Sunday, January 27, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

We got a later start on geocaching today than yesterday, so only did one session.  We headed first to a puzzle cache I'd solved the puzzle for a couple weeks ago, and looked for last week but couldn't find it.  There was quite a bit of snow still in the location, but the drifts were frozen solid, so I had wondered whether  the cache was tucked away behind a snow drift.  Most of the snow was gone this time, and I had Nathan with me, plus the benefit of a clue from a fellow cacher (and hider of some of the caches I've most enjoyed so far, so I'm kind of flattered he/she wrote to a newbie like me).  I had been looking right in the area where it was (amongst other spots in the vicinity), but I do think the spot had been drifted over with icy snow last time.  Regardless, with Nathan's help and knowing a more precise location to look, we found it in no time.

We drove right past Shevlin park, where there are a lot of caches, but there was still a lot of snow (and ice!) last week, so I'll give it another week or two (of course, it'll probably snow soon, but whatever).  We grabbed a cache that's barely off the trail on the opposite side of Tumalo Creek from the state park, but even though it's not far as the crow flies, it was a steep hike down to it.  My thighs were already sore from yesterday's hiking and climbing, so I thought of letting Nathan just grab it and log it for both of us, but in the end, I went all the way down to it, too, then had the joy of hiking back up the hill to the car.  Pretty spot, though!

From there, we drove to Tumalo State Park, where we parked and started hiking upriver.  The river is lined with caches.  The first wasn't far from the car, and was a pretty quick find.  I spotted the likely location, and Nathan checked it out, and sure enough, cache!

The next two were also relatively easy finds, with some beautiful scenery along the way.

Then the trail disappeared.  Lovely though these rocks were, apparently they WERE the trail.

Nathan scoped the "trail" ahead, but it didn't get better as far as he could see.

There were trails (probably just game trails, but who knows) heading uphill away from the river, and the cache description said that if you go around the rocks, the route gets better.  We headed up.  And up.  And UP.  Nathan was getting whiny (didn't help that the stick he'd found yesterday and carried around all of both days was sitting down in the boulder field.  He'd carelessly tossed it once, and I let him go fetch it, but when he did it again, I was tired of worrying about him scrambling around on the boulders, and didn't let him go get it again).  The air was getting colder, though it was still a couple hours until sundown.  The batteries were dying on both my phone and GPS.  Plus my legs were sore and tired, and getting more so by the second.  So we turned around and headed back to the car.  Maybe some other time, with a better start and a warmer day...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

More Geocaching Fun

I did some more geocaching today, but this time with Nathan.  There was one multi-cache I didn't attempt last week because the description indicated it involved climbing some rocks, and not only does Nathan ejoy that, but depending on how precarious they are, I don't.

First, we headed back to Sawyer Park, where I'd done a different multi last week, to attempt that rock-involved multi.  The trail to get all five stages plus the cache was about a mile, but we lengthened it a bit when I put in the wrong coordinates for the final cache (only off by 200 feet).  The river trail is lovely any time of year, and most of the slippery ice that I had to work to avoid (and work even harder to avoid slipping on when I couldn't avoid it) was gone this week.

Did I manage to catch Sasquatch on camera?

This hole was about the size of a five-gallon bucket, and frozen over.

Cool frost pattern (or freeze/thaw pattern, most likely) on the trail

The scene of the final cache on the multi

When that multi was completed, I searched for nearby caches, and there was a traditional one (just go to the coordinates and start looking, no puzzles, not multiple stages) nearby.  We retraced some of our steps, and then the trail quickly narrowed until it was overgrown (though still a trail) and finally petered out entirely at a big rockslide area.  Unfortunately, I hadn't checked the cache's logs until we were there, and realized that the last few people hadn't found it (in the summer), but we poked around a bit, and found the exact spot that someone took a "found it!" photo (though that could have been a decoy), but no cache for us.  We finally gave up, headed back to the car, and went home for lunch, a change of clothes (both Nathan and I had slipped throughout the morning, and muddied our pants), and to decide where to go next.

Do you see the happy couple on the left?

The scenery at the failed attempt to find the cache.  I didn't mind sitting there while Nathan looked.

No shortage of rocks for Nathan to climb on, much to the detriment of my heart.

At home, Nathan told me he wanted more rocks to climb, so I found a nearby cache with "rockpile" in the name.  It was another multi, but this time only with two stages plus the final cache.  Each of them was on a natural rocky hill, plus we passed a man-made rock pile twice.

Next, we drove less than a mile to re-park the car in a more central location to FOUR more traditional caches.  The first was a miniature version of Fort Rock, which was pretty cool.  This is what makes geocaching awesome.  You barely have to leave the road and it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, and there are all sorts of interesting sites, and if you had to scour the wilderness for them yourself, it would take forever.  But with geocaching, other people have found the cool sites for you, and you get to go there and do a treasure hunt.  How awesome is that?

This is from inside the "fort."  Nathan's probably 20 feet above the surrounding ground level.
We did three more caches, which were a little less remarkable than the fort rock one, but still enjoyable.

Lastly, we swung by a "park and grab" on the way home, which brings me to a total of 34 geocaches, of which Nathan has "helped" with 24.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wow, I'm tired

I'm BEAT.  I tromped a few miles today.  Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to start/stop the tracker, so I don't know exactly, but probably 3-4.  Mostly level, but there were a few stints of climbing.  I found another couple multis, and a couple of puzzles (one of each were the same cache).  Fun times!

Some surreal terrain at Pine Nursery Park

Frozen dog pond at Big Sky Park, near one of the stages of one of the multis
More bizarre-ness.  This is at Big Sky Park.

: )

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fun day!

