You know that smell you notice when you open up a cache and have discovered an unsullied log, bereft of any signature, except your own when you’ve finished logging the cache? You have a First to Find (FTF), which can be highly prized by many cachers. I like to call the smell, Virgin Log. It’s actually become a joke between some of the cachers in my area. Will Webfoot get a whiff of virgin log this time? Usually not, because I’m not really a FTF hog. I’ll get the occasional FTF and they always seem to come in bunches as well. I can go months without getting any, then three or four will fall on a day or a week’s period of time.
I’ve driven as far as 77 miles away for an FTF and as close as ¾ of a mile where I walked to the cache from my house. I got an FTF during a torrential downpour that let up right when the Tadpole and I got to ground zero. I’d picked him up from school and it was pouring. I asked him if he’d like to find a cache, and he told me not really. When I told him that there was a possible FTF involved, his mood changed and said, “What the heck, let’s go for it.” So we drove over to ground zero, which was on the way home. As we were parking, the rain stopped. We made the quick grab, opened up the cache and found that we were the first finders. So we signed the log in the car, because it was sprinkling a little, then I went back over and replaced the cache. As I got back into the car, the heavens opened up into a regular deluge. I think there was someone looking down on us for that FTF.
If you’ve cached long enough, you’re eventually going to get some FTFs along the way. In my first four years of caching, I got a grand total of 3 FTFs. And as I look over my bookmarked list of FTFs, I can see that only one of those three did I actually and purposely go out and try to get the FTF. Since that time, most of the rest of my 32 FTFs, I’ve gone out to get them. I probably could have more, but I don’t get email notifications, or blackberry alerts like others in my area. One cacher in our area likes to sign his logs stating that the log now has blackberry stains on it when he’s first to find. My signature line, that the local know about, when I get a first to find is, “Love that smell of Virgin Log.” Interestingly, of the 32 FTFs that I have, I’ve only actually written that on about 10 logs, yet local cachers know that it’s my signature line when I get a first to find and seem to expect seeing it as well. Go figure.
I would have to say that my most satisfying FTF was one where I had to do a pre-emptive strike to keep another of the local cachers at bay. This particular cache had been dedicated to me and several other local cachers, including the guy who I figured would probably be my biggest challenge to get this FTF. Once the cache was published, we actually started a running conversation on the cache page that, in retrospect, probably loses a lot in translation, but at the time was pretty hysterical. While this conversation was going on, I had the presence of mind to send him an email asking if he’d be interested in finding it together. When he responded in the affirmative, it became a go for the following day. It was pretty much guaranteed that the FTF would still be there, since it was a hike up in the foothills, so off we went and after finding all five stages of this great multi-cache, we were standing at ground zero and smelling virgin log. Nice.
That was my 7th FTF of 2007. I’ve since found three others for an even ten for last year. As I stated earlier, they seem to come in waves. I haven’t found any in 2008 yet, but then again, I really haven’t tried for any and probably won’t until summertime rolls around when I have more time away from work. Until then, I'll just be satisfied with what I find, when I find it, even if it doesn’t have that special smell to the log.
Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches, which were all FTFs for Webfoot.