Reach The Peak

Geocaching HQ released yet another promotion to encourage Geocachers to play the game when the weather is … not favorable in the Pacific Northwest. Starting mid-September through February the weather is: rainy or windy or cold or all three simultaneously.

As you can imagine trying to fish out a nano log from a bison tube while it’s raining only to struggle with signing it and putting it back properly is as frustrating as installing a screen door on a submarine.


Kilimanjaro Summit

Reach The Peak was launched in the summer with a deadline in March 2022. The genius of this particular one is point accumulation resets every 30 days or so. The geocacher earns a digital souvenir for the first find: XYZ Base Camp.

Depending on the height of the peak in meters will determine the amount of points needed to be accumulated in order to reach the peak. For example, a Found It log equals 325 points.

Coincidentally, the Kilimanjaro Base Camp digital souvenir needs 325 points to be unlocked.

However, to reach the peak the points needed is: 5,895.

And as each month passes with a new peak to reach, this point total will increase accordingly. OH! And the digital souvenirs or peaks are not retroactive, so if you missed that opportunity … too-bad, so-sad, you’ll haveta to carry on.

Even better is if you collect all 14 digital souvenirs (2 for each peak, 7 peaks total) you’ll unlock and earn a 15th meta souvenir.

So … let’s get out there!

Caching With Carlos

2K Today!

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy” ~ German field marshal, known as Moltke the Elder, believed in developing a series of options for battle instead of a single plan.

As any experienced geocacher would do, I made a list of the final 120 some odd caches I needed to find to clamor up to 2,000 in May 2021. My plan was to finish up by the end of summer, culminating with the geocache titled: Shelrik’s Center of the Universe (GC1WYHN)

As with all plans … the Universe had other ideas.


The summer of 2021 proved to be challenging for me to geocache on a consistent basis amongst the other activities I inflict myself with: work, helping friends, social life, relationship.

I focused on finishing up the Washington State Counties Challenge because by virtue of finding these specific geocaches it would increase my find count simultaneously. Again, another strategic plan that worked … somewhat.

I LOVE ABANDONED VEHICLE HIDES!

That challenge cache guided me to visit family in the Spokane area as the counties remaining were all adjacent to Spokane county.

In June 2021, I ran off to Las Vegas with my bros which they are somewhat tolerable about my game play. I picked up a few more in the places that we visited because as we all know … geocaches are everywhere.

In the Pacific Northwest, with the sunny weather settling in, everyone crams 9 months worth of activity into the 3 months of summer. Between my outside house projects, having fun with my girlfriend, Sounders matches, the mask mandate being lifted … it left little time to geocache in my priority scale.

In July 2021, I added in the fun of West Coast Country Heat – the country western dance team I joined – parades and performances. Plus all of the above. I managed to prioritize Lake 22, Concrete and Darrington areas and Whidbey Island so that my geocache find counter kept bumping up.

By August 2021, I visited the Long Beach, WA, and Seaside, OR with my girlfriend, who also tolerates my geocaching game play, but doesn’t shut it down either.

Then … Geocaching HQ released yet another promotion to encourage geocachers to get out there – my slogan. Reach The Peak started on August 6th. Basically, finding geocaches equalled a point value. Each month has an assigned “peak”, and the elevation is represented in meters. As you gather up points, you gain elevation until you (yes, you guessed it) reach that peak.

MY race to 2,000 was renewed by this promotion! I was able to reach the peak in August, September, and October (I realize it’s only the first week of October) Finally, I was within 13 finds to 2,000.


The Final 13.

I had a rare, shared day off with WCP24 – my sister / consummate Geocaching buddy – yesterday (Monday) I explained my plan for the day: driving 3.5 hours southbound to the shadow of Mount St. Helens, and the surrounding area.

She was down for that even after returning from a long weekend trip to Disney World in Orlando. She got zero sleep the entire time, but I digress …

We loaded up the geomobile (2014 Subaru Outback named Millennium Subaru) for this perilous trip that’ll end with unpaved forest roads and car gobbling potholes.

