Sunday, July 27, 2008

Find #500, 2 Terrain 5 FTF’s and a lost GPS


Well what can I say it’s been a hectic couple of weeks – but a blast!! Find 500 loomed over us for the last couple of weeks – just what do we do? Where do we go? How do we mark this momentous event? So many special caches, so many placed by great cachers that we know – but what is going to be important about it to us?

We also knew that we needed some down time, time to get back to some relaxation time so we could sit on the deck in the sun, sleep on my hammock – steak, ribs – you know those things we love so much about being in Tulameen. So how do we balance both? We scavenged through the caches, got up to #498 – and put a hold on things for the weekend til we could find what suited us... we wanted it to be a Terrain 5, and would prefer a FTF if we could. Most of those were going to involve a 6 hour hike up an incline training hill – hard to combine that with the cabin time – but wait what is that we see on the cache page up near the cabin – 2 Terrain 5 FTF’s!!

Perhaps we could end up with the best of all worlds – so plan was set.
So Friday night we leave work, pack up the jeep, grab Quinn – drop him off at his dads, then hit the store for bacon, steak, shrimp and asparagus and finally get out on the Highway at about 8:30 – now we were headed to Stringer Lake (about 30 minutes North East of Princeton and I think we took the most non paved route you could to the caches.. lol


We headed up the Coquihalla way, did the Cashless Bypass (link here for the mid-way cache), came down the other side of the Tool booth (we don’t like paying that $10 – we’ll take the unmaintained road... lol We were just starting to head up the bypass and said “Where are our bear friends?” Not 30 seconds later they darted out in front of us – the mama and her two cubs running as fast as they could after her.

We then joined back up on the Coquihalla and headed to Brookemere, when we got into Brookmere, we then drove down the KVR (there are no signs and a guys house is half way down the road so assuming this is ok) all the way to the Otter Valley FSR – then drove south down the Otter Valley FSR up to Ricky lake area and joined up with the Pike Mountain FSR – after joining the Pike Mountain FSR we drove on it for a bit – over near Robertson Lake, then joined up with the Merritt-Princeton Road down to Allison lake then up the Stringer Lake FSR (not sure if that’s the title but works) and found the area for the first cache!

Jordy stops the Yeep – jumps out races off with only flashlight, no GPS, no bear spray, nothing to protect himself with ... except his own animal instincts - away from the cache you creatures! Mouse - squirrel - marmot - beware! Lol it’s only 32 meters. He finds it however we weren’t the first to find it – it was ANIMUGGLED!!! Wonder if it was a Cougapine? Nah more likely a coyote or something – not too much damage just a few teeth marks on the lid. We put it back nice and safe and sound with a few more pieces of camo to “stick” it in place and make it harder for the animals to sneak off it with it next time.

We then all pumped up, but worried – 500 was next – what would happen if an animal disappeared with it – what would we do? Get a lamppost cache for 500? Noooooo ok with baited breath we get back in the Yeep make our way on up the road to the lake – looking this way and that making sure the cache wasn’t being carried off – watching for the animuggles along the way – 500 meters, 400 meters, 300 meters and closing in – what’s that campers? Lights.. No how do we keep this quiet – ok past the campers – and park – down by their fishing gear... hmm where are the campers???

It’s 12:15 AM and we quickly got out of the Yeep and quietly make our way to the cache – I mention we should take it back to the Yeep to sign the log – just in case the guys come over… well good thing we do – a few minutes later 3 guys come visiting. Can’t blame them as I’d be wondering too about a strange vehicle pulling up and staying for a while by my fishing gear too – Jordy took the opportunity to edumacate them in the ways of the cache. The GPS, the swag, the excitement – they seemed a bit interested – but really think their scotch had interfered – lol but great guys – they took a picture of us so we have a memento of the moment.

We then retired to the cabin for the night a sleep so we could have our bacon in the morning. The next day we decided to unvirginize the jeep – it’s no longer a topless virgin – we took off the top and headed up Loadstone to the lake, cabin and the peak to get the waymarking points for the benchmark – (However now we’ve lost them with the gps.. arrrggghhh) Placed a cache there for Let’s Shack up #3 and went back down the dusty road. Funny we did that on Saturday – and someone was up there Sunday and placed a cache right below near the coalmine.

Sunday we finally felt a bit more rested so we took off through Princeton, then up to Kentucky & Alleyne Lakes as we had 2 caches there – this is a special area to us, as it represents our first caching trip where we fell in love with the sport – as well as we did our 200th cache here – we hiked up to the Kentucky Cairn cache – talk about incline training. We’re hoping that when we go do Hope Mountain next weekend that it’s not 4 hours of that – if it is Jordy will need to find me a hot tub Sat night... 

Beautiful views – completely see now why it’s called a Turquoise lake – from a distance it is! We then went to Ramshackle Ranchero – name caught our interest – as it sounded like our Let’s Shack up ones – and it was only better! There are 4 buildings here, in great shape – would make an awesome camping location… but the pictures speak for themselves. The cache was in the old outhouse... lol they think like we do. Why someone hasn’t been there in 2 years – no idea as this cache can be gotten with a Honda Civic – just look at the pictures.

