I am a proud

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lagito Churup, High Mountains of Peru - Caching in thin air!

This trip is a week long. I’ve been working six days straight so today I’m enjoying a day off to find a cache. This is no ordinary cache. It is a virtual cache placed in 2002 by some trekkers traveling through the highlands of Peru. See Lagito Churup (GCA637) placed by Cave or Die Dude. To date it has been visited 8 times due to the difficulty involved in getting to it. This is just the kind of cache I like. Tommy Smith, my good friend, picked me up at 8 am at the Hotel Colomba in Huaraz, Peru. It was a 40 minute ride up the dirt roads that ascends out of Huaraz to the parking lot for the Huascaran National Park. We paid our five soles (about $1.75) each and set out on our hike. The guard said it would take an hour and a half. I thought to myself that he is referring to Peruvians living in the highlands, not tourist. We started our climb to the cache at about 12,600 feet above sea level. The cache is at 15,200 feet above sea level. There were others on the trail but none proved to be geocachers. There were Dutch and Austrian groups climbing to see the lower lake. Tommy and I pushed on because we wanted to meet the cache requirements and need the extra time before the predictable afternoon rain would start. We pushed up the trail, conversing briefly with the Austrians in my limited German. The Dutch couple spoke English. The trail started in what is called páramo grass. We were already above the tree line. The trail was full of big rocks so we had to be careful not to turn an ankle. After climbing to an elevation of about 13,500 feet the trail leveled out for about a kilometer. We could see some beautiful waterfalls produced by the runoff from the lakes above. At that point the pass through which the water flowed was in the clouds. We arrived at the base of the waterfall and had a decision to make. The trail to the left seemed more used; the one to the left less so. We were ahead of the tourist groups and their guides and couldn’t ask so we decided to push on via the trail to the left. What a hidden challenge! The climb was steep. Soon we arrived at an eight foot ladder made of the branches of the Quenual tree. It appears in the páramo region. I know I said we were above the tree line. There were a few squat Quenual trees. They have a beautiful orange color beneath the peeling bark. After climbing the ladder we were climbing on all fours and on the verge of needing equipment. Tommy tried another route while I pushed on up the rock face until we met at a beautiful waterfall. After the obligatory photo sessions we were able to cross the stream and pick up the trail that went to the right side of the waterfall. It took us another 20 minutes of climbing in thin air to reach the Laguna Churup. The climb was worth it. The water had an aqua color to it due to mineral content. We pushed on around the north side of the lake following the trail to the far eastern end, then up to the saddle that divides the two lakes. The smaller lake isn’t as pretty as the first lake. The cache requirements are that you take a photo with yourself in it on the saddle that divides the two lakes with the small lake in the background. We did this spending about 10 minutes there when it started raining. Out with the rain gear and off we went. It took about an hour to get to the other end of the first lake. From there we got a glimpse of Churup Mountain. The clouds lifted and the snowy peak was partially revealed. This time we climbed down the opposite side of the waterfall. The rain began to turn to sleet and the rocks were slippery. It took a while to get down the side of the waterfall. Tommy lost his water bottle when it fell into the stream from the waterfall. We were able to get it back and head on. Negotiating the waterfall took longer than we thought. From the waterfall we pushed hard as most of the remaining kilometers were level ground or down hill. In the distance across the valley we saw the first lightning and heard the first thunder. The tourist had already left so we had the trail to ourselves. As we pushed lower we moved from sleet to rain. By the time we made it to the truck anything sticking out from under the poncho was soaked. What a way to spend a free day! I’m tired and content having seen what few see and having logged this special cache! I recommend this cache if you are coming to the highlands of Peru. Remember Huaraz! This is the capital of the Department of Ancash and is replete with Quechua culture. There is so much to see and do. Ya’ll come!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Initiating a new geocacher

