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Friday, 10 January 2014

Better late than never

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that we went geocaching on the Bearspaw Lasso Trail but I never did write the follow up post to that day. So here it is...better late than never.

From July 26, 2013
We were greeted at the trail head by a beautiful doe, casually grazing on the lush greenery abundant in the area. She was not too worried about our approach, just moved slightly off the path and watched us get out of the car and start our first search. Our first target was Gnome Alone CCARS09 (GC1YAA4) which was an easy find to get us started. Sadly the gnome who was supposed to guard the cache was gone but the cache was in good shape. And the hike up to it go us warmed up for what turned out to be quite an afternoon of hiking.


The next cache on the trail was Living in a Yellow Submarine (GC4B02Y) which was another quick find and a cute cache container. It is always nice when a cache is hidden in an unusual container or hidden in some way that takes imagination and creativity.

Our entire hike was made more enjoyable by the scenery, the wildflowers, grasses and ponds we passed.
 After all the rain and flooding Calgary went through in June, July was green and lush and feeling very much NOT like winter.



As we hiked to GCPF5C (Blueridge Micro), the trail dropped quite a bit in elevation and we came to a small creek to be crossed. However, the GPS was quite sure that the cache we were looking for was not across the creek. We searched in all the obvious spots and just could not see what needed to be seen. Then, I saw something that just didn't look right...and there was the cache. Again, just a unique way to hide a cache in plain site, but something that made this better than a bison tube in a tree!

Across a little bridge (watching out for trolls) we went, and up into a treed area. It was a welcome way to cool off a bit as the day was warm, but soon we were out onto the grassy hillside again and looking for a multicache called When You Feel Miserable (GC1AZJK). The first part of the cache was supposed to be near a fenceline but this area was covered in anthills and millions of large ANTS! We did our best searching but gave up as the prickles, ants and sun were taking their toll. We moved on.

Following the path led us down to a quiet road we had to cross to an area we had been before. There is a large pond here with lots of ducks and reeds and mosquitos!


Orange You Glad It's Not a Micro (GC1YA97) has a nice view of this pond which was quiet and peaceful this hot summer day. We signed the log as quickly as we could as the bugs were thick and relentless beside the water, then we made our way back to the trail. We almost turned back here because the next cache was one we had found back in 2007 when we first started caching and there was quite a distance to the cache past that one. But turning back would be almost the same distance and not as interesting since we had already covered it, so on we went. Friday the Thirteenth (GC1YZZJ) was the cache we had previously found, and is well worth a visit, especially if you are a night cacher with enough courage to search a dark wooded area. For us though, the destination was another Beatles cache appropriately named The Beatles - A Tribute (GC4AEBM). The littlest goat pulled this one from the hiding spot with a giggle. A fine tribute to the Beatles indeed!

The next cache itself was unremarkable but easily found in a grove of trees. (GC4AEAD) We had to reapply the bugspray and head to the next one before we were sucked dry by the mosquitos. GC32JGR (Goodbye Calgary) was a unique hide placed in a clever way. We looked around for a bit before finding it and after closing it up and walking away, realized we had to go back because the littlest goat was still holding the log book.

Our last cache of the day, after a long hot hike, turned out to be our 500th cache!  We were excited to reach this milestone and a bit relieved to find the cache as we were hot and thirsty and tired of the bugs. The cache was hidden near a beautiful little pasture that was noted in the title of The Ponies Crystal Pasture (GC4AE98).

 Our return to the car turned out to be an adventure in itself as we made a wrong turn on one of the trails and had to do a lot of scrambling through trees, down a steep hillside and across a little gulley. We made it through to the right area and soon found our ride waiting where we left it. A great day of caching that ended well.



Saturday, 10 August 2013

After my Pine Lake Adventure, my husband and daughter wanted to do a series of caches as well but didn't have the stamina to do 100. So we headed just North of the city to a series placed by a veteran cacher who goes by the handle KinderKen. He placed 13 separate caches along a quiet country road where there are often moose, deer, coyotes, muskrats, ducks, hawks and other birds. We started at the West end of the road because it was closer access for us but it didn't make a difference to your searches which one you started with.

The area is certainly quiet with very little traffic, lots of birdsong, some cows warning us off their pastures, and lots of buzzing mosquitoes. We had the first cache, (GC3F4QM) A Snaky Road Cache, in hand very quickly as I had seen one just like it on the Pine Lake Trail. Each cache had an original container and was hidden in a different manner than the previous one. Some required a bit of a climb, others just needed a good pair of eyes or three. We added in one cache along the same road (GC2VYB8) Just Off the Trail which was placed by Sleepy_hollow. The littlest goat found it with no problem after a boost up the bank by Mama goat. We enjoyed the little meadow this one brought us to, with a variety of wildflowers in bloom.

The final cache in the Road series is called Ziggy Zaggy Road cache (GC3F4YG) and is rated higher on the difficulty scale. Unfortunately, this one proved to be too elusive for us and we had to go home with one DNF. We did stop at another cache just down the road (GC23G73) Mountain View Trackable Bed and Breakfast to drop a geocoin to move along its way. We enjoy picking up these travelers whenever we can and checking out the maps that show how far they have come. We have several travel bugs and coins circulating in the geocaching world right now and hope that people will keep them moving.

