Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chilliwack Valley Caching and Cruising

ABOVE: 8 foot long Sturgeon at Inch Creek Fish Hatchery

To view all the pictures click here to go to my Flickr photo site; when you get to the site, in the upper right corner click on "view as slide show" to start the slide show, and then click in the centre of the first picture to enable viewing of the captions for each photo.

On Monday Aug 6 I had the pleasant job of being a tour guide to the Mr of the team Meridians, a fellow family of cachers. This was the first time I had met Kelvin but we hit it off well and had a fun day bouncing around in the Jeep on the forest roads in the Chilliwack Valley.

The goal today was not so much to hit as many caches as we could, rather it was an easy day of puttering along familiar ground for me but new to Kelvin. I had about 15 caches in the pile, most of which I had done already and Kelvin had not; no worries, today it's not about the numbers.....that was yesterday caching in North Van!

Our first stop on the way to Chilliwack was at the Inch Creek Fish Hatchery; here we walked around the hatchery on a self guided tour. A highlight is the White Sturgeon they have in the settlement pond. Sturgeon can grow to over 20 feet long and live 100 years; today they are an endangered species and they are on a catch and release program.

In the pond (picture at top of story) they have a relatively small sturgeon, approx 8 feet long. They use the fish as a scum sucker, as the sturgeon filter the water taking nutrients in and in turn cleaning the water prior to discharge back into Inch Creek.

Kelvin way pointed the hatchery as a place to bring the family in the future, and we continued on to Chilliwack.

We drove to Cultus Lake and just after the water slides, go kart track and golf course, we turned onto Sleepy Hollow Road and turned away from the rest of the summer crowds.

At the top of Sleepy Hollow Road we expected to find the "headless horseman" from Walt Disney, instead we found a cache called "Arboreal Sanctuary". This cache was along side the road but hidden on an embankment among young trees and moss; Kelvin found this one the old fashioned stepping on it.

After this find the paved road ended and we were now on Liumchen Forest Service Road (FSR).

A short way down the road we passed one of the old army training grounds from when CFB Chilliwack was in use. In the hills and rough terrain behind the fenced off area they taught the soldiers how to drive heavy machinery like the deuce and a half 6x6 utility trucks and off road recovery vehicles.

ABOVE: Liumchen Forest Service Road bridge

Above: View from the bridge of Liumchen Falls

The road went over Liumchen Creek right where the creek exited from a small canyon, and conveniently, a cache was here. "Water and Moss" was hidden along the edge of the canyon but just a few feet off the creek floor; alas the cache was MIA. I had found this cache about 4 months ago so I knew where to look but the hidey hole was exposed and the cache was not to be found.

Continuing along the FSR we passed the cache "What Do You Mean I Need A Key"? The cache is a large tool kit hidden in the woods and you can find it but it has a padlock on the box and you need to find a key to open the lock. Trick is, the keys are hidden randomly around the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford and Chilliwack areas caches; only luck will help you find a key.

Well, we didn't have a key so we bypassed the cache and continued on to a date with lions.

To be precise the cache is called "The Liumchen Lions Den"; this is a cleverly disguised small cache right beside a busy FSR junction. Right where the Liumchen FSR comes down off a bench
to river level, it meets the Tamihi FSR. Both roads, as a matter of fact, all of the FSRs in the valley have turned into a trail bikers paradise, and the sounds of two stroke engines spitting out clouds of oily blue smoke can be heard far and wide.

ABOVE: Garmin VS Magellan, the rivalry continues!

I won't show you the cache or the immediate area, suffice to say Kelvin put his Garmin Rhino 530 and I put my Magellan Meridian Gold side by side on the log, and both performed equally well. Both came down to 6 meters to the cache, which was pretty well bang on!

ABOVE: Quaint bridge over Little Tamihi Creek on the TCT

The Lions Den found and log recorded for posterity, we moved a mile down the road to the next cache called "Tamihi Trail Cache" which was located next to Little Tamihi Creek. This section of trail by the creek and along side the Chilliwack River is part of the Trans-Canada Trail, and a very picturesque part it is as well.

