What happened in 2016

5 01 2017

Every year I set targets for my geocaching activities but am finding it more difficult as the years pass. In the early days it was just a case of finding caches for fun. There weren’t so many which meant that whereever I was it was easy to hunt for the handful of caches that there were. As geocaching has expanded both in terms of active caches and active players and through a massive technology development with the ingress of smartphones and a plethora of geocaching apps (some good and some not so good), I have needed to filter out what I will look for. I hate all the poorly presented throw down micros that dominate the game these days. Rant over and back to my goals for 2016 and how well I did.

Targets and result at the end of 2016
1. Find at least one cache in Norrland.
In August 2015 I made a trip to Umeå and the boroughs on the way where I had previously not found a cache and when I got there had a thought about continuing north into the county of Norrland. When I saw the additional distance I would need to drive and the time available I decided to give it a miss. I still haven’t made it. FAIL

2. Find at least one cache in 10 new boroughs of Sweden
Of the 400 + caches I found in Sweden the furthest from home was just 130 km away so none were in a new borough. FAIL

3. Find caches in at least 3 more countries.
United Arab Emirates
Iceland
Jersey
Guernsey PASS

4. Find at least 10 more earthcaches
2016 was a great year for earthcaches and I found thirty six in total; one in UAE, twenty two on Iceland, five in and around Krakow, Poland, two in London, which we visited together with Jersey and Guernsey and five in Sweden, one of which was on International Earthcache Day. PASS

5. Place at least 3 new caches with different D/T ratings or types
I have built a handful of “gadget” and otherwise camoflagued caches that are still lying on my workbench in the garage. All ready for placement, but I have been too lazy busy to place them in the wild. FAIL

6. Find puzzle caches to complete the A-Z, 0-9 owner challenge.
When I looked at my GSAK stats for 2016 I thought there was a mistake. I found a mere eleven mysts during the year. I have said before that these are not my favourite types of caches but eleven? That’s terrible. I still have three owner name letters and four owner name numbers to find. Not a single one of them ticked off from 2105. BIG FAIL

7. Find ten new D/T combinations for puzzle caches.
From the eleven found mysts in 2016 none of them had a D/T rating that I was missing. FAIL

So, seven targets, TWO passes and FIVE fails. Am I unhappy with the result? Absolutely not as each of the trips abroad more than compensated for not getting up to the North of Sweden and placing new caches is just a day’s work if I set my mind to it. The disappointment I may feel (I don’t) was regarding my targets set around mystery caches. It’s now 2017 and I have new targets that are soon to be revealed.

END





New Year’s Day 2017

3 01 2017

New Year’s Day – 11 am. The sun was shining and the temperature was above zero. We just intended to go for a local walk in order to get some fresh air after a pleasant New Year’s Eve celebration, but the walk developed into a mini myst-cache hunt in Andersberg with a slight detour to Gävle Bro for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. I had quickly glanced at the geocaching map and seen that there were many mysts in Andersberg that I hadn’t solved/found. As I have written before, they are not my favourite types of caches. Anyway, there was a graffiti painting of two cats on #8 Katterna and I guessed (incorrectly as it turns out) that they were on one of the underpasses in Andersberg of which there are just four so we set off to visit them. The extra walk to Gävle Bro came on the spur of the moment as we passed the second underpass on to Skogsmurvägen.

By now we had stumbled on A-Hill 3 by chance. During our coffee break I worked out the coords for the cache and we started heading in that direction. Suddenly my partner stopped and asked if I had looked at the house wall to my right. I hadn’t, but there was A-Hill 5 and a quick calculation showed that GZ was on our walk home. Nice.

One of my newish toys is a Yaesu FT-2DR, an amateur radio handheld radio with built in GPS. It sends a signal by radio at an interval I choose and can be picked up on http://aprs.fi if you know my radio call sign. It’s fresh information and probably won’t be seen after a day or two.

APRS tracklog from my handheld radio

APRS tracklog from my handheld radio

It’s not like looking at the track log from a GPS but it is visible in real time. So our little walk around Andersberg confirmed that there are no cats there, at least not that we saw, but there are other caches there somewhere. Maybe there will be a new walk in the area next weekend?