Today I had a good time again. I flew to Lima, Peru on the first day and the first leg of a trip into the department of Ancash in Peru. More on that part of the trip later this week. When I got to Lima and settled into my lodging I met up with a friend. His newly acquired geocaching name is Ted Supe. You'll have to ask him what that all means. We headed out into the Miraflores coastal walk area to find a new cache entitled Pacific Overlook (GC1H172). It had only been five or six days since it was activated. Ted Supe went with me, learning how to navigate with the GPSr and familiarizing himself with the paper print out from He was able to walk right up to the cache with me. From there he went to find another (one of mine) further up the coast. Ted found Surfview (GC1H1CP) amidst some significant muggle traffic going and coming from the surfing area. He successfully found, signed and returned the cache to its hiding place. We came back to log the finds and to get him registered. Ted is preparing to return to his home state of Arkansas. We google-mapped his Arkansas home and found a whole bunch of caches close by. I hope that Arkansas has another confirmed geocacher after today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A visit from Swiss geocacher wizzzzard

Last week I received an email from wizzzzard, a Swiss geocacher with years of experience. He informed us that he was coming to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We agreed to get together and go geocaching. This morning wizzzzard, aka Urs, arrived on the KLM flight after 18 hours of flying. He gave us a call and we met at the Radisson Royal Hotel. From his hotel we headed to the Metropolitan Park to look for some geocaches, his first in Latin America. Along with us was sumajhuarmi. We made a curcuit to the following caches: Huicu Crossing, Three Stumps, Hanger, Karen's Caper TB Hotel, Cobblestone Corner, Insight of the Yellow Alien, En Memoria de Geovanni, Log On, and El Descanso. Most of these caches are mine so it was kind of fun tagging along but not giving away the clues. Our friend found all but one, apparently muggled this month. I'll have to replace it. Urs is full of geocaching stories, having many more finds than I do. It was good to hear about geocaching in Switzerland and other European countries. We had a small gift for wizzzzard and his wife. He had several gifts for us. He gave us our first geocoin. We are now the proud owners of a Swiss Geocoin! See the photos. We grabbed a quick meal at the snack shack near the parking lot at the park; then we headed back to take wizzzzard to his hotel. He has to be tired now! It was a great day and we really had a great time with wizzzzard! I hope he'll come back to Ecuador!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Earthcache Laguna Cuicocha

This weekend I had the opportunity to go after an earthcache.  If you haven't heard of such let me explain.  An earthcache is a type of virtual cache.  You don't actually find a container. Instead you learn important information about the earth and by completing a few tasks you prove that you really visited the location.  I've visited Cuicocha many times.  I even have a traditional cache (one with a container, logbook and swag in it known as Sea Breeze - (GC1DD42) along the highest point on the trail.   Since placing my cache an earthcache was put out by a fellow cacher from Germany.  The tasks were to hike the trail, take pictures, and gather some specific information after taking the boat ride out to the islands in the crater lake.  It was fun!  I actually went to Cuicocha with a group of fellow missionaries, some from other countries.  Four of us went on the boat ride while the remaining 12 went on the hike.  One of my friends, also a geocacher, took off to look for the Sea Breeze cache.  He only had a two hour window to do this in so he pushed ahead alone.  Sumajhuarmi and I decided to climb the trail to the cache when he didn't show later. We were a little concerned for him since the trail is along the crater edge and hiking alone can be dangerous.  The incentive to find him caused us to push hard.  We hiked it fast. When we were about 30 minutes from the cache we saw him walking down a road on the outside of the crater.  We pushed on to the cache and sumajhuarmi made her find.  After signing the log we took off down the road.  Sumajhuarmi is a runner and I'm not.  In order to get to the car quicker and since it was down hill we took off running.  She was soon out of sight leaving me in her dust.  Our friend made it to the car and came back up the trail to get us.  We had a great day on the mountain!  If you are coming to Ecuador be sure to look for the caches at Cuicocha (Earthcache -GC1EHA5).

