Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Geocaching

Geocachers sometimes put huge effort into temporary caches that are available only for a few weeks and then removed. The first one I encountered was a lovingly elaborated Easter Egg cache at Velamsund not far from where I live, which myself and the ladies of my family logged one sunny day last spring. Some of these super-rich caches even form annual series, such as the Trollvinter caches west of Stockholm.

Two of Sweden's most active geocachers call themselves Moomin and Snork Maiden after Tove Jansson's wonderful fantasy books. Hide a cache in some far-off location, protect it with a complicated puzzle involving differential calculus, and you can still count on Moomin finding it within hours. The man always keeps climbing equipment, an inflatable boat and other useful gear in the back of his car.

"Trollvinter" is a short story in Jansson's 1962 collection Det osynliga barnet (Eng. Tales from Moominvalley). Here the Moomins wake up from hibernation in the middle of winter and find all their neighbours in a tizzy over the approach of Christmas. The Moomins, never having heard of this before, interpret "Christmas" as a threatening being that is on its way to the Moomin Valley and must be appeased with offerings of food and presents.

The Trollvinter caches are far more peaceful in tone. Moomin and Snork Maiden select a small spruce tree in the middle of the Lovö woods, decorate it lavishly, adorn it with electric candles and wire it up to a car battery with an ingenious switch. Then they put a plastic crate full of little presents under the tree.

In order to find this year's Trollvinter cache me and my pal Lars had to wander through the woods, passing a series of tests on Moomin lore. Every station is marked with a little electrical lamp controlled by a photosensor. When you lift the final lamp from its stand to read the question underneath, you trigger the Christmas tree's candles. A beautiful surprise after dark!

Dear Reader, I wish you a merry yet supremely peaceful Christmas. Luckily, that's what I'm having myself. And meanwhile, I'm stockpiling longer blog entries for the new site, which I hope to have on-line some time within two weeks from now.

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Blogger Hans Persson said...

I just looked at the cache page for that cache. I'd so like to log that, but I can't really justify going to Stockholm just because of that particular cache. But still...

25 December, 2006 19:26  
Blogger Martin said...

Maybe you could set up a New Year's cache somewhere around your neck of the woods?

25 December, 2006 19:35  
Blogger Hans Persson said...

I have toyed with the idea of some kind of copycat thing, yes...

30 December, 2006 19:16  

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