Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Searching in Surrey

ABOVE: Mountain bike ramp built by kids in urban forest green belt

Was out caching in Surrey with Bowser98, Bowser98Junior and MrTJ (AKA brother Al, nephew Christopher and brother Ken) on a rare day off for me, and we made the most of the unexpected sunshine and good weather. Considering the weather folks were calling for snow showers and rain, and we instead got sunshine, we were pretty happy with that.

Click here to see the complete set of photos and as usual, if you like what you see leave me a message and let me know, I enjoy the feed back.

To view them as a slide show, click on "View As Slideshow" and click on the "i" in the centre of the first picture to have the captions show.

Squamish, Snohomish, Duwamish, all sound familiar? They should, they are all names of towns or rivers in the Coast Salish territory that extends from as far south as Portland Oregon and as far north as Sechelt on the BC coast. They are also names of the large community of the Coast Salish peoples who lived in the Pacific North West 9,500 years before the "intruders" arrived.

All the First Nations on the mainland in on the South Coast are affiliated within one large group of peoples, with the exception for the Semiahmoo peoples. The Semiahmoo are more closely tied to the Lummi and Sammish people across the international border, and to the Lekwammen and T'sou-ke peoples across the Straight of Georgia, than they are to the Halq'emeylem speaking Sto:lo nations. Sto:lo means "river" in the Halq'emeylem language of the Coast peoples who inhabit the territories from the mouth of the Fraser River upstream to Yale, where their ancient fishing boundary adjoins the Nlaka'pamux, "people of the canyon" territory.

There are a lot of "sto:los" but there is only one that is _the_ sto:lo, and that is what we intruders call the Fraser River.

Snoqualmie, Chehalis, Cowiltz, Stillaquamish, these are all nations that you will still hear of today. The one First Nations name you will not hear in the Lower Mainalnd area today is the name of the peoples who inhabited the Mud Bay - White Rock area up until the 1800's. That name is of the Skokomish people; this 300 strong nation was 90% wiped out by smallpox introduced by the intruders. Eventually through marriage and through the land being abandoned, the Semiahmoo people moved in to populate the territory and the Skokomish lost their identity.

It is on ancient Skokomish land that we would be spending the day, exploring in our own adventure, only for us it was using GPS' to find tupperware in the bush, not fish or wild game for food.

ABOVE: Entrance way to small "common" park at the rear of a well off subdivision

"Lost Common" was the name of a cache that was lost to Bowser98 and I last visit, but as was to be the case several times today, MrTJ would make the find where we had/would strike out. The co-ordinates for this cache were spot on for the first waypoint but the next stage leading to the final cache required you to perform a projection. That is done by standing at the given co-ordinates and "projecting" where a new set of co-ordinates might be.

Typically when caching you have the co-ordinates that you have to go to; they give you the numbers, you punch them and then you follow the GPS to the pot of gold. In this case the cache owner led us to the first stage, then told us to go something like "320 meters at 340 degrees north" to find the cache. In effect you have to project out to where the actual co-ordinates might be!

In this case the projection put us way 100' feet or so too far from the cache, and after spending an hour here, (and spending an hour here last time), we decided to give up on this one. But as many of you cachers know, as you walk away you are still searching, and lo and behold, MrTJ came up with the cache in an unlikely spot. Whew, thank goodness!

Cache signed, and put away for the next lucky contestant, we were off to the next one; on the road for 2.5 hours and only one cache to show for it, not a good sign so far!

"Toads' Corner" was the next cache, so called as the cacher named Toad utilized businesses around a crossroad intersection in the 'burbs. Here there was a small strip mall, a vet, and coffee shop. Bowser98 and I had already walked around the area collecting clues last visit, put together the clues, but struck out at the final cache location.

Not MrTJ, we were only at the final cache hunt for no more than 10 minutes when he came up with the cache; that's what happens when you are so convinced that the cache must be "in this area"! You don't look "over there"! Oh well, another DNF cleared up...
ABOVE: path in park on the way to "What's My Number #4"

Large tracts of land and forested "green spaces" still exist in the South Surrey area, and one of them called us back for yet another DNF to be located. This time a cache belonging to a series called "What's My Number" where multiple caches used small film canister size containers. We had one in a city park that we could not find before, and, yep, you guessed it, MrTJ found the cache after looking for not very long. Sheesh, a guy could get a complex if this keeps up.

ABOVE: Near the cache called "Wooded Hidey Hole"

"Wooded Hidey Hole" was a cache hidden in a small wooded park in a residential area; here I got some of my self-esteem back as I found the cache in less than two minutes while MrTJ scaled a very large root system of a tree that was a victim of one of the winter storms. Not quite sure what he was doing up there.........?

What, time for lunch already? Man, are we having a miserable succes ratio; 4 hours and 4 caches on our "done" list. Hope this afternoon picks up.....

ABOVE: Canada Geese at Southmere Village park in White Rock

"Recipes RIP" refers to a cache that has been stolen several times, and now the new cache container is a small film canister too small to hold anything of value.

The real prize here was the lovely little park the cache was in; Southmere Village Park has a pond in the centre that is more like a collection pond to help drain the neighbourhood land than a real body of water. But the ducks and song birds didn't care; the waterfowl love the water and shore, and the song birds love the trees and shrubs surrounding the water's edge.

ABOVE: The cache finders worst place to find a cache!

