I am a proud

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hiking in the Eco Reserve above Papallacta, Ecuador

There is a group of us who plan camping and hiking outing every two months or so. We recently went to the ecological reserve above the thermal baths at Papallacta, on the east side of the continental divide about two hours out of Quito. We arrived around 11 a.m. just as the rain started to fall. We ate a quick lunch in the car, got into our rain gear and backpacks and off we went. The guard allowed us to park and camp near the control point at 12,200 feet above sea level so our hike from our campsite took us up a number of switchbacks as we ascended to the first series of high mountain lakes. The trail grew increasingly slippery with the rain but the scenery was beautiful nonetheless. We climbed past waterfalls until finally arriving at a large unnamed laguna. There my two companions fished for a time while I prepared coffee on my light weight propane stove. The rain continued. This particular lake was at about 13,000 feet above sea level and my friends caught nothing. As we worked our way back towards our campsite we stopped at Laguna de Banos where they tried their fortune again. We all were hoping for a trout supper. I head ahead on the one hour journey back to the camp. I wanted my tent up and ready before sunset. As I descended from the lake region the rain stopped and I caught the first view of the day of the Antisana Volcano. Since I was ahead of my friends I was able to hide a cache near where we were pitching our tents. It is Campsite (GC2CKNX) hidden at 12,200 feet above sea level. We were all wet and with the setting sun came the cold. After preparing supper on my Coleman camp stove, eating and cleaning up and then using my propane stove to dry out my socks and boots, we were ready to get in our sleeping bags as the temperature dropped to freezing. Freezing in July close to the equator! Not uncommon at these altitudes. I snuggled into two sleeping bags to defend against the cold. Sometime during the night I woke and thought that someone was shinning a bright light on my tent. At first I thought my friend in the next tent was playing a trick on me. When I got out of my sleeping bag to check it out I found it was a bright full moon shining in a cloudless sky. As I stepped out into the crisp, cold air I was struck with the beauty of the Antisana Volcano. Antisana was shy during the day, hardly doing more than peaking out from the clouds. Her she was in all her splendor in the moonlight. What a sight! The next morning after breakfast we headed up a different trail. After several grueling hours of climbing we were again at 13,000 feet above sea level. Realizing that we would have to go off the gravel road and into the paramo we decided to head back. The paramo grass is thick and the ground after all the rain was marshy. We hadn't seen a vehicle all morning. Just as we turned to head back a pickup truck came along heading our way and we thumbed a ride. When back at our camp we decided to head up another trail to find another lake. All totaled we hiked about 12 kilometers, climbing all but three of them. Hopefully someone, a tourist most likely, will find the new cache, the only cache in this area.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ryan's Arrival Travel Bug

I recently celebrated a birthday. One of my gifts was travel bug tags. I'm new to this TB stuff so I decided to hold the tag until getting to the US to launch it. With the birth of my third grandson I decided to release one in his honor. I found a photo keychain and placed a photo of Ryan in it. This cache is my way of giving thanks to the Lord for the birth of Ryan Ethan Abbott on 21 June 2010 at the High Point Regional Hospital. Ryan's Arrival (TB33FDM) was released in cache RDU Travel Bug Hotel (GCB649) near the Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina with instructions that it should travel to Quito, Ecuador. We are spending a month in North Carolina and then we will return to Quito where I'll be waiting the arrival of the travel bug. I wonder how long it will take for this to get there?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Caching on the Uwharrie Trail (North Carolina)

Our summer vacation to North Carolina whizzed by so fast. We were blessed to be able to participate in a family reunion near the South Carolina border. On our way back to High Point, NC we stopped off to find a few geocaches in the Uwharrie Forest, a national park. We were on the trail for about an hour and did not see a soul. We found four caches. They were all ammo boxes designed to be found by the geocacher but unlikely to be stumbled across by a muggle. I've always though the goal of geocaching, at least for me, is that the cacher find the cache but that an unsuspecting muggle not. These were of that category. Sumajhuarmi and I hiked the trail from the Highway 109 trail head to the north to find several caches. The last one required us to back track to the parking area at the trail head, cross the highway and continue south on the trail. What a cache! I've never seen an ammo can this big before. It was full of swag, mainly oriented towards kids. We should have had our grandchildren with us this afternoon. If you get the opportunity, check out Uwharrie Treasure (GC1N18T). Now these are the kinds of caches I like. Not just because they aren't 4-5 star difficulty but because they are out in the woods and require a good little hike. There is so much to see in the Uwharrie Forest. I can't wait for my next chance (next year maybe!) to hike and cache this area some more.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dirty Santa

Dirty Santa (GC21WQP) was fun! I remember this cache from last Christmas. As our stateside assignment was wrapping up I got so busy that I didn't get around to looking for it. Now we are back in the Piedmont area of North Carolina to spend some time with our newborn grandson, Ryan. This morning I got out early to beat the heat and get some exercise. I walked the half mile or so from my daughter's house to the cache site. The description said it was behind the Community Bible Church so I walked into the parking lot and head to the back. It was early on a Saturday so I figured there wouldn't be anyone there. To my surprise it looked like some men had gathered to do some work. I ducked into the woods only about 200 feet from the cache. Immediately I lost signal and had to dead reckon to the cache. The first attempt went wide. I can't miss this one I thought. The clue said that if you can't find this one you might consider another sport altogether. The second time worked. Wow! This was probably the biggest cache container I've ever seen. And where was it? Right in the middle of a patch of poison ivy! I was ready with long pants. I worked my way to the cache through the smaller plants. Inside were wrapped Dirty Santa gifts, one per visitor. I made a trade, replaced the lid and didn't even try to hide this monster of a container. There was no use as it was pretty much out in the open. I made my way out of the woods at a different point so as to not be seen by the folks at the church. It was time to get back to the house to help out with the new baby. I think my job is to fix breakfast.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The High Point Greenway and High Point University

Today was a particularly hot day outside. I hit a number of caches in High Point, NC. My favorite ones were along the greenway starting at Armstrong Park. I started down the greenway and came to the ball field. Immediately I recognized it from the last time I was there back in 1966! This is the ball field where I played many of my little league games when I was in the sixth grade. I have fond memories of that place and those days. Being so young I didn't remember where the field was other than that it was in High Point. Our team was called the McDonald Cubs. We were sponsored by McDonald's back before the Big Mac. I recall that after each game we won the whole team got to go to McDonald's on Main Street for a coke, hamburger and fries. That was a big treat! Thanks to caching I was able to rediscover that piece of my past. I found Sitting by the Creek (GC1PRZT) and signed the log before heading further east along the greenway. After one more cache I was on the High Point University campus. What a beautiful campus with its red brick buildings, fountains and sculptures. I found two more caches placed by students who are obviously proud of their school. On the way back to the greenway Curtis, a campus security officer, stopped and offered me a ride. It was great getting a little A/C for half a mile to the green way. Check out HPU when you can. You might check in with the campus security first. I noted that they were particularly vigilant.