I am a proud

Sunday, July 31, 2011

North, South, East and West

Every now and then when caching opportunities are down to nothing I take a look back at some of the caches I've found. I enjoy seeing if they are still there, what the logs say, some the photos, etc. Recently I started thinking about which cache find was the most northern, southern, eastern and western on the map. All of my travels since I became a geocacher have been in North and South America. Here they are: North most: New one for us (GCAD23) - a virtual memorializing fallen firefighters north of Hartford, Conn. I remember how biting cold the wind was the day I found this one; Southern most: Cerro Nielol (GC2016P) - a regular in a nice park overlooking Temuco, Chile that I found with some friends who had never been caching before; Eastern most: Majo y Zou BUE Cache (GCN1VD) - a magnetic micro on an old large port crane used for of loading ships in the Buenos Aires, Argentina port; and Western most: Tarantula Alley (GCH4VZ) - I found this regular cache alone on a windy day when I crawled down into a deep gully overshadowed by several tall power-generating windmills on a butte overlooking San Jon, New Mexico to the north. Hey, what about you? Leave a comment on your cache find that is farther from home in one or all of the cardinal directions!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Piedmont Environmental Center caching hike

SPOILER ALERT FOR GUILFORD COUNTY, NC ---- It was Sunday afternoon and little did I know that a surprise birthday party was in the works for me that evening. My 10 year old grandson wanted to go geocaching with me. It is this way every time I come hope to visit. He gets excited about going with me but that only lasts several trips and he's bored with it. This time he wanted to bring a neighbor. We met at 3:30 p.m. and headed out. I'd decided to visit the Piedmont Environmental Center again as four new caches had appeared there since I was last in town. We got to the parking area and after a brief explication of geocaching and how the GPSr worked, off we went. Garrett, the neighbor boy, had been with his grandfather before but didn't know much about the sport. He seemed to enjoy it from the very beginning. We made our way through the wooded area working our way east towards High Point City Lake. It was great to find some regular size caches in the woods after so many micros in the city. One was actually a micro in the woods but it wasn't too bad. One cache had us following geo-trails all around a fallen tree and through the briers. Finally we looked up and there it was. Always remember to look up! On a nearby tree we found a rope wound around some hooks to let it down. As the hint said it was in plain sight....sort of. A quick glance at the watch told me that we had just enough time to hike half a mile to try a multicache. The guys were up for it and off we went. The trail was beautiful. All three stages of the cache were right on and we found the final stage in short order. I haven't done many multicaches so it was nice to get another one. We headed back to the car and made it back to my daughter's house in time to get cleaned up and ready for the surprise birthday party that I wasn't supposed to know about. It was great. What a way to spend the day of your birthday party! Please forgive the upside down photo. I tried to change it out but feared I'd end up losing all my photos if I tried to get rid of this one. The tree really wasn't upside down.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Laguna 69

Recently a good friend who lives in the high Andes of Central Peru posted some pictures on Facebook of his climb up to find Laguna 69 (GC29N6A). After looking them over I knew this would be a great cache and climb to promote on my blog. So give a welcome to low_rider73 as he describes in his own words his climb to this fabulous earthcache in the Department of Ancash, Peru.

During May and June, I invited a small group of college students down to help me do some research in the Andes Mountains. The team worked hard for 6 weeks gathering data, and so in their final few days in country, we had them come back to our town of Huaraz to enjoy civilization again and to do some excursions before heading back to the States. When asked what they wanted to do, they decided to hike to Laguna 69. I was excited because I don't have many opportunities to get out and hike like that and because I knew that it was an earthcache.

Therefore, on Monday morning, we loaded up in the truck bright and early and headed up to Yungay from Huaraz and took the path up past the Llanganuco lakes. Once we reached the campground beyond Yanganuco, we parked the truck on the side of the road and headed off on what we were told would be a 3 hour hike. Along the way, we past a few waterfalls, crossed a few streams, and climbed a few mountains. Although this Laguna gets a lot of tourism, the trail was in pretty good shape and wasn't trashed (as I expected it to be). After hiking for about an hour and 45 minutes, we thought that we were there, but quickly realized that we had another mountain to climb. After about 2 hours and 15 minutes of hiking, we finally made it. Wow, what an amazing place! The water is this brilliant turquoise color that is absolutely beautiful!