"Blackhawk Wannabee" cache was hanging in this tree; I won't tell you what the cache container looks like, suffice to say MrTJ and I hate these types of caches! Bowser98 doesn't mind them, actually I think he just hasn't learnt to hate them yet! :)

ABOVE: Oval track in South Surrey Athletic Park

"Lapping the Elipse" refers to doing laps on the nearby track located in South Surrey Athletic Park. The cache owner entices you to find the cache and then do a few laps on the oval track. Sorry, that won't be happening unless I'm driving a dirt track race track! :)

This was another cache the Bowser98 and I struck out on previously; the hide has been has now been downgraded with the cache moved to an easier place in which to be found, and of course MrTJ made the find! OK, that's enough......we're out of here! No more gloating!

ABOVE: I think I left a couple of digits here.

Somewhere in the corner of the South Surrey Athletic Park is a tree with a small cache hidden amongs it's cavities. I had the honour of finding this well tucked away cache, and I had the honour of suddenly realizing my arm might be stuck in this tree! YIKES!!

WAIT, it's coming loose............there! I got my arm out and in my hand, being held for dear life, was the cache called "Open 24-9". Good thing I got i:, I had images of calling 911 and having them use chain saws to free my arm! I'll tell you one thing for sure, I'm not putting the cache that far in again, I'm no fool! No Sir!

The next two caches were nearby, still in South Surrey Atheletic Park, only this time one was along a forest trail in the middle of a mountain bikers park and the second was a little easier to get at as it was hidden close to parking.

The bikers park consists of flat terrain, small mountains, moguls, forest trails, and several jumps of varying heights. ABOVE: Jumps at Biker park

The first cache was located near the parking lot, almost close enough to be considered a parking lot cache. "Byker Grove" was an easy find, just had to wait for the bikers to move along so we could get the cache out to sign it.

ABOVE: Along a trail at the Bike park

"Byker Grove II" was located along one of the bike trails in the park next to a wooden ramp that crossed a fallen tree. I imagine this one would be a little harder to grab while kids on nountain bikes went whizzing past you at Mach 3 just 2 feet away. Luckily the park was pretty empty today as most kids were otherwise occupied.

Sometimes caches take for ever to find; not cause they are so tough; more because they are in an area that you don't get to very often. Case in point the next two caches; "Practical Cache #4" and "Practical Cache #2". In this case, I had printed the paper work for these caches on Nov 5 2005, almost 2.5 years ago.

And for some reason they seemed to loom large and hard to find in my mind. Well, shows you how you imagine things differently than they really are. For example, "Practical Cache #4" was at a local park at the baseball diamond. Other than a couple of large boulders, "glacial erratics" there was nothing special or hard about this cache hide.
ABOVE: Hwy #99 looking north

"Practical Cache #2" was billed as being muddy when it had recently rained: so dutiful me throws the big rubber gum boots into the back of MrTJ's truck this morning just in case. Down the trail we go looking for the mud, but I guess we found another way in as we did not come across any mud, although we did get a nice view to the north as we looked along Hwy #99 and past the Nicomekl River

ABOVE: Green space trail between houses in ritzy neighbourhood

I've mentioned the abundance of green spaces in the South Surrey area, and now here's a cache called "Green Space". It runs between houses in an affluent neighbourhood where each house is on an acre or two of land. Definitely any one of us would have been eager to take up residence in this huge homes.

ABOVE: walking in the "Country Woods"

Still in the same neighbourhood but a few blocks over, "Country Woods" invited us to explore a small section of land maybe 10 acres in size, but well covered by a network of trails throughout.

The cache was located at the far corner of the park at the bottom of the hill that the park was on. Of course that meant the return to the vehicles was uphill...doh. I commented on how lovely this little gem of a park was as the trails wound around trees and mini-ravines to deposit us down by s small crick that flowed at the bottom of the hill.
This time is was Bowser98 pulling the ammo box out of a rabbits hat! Well, out of it's hidey hole at least.
ABOVE: Blowdown leftovers from latest winter storm

OK, the light is starting to fade, lets get moving to the next cache on the list called "The Greatest Cache in the World"! Well, it wasn't, but it was just down the street where the Outlaws used to live, so I was able to give a little history of the area, while we walked through the small park on the way to the cache. Quick find by MrTJ, (again), a quick sign, and then back to the vehicles to roll on!

Time to head to Redwood Park to do a few more caches there. In this park are 5 caches, the first one right at the parking lot called "A Yolk for the Geofolk". This one should have been an easy find but I guess we where starting to fade after 12 hours on the road, and it took a simple eye to find this one. Wow, how did we miss that?

"Redwood Rocket" is in the park at a far corner away from everything else; the cache owner is involved with amateur rockets and I'm guessing he has one of these in his basement cellar! As a matter of fact I was hoping the FTF prize would be a rocket! Well, I guess not........ :(

OK, time for one more quick one...I HAVE to do this one, it's been on my list since May 14 2005!

ABOVE: tree in shadows at Redwood Park

"Redwood Reading Room" is one of the oldest caches in BC; it was started in June 2002.

Obviously finding this cache means you have found one of the very first caches ever placed!
We needed to find it in short order, as the sun was almost gone and we needed to get out of the park before dusk at which time they locked the parking lot gates.

OK, cache found, as a matter of fact it almost leaped into MrTJ's arms the cache was so massive! In this cache were many books for which you could trade, leave your trade if wanted or just sign the log and head on home. There is also a bench nearby that looks out onto the green grass of a nearby clearing, a peaceful place to read indeed.

OK, all done, that's it for a round of caching; the sun has fallen, headlights are now on, and the cache total stands at 15 caches found today. Not bad at all! Not a worlds record but we were pretty happy with that..........at least until next time!

ABOVE: waiting to come back over the Fraser River via the Fort Langley ferry

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