A quick note: I actually started this quite a while ago, and am just now getting around to finishing it. One of those projects that got pushed back and forgotten about, until now. Figure now is as good as a time as any to finish it!
During the second weekend in June, we camped out at Ellison Provincial Park near Vernon, BC.
This trip served a dual purpose as chance to try out the tent trailer we bought at the end of last season (my wife called it the “maiden voyage”, and I preferred to think of it as a “shakedown cruise”) and a chance to make a home-base for the weekend and try to find the roughly dozen or so Geocaches within the park boundaries. Friday was the day to find a spot and get setup while Jeanne was at work. Ellison Park has just over 70 camp sites (and two Yurt’s for rental), but 50 of them are reservable, meaning 20 were first-come first-served if they weren’t already occupied. And since when is leaving chair considered claiming a campsite? If I’ve got my trailer with me, I think that overrides your chair. When did this become a rule???. Anyway… When I got there just after noon, there was abut six spots still available. I found one to my liking (or easiest to back into) and got the trailer set up. Mission accomplished. Good thing too! By the time I left, there were only three sites that I could see still available. Now for a trip back home to get Jeanne and Liam once she was off of work. So no Geocaching Friday, but that’s what Saturday was for!
After breakfast on Saturday, we headed out for the most logical location for caches, which was along the hiking trail. The park has a hiking trail that loops around and is just over 2km in length. The trail entrance is near the Information Kiosk in the park. The first Geocache wasn’t far off from the start. This however, is where it pays to check the ratings of the cache before just following the pointer on the GPS! Where I figured it would be up on the hillside, turned out to be at the base of the hill. I figured this out while standing at the cliff edge and the GPS telling me to travel 10m over the edge. Crap. Well we could go down an find it, or keep going and come back later since it’s not far from the trail head. I saw a gentlemen come along the trail below with four other kids, thinking perhaps they were just on a hike until I heard one of the kids say “maybe it’s a micro”. Nope, fellow Geocachers. We opted to carry on and try again later. The next cache was a relatively easy find, and found a geocoin located is this cache that was listed as being in the previous cache! Good idea moving it newbs, but gotta learn how to log them! The next cache we weren’t so lucky with. The trail twists and bends, and the GPS gives you a direction in a straight line to your chosen coordinates. So while we thought we were going on the right past, turns out not so much. Such is the hazard of trails never before traveled. We could have got to the cache if we were willing to do a little bushwhacking, but dragging Liam and Jeanne through the terrain didn’t sound like a great idea at the time. Must be a trail we missed. Geocaching rule: the most direct route to the cache usually isn’t the easiest route. Carry on, and try again another time. The final cache took us to the top of a ridge and cliff face that would have taken the Looney Tunes expression “Watch out for that last step! It’s a loo loo!” to a whole new meaning! Fortunately the cache wasn’t located anywhere near the edge, and a quick find using the cache’s name “Cone you see me?” as part of the hint. the next issue was where to go from here? The trail generally had some markers and a singular direction, but the trail along the edge of the cliff went in two directions. I checked out the one direction that would have taken us in the direction of another cache. However after discovering that this short section of trail had a drop off at the end of it that screamed “almost sudden death” (almost, because the fall would have taken a few seconds!), the other way seemed much more logical. This proved to be the better choice is it looped back to the campsite.
Getting the “log” out.
Before the dip…
We stopped back at our campsite for a quick food break for us and the kid before carrying on to a few more caches down by the beach.
After refueling, we made our way down the winding trail to the beach area. There was a cache not to far away on a hillside in between the two coves that make up the beach areas. We decided to skip this one, and make our way to the one cache the furthest north on the beach, then work our way back to this one. Liam decided that he wanted to go into the water… naked. We decided that taking off his shoes and socks and wading out into his shorts would be good enough. Of course Liam being Liam, the height of the water on his legs got further and further up. We walked along the beach with Liam wading behind us, and we came to the point of a large bush that took up the beach space. We had to go around, but Liam could wade through the water around the bush. We ere half way around and heard a sploosh, then a “WAAAAAAAAAH”. Crap. Should have let him wade naked. Fortunately Jeanne had a towel in the backpack (for the camera) so we had something to dry off Liam as the clouds and some raindrops rolled in. We were close enough to the cache that I was able to grab it, then help dry off someone and wring out his clothes. With a towel wrapped around his waist, Jeanne’s dark hoody around him, one of this precious sticks and a droopy expression, I dubbed him “Darth Wimpy” (see photo). Although Jeanne and I would have liked to have got that other cache, Liam’s new wardrobe dictated otherwise. We went up another trail from the beach that we saw in the campground. Although not as steep as the first trail, this one went to a higher elevation and had more switchbacks in it. In the end it may have been longer than the first trail, but at least we now know which one to use! I had coordinates on a couple of other caches in this direction but both looked like they involved a little bush walking. Not a good idea at that time, but easy enough to get too. Back to the campsite to feed grumpy and give him a needed rest. Jeanne and Liam took a break, and Jeanne said I could go after some of the ones we missed. Not one to miss an opportunity to get a few more smileys, off I went!
The first one we missed was easy, and I backtracked to the campground to try the other two on the hillside we didn’t get on the way back from the beach. I found a better route to the one called “Belay Station” (This area is known for it’s rappelling and rock climbing.) that offered a beautiful view of one of the coves. Despite the coordinates being off and leading me to some sketchy terrain that didn’t match the rating or hint (and a drop off that would have ended in a “sploosh” instead of a “splat”), the find was easy enough to make, and picked up a Travel Bug to move along. A little bit of bushwhacking was required to get the next cache named “Lichen Moss and Ferns”. Glad I was wearing my jeans at the time! I figured I’d try looking for the next cache without using the hint. I got to where the cache was supposed to be by the coordinates, which was smack on top of a rocky hillside. Hmm… Well lets try looking around. This spot looks like it could be hiding something. Let’s see what under this ro… <then something moved> SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!! Considering that I’m in an area known for rattlesnakes, I dropped the rock. Taking a moment to collect myself, my “maleness” kicked in; meaning my curiosity overrode any sense of danger I had at that moment. “I know it’s a snake” I though, “but I wonder what kind of snake?” Carefully lifting up the rock, I was greeted by a small tan body twisted around, and two pairs of legs. Oops. Okay, since this was the only obvious spot and I don’t see it, lets check the hint, Hint said “hidden 14m NW of coordinates”. Well crap. Turns out the old cache site was “muggled” so the Geocachers who found it, moved it to a new location for the Cache owner. Following the new direction made it an easy find. I took a new set of coordinates and pictures of the cache site for the cache owner so they could find it again themselves. Time to return to home base!
Another later trip to the beach at the far end of the campground for a swim and a couple more geocaches to finish they day. In total, around 8km hiked that day. A bit long winded, but this is what a day of Geocaching adventures is like for us, and why we love it as much as we do. Funny how most of our trips all revolve around Geocaching now!