There were 4 of us hiking together and 2 of us made it a little quicker than the others. By time they arrived, Richard and I had decided that the glacier that sits above the lake looked too appealing to pass up. You see, we were told that you couldn't hike to the glacier because it was too far away and too difficult to get there. We decided, however, that it really wasn't that far away and that we were up for the challenge. Therefore, we left the other two behind and set off to touch the glacier. After one failed attempt, we backed down the mountain, regrouped, and headed off again on our second attempt. Fortunately, we picked a better route the second time and we actually reached the glacier for a few photos and such. After spending a few minutes there exploring a little, we headed back down to the lake to meet back up with our friends. Over all, it took about 2.5 hours to climb from the lake to the glacier (with the first time consuming mistake included).

Once we made our way back to the lake, our friends that were waiting on us told us that they decided that they would jump in the lake if we actually made it to the glacier. Therefore, we showed them our pictures as proof and they headed off looking for a private place to change into their swim trunks to take a dip in the freezing cold water. Much to our surprise, they actually jumped in, but it didn't last for long. They came out of the water about as quickly as they went in, but they did it!

After drying off and resting a bit, we all headed back out on the long journey back to the truck. Fortunately, the downhill momentum carried us most of the way, and so the trip back to the truck only took about 1 hour and 15 minutes (we were told that it would take 2 hours). Everything was going well on the trip back to the truck until we made it back to the campground. That was where we faced the final climb to get from the campground up to the truck. Not that it is that bad of a climb, but for the two of us that did all of the extra hiking and climbing, we were beyond exhausted and struggled every bit of the way up that little hill to the truck.

All in all, it was well worth every bit of it! If you are ever in the Huaraz, Peru area and have a day to spare, I highly recommend you taking the time to head up to Laguna 69! You certainly won't be let down by the spectacular view! (And if you want another challenge, climb up to the glacier overlooking the lake - I promise that it is well worth the extra effort!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Better Bear Trap

SPOILER ALERT FOR PIEDMONT NORTH CAROLINA Every now and then you see a cache that catches your attention. It can be because it is unique in design, in the way it is hidden or in the place it is hidden. Today I saw one that I really liked. It wasn't all that difficult to find. It was actually very easy. I like the simple creativity of the geocachers who hide these types of caches. When I first saw it I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. When it was time to sign the log I got to wondering if this were a functioning trap. What if I touch the bison tube and the whole thing springs on me? I poked it with my pen and then, with unnecessary effort, held the armed trap so it wouldn't close on me. Upon closer examination it became evident that the trap is rigged in such a way that it looks armed but will not spring on anyone. If you get to High Point, NC and get to do some caching, check out Build a Better Bear Trap (GC27HWZ) hidden very close to a playground at a recreation center. During the summer months there are lots of children in the area.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Riobamba: Salute to the Argentine Soldiers of 1822

The 9th of July is a special holiday in Argentina. It is their Independence Day. How fitting that I can tell a story of Argentine bravery on the battlefield to assist in the securing of Ecuadorian liberty today. During the early 1820's the South American continent struggled for liberty. The forces of Simon Bolivar in the north and those of Jose San Martin in the south continued to strip away Spanish control. On 21 April 1822 some of San Martin's Argentine cavalry were on loan to the forces of Bolivar as they fought in the pitch battle of Riobamba. The Argentine cavalry was commanded by Juan Galo de LaValle, later to become a political force in Argentina. LaValle had been sent out with nearly 100 men to reconnoiter the terrain on this rainy, muddy morning. The commanding general wanted to know where best to make his stand against the advancing Spanish forces. When LaValle came upon the Spanish infantry he attacked, even though the force was three times bigger than his own. The Spanish infantry broke and ran and the Argentines pursued them a distance, then turned and slowly meandered back towards the liberating army. This angered the Spanish commanders who ordered a full out pursuit of LaValle's forces. The Spanish charged forward in pursuit and found themselves entrapped as the rest of the liberating army was in position to defeat them. The victory at Riobamba paved the way for the victory on the slopes of Volcano Pichincha overlooking the city of Quito, Ecuador. This battle was the final blow in Ecuadorian's liberation from Spanish rule. So today I salute my Argentine friends and family recognizing the sacrifice that these heroes made so many years ago. Of the 1000 men who marched from Mendoza, Argentina to assist in the fighting in countries like Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, only six were in the force when, some fourteen years after the creation of the regiment, they marched into Buenos Aires. I also appreciate jimnet2005 for showing me the hilltop park in downtown Riobamba where part of the battle was fought. I had hoped to hide a geocache there but was not able to. I do recommend that you visit the park. Maybe you can hide one there!