Doing these road caches inspired us to do more series and our next adventure took us along the Bearspaw Lasso Trail for a string of hiking caches. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

An Amazing Adventure at Pine Lake

This has been an absolutely amazing month for geocaching for us! We have had a slow start to our year but recently had an opportunity to make up for that in a way I had never imagined. After volunteering to help the GeoWyrms, a couple who are heavily involved in the geocaching community here, with a Geocaching 101 presentation, they invited me to go along on a Power Trail geocaching expedition to Pine Lake, Alberta. Since the old goat and littlest goat had things to keep them busy at home, I eagerly said yes to the invitation!

 I have never done a power trail, the most caches I have previously done in one day was 23 during a CCARS event with friends. The GeoWyrms thought we would be getting about 83 caches that Saturday! Unbelievable!

Since we would be away from the city, I packed carefully. I brought along bug spray, sunscreen, a hat, a rain jacket, extra socks in case my feet got wet, a water bottle, my cache bag with trade items, a couple extra pens, extra batteries for my GPS, some cash for food, antihistamines  for any allergy problems, and my cell phone. I made sure to load all the caches in the area into my GPS just in case we went for some that weren't on the Pine Lake Power Trail.
  

I was so excited that I hardly got any sleep the night before. A quick shower, breakfast, and a short drive to meet up with the GeoWyrms, the Uh-ohs and Mr. Ge0Patr0l and then we were off to Pine Lake. The drive was fun and seemed to take no time at all. Our first warm-up cache was actually at a strip mall in Innisfail after a quick stop for snacks and a bathroom break.  Then it was off to the trail.

The Pine Lake Micro Trail was created by a cacher called CharlieRona who has found more than 8000 caches. He placed the first 37 caches in the summer of 2012 and the remaining 83 earlier this summer. The GeoWyrms had already done the first 37 so we started at the other end with (GC4EHR4) Pine Lake Micro #120. Most of the caches were bison tubes or medicine bottles but there were a few regular caches and some surprises.



In the afternoon when we were all getting hungry, we stopped and ate out of the back of the pick-up. Mr. GeoWyrm had shopped for some MREs that we were all curious to try. Meals Ready To Eat is not quite true. They require heating with a special heat pack activated by a small amount of water. We all had different varieties and had some fun swapping tastes and checking out what was in each pack. They were definitely filling and flavorful but I'm not sure I'd want to eat them everyday!


This area was so beautiful and quiet. We had great weather until the afternoon when a brief thundershower forced us all into the cab of the Uh-ohs truck. At the end of the downpour we discovered the truck had a fast tire leak and a quick change was needed before continuing on.

As we cached the GeoWyrms reached their 4000th find and we reached our 400th find. Very exciting. But even more amazing was that instead of getting 83 caches, we finished the day with 104! I am still stunned by that number. We added on some caches that were near the Pine Lake Trail to make sure that the GeoWyrms made it to 4000 since they were so close. I phoned my family on the way home and told them how many we had done and they were equally incredulous.

Our day wrapped up with dinner and drinks back in Calgary and a tired but happy drive home.


Friday, 12 April 2013

More Adventure than we Planned

The nice weather (Calgary nice, not Vancouver nice!) had me chomping at the bit to get out and do a little caching. We wanted to go somewhere that the dog could come along to, so we chose one that was supposed to be a walk along a power line right-of-way.

We stopped for two quick road-side caches on the way. GC3VZH7 (Stix) was a quick find for my husband and then he made a second quick find by being the first to spot GC3VT9A (Home made tubing).

We parked at the recommended coordinates to look for GC25D6G (Road Allowance West #1) but then found ourselves on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence. As we walked up and down the fence line trying to see where the opening was, we quickly realized our only option (besides leaving) was to go over. Except for Scooby who had been running back and forth underneath while we were making our decision. So a bit of careful climbing and a lift over for the littlest goat and we were all on the same side as the cache. Allen got his hat trick by being the first to spot this cache in its hiding spot. The littlest goat was pleased to see an item she wanted in the container so we did a quick trade from her swag bag and signed the log book.

The dog was enjoying the outing and our daughter was happy with her trade so we pushed on toward the next closest cache. This proved to be more of a challenge than we were prepared for. There was quite a steep slope down to the next cache and still lots of ice and snow on the ground in that area so we had to detour into the woods a bit to avoid slipping down the hill. Unfortunately when we got to the bottom and were parallel to the cache, we proved to be on the wrong side of the same fence. After some deliberation I suggested that the other two take a break while I climb back over the fence and scale the other hill to take a look for the cache. I climbed and scrambled, sank into snow, slipped on ice and ducked under trees all the way to ground zero. Scooby ran back and forth frantically trying to stay with both groups or get us back together. But between the tree cover messing up my GPS and the ice making it hard to cover ground, I could not locate GC35K25 (On the trail with Lucy). So I made my way back down to the other goats and we headed back to the car. A quicker walk back but three cold and tired cachers were ready to go home.

