SPOILER ALERT for the Orlando area. Central Florida was great! I enjoyed getting out and finding a few caches within walking distance of the conference center. One of my favorites was 5 Posts (GC1QH69), hidden in a small patch of jungle not too far off the road. I went to the GZ one day during my lunch break but could not find the cache. I went back and read the logs and was convinced that I'd seen where it was. Many of the logs said the name was of no help to us. The only thing out of place that I'd seen was a deer stand up in a tree. I spotted four metal spikes driven into the tree for climbing purposes. Could these be the "posts" that the name referred to? Where was the fifth then? I went back the next morning early but still came up empty handed. I was convinced it was up the tree but I couldn't get there. The stretch between one of the spikes was too much for my hurting knees so I decided to call a friend to come help me. Back at the conference I rounded up two friends to come with me. One was a lot younger than me and he agreed to climb the tree. He was up the tree in no time. The hint said that the cache was about four feet from the top. Could it mean from the top of the deer stand? Maybe it would be in the Spanish moss hanging there! But that wasn't to be. Where could it be. From his vantage point in the tree my friend suggested I check out a pine tree stump about 15 feet away. It was about six feet tall at the point where it was broken off. I was sure I'd been around that stump. So I went over and checked it out. There is was about a foot off the ground and approximately four or five feet from the top! How did I miss it? But why the name 5 Posts? The cache was an electrical box strapped to the tree. I lifted the cover and there was my answer. There were electrical five posts and a plastic bag with the log page stuffed inside. Now I understand the name. This was a unique and interesting cache worth a mention on the Andean Trekker. I'm gathering some ideas for Latin caches as I go. Thanks to my friends idea and his willingness to climb a tree for me I have another smiley and a great memory of my trip to Florida.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Today my consuegro (my daughter's father-in-law who is visiting) and I went after a cache along the Chaquinan Bike Trail between Cumbaya and Puembo, Ecuador. The real blessing is what you see and experience along the trail. The gorge is beautiful and the three train tunnels are a blast. You might want to bring along headlamps for that part. I had not but my trusty cell phone filled in. We parked our SUV at the starting point in Cumbaya and started off. The trail is similar to North American greenways. In this case it isn't paved and isn't really well cared for either. We made it out of Cumbaya and around the 4 kilometer mark we pulled of at the San Pedro portal/gate to look for the cache. Good coords and a good hint made for a quick find. From there the trail wound through several small communities, some of them Quichua with their fields of corn and cebada. The trail, being an old railroad, follows a relatively gentle slope, at times climbing and at times descending. Between Cumbaya and Puembo there is a huge gorge through which the Chinche River runs. The long straight descent allowed us to coast and make good time. At the base of that ride we crossed the Chinche River on a small bridge. The scenery was beautiful and this just had to be a stopping point. Every time you ride down the mountain it usually means you have to go back up it. We started our 2 kilometer climb up the other side of the gorge. Again the path was straight and the grade was easy. On this side of the gorge (east side) we passed through three railroad tunnels. They had lateral tunnels that opened to the cliff side, allowing light in and exhaust to escape. We stopped to visit one of the overlooks at the end of these lateral tunnels. The east bound leg of the trip took about 2.5 hours as my consuegro was not used to riding a bike uphill at 9000 feet above sea level. He comes from a place about 600 feet above sea level. At the end of the trail we were pleasantly surprised to find that they have added another 15-20 kilometers heading north from Puembo to Quinche. That will be a good section to ride another day. We found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant a block from where we finished the first leg of the ride and got a light "menu" meal. That means anyone who eats pays a $1.60 and gets soup, rice, mote, some kind of meat, and juice. Then we were off again. Having just ridden the trail I knew where I wanted to put the next geocache. We found the location (the name is a give away once you are on the trail) and placed the cache. Our trip back was more demanding than the first leg. We were both tired but we pushed on to finish our 40 kilometer day of bike riding. It was a great day. I recommend that you visit El Chaquinan - Portal San Pedro (GC2N6PT) when you get the chance. If you make the trip on to Puembo you can also be the first to find on Wulckow (GC2Q1P6).
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Thanks to Jimnet2005 Riobamba, Ecuador is getting its first nano-size caches. Recently while sumajhuarmi and I were visiting there we got to look for Riobamba Locomotive #15 (GC2JQQP). This nano is located near the center of town in a small park between two avenues. The cache page gives some of the history of how the railroad was built in Ecuador. Jimnet2005 has added a spoiler to help you find this one. Thankfully I had sumajhuarmi helping me. She made the find!