My mom and step-dad are into geocaching, and introduced the kiddo and me to it a couple of years ago.  We found a few caches around town, then kind of forgot about it until when we were at their house at Christmas.  We found a couple caches in their town, a couple on the way back, and a few around here since then.  Today, I went out alone for the first time.

I went to Sawyer Park, here in Bend.  I'd never actually been to that park, though I have been on the river trail just across the footbridge.  But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.  I wanted to try another multi-cache, where the point listed online is just the first of many points, and either there's coordinates to the next one (the easiest kind), or some kind of clue you have to figure out to get to the next point, ultimately ending in an actual cache after a certain number of points.  Nathan and I did one last weekend that was pretty simple--just coordinates given for the next one.  The one I did today, though, had you find something (a surveying marker or sign), take a certain number from it, and perform a few basic math problems to come up with the coordinates for the next one.  Probably the next easiest kind after just being spoonfed the coordinates.  :-)

Anyway, I found the marker and noted the date to use in the math calculations, but had noticed all the ducks and geese, so went back to get my camera, which I'd left in the car, and took some photos of the birds before heading out to the second point.

 For the second point, I was supposed to find a small blue sign and look for a certain number on it.  I had both my iPhone and my GPS unit with me, and they were arguing about which small blue sign I should be looking for (or worse, pointing at an area that didn't even have a blue sign).  I finally just looked at one of the signs and realized the number would be the same no matter which sign I looked at, since they had the Bend city logo on them.  Doh!

I sat down and calculated the next point, and it was down the river trail, but there was a parking area I could drive to instead, and I needed to go to the bathroom, and wanted to pick something else up at home, so I ran home first, and drove to the closer parking area.

The footbridge between the River Trail at the First Street Rapids area and Sawyer Park (looking towards Sawyer Park)

I found the next spot and set of clues easily enough, then realized I should check the iPhone app to see if there were other caches in the area while I was out and about working on this multi.  Sure enough, there was one nearby, so I looked for it.  Once again, the two devices weren't in agreement with each other, and oddly, it seems my iPhone is the more accurate.  Weird!  I wandered around off the trail for a while, but luckily not too many people passed by while I was looking (this is where having a dog or small child comes in handy--it's more likely you're off the trail to chase after them than when you're just wandering around on your own).  I finally found the cache, signed the log, and headed back to the car to drive to another closer trailhead again, rather than walking down the trail.  The trail was ICY in the shade, and the next section of trail was going to be on the north side of a hill/cliff, so probably that entire section of trail was going to be icy.

The northernmost section of the River Trail is beautiful and has some great views, so I snapped photos on my way to the next clue.

Once again, I realized I was right near another straightforward cache, so I located where it was, and it was a little scary getting to it, but there was a great view!

I took a bunch of shots to stitch together into a panorama, but wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a bunch of exposures, to create an HDR.

(Click to view larger)
Then I finally got on my way to the last step of the multi--the actual cache.  All the clues to that point had been right on the trail, but the cache was off the trail, so I got to bushwhack and climb up a hill a bit, but found it pretty easily, signed the log, and headed back to the car.

I had some more time before I needed to be anywhere (and before the sun went down), so I headed to the office.  I'd printed out some of the puzzle caches around town to try to solve them (they start out with nothing but clues, ranging from easy to solve to VERY cryptic!), so I wanted to grab the printouts, because I'd figured out the end point to one of them (it wasn't a multi-stage, just figure out the actual coordinates and go there) and the start point for one of them (combo multi and puzzle--you have to figure out where the first one is, and then figure out yet more puzzles to keep going).  I figured it would be pretty straightforward to grab the one that I had the final coordinates for, so I plugged them into Google Maps on my work computer to get a good overview, then headed out.  I ran into trouble even parking near the cache, because the roads were all marked private and didn't have much parking, but I finally found a viable spot and started walking.  However, once I got a ways down the trail, I realized that apparently Google Maps (both on the PC and on the iPhone) takes your coordinates and finds the nearest valid address, or something.  I'm not sure what it does.  But it was all wrong, which I realized when I used my GPS instead.  (I've also since learned how to put in a new coordinate on the iPhone, and not have to just go by the given coordinates in the app, which for puzzle caches, are incorrect on purpose.)  However, by the time I got back to the car, I didn't have enough time to grab it.  It's not far off the road, but once you get to the spot with the aid of the GPS, you still have to use your eyeballs and actually FIND the cache, so I will look for it tomorrow instead.

The appointment I was trying to keep was to go to Trigger's barn.  I just now realized as I was typing this that I never actually went to say hi to Trigger.  Oops!  I saw him from afar, but never went to pet him.  :-(

Anyway, when I arrived, they were in the midst of a staged wedding shoot.  The barn owner is planning to start offering her site as a wedding/reception venue, plus a whole bunch of other vendors were all contributing to the shoot to add to their portfolios.  The photographer, of course, would benefit from the photos, but there was also a florist, who also brought table settings from someone who specializes in that, a horse and carriage available for weddings and other events, and clothing and hair/makeup were donated, too.  So I stood by and watched the proceedings and took photos of that, then "helped" the trainer with barn chores.  Barely.  I blanketed one horse and took hay to one horse.  Woo.

Doesn't this look like it could be a pony, if you ignore the hay bales for scale?

Actually, he's 18 hands.  An adorable old percheron named Saucer.

The only photo I got of the photographer.  Not a great one.  Oops.

Love this one!

Since I got home, in addition to editing these photos, I've also learned how to go to new waypoints (like when doing the multis) using my iPhone, AND how to download caches from the website into my GPS unit, and changed a few settings that should make it easier to find caches using it, too.  (For example, in map mode, it was showing North as being any random direction (well, I'm sure it had its reasons, but I couldn't figure them out), so I set it to always be up, just like my phone is).  Now I'm excited to get back out there tomorrow.