ABOVE: If your buddy tells you to go stand on the bridge so he can take your picture, make sure the bridge doesn't have any holes in it before you go
(Picture by Kelvin of the Meridians)

The cache location was near a few old stumps that were large enough that the loggers from the early days had to make notches in the stump so they could put their spring boards in the tree. The spring board allowed them to get a few feet higher on the tree to where the trunk was narrower, and it allowed them to swing above the vegatation on the forest floor.

ABOVE: Kelvin of The Meridians posing for the picture: actually I thinking he's doing vogue!

Next up was a rest stop and a walk around at the Tamihi Forest Service campground located at the junctions of Tamihi Creek and Chilliwack River. The Tamihi Creek is a fair size creek and a very beautiful creek as well; it is a fast moving creek as it flows over boulders and around house size boulders that have fallen from the surrounding cliff sides. There is a cache hidden here, called "Tamihi Tumble" but Kelvin preferred to leave the cache for when he returns with his family so that they can find the cache together.

ABOVE: Kayaker on the Chilliwack River
Next stop was at the Chilliwack River Fish Hatchery, we love visiting the hatcheries.... :)
ABOVE: Aluminum rearing troughs at the Chilliwack Fish Hatchery

We had a treat here as the bright red Spring Salmon had returned to where they were hatched. Kelvin took some great video of the salmon leaping over the small step in the hatchery channel as the Springs attempted to get further "upstream".
If Kelvin can send me some video I'll see if I can post it for you to view.
We headed further up the valley as we aimed for Foley FSR which would bring us back down the valley on the opposite side of the river. We found the turn off, turned onto Foley FSR and followed it along to a fork where we swung west on Bench Rd FSR as we headed down stream following the Chilliwack River again, this time on the north side of the river.

ABOVE: Rapids on Chilliwack River. This is a favourite play area for the kayakers

We stopped at a scenic spot where the river was forced to squeeze past large granite boulders that jutted halfway out into the river. This is one of my favourite lunch spots when ever I come up this way. It's also a favourite play area for the kayakers; I have watched them play in the rapids going sideways down the river and purposefully flipping their kayak upside down and right side up again.
ABOVE: View of the Chilliwack Valley from Bench Road FSR

We pushed on aware that the day was winding down and it was time to start heading for home. We travelled along Bench Road FSR gaining and losing elevation as it tried to stay with the river. Eventually the road left the river and climbed the mountain seeking it's own way down valley. One area that had recently been logged afforded a commanding view of the lower end of the Chilliwack River and it's valley, and we could see on the opposite side of the valley where we had been many hours ago.

ABOVE: Kelvin at the viewpoint
Continuing on we took one more fork and heading south towards the river along Army Bench FSR, and one more cache for Kelvin to pick up. "Valley Decachelon: Forest Frolicking" is part of a series of 10 caches spread through out the Chilliwack and Abbotsford areas of which you must find all 10 caches and collect the clues in each cache before you can find the final cache.

Well, now Kelvin has one clue... :)

ABOVE: While Kelvin looked for the cache I looked over the Jeep to see how it had fared with the dusty roads, deep mud puddles and creeks that we crossed on the unmaintained FSRs. Well, I'd say not bad; you can't really call that dirty for a Jeep can you?
One last stop for us before we left the area, and that was at the memorial for the people who perished in the 1956 crash of Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) flight 810. The plane smashed into Mount Slesse (Slesse means "fang" in the local native dialect) killing all 62 people aboard, three of which were Saskatchewan Rough Riders returning from the all stars game. Click here to go to a web page about the crash.
ABOVE: Picture of a Canadair North Star similar to the one that crashed
With that last stop over, we piled into the Jeep and made a run for the freeway, just in time to get caught up in the Long Weekend traffic heading back into Vancouver.
Thanks to Kelvin of The Meridians for the good company on the exploration of the Chilliwack Valley; best part is, next time he buys lunch !!

1 comment:

Kelvin said...

Thanks Ed for taking me out and about on our 4x4 / geaocaching adventure. I never thought I would meet someone who likes to take pictures as much or as often as me. Your knowledge of the roads and geocaches of the area was very impressive and I hope to tour the area again either with my family and/or with you...after lunch, of course ;)

Kelvin (The Meridians)