour.
When back from there we parked up at the side of the road in Nesles-la-Vallée (to the north of Valmondois) to have a crack at what was hopefully the final significant walk of the holiday. This walk was 9.6 km long, took 3 hours and yielded 41 finds. When we got back to the car we were sick of walking though. Both of us had quite a lot of pain in our feet. We really just wanted to get the walking boots off in favour of something more welcoming. Still, we’d finished 92 of the 95 caches in the area. And we’d established that the remaining 3 down here could be done in the car, which is what we then did. Excellent. 95 of 134 made and it was only 4:30 pm. The game was still very probably on.
The first 6 drive-bys were down a fairly unsafe bit of two-lane road where I really didn’t enjoy stopping. We then did the 7 that required a walk, leaving us with 28 more to do in the car. These started in Vallangoujard and headed westwards along a pretty quiet road, and the first 15 of them proved to be very easy to do again. Excellent – only 13 left.
The final 13 were more troublesome again because they were along a two-lane road that had a few blind corners and not many places to pull a car off the road. Some of them were not as close to the road as we would have liked. And it started raining. But finish them we did. 602 caches on the series plus assorted others that we were passing anyway, completed in 3 full days and 2 long halves. That’s pretty impressive, in my opinion.
We didn’t celebrate much whilst in the car though, because we’d got a bit wet. We really just wanted to get back to the hotel for a final night of logging caches, eating unlimited puddings and packing dirty clothes into suitcases. I think we got back to the hotel just before 7:30 pm. We set ourselves an aggressive target of showering, packing the cases and getting into the restaurant inside an hour. It took 20 minutes longer but the restaurant staff were happy and completely unsurprised to see us again.