Dan före dopparedagen

29 12 2016

There is no good English translation for “dan före dopparedagen”. The day before Christmas Eve doesn’t sound so special now does it? Anyway, it was a day whereby I was able to find a handful of caches before my muggle partner and one of the grandchildren tired and after the obligatory “fika” wanted to go home.

There is a mystery ring an hours drive away from home in Gävle called Malmjärn Runt, a name shared by an autumn car rally and Malmjärn being the name of a lake south of Torsåker. I am not a great fan of mystery caches as I never seem to be able to solve the mysteries without a huge effort on my tired brain. As a consequence a large majority of the fifty plus caches that the trail consists of have remained unsolved in my GSAK database. The trail was placed in March and by the summer I had solved and checked just over twenty, then I got bored. Of the remaining thrity plus some seemed doable and some were discarded as soon as the cache page was opened.

There were enough solved to warrant a trip out and of course, my expectation was to find all the twenty plus that I had solved. We started off at the red arrow and got as far as the “X” before I was convinced we needed to make a break and return home. Aargh! We had hardly started.

Just a handful of smilies so far but more to come

Just a handful of smilies so far but more to come

The first cache to be found was Malmjärn Runt 01 and of course as is usual with the CO’s trails of which he has a number, the container was a PET-preform hanging in a tree and relatively easy to find and pretty winter safe. Many of my earlier caches were regular sized tupperware type boxes “under a stone” in the forest and they all suffered and still do from damp problems. Lying under snow for half the year isn’t a great idea.

We progressed steadily from solved myst to solved myst and found the PET preforms at good coordinates. I even remembered to make a note of the codes that were written on the log strips which is quite unusual for me, I usually forget on the first handful of caches then it is too late to go back and make a note.

Blue skies, sun, +1C and a brisk wind blowing across the lake

Blue skies, sun, +1C and a brisk wind blowing across the lake

The sun was shining when we stopped for our sandwiches and coffee/juice but a brisk wind was blowing across the lake so we didn’t stay longer than necessary before jumping back into the car and heading home. I will be back.





Milestone

28 11 2016

I never thought I would make it!

As a form of celebration I award myself a geocoin when I reach a geocaching milestone. The last one was in September 2015 for achieving Platinum Earthcache Master status which entailed placing 3 earthcaches and finding at least 20 earthcaches in five or more states/countries. Finding earthcaches is what I find most fun and I now have found around 150 of them.

In addition to that I give myself a geocoin when I reach each 1000 finds and the last one in that category was for 5000 finds and that was in January 2015 at a cache in New Zealand A place for bunnies (Canterbury). Previous to that my 4000th find was in July 2013 eighteen months earlier so I was more or less mentally preparing to find my 6000th cache sometime in July or August this year. I usually spend a month each year in New Zealand geocaching but I gave it a miss this year so instead of finding a couple of hundred caches in January I was down to just three! Even October and November have been quiet months so I was stuck around 5980 finds for some time then slowly creeping up to 5996 before finally getting out on Saturday and finding the final four caches needed to reach 6000 finds.

6000 finds confirmed

6000 finds confirmed

Nice coin

Nice coin

They were all in Virvelvindas Kastsjön series and I started my quest by parking opposite Korsnäs paper mill, which looked quite “beautiful” in the low winter afternoon sun, before walking towards the first of the caches.

It looks better than it smells

It looks better than it smells

I had left my beanie in the car and regretted it. The cold wind froze my ears in no time at all as I walked from Kastsjön #9 – sodabrännaren to Kastsjön #8 – granen then on past Kastsjön #7 – två små röda hus to arrive at Kastsjön #6 – utsikt where I expected to find my milestone cache.

No cache here

No cache here

Unfortunately, the cache seemed to have wandered into it’s hidey hole and my fingers were too short to retrieve it so I had to move on to the next nearest cache which was Kastsjön #3 – puls which thus became my milestone cache. The container was quite special and took me back to my early days in Sweden to a job where we annealed these little containers but that’s another story. I won’t post a picture other than of the general location of the hide which was on the old log flume.