We started off the day with a smiley, and it continued that way until the 13th: Sherlik’s Center of the Universe.

I didn’t want this to be the ending of Clark Griswold’s National Lampoon’s Vacation at Wally World: closed.

With much trepidation, we exited the Millennium Subaru to fan out for our search. The coordinates on our respective phones were bouncy due to the tree cover, and lack of a signal on the mountain.

FOUND IT! I was able to make the find to my relief. I would hate to think driving all the way out here and not complete the planned geocache find.

Find Number 2,000 – w00t, w00t!

We didn’t have a ton of time to celebrate as the time was ticking, we needed to get back to Lake Stevens, and it was getting late. So we kamikazed our way home instead of geocaching.


What’s Next?

I purchased the Geocoin of 2,000 Finds with it’s travel version in anticipation of this inevitable event. I’m gonna post this, and activate my coin in celebration. I definitely EARNED this one, above all others.

Until next time, let’s get out there!

Falconer_Swarlos

The Trail to TWO THOUSAND

I signed up for Geocaching on July 3, 2013 however … I didn’t find my first geocache until May 11, 2014. Yes, 7 years ago. And I’ve caching ever since.


I discovered quickly that within the Geocaching Community there’s diversity in the ‘types’ of geocachers out there. Since each player – geocacher is a human, this was not a surprise to me.

There are some players that focus on Challenge Caches only to those that occasionally geocache when they can. The way I play the game, I would say I’m somewhere in-between.

Why Geocaching?

If I had to pinpoint why I love this game so much I would gleefully quip: everything about it!

The end of Thunder Knob Trail: Diablo Lake and Jack Mountain in the background

It appeals to my outdoor sense of adventure, my natural curosity, my keen sense of observation, and let’s face it, it’s plain ole good fun. To celebrate my first 7 years of Geocaching, I’m gonna out there and find some caches instead of posting up at my computer!

Currently I have found 1,880 geocaches which will lead me to the milestone of 2,000! I also predetermined which geocache will be my 2,000th find: Sherlik’s Center of the Triad Challenge.

Let’s get out there.

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 6

Last day of the Challenge Cache Chasing trip! I feel like a champion on a press conference tour. Seriously, folks. Super Bowl, Daytona 500, and I’m paraded around for a week after the feat to celebrate this accomplishment.

First stop on the tour is Park City, Utah.

Feeling Olympic!

WCP24 wanted to drag me out to Park City, Utah because I’m a movie fan, and most likely could appreciate the host place of the Sundance Film Festival. Oh, and the host city of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

As I said, with a monster accomplishment achieved I was a movie star, or an Olympian, anyone held in high-regard so I readily accepted the invite. Besides, it was our last day therefore our travel day so I took my foot outta the gas as I resigned myself to returning to reality post haste.

WCP24 still asked if there were geocaches hidden around town, which of course, there were. We drove to the Utah Olympic Park first so we didn’t run out of time prior to leaving for the airport. The place seemed majestic even after 18 years of service. She explained that it’s an active facility for the USA Olympic Team.

After a handful of geocaches found, and lunch in our bellies, we wandered over to a few of the Sundance Festival screening sites. Apparently it just not one central place. Who knew? In fact, it reminded me of my local film festival of Seattle International Film Festival [SIFF]

I digress.

Lunchtime was upon us, which WCP24 had her suggestion for posting up …

NO NAME SALOON

Easily the most popular bar in Park City, and I can see why. Eccentric decor of aluminum beer cans made into airplanes, parts and pieces of abandoned equipment from long ago, etc.

We stuck with a liquid diet having eaten prior to arriving. That said, at some point I had to relieve myself. As I walk, I usually survey my surroundings. I’m odd like that. I noticed the smallest booth displaying No Name Saloon merchandise. Typical T-shirts, buttons, and so on. However, in the corner display facing me was something I couldn’t live without: No Name Saloon patch.

Our server was nearby, so I called her over. I asked how much, as I need to have this patch in my life as I collect them. She looked at me, and knew that I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“Ok, sugar, I’m not supposed to do this because of the COVID, but for you,” she paused. “I’ll work some magic. Gimme 5.”

