Letter Re: A Warning on Underground Cache Containers


Here’s my story. I built a heavy duty cache tube consisting of a 6 inch diameter white PVC pipe, about 4 feet long with end cap on one end, screw top on the other. Cost about $100 to make.

I’d already found a hidden spot near a tree grove in my county park (public land) about a 100 feet off a hiking/bike/day use trail, and about 200 feet from the county road. I wanted both well hidden and easy access. Early summer everything was in full bloom so plenty of natural cover for my stealth operation. Before sunrise, I hid my shovel, post hole digger and empty cache tube in the tree grove. I went back in the late afternoon and buried my tube, the top of the tube being about 6 inches below grade. I didn’t get too close to the trees as I knew it would be too hard to dig because of roots. Took me about two hours to finish the job. Luckily I didn’t hit too many large rocks or roots, mostly dirt. Of course I spread a small amount of forest dander, leaves, branches, rocks, over the top of everything to give a undisturbed natural look then left with my tools after dark. I was very satisfied.

I went back about a month later and everything looked great. Nothing disturbed. I filled the bottom of the empty tube with a cloth bag containing a pound of silica gel (to keep my cache items moisture free). Then I filled the tube with cloth bags of stacks of well packed cash (paper money), then a pistol with 1 box of ammo, and at the very top I put emergency food consisting of a few power bars. I re-covered everything up and again, all looked great and I was again very satisfied.

Last weekend, driving by on the county road I looked up the canyon towards where I hid my cache and saw a huge white object. We are now in the middle of a wet winter so the trees are bare and all the foliage is gone. I quickly parked the car and headed up the trail. From the entire trail I could see that white object and my heart sank. I hiked to my spot and there wasn’t any natural cover this time of year. There was my huge white PVC pipe sticking up 1 to 2 feet straight out of the muddy ground. I thought: “Oh crud. Somebody found my cache and stole it.”

Nope. It was nature that caught me. With the heavy winter rains, obviously the ground water level raised at some point floating the tube out of the ground like a boat floating on a pond. My cache tube wasn’t heavy enough. I got lucky, even with hoards of people that hang out in this area (including the homeless that probably camp around here at night), nobody had found my cache and it was still sealed and intact. I grabbed the muddy tube out of the ground threw it over my shoulder and headed quickly and directly for my car. I passed a few people on the trail but I just kept walking fast and never looked back.

I learnt from this experience and you’d better learn too. From now on I will do the swimming pool test. I will never hide a cache tube that will float in a swimming pool. It will have to contain lots of ballast like heavy gold, silver, or as a last resort lots of rolls of nickels. 6 inch PVC pipe wants to float and I guarantee you it requires lots of ballast. Is it possible to have a cache tube that is too large? Yes!

Is your cache tube sticking out of the ground?

My new hobby will be searching parks for cache tubes after heavy rains. – Don X.