Today we were not fishing but we were "fishing" for geocaches hidden under rocks and tree stumps and in any little crevice the cache hider could find along the dikes encompassing the Fraser River and it's surrounding sloughs. The part that Ken and I like about geocaching is that it brings you to many new places that you had not come before and you get to enjoy just a little bit more of spectacular B.C.
The day's travels would take us to such places as: the iconic institution of Tim Hortons, a log carving, a set of geocaches based on the over-winter bird population, have us doing a little bit of creek hopping, and surprise us with a collection of memorabilia.
First up.....gassing up the Jeep in Mission and then walking across the street to Tim Hortons to find one of the many "Midnight Run.." caches hidden at many of the Lower Mainland Timmys..
Easy find, we are 1 for 1 so far on the day....that's a good sign...sometimes we are not that lucky :)
On the road now our next stop was several miles along the Lougheed Hwy on a dike of the Nicomen Slough.The geocache highlighted an old stump that someone had randomly carved the face of a bear into. (Picture above).
I don't know if the bear had been carved into a burnt stump or some jack ass lit fire to the carving - both actions are equally possible.
It was kind of neat in a quirky way to come across this random piece of art work - cool that some one took the time to do that so we could enjoy it.
The next several caches were part of the "Nicomen Slough Waterfowl" series placed along the dikes of the slough. This is a great over-winter birding area and many species of water fowl can be found here...it's one of my favourite Sunday drive areas during the winter months to go birding.
Click on any picture to see the pictures full size....
The geocacher known as The 10Coin" has hidden a series of 8 caches all highlighting different birds that frequent the area. The cache owners gives a brief description of the bird on their cache page, so learn a little bit while you are enjoying the scenery.
A few more bird caches had us searching down at the dikes edge all the while providing picturesque views One of the geocaches in the bird series was hidden in an actual birdhouse...how apra pro... :)
The bird series was finished off with all caches found and it was time to move on to the next caches on the list.
One cache worth mentioning along the Nicomen dikes is "Devious Dad" by the same cacheer The 10Coin.
This was a clever, well constructed cache which we thoroughly enjoyed. It took a few minutes to figure out where the cache had to be and then how to access the cache, but it was worth the hunt once we found it and The 10Coin deserves props for taking the time to put out such a cache. A lot of work wnet into this and their fellow geocachers do appreciate it. No picture to show you as I don't want to ruin it if you happen to go out looking for it.
The next cache to find had us "Creek Hopping" alongside Pattison Creek, a small creek that feeds into the hidden Hatzic Valley. Luckily this was still low water time as it would have meant a fair amount of bush whacking otherwise. We had to skip along the north side of the creek (to the right in the picture) and we were able to walk along the creek bed daintily stepping on and over boulders hoping we don't take a tumble and smack our behinds on the creek rocks.
It's always good to look upstream under the bridge before you turn your back on it and start walking downstream. I can't tell you how many geocachers have told me they have been surprised, and in turn, surprised a bear hanging out under bridges. This picture also gives you an idea of how this small creek swells during the winter storms and the Spring freshet.
I took the opportunity to drive a short way along the Sylvester Forest Service Road to pick off the first cache in a series of 4X4 caches up the FRS. As it turns out, an early Autumn storm had washed out the road and the FSR had just re-opened that weekend. The day was too short to go for this series, so I've pegged this for next summer when the mountain snows melt.
Still, it gave us a chance to get off road for a few minutes and enjoy the quietness of the forest and see once again how large some of the trees were in this area when the loggers first came to chop down the trees.
On the way back down the hill we stopped off at Cascade Falls Regional Park. This nature reserve highlights a series of waterfalls that have cool "bowls" worn into the sandstone cliff sides along the creek's course. These are caused by rocks being eroded by the water from the surrounding soft sandstone and as they become loose they start circling in the small hole created around them. As they circle in place they wear down the rock around them creating a very smooth bowl on the water fall's flat ledges.
Last time I was up this way the parking lot was just gravel and you could drive the FRS uphill as it paralleled the water falls and then follow the road eastbound to the next FSR and then over to the the Ruby Creek drainage area and eventually back onto the Lougheed Hwy closer to Hope BC.
Now the area is closed off to 4 wheelers and instead is limited to those that enjoy the short walk to Cascade Falls...one group looses and another group benefits.....which is better?
Back into the heart of the Hatzic Valley we continued doing some caches hidden along the rural roads. Can you see the cache hide in the picture above? If you're a geocacher you'll pick out the camouflage pretty quick.
Ken and I had to laugh at ourselves at this one....our path to the cache was oh so typical of geocachers...
We parked the Jeep at the side of the road right above a bridge that crossed a mid-sized creek and judging by the GPS we knew the geocache was hidden about 300' away along the creek's edge.
No problem, we already did a Creek Hopping cache, this is just one more of those.
So MrTJ and I start down the the creek edge and realize that we will have to climb up the bank to get above the water as there is no more room to walk along the creek. So, we climb up and find what could best be described as an abandoned deer trail and wind our way through the brush and small trees overgrowing the "trail" until we come to a bit of a clearing in the wood's edge. We backtrack along this clearing for 70' feet or so and come to a larger clearing where the cache is obviously hiding. We find the cache pretty quick and then realize we can follow a bit of a wide area through the forest back to the Jeep.
Well, soon enough it becomes obvious that this is the path we should have taken down to the cache in the first place as it is plainly an old roadway cleared out by a Caterpillar tractor years ago and indeed leads us back to the road just 20' feet away from the Jeep's back bumper! LOL
Across the street from this cache was a house with a large garage and many old signs out on display. The owner was out in the yard cutting his grass so we did the polite thing by stopping and asking him if we could take pictures of his signs. The owner was very wary of us at first until we spoke to him for a bit and told him what we were geocaching in the area and had just done the geochache across the street and down the trail.
The owner wasn't exactly too clear on what geocaching was but he warmed up to us and gave us permission to look around and take pictures. Turns out that the owner has had signs stolen off his garage and house recently so he was a bit suspicious of us at first but after talking to him for a while he relaxed and as I wandered around taking pictures Ken talked to him about swap meets they had both gone to over the years. As it turns out, the owner knows the brother of one of our brother-in-laws and has known him for many years. Ken and this relative had just recently been on a Hawaii cruise with him and our sister and her husband (our brother-in-law) so there was plenty to talk about.
Too much as it turned out as I had to eventually give Ken a kick in the shins to bring him back to why we were out here to begin with....geocaching!
We picked up a few more road side caches as we made our way back into Mission via the back roads. Eventually the short daylight hours started to catch up to us and we called it quits for the day.
We were happy with the day....22 geocaches found along some familiar and new-to-us back roads along with the treasure (in Ken's eyes...mine not so much) of a fellow "swap meeter" with a lot of common people to talk about.
Not a bad way to spend a day all in all...get to have some quality time with a brother, play a bit in the Jeep, find a few tucked away geocaches and do some exploring in the process. Nope, not a bad day at all!
The complete set of pictures for the day can be seen here on my Flickr web site