Thursday, July 26, 2012

Geocaching in Merritt & Douglas Lake Area of BC

Cookie Cacher and I managed to find a nice Sunday late in July when it wasn't raining and made a spur of the moment decision to do a long distance trip to Merritt and surrounding area for a mix of geocaching and backroading. I hadn't talked to Jeannine AKA Cookie Cacher in weeks, maybe months, but I sent her a quick text on Friday and said "you up for a long distance drive"? She answered back "giddyup"! Glad that gal can make up her mind quick...   :)

We met up 8.00 AM Sunday morning in Maple Ridge, both of us not quite shiny bright - I had 3 hours of sleep and Jeanine was operating on one hour of sleep.....sounds like we were gonna be great company for each other!

We made a bee line for Merritt passing up caches all along the way in favour of saving time at our destination area. We hadn't even gotten to Merritt yet and Jeannine started talking about this puzzle cache she solved two years ago and keeps driving by when ever she travels through Merritt. "We just have to stop and grab it" she says.....for the third time in 20 minutes. "OK" I say, I'm easy, and I surely know the feeling of driving past a cache you know you should stop and grab, but just never do.

So, we get to the cache area, south side of Merritt, and you guessed it, the cache is missing! Jeaninie can't believe it..and is slightly disappointed as she reads the past logs online and realizes it's been missing for a few weeks. So, I suggest we replace the cache for the cache owner, and claim a smiley as a reward for our good deed of the day. DONE! And the cache can finally be struck off Jeannine's "to-do" list.

Off we go, to do a few city caches and some in the ranch land on the out skirts of town. Then, it's a fuel up for bodies and Jeep, then off towards Quilchena and Douglas Lake Ranch we go. This is one of my all time favourite back roads drive... turn east off Hwy 5A just north of Quilchena along the Douglas Lake Rd and head over to Douglas Lake and the famous Douglas Lake Ranch, the largest operating ranch in Canada.

The ranch has a lot of history, it has always been a working ranch, but it has catered to celebrities like Tom Jones and Prince Phillip looking for that "dude ranch" experience.

South from Douglas Lake to Minnie Lake Rd, for a few miles, then pick up the Pennask Lake Rd and follow it north-west back to Hwy 5A close to Quilchena.
I have done this trip a few times over the years, and have written trip reports in my blog about it already, so I won't go into all the details again. If you would like to read them, peruse my blog for previous entries.

I will say that we ran into thunderstorms complete with heavy rain and a musical background of thunder, which can be heard in the video....that rain in places turned the Minnie Lake Rd to the texture of slush, and it felt just like driving through it, complete with the rear tires throwing out rooster tails of goo.

The Jeep started the dirt roads pretty clean, 10 miles later most of the Jeep was brown, not red. That's OK, "a dirty Jeep is a happy Jeep". And a few dollars spent at the car wash will let me power wash the mud off the fun-mobile.

Total mileage on the day was 700K, caches found was 25, time on the road was 14 hours, and the fun factor was up around "awesome"!

We were using Jeanine's GPS for caching, but I was running mine to record the trip and make a route out of it which I then posted to Every Their web site is pretty cool, it takes your GPS waypoints and track route, then overlays it over top of Google Maps and even lets you "play" the trip back, complete with elevation gains shown along the way.

I have embedded the route here for you to view, you can also go to my Every Trails account and view the this and other trips I have done.

  PS - X the elevation box closed so you can see the trip play out on screen. Mouse over the bottom of the screen to pop up the PLAY button to re-start the trip playback.

Merritt - Douglas Lake Area

The real story is told in the video, where the ranch country is on full display. If the video is too narrow to display on your screen, click on the link to go to my YouTube page to watch it full screen's the only way to do the scenery justice.