All photos for this trip can be viewed on my Flickr site here
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Ken and I took advantage of a sunny fall day to sneak in a few hours of geocaching in the Chillwack area of the Fraser Valley; specifically we would be in the Sumas Prairie region for most of the day.
If you don't know the area well, the Sumas Prairie during the winter is just like the prairies in Manitoba or Saskatchewan during the winter; cold, windy and dry. Every so often during the winter Hwy #1 is shut down as it is impassable due to poor visibilty and snow drifts. A few years back the highway was shut down for 6 days by snow drifts that covered the roofs of cars stuck on the road; stranded motorists were rescued and housed by the local farmers for several days.
However, it was not that cold today, just a bit breezy and cool on a sunny autumn day.
As Ken and I always like to start the day with a "find" instead of a "DNF" (Did Not Find), we stopped at the highway rest stop in Chilliwack to find a nano cache called "Muddy Cole".
The co-ordinates were pretty good and we had a good idea were to look and what to look for, but sometimes this "easy" caches just elude us. So it was again, as after 20 minutes of searching we called it quits and moved on to the next cache on the list; so much for the easy start!
The next cache was called "Gollum's Gulch"; so named as it is located on the bank of a small creek which flows through the fields on Sumas Prairie. We enjoyed the walk along the dike next to the creek as it afforded great views of not only the surrounding farm lands but the Coast Mountain range to the north.
In the creek we spotted a muskrat swimming across the waterway, and a King Fisher flew off from it's perch as we disturbed it's solidary watch for prey in the creek.
Even a Great Blue Heron kept a sharp eye on the creek from it's perch in an overhanging tree; it only flew away when we got too close. But not wanting to give up it's feeding spot it flew just a short distance away and landed on the pathway. At least unil we walked that way and scared it away completely.
The cache was found in short order on a widening of the creek bank, and we made our scribbles in the log book to show we had visted the cache location.
With the cache now back in it's hidey hole along the dike, we returned to the truck to drive to the next cache called "Split Personality"
This next cache took you to the crossroads of two of the older roadways that bissected the Sumas Prairie, long before the freeways and most of the other roads came into existence.
This intersection was the location of the first waypoint in a multi-cache; a multi-cache makes you go to multiple locations before leading you to the final cache hide.
Standing in the middle of the intersection of two rural roads instantly transported you to the middle of nowhere in Middle Saskatchewan where they assign not addresses but section of land numbers to where you live! There was nothing to see but flat land in all 4 directions!
From this location you needed to do some math questions by adding up street sign numbers and counting road names so you could find the co-ordinates to the next way point.
The next waypoint was a mile up the road where we would find a large sign; on the sign was a series of numbers and information about the local business. Again we had to do some math to find the next location, which, surprisingly turned out to be not too far from the first cache along the small creek.
So back we go to the same area as before only this time we approached the creek greenbelt from the north side as the walk appeared to be shorter from this new parking spot. Another enjoyable stroll down the dike alongside the creek brought us to another artfully hidden cache. A sign of the log book, a return of the cache, and then we almost got busted by a dog walker coming along the dike. Luckily he was more intent on talking about MrTJ's hound then he was wondering what we had been doing.......
Considering how you can see for hundreds of yards either way on the dike he sure snuck up on us!
Off we go into the small village of Yarrow to find a cache placed next to the local cemetery. Some of the local cachers have gotten together to create a series called "BC Spirit Quest" where they place caches next to pioneer cemeteries ; this is a great way of leading you to historical locations.
The cache we were looking for was placed just outside of the Yarrow cemetery and was called "BC Spirit Quest #02 - Kirchofstrasse".
The Fraser Valley has a strong Mennonite presence and these German immigrants knew the road as Kirchofstrasse or Cemetery Road.
The cache was found after a bit of searching in the area, a sign of the log book, and a replacement of the cache meant we could carry on to the next cache.
The next 3 caches were all in the same area near the Vedder River; these 3 caches highlighted the Blue Heron Reserve in the wetlands adjoining the Vedder River.
Many years ago the army dug out the wetlands in the area to use as a training ground for army personel for wet crossings. That is, any crossing involving a water way, marsh or bog that needed to be crossed would be represented on the grounds here for army troops to practice in various environments. Eventually the army signed the area over to the City of Chilliwack for custodial purposes; a society was soon formed to take on the challenge of looking after the 325 acre lands.
The first cache was located not inside the reserve but outside along a dike on the western edge of the reserve. From the cache location one only had to look up into the tall cottonwood trees to see dozens of large heron nests. As this was autumn and many of the leaves had fallen, the nests were easier to view. And the cache was easy to spot as well, which made for a quick turn around on our walk so we could head into the reserve to find the next two caches.
Cache logged and returned to the volunteer, we trudged to the south end of the reserve to find the last of the 3 caches in the area. In this case the cache was actually outside the reserve gates but located along the river side trail that is very busy with walkers, joggers, bicyclists and all sorts of folks during the summer. This time of year there was only the odd person for us to be concerned with, so the finding, signing, and returning of the cache to it's hide was done with minimal interuption.
The name of this cache is "Narnia #2" and it is one of a series of caches based on the Narnia movies. You also have to gather a clue from each of the Narnia caches to be able to find the final Narnia cache location.
For now, back through the heron reserve we go, past the tower and the information centre to MrTJ's truck ready to shoot on over to the next cache on the list.
If you want to visit the heron reserve you can click on the link here to go to their web site; just remember, no dogs allowed in the reserve, and check for winter hours.
Picture of Sumas Lake Before It Was Drained
Picture of the Sturgeon from this web site
Satellite View of the Sediment Load in the Fraser River