Saturday, October 18, 2008

View Me, View Me...

It's almost two weeks ago that we decided that we should have a little more exercise than we get with just city caching. So on this overcast day with rain threatening we set out for an area west and north of Mission. We knew a couple of new caches had been placed there but two or three days had gone by without anyone claiming them. So we decided that maybe we should have a look. And who knows, they were still untouched.
So, parking the car along Dewdney Trunk Road we set off on this well maintained logging road. The first part was rather uphill but then it flattened out somewhat...but that was the last of the 'flattened' for the day. Uphill and uphill, never ending uphill! Not necessarily all that steep except for some portions, but we plodded on...didn't we want the exercise? And weren't our legs a lot stronger than a year ago? And didn't our lungs have a much increased capacity for huffing and puffing than they used to? Yes, to all of the above, but still, flat stretches are nice, really!
After more than an hour of this, we arrived at a cache that we might as well do as we were on our way up...not a new one, just a rarely done one, and we began to understand why. We couldn't find it...
So on we went, and up we went, and up till we arrived at the end of this logging road. We expected a trail to continue our travels on but that was no trail to be found. We must have missed a turnoff!
So after trying to find a shortcut down, I, just by myself, and after almost losing each other (Wouldn't that have been fun! A new chapter in our caching history, time for a new sticker: found cache, lost wife!). So we went down the way we went, came by the turnoff we should have taken, and were now within a stone's throw of this first cache we tried earlier...why don't we try once more just in case our journey leads us into an area that would un-necessitate our coming back this way...
So we looked and came up empty again!
Well, to the new trail then on our way to the (hopefully) not yet claimed caches called Little View and Big View. Do I need to acquaint the reader with the nature of the terrain and the gradient of the trail...No? You already guessed?
Well, on we go then until we finally arrived at the first view. And what a view it was in spite of the fact that it was not a clear day. The lake with the little island in the middle is called Hoover Lake. We said, "Well, even if it is not a first-to-find, at least it was worth it for the view! Yea right!
It was a first-to-find!!! Three hours or so after we left the car we had a cache!
Now onto Big View. If Little View was as great as it was, what might we not see at this next one!? Well, to not to let you sit in suspense for ever and to share our disappointment before we actually get there, it was not nearly as good. The weather really took this one away.
Our trek up there was wrought with fair sized rocks , fallen trees all over the place that we needed to get over or around, low hanging branches, and now a fairly steady drizzle as well. But we persevered: might as well; now in our fourth or fifth hour. And who knows: another first-to-find? Quite likely. If nobody had been crazy enough to make it to Little View, certainly nobody would have gone where we now were, past any view of sanity.
We got there! I already mentioned the disappointing view. Somewhere down there we saw Mission and Hayward Lake, but the fogginess didn't really do it justice in spite of the fact that we had now climbed at least 2000 ft.
The hint was 'under a cedar' near the path. Should be easy, except there were no cedars close to the path, so we ventured away from the path under the few little cedars we could find. You guessed it: no cedars, no cache. Right! Coming all the way up here and not finding the cache? Not ever!
I said, "Dear, some people don't know their trees. We have run into that before." No sooner had those words left my mouth or under a fir tree she found the cache! Hurray! The cache is in hand! And, you guessed it, another FTF (you should know by now what that stands for).
What goes up needs to go down. So that's what our weary and wet bodies did. But not long after we were stopped dead in our tracks. In our path was a bird the likes of which we had not seen before. Larger than a dove, smaller than a chicken, with orangy patches above its eye. It uttered a very low sound as if it were angry. Out came the camera and pictures were taken. And more pictures because the bird came closer and closer, making for better pictures, of course...and closer, and more pictures, and closer to within a foot... and...well, you get the picture, I hope...
When finally our camera was sated with pictures we got ready to move on. But you think the bird was done with us? It wouldn't let us past! We move to the right, it moves to its left and we move to the left, it...well, you get the have gotten good at getting the pictures by now, right?
I finally had to shove it aside with my stick and quickly move past it without stepping on it. Then it starts to follow us! It wasn't nearly small enough to be an orphan but it surely behaved like one. In the end our longer legs got the better of him/her and we disappeared out of view...
This blog just goes on and on, it seems.
So we come close, for the third time that day, to the spot where we tried to find that first elusive cache. And what do we see? Another cacher! With his dog Sasha. Shaking of hands all around and pleased to meet you's and what's your handle. His is Hellraisers, from Mission. He is the FTF'er par excellence! But this time he got beaten by a couple of wet and tired old fogeys.
So now he does not know whether he wants to go on. To give him time to make up his mind we all together take another try at this cache that keeps playing hide-and-seek on us. With his help we find it, fairly soon actually. It was just a matter of walking along this one tree on the right side instead of the wrong side like I had done a number of times...
By now one of us really had had enough, and the other one of us promised a while back that we would not bother with a fourth cache in that area, much as that bothered him, for would we ever want to come up here again just for this one cache? Probably not. A cache with such a nice name too! "Old Tales of a Lumberjack"!
Then says Hellraisers, "You know there is another cache here close by?"
"Dear, how about you stay here while Hellraisers and I quickly do this cache?"
Good old sport that she is, she comes along.
An hour or so later we are back at this by now quite well frequented spot. Fatigue is etched in the face of one of us, satisfaction in the features of the other one of us. Four caches, two FTF's!
From here it is all downhill in fairly steady rain. But somehow rain is not nearly as wet when you have found your caches as when you have not.
Seven hours after we left our car our little eyes spy it again.
It was a day well spent!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

700 in the dark

It's been a long time since I blogged about our geocaching adventures. Somehow it did not seem to work while we were on the road. But now we're home again, and while I am still retired (and plan to remain so) I have no excuse anymore to neglect this activity. And to be frank (to quote a popular sentence opening by politicians), I find it not a hardship... And to be honest (....) I kind of like it.
We did a fair bit of caching during our travels. When we left home our count was at less than 400...when we got home it was at 702. So that is not to be sneezed at.
The city that we probably remember most kindly for its caching opportunities is Holland, MI. The place is just plastered and looking for them has brought us into interesting places and made us feel at times as if we were in the Netherlands with all the genuine Dutch names everywhere. I do not know how many caches we logged while we were there, but I do know that if we stayed there for another week, we would still not be done by a long shot.
By the time we hit Ellensburg, WA we were close to our 700th cache so we decided to try and get that number in that place. We discovered that there was a night cache near our campground, and seeing that we had never done one of those, we decided to make that one our 700th.
A night cache is one where you go into the area with a flashlight. As you shine the light around, it will pick up little reflectors attached to a tree or other objects. These reflectors guide you farther into the darkness and if you have never been in that area (and we hadn't) it is kind of spooky...Perhaps that's the whole idea. I have to say that Mom dealt with it as a real trooper.
So we arrive at the spot we need to be. Now find the cache. It took us a few minutes...the clue was: find the chain, then the ring that is attached to it, then pull up. Well, Mom found the chain, and the ring, and gave a mighty pops a box, and at her stares a skull...
I have to give it to her: she did not scream; she just froze for a few seconds...or maybe more than a few...but honestly, no scream...
The pictures tell the story.
In the meantime we have not been idle. I spent a few days by myself in Langley and we went there a couple of days together. We have had some nice weather.
Today we reached our 800th...!
That is probably worthy of its own blog page, but I don't want to bore you...
We hope to make the 1000 before the year is out.