We then took the Kane Valley FSR back around to the Coquihalla to the over and around back home again. Grabbed a couple of caches through the week – then the new ones as part of GeoRush popped up – and of course being in Maple Ridge – had to at least give it a shot.. There were very special mementos in here – coins!

I got off work, rushed home to grab Jordy – and we darted out there – no one had yet logged they had been there and I knew where the cache was by the hint and Google map! We quickly hiked down the trail (don’t let the 1 km scare you – it’s 15 minutes and so well worth it!!) We found the cache – and weren’t the 1st, or 3rd – but we were the 5th... so we actually did get lucky enough to get to keep a coin. This we will treasure always! But we learned don’t put your GPS in the mouth of a monster – we got home and somehow have lost the GPS – it’s not in the car, or the living room, or the kitchen – something ate it!!

GPS Monster on the way to North Beach, Alouette -

So what do all good geocachers do? Well we go get a new GPS – Desperation calls for desperate moves – so we picked up a new GPS – the Triton. It has some great additions to it – however there are some things I don’t like as well – I’m hoping that the firm ware upgrades will continue – as it kind of merges all your caches together and you can’t mark any as found. Guess I’ll just have to become more fluent with GSAK so I can continuously link the queries together… as I don’t want to be searching out for disabled caches. I did learn however that no matter what the program the pictures don’t save when you’re offline... hmm oh well we’ll get this figured out – reception was great on it – hit ground zero and picks up signals quickly – It’s all just change and you know us we don’t like change that much..

Well that’s the report for now – stay tuned for the August long weekend adventures soon to come and see if we do make that FTF on top of Hope Mountain! (If it doesn’t kill me off first)

(Edit - Sunday night - well Kris is a dolt - I left the GPS at Save-on foods - so I guess we get to have two now - so no more fighting over them.. lol)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stoyoma to Sloquet and 4 Earth Caches


First Let me say that the Slide Show does encompass two caching adventures. First On the Long Weekend - Jordy went out with his kids on his own and Kris stayed home with her. On Canada Day Jordy had to work so Kris Ventured forward on her own .. she had fun, only 1 DNF on her own - but lots of frustration - so the first pictures are from that.
However the remainder are of our awesome weekend of 2AM pitch a tent nights going from Maple Ridge up the #1 (taking the Canyon) up to Stoyoma Mountain then up through Lilloet and Pemberton and back down the Harrison West FSR - so if you want to know about our adventures - then read more.
We know that all of our good aventures come from lack of planning, lack of print out and just letting the wind take us where it does. We know we should consider that investment in a PDA - as we'd have better luck in finding the caches - but then would that mean less adventures? and higher numbers or would it mean more adventures as less time spent on each cache? The debate continues when funds allow we'll try it and see how GSAK actually works - took a gander and it looks interesting.
It was Friday on a warm summer hot day, minds were at work wandering the thoughts away - oh where do we go tonight oh where do we go? We have a jeep and sleeping bags delight - let's try the mountains of Stoyoma. Now in the heat of the moment all plans sound good - somehow since we live an unplanned life - it leaves all the adventures but lack of sleep. One day we will value sleep but for now.. too much fun.
After all our running around and dropping kids off, getting food etc - we finally made it out of Abbotsford at about 9:30 PM. And caching was on the agenda finally! But time.. hmm we can make it to our goal tonight.. we know we can. So we watched the little green boxes fade away on our GPS knowing they would have their own day and made our way to Hope - the Start of our adventure! It's been years since I've been up the Canyon - and can't wait to go again as seeing it in the dark vs day is so different. We made 5 finds on our way up to Boston Bar and got the Fraser Canyon Earth Cache! The caches were neat - our first Spirit Quest - nice thing about these that they are NOT in a cemetery. I have this thing against caches in a cemetery - it just doesn't work for me - those spirits will be out chasing me.. lol
We then easily found our road off the #1 and turned on the FSR, we passed Spious Creek FSR, the one that Kris tried to navigate us through the snow passed where even the snowmobiles turned around last year. One day we will have to head up there to see where the problems lie. We quickly found our road (at about midnight) and travelled the hour and half to our general area. Then you see the gps map didn't match the Backroad book and Kris was tired and well... a few turns a few dead ends a few frustrations trying to find cabin lake. We finally decided to call it a night and pitch the tent at about 2 AM on the side of the road. Well Jordy decided for some strange reason we shouldn't camp in the road (even though it was a dead end) what would happen if someone was to come through here..

Well how could he have made a better prediction? We got up at about 9:30, made our yummy breakfast in the forest fire safe mode.

When the bacon was cooking and fresh, 2 bikes came riding through.. lol they were also trying to find their way to cabin lake. Think it was the smell of the bacon, at least it only attracted them not the bears! We chatted for a bit and Jordy handed them our "geo-business card" and we're hoping we may have helped new cachers find their way to our fun sport.