I pursed my lips to a small smile, “Done. I’m gonna step away for those 5 minutes.”

After the restroom visit, she and I met up at the booth. Her hand extended across the glass shelf like retrieving a prized comic book for sale. My heart skipped a beat! Then I explained it to WCP, and now she wanted one … oy. I talked our server once more to getting that.

“I’m not supposed to sell it to ya, though,” she warned with a wink.

“No problem, thanks. Let’s say if you were to sell it, how much?” I inquired.

“10 dollars,” her reply.

With our bill paid, we called her over one last time. We slid 20 dollars over across the bar. I quipped, “Thanks for the excellent service!”

My Geocaching backpack or at the very least my luggage has a new patch to commemorate my Challenge Cache Chasing success.

Shoe Tree Park

We wanted to find one last favorited geocache prior to bouncing. We determined it was at Shoe Tree Park – we have a Dr Scholl’s Tree nearby our home in Washington State. One of the oddities of our vehicle’s built-in GPS is the directions of “prepare to bear [direction]”

We would laugh, and giggle as we mimicked a scary in-vehicle bear #ROAR – sadly, we took our feet clad with shoes (not from the tree) all the way to the Salt Lake City International Airport.

We had chased down a challenge, so it was time to return home for a new challenge.

Keep calm, cache on. More importantly, #letsgetoutthere!

Falconer_Swarlos

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 5

WCP24’s only request was one non-geocaching day, which I readily said yes to accommodate it. Besides, I wanted a break in the action as well. It would be a day of chasing down Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives restaurants while shopping.

All capped off with a visit-meet up with my friend, Janelle and husband, Ruben.

Red Iguana 2

Before you even ask: no, I didn’t ask for #bamboochicken! We slept in, because that’s what winners do … whatever they want. We had no itinerary on our non-Geocaching day. So we sought out lunch from a Guy Fieri Featured Restaurants. Unfortunately, Red Iguana was closed but not Red Iguana 2.

We needed fuel before shopping at the outlets located north. We loved the food, and atmosphere so much that we even bought T-shirts which we rarely do.

After lunch we drove off to the outlet mall for some #retailtherapy before meeting up my friend.

With COVID-19 still ravaging the planet, we decided to pick up food, so we could meet up in a park while manage our 6-foot social distancing from our different households.

Sugar, Sugar

We decided to meet up in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Park. One of the questions Janelle and Ruben asked us was the reason for our trip, to which we answer Geocaching.

She kept asking drill down questions about our game we love. At least I do. By the end of the conversation, she had downloaded the app with a username. Of course, there were plenty of geocaches hidden in the park so we invited them to find it with us.

It was complete happenstance that it was an awesome geocache to find for their first. Lost Keys was amazing! After a collaborative effort by everyone (Janelle, Ruben, WCP24 and yours truly) we were able to open the geocache container.

On the drive home, WCP24 wasn’t done finding great foodie places as I mentioned I hadn’t had frozen custard at Nielsen’s, Home of Concrete. The line for this place was ridiculously long but well worth the wait.

The drive back to the home was uneventful which is how I like it.

To be continued …

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 4

I could hardly sleep even though I was thoroughly exhausted from yesterday’s impromptu power trail under the sun. The final geocache is in my sights: Potter’s Pond (GC3B)

I resumed my role as NavCom considering I have the offline maps, and did the research on each of them on my list. WCP24 clamored behind the wheel to be the wheelman. We had some miles to pound before reaching the parking lot.

Potter’s Pond – GC3B

My adrenaline was seeping into my blood. This is it. The main event. It was an easier drive than those other Californian rallies.

I’ve been working on this for a hot-minute, and I really wanted to complete it during the 20TH year of Geocaching’s existence.

Like many geocachers, this August 2000 hide was necessary to finish it. Like many others, I chose this one to be the last.