Sunday, May 8, 2011
SPOILER ALERT FOR ECUADOR - I had been encouraged to go after this cache because of the beauty of this place. So on a recent trip to Shell, Ecuador I made it a point to stop off for this cache. When we got to ground zero I was convinced that the cache owner had created an offset cache or that he had given us the general location of the center of town. In the cache description it told about the need to walk 20 minutes to get to the waterfall and that the cache was located behind the waterfall. From this information I was certain that we needed to head down to the waterfall. We asked directions and ended up going to the upper end of the waterfall. A fellow tracked us down and charged us $1 US each. Turns out that there wasn't much to his little park and observation point. We found out that we needed to go around to the east and climb down to the based of the waterfall. Off we went. The climb down is easy along a well prepared path. At the base of the waterfall is a nice restaurant, a hanging bridge giving a good view of the waterfall from a distance and then four platforms giving an up close view of the waterfall. The man who sold us our tickets charged us $1 but told us that there was a tunnel that required one to crawl on hands and knees that would get you to the back of the waterfall. The hint on the cache said it was magnetic and that you should look behind PAILON DEL DIABLO and that you didn't have to get wet. I crawled through the tight space and up to the opening behind the waterfall. I began checking all the metal railings, posts and bolts but no nano cache! The upper platform was being pelted with water from the falls. I withdrew to check the hint again and was convinced that I needed to go back. By the time I finished I was completely soaked. Still no cache. By the time I gave up and returned to the observation platform and my wife we had decided that this was one of those DNFs that affords a spectacular view making it worth the effort. Cache or no cache this was a great hike and a great waterfall! We climbed back out the trail and headed to the nearby town of Baños and our hotel. Along the way we got to talking and began to realize our mistake. How could I have missed it! The coordinates were correct and it wasn't necessary to go behind the actual waterfall, I was to look behind a sign with the name of the waterfall located up in the town! We spent the night in Baños seeing the sights and enjoying a visit with our daughter, her husband, their baby and her father-in-law. The next day after breakfast while the others hit the hot tub sumajhuarmi and I went back to Rio Verde to look for Rutas de las Cascadas: Rio Verde, Devil's Cauldron (GC2MW20). We parked and walked to ground zero in a small city park, found the small sign with the words PAILON DEL DIABLO and looked behind it. It was near impossible to look without attracting attention from muggles. No nano cache! Now it was time for me to phone a friend, in this case the cache owner. Unfortunately he confirmed that we were in the right place. It appeared that the cache had been muggled. Probably two months ago when the first finder found it he attracted attention and then someone came, found and took the nano. Thankfully jinmet2005 allowed me to claim this as a find. So, I completely fell for the clever trick jimnet2005 pulled. I should have known better. Yet had I just settled for the cache find and not gone to the waterfall I'd have missed out on the genuine experience that made it worthwhile. I highly recommend this cache -- since I know jimnet2005 will replace it soon -- and a visit to the genuine Devil's Cauldron cache.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
This is the second time I've joined up with jimnet2005 to go caching. What a pleasure it is to finally have an Ecuadorian caching friend. Both he and his wife, Maria Belen, came to our hotel in Banos, Ecuador during a weekend get away and took me off to show me their part of the country. The site of choice for this morning of caching was the Machay River and a series of waterfalls. The drive from Banos was short, only about half an hour. We parked beside the river and headed up the jungle path beside the river. The goal was to find Ruta de las Cascadas: Machay, a secret place (GC2Hp9F). It was a great time to catch up with my friends. They had visited me in Quito when we first met to do some caching. The climb was easy as we were at about 5000 feet above sea level as compares with the 10,000 feet plus we frequently experience in Quito (where I live) and Riobamba (where they live). Due to the surplus of oxygen we were able to make good time. We arrived at the GZ in about 45 minutes. At first my GPSr was guiding me away from the site so jimnet2005 prodded me in another direction. It was a good 60 feet off from the given coordinates so we submitted an update on the coords. After finding the cache and getting the necessary photos we headed down the trail to hide two more caches. I hid one and jimnet2005 another, bring Ecuador's total number of caches to 100! That's a milestone in our little country with just a handful of geocachers. Now the Machay River has caches at the first three waterfalls along the trail climbing up. Be sure and check out Ruta de las Cascadas: Machay, Las Orquedias (GC2M7H5). We headed back to Banos for lunch. If you get the chance to go down the Pastaza River valley from Banos towards Shell, be sure and pick up the caches along the way and up the tributaries that join the Pastaza. You are sure to see some beautiful waterfalls along the way!