We packed up and headed over to Cabin lake, we were 1 road away from it - and if we had persevered last night we would have made.. lol next time at least we know where we are going. We made our way there, said hello to our new friends again (remember bikers not bears) and got to see the beauty of Cabin Lake. This is also where Kris learns the value of printing off the pages or obtaining a pda - we went up there without printing off the cache page.. lol

Is that not beautiful? The campground is the clearing on the right hand side (yes there are outhouses) At the far end of the lake is where your trail starts for going to Conair @ Stoyoma - the Cache we've dreamed about getting for months (since Nov 24, 2007 to be exact). We found the trail head after a few false starts, and no - you don't have to go straight over the mountain range - there is a trail. It's called the Heather Basin Trail. We also found snow at the trailhead and opted to try for another day. So disapointing to think we went all that way and couldn't get it - but we found the next best thought -Hold an event that will allow us to go get the cache together! So we're now proud to be hosting our first Event.

We also saw why it's called Cabin Lake - and thus placed LET'S SHACK UP #2 This weekend as well. We didn't place the cache right at the cabin, but within 50 meters of it.

I will forever be amazed at how these people ended up here in the middle of nowhere - how they survived and what led them here. The whole area has an amazing history, highlighted in the Backroad Adventures. We did manage to find out some information about the place Crash which can be found here: BACKROADS ADVENTURES It is chapter 6, and you can't read the whole story. We're working on trying to find out the entire history. We know we aren't the first to DNF on it - but hopefully September will work out better for all of us. Better to be safe caching in these back areas then try to for something up a bit higher in elevation when you've got snow at the start of the trail.

We then left and headed back down to Boston Bar - we got into Boston bar at about 5 PM - goal Sloquet Hot springs by 9 - not a problem.. right - you should know us better by now - we got a bit distracted by a cache by Zuuk - a terrain 4 we say - hasn't been found in a few years - let's go! Again the PDA would have been handy, the cache was not where the coordinates stated - our own fault - but not a loss. When we go back for our event we'll be going back for this cache. It took us up the trail to the Nahatlatch FSR to the old lookout. It isn't used anymore but still in great shape!

Had a helicopter pad and everything! You can still see the Heli pad!. We did manage to get rained on.. lol and the mud on the Yeep came off when we went through the Boston Bar Car Wash!.

Youtube is acting funny, is failing our uploads so we made a new account - so you won't find our other videos with this one. We went back down the FSR and made our way out quicker then getting up there. Isn't that always the way.. lol Went back down to Boston Bar - headed up towards Lytton for our next Earth Cache - The Jelly Roll, Jordy said it sounded like something Hostess would make - and then off to Lilloet for the Jade Earth Cache, then over to Skoomumchuk Hotsprings for a quick photo op.

I find that we're really starting to enjoy the non traditional caches now, at the beginning they seemed strange and almost too complicated. But now after doing this for a few months - they are truly fun. I have 2 earth caches to place on my list, but want to make sure that I'm doing it right. We finally made it into Sloquet at about 2 AM (seemed to be the trend for the weekend) - and were amazed at how empty the campground was on a Saturday night in the middle of Summer. For those that haven't been that way - if you go the Pemberton way in, a car or mini-van can make it. You will get dusty, you may get a flat tire, or a rock chip in your window - but other then that you will enjoy it.

Sloquet Hotsprings are beautiful and Clean, Skoomumchuk are ok - however you're going into manmade tubs - Soquet are all natural. I just wish people would not leave their beer cans around it at night. You may find naked people in the springs (not us.. lol) . We got up the next morning after sleeping til 10, made our bacon .. hmmm bacon.. and eggs. Then went down to the hotsprings. We couldn't find the Beanz cache, but couldn't get GPS to settle down. Soaked for a few hours then made the hike (incline back up to the Cache. Then headed down the Harrison West FSR - to find we get.. A flat Tire.

At least the tires are covered under Warranty still (Jeep is replacing it for me) as the whole was too big to patch. We tried our first cache, got it - tried for the second cach (Tipella by Mr. Gigabite) and didn't find that one - but the rest we did. Went by Corn Creek falls - beautiful. The cache was sitting by the side of the road - signed by a few muggles so we tucked it back safely in it's spot.

Next on our list was Legacypac's Jeep Fjording, we got a FTF on this one and it didn't take us 5 hours.. lol Although there had been a couple of finds - they were there the day he placed it so they didn't claim it - so we get the glory! Yeah 3 FTF's now.. he he We then meandered down the West Harrison and grabbed a few that were on the beaten trail - until we tried to get 5 in the bush. It alluded us - 1.5 km away and the trail was blocked by trees down. We needed to get within about 800 meters to walk it. We decided our time was limited as it was about 6 pm and we wanted to be home by 3. So finally, for once sticking with plans, we headed home only grabbing the caches that were withing 15 mintues of the main route. We can not wait to go again! I hate leaving little green boxes on the map.

We took one last picture - I know what it looks like to me - people dancing to the geo cache gods - but I'll leave it up to your interpretation.. he he

And that was it for last weekend, not a lot but still better then sitting on the couch - finally caught up with photos and blog so now I get to go again - think it's Skagit Valley tomorrow.. first laundry is calling.