Our research made us conclude that June 2020 would be best to attempt this one. We followed ALL the advice of previous finders, which helped immensely. Other than the time, we drove to Potter’s Pond Campground. Although at the fork in the road for campsites 11-15, or 1-10, we chose 11-15 (left)

We were seeking out Campsite 19. After we parked, we geared up with long sleeves and long pants. I found on my offline map GC2DK5A, and read the description. We followed that guy’s advice to find the TH [Trail Head].

We encountered a Muggle Dad and son at the trailhead. They asked us our intentions and direction of travel as they were loading up an electric bicycle and bike trailer.

He patted the equipment stating he was placing bear bait traps. WHAT. THE. F&#*%? I thought. Why don’t we leave those bears alone … we shrugged, walked to the GZ for Potter’s Pond 10 & 59 Birthday Bash

They quickly trekked past us as we were signing that logbook.

Next up?

We trudged up to Potters 2 Presents: International Geocaching 2014, GC5B2WB. They offered up coords to a downed tree to fjord the river. Again, we were grateful for the advice!

The sunny weather beat down on us; hot as balls. On our ascend, we stopped every 100 feet. The elevation and elevation gain was kicking our asses!

We finally hiked up to the GZ, and spotted the ammo can geocache immediately. We signed the logbook, took those obligatory photos and video, and dropped off TBs/picked up TBs.

We found a handful more on the trail now that the main mission has been completed.

We Go, We Go, We Geocache Home

We still had daylight to geocache back to Provo. We knew in our heart of hearts, we are not coming back anytime soon. So we might as well find as many as we can before we bounced.

Two in particular stand out in my memory. One is LPC The non urban version (GC1XZGV)

Totally worth the 80 + Favorite Points

The other was this one. 9800 feet of mountain with DK_Titan (GC1XWTR)

So .. it was time to fix that little oversight. I had a few people tell me that this was 9600 and not 9800. The state has it wrong. Their sign is in error.

~ firennice, owner of GC1XWTR

I wanted to verify their claim. With my compass, their claim was legitimate. The elevation was 9,800 feet above sea level exactly.

Victory Beers at Ruby River Steakhouse

Hot damn! My Jasmer Challenge is 99.9% complete. It’s as done as it can be before returning home so it was time for #victorybeers and nosh tough on food.

Our server was a lovely young lady that was all about the celebratory food and drink.

We trudged back to our hotel. We checked into this hotel yesterday evening. We explained why we picked this hotel because of Geocaching and our want to find Potter’s Pond the next day (now today)

TOTALLY DIDN’T INVESTIGATE THIS GEOCACHE!!

… that sweet man at the counter last night probably was wanting to share with us the geocache! And we didn’t know to ask, thought it was a LPC [Lamp Post Container] as usual.

Talk about a facepalm moment. So this afternoon when we returned triumphantly to the hotel we quietly hoped he was working tonight.

He WAS!

We asked about the geocache which he was delighted to hand it over to be signed. We managed to right this self-inflicted wrong.

To be continued

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 3

The flight options from Reno to Salt Lake City were very limited; ungodly hour in the morning or too late at night. We chose the ungodly hour in the morning.

Cha-Ching!

While we were waiting for our flight, I decided to play the video slot machines available. As luck would have it … I WON $200 prior to boarding.

The Golden Spike

After a miscue in the California vehicle rental center between WCP24, myself and the clerk, I made sure that we jumped into the desired vehicle for this leg of the trip: Jeep Cherokee Trail Hawk.

The hotel in Provo wouldn’t take us in at 8 a.m. – we assumed as travel professionals. If it was 1 p.m. I’d attempt it.

So many of you don’t know, but I’m a closet but confused train nut. Love’em, but don’t pursue it beyond this statement. I’m NavCom today, so I pointed to the Virtual Geocache at the famed Golden Spike.

It commemorates the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad where the Central Pacific Railroad and the first Union Pacific Railroad met on May 10, 1869. The final joining of the rails spanning the continent was signified by the driving of the ceremonial Golden Spike.

After photos and logging the virtual, we found a handful of traditional geocaches that were nearby. Then …

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

So I thought we were gonna bomb back to our Provo hotel, since it would be time to check in. WCP24’s face had an impish smile on her face, as she presented her new phone with full coverage of the GC map.