General location of my 6000th find - on a timber flume

General location of my 6000th find – on a timber flume

I was done just after three as the sun started to set. An enjoyable hour out in the cold.





A quiet October

15 11 2016

For various reasons October was a very quiet geocaching month, in fact an incredibly quiet geocaching month. In total I found three caches and was awarded two souvenirs and a badge for my profile.

International Earthcache Day 21016 souvenir

International Earthcache Day 21016 souvenir

Haunted Hides souvenir

Haunted Hides souvenir

I haven’t found so few caches in a given month since January this year and that in itself is unusual. January has been the month with most finds for many years. My first day out in October was on International Earthcaching Day which was on the 9th. There are not so many earthcaches where I live and with the exception of one I had found the others on previous occasions. This one, Brudstenen, is in the middle of the forest in an area I don’t often visit and as such I hadn’t already found it. The stone was quickly located and the necessary information gathered. As we were ready to drive off another car turned up. I was expecting it to be another geocacher but it was a hunter checking the area as it was the Sunday before the annual moose hunt in the area.

At Brudstenen

At Brudstenen

There is another cache just a couple of kilometers from the earthcache that has been on my to-do list since 2004. In the early days of geocaching we were just a handful of cachers in the area and the goal was to find all the caches the others had placed. This cache, N ölbo, was placed by Piggen who was a prolific hider in the day and was the reason we learnt the phrase “under a rock in the forest” which is where most caches were placed in the early days. A rough forest road took me to within about 200 m of the cache and the remainder was done on foot. Previous logs have complained about the terrain but I found it to be quite manageable. There were no boggy or overgrown areas. It was mostly moss covered boulders of various sizes and a couple of small mounds to pass. This time the cache was found “on top of a rock in the forest”. Visit the cache and you will see what I mean.

The route to the N Ölbo cache

The route to the N Ölbo cache

N Ölbo - on top of a rock in the forest

N Ölbo – on top of a rock in the forest

As you can see I managed to turn the knob on the top of my camera such that the colours were all messed up. The result wasn’t too bad – it gives the impression of a dreay autumn day, which is what it was.

My final find for October was on October 30 and this was a traditional cache just a couple of hundred meters from home where it had been sitting unfound by me for about six weeks. It was at a site that I had considered using to place a cache but I liked the implementation of this one. I can’t add more or I will spoil the fun for future hunters. The cache is Hands off.





Bike trail revisited

16 09 2016

Having to give up my drive around the Hammarby bike trail (link) because of a flooded road meant that I had a further dozen or so caches left to find. What better excuse for an after work cache run than that? I started with BT #038 and worked downwards in the series to start with.

The only challenge this time was if the tractor road between caches BT #032 and BT #036 would be usable by my Volvo. The ground clearance is not too brilliant. I was relieved to find that I could manouver around the rocks and pot holes the whole way with just one small scrape on something under the car. When I left the tractor road and got back to the larger road I could see that the flooding that had stopped me previously had just about disappeared.

The flood had abated

The flood had abated

I drove off to the east and rejoined the Gavelhytta – Årsunda road that I had left half an hour earlier and proceded on to BT #039 and upwards in the series. I enjoyed the break at the multi BT #045. I vaguely remember the old paper mill but it was interesting to see the memorial and read the dates when there was a mill there. It was early evening by now and the lake had a mirror like surface.

A mirror surface on the lake by the Hammarby paper mill

A mirror surface on the lake by the Hammarby paper mill

The final walk to cache BT #046 and then on to the bandstand through an avenue of mighty oaks was impressive.

An avenue of mighty oaks

An avenue of mighty oaks

The bandstand in Hammarby at the start of the bike trail

The bandstand in Hammarby at the start of the bike trail

All the caches were at good coordinates and some were visible from the road as I neared GZ. So I can now show the map with a full circle of smilies.