Day trippin' to Banff and a little caching

We have lived in Calgary for almost 6 years and haven't taken the time for a proper visit to Banff National Park. We have driven through it many times on the way to and from Vancouver, but we have never spent the day just walking or hiking in the park.

But this park is so beautiful and offers so many places to spend a day close to nature, that we decided to take the plunge this year and buy a one year pass to the National Parks which will enable us to make many trips there without worrying about the daily park fee.

In order to buy the pass and spend our first day enjoying the park, we headed off for a day in Banff. On the way there we stopped for a quick bathroom break at Dead Man's Flats and just happened to be near a cache named for the Flats. GC1MHB4 was a quick find after visiting with a 19 year-old cat at the local service station.

After buying the pass at the gates to the park, we drove on to Cascade Ponds for a walk around the frozen water.
The view was amazing!




 There were lots of signs of hoofed mammals in the area although we couldn't agree on which ones. We had beautiful weather for our walk and the littlest goat enjoyed leading the way.


  This will definitely be on our list of places to return with a picnic lunch! And maybe a cache of our own to hide if we can get permission.


 Our next stop was the town of Banff which, due to the holiday weekend, was crawling with visitors. Finding parking took quite some time and left us a bit of a walk to the cache for which we were aiming. GCMB99 is a micro cache right on the main street which made it challenging to search with so many muggles around. But the location proved to be a good one for actually pulling it out and signing discreetly. 

  Next stop, the candy shop! And the rock and gem store. So much to see! But littlest goat reminded us she needed to get back home to get ready for a sleepover and our one hour parking was running out so we made our way through the crowds back to the car and headed for home.

We had time for one quick cache on the road home and made a quick stop for Silver Tip (GC48268). We are getting better at micros (very small caches) and this one took a minute but we came up with the goods, signed the log and ran back to our vehicle.
It felt great to get out in the sunshine with the family, enjoying the views, the walk, the geocaching and I'm sure it will not be long before we head back that way for more.

Virtual Caching Down Under

A very exciting trip last month took the oldest goat to Australia for the first time. Since I was very upset not to go along, I made him promise to find at least one cache on my behalf while there. His hotel was near downtown Melbourne so there were several caches in walking distance, however there was also a festival on at the time (Moomba) and the muggles were abundant so caching was difficult. Two of the closest caches were muggled that week and two others were right in the heart of the action along the boardwalk so Allen did not feel comfortable searching for them. The only one he was able to do in plain sight was GCJ8HR (Yes, but is it art? II) which is a virtual cache. It is based on a public sculpture so the old goat just had to walk to it, take a photo of himself there and answer some questions in an e-mail to the cache owner.


So now we have a cache found in Victoria, Australia which gave us a new badge for our geocaching.com souvenir page. I do hope I eventually get a chance to see Australia myself (and do some geocaching of course!) but it was cool to see Allen's photos and hear about the wombats and koalas and other truly Australian things.



Missing in Action

I have been MIA from here for too long! This is partly because we find it harder to cache in the late winter and partly because I have been busy with work and other parts of my family life. But I do have a few things to write about today so here goes.

My husband, whom I often refer to as the old goat, managed an out-of-province cache find and an out-of-country cache find in February. I found it very exciting to add the province of Quebec to our stats page when Allen went there for a conference and was able to find a cache just outside his hotel. Micro-Parc Shaughnessy (GC1MMVZ) was placed quite high up and he is vertically challenged so it almost eluded him but he managed to reach it and we received a new province badge for our souvenir page on geocaching.com.

This was the kick in the pants I needed to get more organized to find caches when we are out and about. So that weekend while our daughter was taking some ski lessons at the Calgary Olympic Park, Allen and I hunted down GC23K61 (Down by the C.O.P.) across from the ski hill and GC53C2 (Calgary History Tour- Olympics) which was placed to commemorate the 1988 Olympics which were held at the aptly named COP.



A couple of weeks later we decided to do a day of geocaching at a park we had never been to. In the 1920's Imperial Oil had a refinery on the site which is now the Ogden Refinery Park. The land was reclaimed as a wilderness park in the 1990's and there are walking paths and a frisbee golf course now available there. 


We bundled ourselves up for a cold winter walk and set out to find GC2CK86 - Ogden Refinery Park - Parks 100 cache. The littlest goat spotted this one before her Dad and I even got near. We continued on to find GCNRC4 - Fishin', Landin', or Strollin' which was quite a ways off the coordinates posted. Then on to one hidden in a place we had never seen a cache in before and in spite of its name, Pretty in Pink, turned out to be green! Our last find was GCing by Candlelight (GCMX3E) which had an easy path to it ...which we took on the way back down! On the way there we scaled some steep terrain that caused the littlest goat to decide to stay put and wait for us. It took a bit of hunting at the coordinates before we turned up the actual cache but we got lucky. We called it a day after that due to the cold.