100 some-odd geocaches are located on this dirt road that we could drive down. From the driver’s seat, she suggests, “Lamp, whatcha think? Our first power trail? We have the gas, we have the time, and we have the determination.”

I shrugged my shoulders, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is all we need.”

Power Trail

We assumed roles for this situation. WCP24 would locate the next geocache with the words, “Regular, Left, and Sage”. Translated is the size of the geocache (regular size), side of the road (left, or right), and the hint (sagebrush)

In 90 plus degree sun with no protection from it, and no water in the vehicle, I would jump in and out of the air conditioning. She would creep us along 1/10th of a mile at a time along 8.2 miles of gravel road.

By early evening, we finally finished this 97 geocache long trail. We ended up with a final tally of 100 geocaches found for a new single-day find high total. If we ever tackled that again, I’d like a team to switch off.

I can STILL smell sage brush in my nose months later …

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 2

We woke up early once again for another long road trip. Feeling emboldened from our first find, we geared up for a treacherous hike in the redwood forests of northeast California.

From our online research there would be no signal, no help, and no more information than what little that was posted from previous finders. I drove this time, so WCP24 assumed the role of Navigation / Communication [NavCom for short] Thankfully, we had offline maps, written notes, our backpacks brimming with water, and Geocaching specific gear. For all tense and purpose, we were ready!

Vitreous – GC11E

The drive to this geocache was long, yet beautiful from Reno. In fact, I quoted my Found It Log as it summarizes the day perfectly.

On a tour de force of 3 famous, old geocaches hidden in the first year of Geocaching: 2000.

We drove from Reno, in a rental SUV with 4-wheel drive, 3.5 hours today. It was a sunny but cold day on the road, which is Highway 395.

WCP24 has some mad skillz behind the wheel as we scampered up the dirty, muddy road. We were feeling confident considering we found Yuba City (hidden September 2000) yesterday.

I’ve been documenting our journey with videos and still photos.

We followed the advice of craft40’s log information ℹ It was perfect! We had a slight detour at fork in the road of 45N04 – an albino cow mean-mugged us and gave us a bum steer.

Ha, ha.

Once we discovered the error, we drove back. Took a right to follow the Cachly offline map instead.

Those are well-worth their price, BTW! We practically drove up to this coveted cache. We were prepared for a hike in the mountains.

Yesterday we were woefully underdressed for Yuba City, Truckee, and the Sierra Nevadas.

Today we were overdressed! Can’t win for losing. I continued my documentary style videos and photos.

Once we found it, we inked the log, dropped off TBs, and SWAG. The entire experience was all anticlimactic as no fanfare, no velvet ropes parting, and no champagne falling from the trees.

But a smile of accomplishment crept onto our faces as we are now a Meatloaf song: 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.

We celebrated with lunch and a victory beer. After lunch, we packed up and listened to the sounds of the forest. No radio, no mobile phone notifications, just birds and a slight breeze.

The moment didn’t last as long as it took to drive here! Thank you for maintaining this special cache for the past 20 years.

Hope you’re on this for another 20 years! TFTC

Falconer_Swarlos found it log

We had hella daylight left, plenty of gas in the rental, and the enthusiasm of a successful adventurer. Now we have TWO year 2000 finds of the three we are seeking. So far, so good.

Once we decided to Geocache our way back to the hotel, along the Californian Highway 395.

Alturas, CA

After that anti-climatic geocache find, tailgate lunch, and victory beers, we were super confident of our trip thus far. We could relax while geocaching back from northeastern California to Reno, Nevada.

Alturas has a Carlos Street that we sought out for photos because that simply hasn’t happened in our travels together. As far as the clock was concerned, we were pacing nicely ahead of our itinerary.

At this point, any geocaching activity is being #extra so as we rolled into Reno we were winners.

Likely, CA

On the map the area of Likely seemed like a cool place to geocache before racing back to the hotel. Ironically, this is unlikely area to find geocaches hidden here.

After finding a handful of caches, we decided to take our victorious asses back to Reno.

To be continued …