Completed trail

Completed trail





Bike trail

8 09 2016

At the end of June I completely missed a local event Cykelevent 2016, which was a shame. In the description of the caches the CO aplogised for some of the caches being placed so that private roads had to be used (quite OK on foot or bicycle but not motor vehicles), He also apologised for the dangers and hinders that we may encounter and the reckless drivers on the final stages. I guess this was just to ensure there were no unhappy bunnies after the event. However, I have finally got around to visiting some of the caches along the trail. A couple of weeks ago I went fishing in Igeltjärn together with my brother and his son (both muggles unfortunately) so we passed through Hammarby and followed most of the trail to get to our lake. What a wasted opportunity!

I am reasonably familiar with the area and the event description clearly informed that this wasn’t a trail that could be done completely by car. However, I knew where the limitations were so I decided to drive around what I could. So, on Tuesday I was able to get out to Hammarby after work and start ticking off the caches. I started at BT #004 and was able to get to BT #031 before my journey was abruptly halted. As you can see from the map below, I still have the northern and eastern parts of the trail to revisit.

The southern two thirds of the trail show smilies.

The southern two thirds of the trail show smilies.

I only had one cache where I had to spend more time looking than normal and that was BT #009. The hint was “Fallen hero” which was obviously the fallen tree at the posted coords. I searched high and low and just before I was thinking of logging a DNF I spotted it – right in front of me at eye level in a branch. I had been looking too low. Duh! A few hundred meters further on the road took a left turn at a junction and hit a narrower gravel road. Very typical for this part of Sweden.

A typical road in the forest

A typical road in the forest

The majority of the following caches were hooked on to branches of various kinds of trees. Normally we get the hint “tena”, which is Swedish for spruce of which we have millions, but this time the CO made the effort to place the caches not only in spruces (for which he apologised every time he placed one there) but in oak, rowan, pine, silver birch, sallow, aspen and alder trees. Some times he apologised in the hint for not knowing what kind of tree it was hanging which of course made things even more fun.

Now that we are into September autumn is starting to bring out the colours in the forest. Normally, it’s not so noticeable in forests of spruces and pines but here there was a larger variation of trees and there were more oranges and reds mixed in. There were also a number of colourful toadstools growing, none of which I would recommend even thinking about picking and eating.

Plenty of colour in the forest

Plenty of colour in the forest

Of the caches I found on the trail I think my favourite was BT #028. This was further in the forest than the other caches for which the CO apologised again, but was fun. It’s amazing how little you see in your peripheral vision when driving along a forest road. It’s easy to miss signs, houses, old bunkers and in this case a huge erratic. Now, for those of you who think an erratic is the drunk guy staggering along the street you aren’t right this time. An erratic is a geological phenomena. It’s a giant rock or boulder, often several meters across that has been deposited on relatively flat terrain by a receding glacier. So there so. That’s where the cache was placed. I didn’t see the erratic from the road but it loomed up ahead of me as I picked my way across the smaller boulders on the forest floor to get to it. Impressive.

Over three decades ago I fished in Igeltjärn quite regularly and normally drove into the area from Årsunda (in other words from East to West, so I know that the gravel track is rough in places but still passable with careful driving. The only time I had to turn around was after heavy rain as there is one spot that gets flooded and impassable for a normal car, especially with wide low profile tyres. This time I was travelling from West to East following the BT trail. Guess where I had to abort the drive? That’s right, at the flooded part of the track. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo but the telephoto lens has compressed the distance and of course cannot show how deep the water/mud is. I can assure you it’s deep.

After BT #031 I couldn't continue

After BT #031 I couldn’t continue

As a consequence I had to turn back, not the easiest of manouvers on a narrow forest road. It involved reversing the car a couple of hundred meters until a suitable turning place was found. As I had to return through Hammarby I decided that I would find the first three caches of the trail that were on a private road. I parked at the end of the road and walked in towards the village centre, being surprised by the vast number of oak trees, that everyone “knows” don’t grow north of the river Dalälven. I also found the bandstand but didn’t stop to explore. I have to return to find the rest of the series so I can spend a little extra time to explore Hammarby and the Ralph Erskine designed housing estate.








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