I'm adding some pictures.  I'm the one in the geocaching cap and I'm with sumajhuarmi in one of the pictures.  Also see my friend and his wife at Cuicocha.  Also check out the bubbles in the water off one of the islands in the crater lake.  This is gas escaping from the volcano.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Urban caching in Lima, Peru

arrived in Lima, Peru this afternoon for several days. This afternoon I met up with a new cacher, Low_rider73, and we went to visit two urban caches in the Miraflores area of Lima. The first was the newest Lima cache entitled,
TOP 10 POI Lima (GC1EY5P). This referred to the top ten points of interest for tourist in Lima. It required that you either travel all over the city or, as a minimum, get on the Internet and research the city. You had to match ten photos of key locations with the correct location name and then assign the value of the associated picture number to an equation in order to find the coordinates of the cache. Several cachers had found this one ahead of us. The one before us reported that the cache had been muggled. Another TB lost! The cache owner gave everyone permission to log the cache if they included a photo of the general cache location. Low_rider, sumajhuarmi and I all tried to find the correct coordinates but kept coming up with the wrong ones. The cache owner published a spoiler picture showing a special and easily identifiable piece of heavy equipment in a park. It was easy to find out which park we were looking for with Internet. We went there in order to complete the requirements for finding the cache. We still are scratching our heads about the equation and the coordinates. It was fun nontheless. A park historian told us the park is dedicated to Peruvians who defended Lima against the invading Chileans in the 1880's on the very spot.

From this cache Low_rider73 took the lead and took us to cache Intihuatana (GC17BMA). This is one of my caches so I came along for the ride. Inti means "sun" and "huatana" means bracelet in Ecuadorian Quichua. I suppose it means the same thing in Peruvian Quechua. It is the"Bracelet of the sun". There is an odd piece of modern art at the site that bears the name. The most noteable thing about the location is the view of the Peruvian coast. The cache is located at a gorgeous overlook of the Pacific Ocean. We saw paragliders, hang gliders, and surfers. Because it was a Peruvian holiday, many Peruvians were enjoying the park. This particular cache is in a "muggle-intensive" site. Low_rider73 was able to find the cache, sign the log and replace it without being spotted. I live in Quito, Ecuador and come to Lima every couple of months. The Groundspeak reviewer allowed me to place the cache because the frequency of my visits allows me to maintain it. Today I added a new log sheet. It is interesting that along the way a fellow cacher decided to replace the cache container, log and to upgrade the cache by making it magnetic. At first I was a little put off to see that someone had declared my cache missing and the replaced it. After thinking about it I appreciate him keeping it alive. I appreciate the upgrade to the container too. Intihuatana seems to be one of the most visited caches in Peru. It is in an area frequented by tourist on a regular basis.

What is a visit to cache-poor Lima without hiding another cache or two? Low-rider73 and I each hid a cache along the coastal cliffs today. That was a challenge with all the muggles out and about. Once these are uploaded on we can search for each other's cache. I hope that his cache shows up on the website before I leave on Sunday morning when I fly out for Quito!

Peru has some nice caches. Come on down and visit Macchu Pichu and find some of the Peruvian caches! We'll try to hid some more in Lima too!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Camino de los Volcanos

What a day we had yesterday! Sumajhuarmi (Paula) and I made a trip south from Quito to Ambato, Ecuador to meet with some Quichua friends. We had a great time with these guys. Today's blog isn't about geocaching as much as it is about the beautiful view of the many volcanos along the way. The weather was so good that I would have loved to have been climbing one of these mountains to place a cache somewhere. We don't get a day like this but once every two months or so. We saw the following snow-capped volcanos in our trip. I'm including pictures of some of them. First we saw Cayambe as we left home. It is actually to the northeast of Quito and we were traveling south. Then we saw shy Antisana, rarely outside of the clouds. Next we could see in the distance a volcano that we rarely see from Quito. We saw the twin volcanos Illiniza. Along with some of the guys I want to climb Illiniza's southern peak sometime. The northern peak is much more technical. As we came around Ruminahua volcano (no snow) we got a gorgeous view of Cotopaxi up close. We regularly see this beautiful cone-shaped volcano from Quito. As we crossed over the ridge line that divides the provinces of Pichincha and Cotopaxi, we were able to see, far to the south, Chimborazo volcano. To the left of the highway and far to the south we could also make out the cone-shaped peak of Tungurahua volcano and, behind it, El Altar volcano. Ecuador is such a beautiful country with so much to explore in such as small area. I guess that explains why we are such an attraction to tourist.