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.





KBT

9 08 2016

It all began about a month ago. A few caches on a new trail were published in Gävle in mid June, just before we went away on vacation to Iceland and as a consequence no hunt was made until we got back home. In fact, the six first caches in the series KBT (Kungsbäck Trail is my guess) were just about the only caches I found before we left for Jersey. In the beginning there were just a handful of caches on the trail but it has successively been expanded to that today there are forty caches and more anticipated.

Most of the dots are on the KBT trail

Most of the dots are on the KBT trail

So what’s special about this trail? Nothing as such except that I have visited the area six times so far and still have ten more caches left to find. Kungsbäck is a former military area and is more or less closed off to car traffic and demands the use of a bike or shanks’ pony to get around. I have been lazy and stopped by on my way home from work and grabbed a couple or three caches before continuing on.

On the geobike

On the geobike

I made an effort to find the remaining caches last week by grabbing the geobike and biking to Gävle Bro then in to the trail. I gave up the hunt as I neared the southern end of the trail and biked home due to the torrential rain that decided to visit the area. I don’t mind getting wet but what usually happens is that the log books get wet too and that’s no fun for the next hunter.

Nonetheless, the visits to the trail have been pleasant and I have seen some of the wild life. I nearly cycled over an adder somewhere after KBT-24 which was sunning itself on the track but when I stopped to take the photo it wriggled off into the grass.

An adder on the track

An adder on the track

As I was nearing KBT-25 I noticed a wooden gate in the bushes and because of my curiosity I stopped to see why. There was what seemed to be a man made pool about 10 x 20 m and a little jetty sticking out into it. Why? Who made it, when and what is it’s purpose? Anyone know?

A weird little pool. Anyone  know how it got there and why?

A weird little pool. Anyone know how it got there and why?

By now I still had many caches left to find so returned to Gävle Bro again the day after and this time on foot I looked for KBT-16 to KBT-9, only failing to find KBT-10. Of course, it was found the day after. Grr. As I was nearing KBT-9 where I turned around I saw a baby thrush on the track, and it was still there a few minutes later when I returned. I hope it’s parent was looking after it.

A baby thrush on the track

A baby thrush on the track

So guess what I am going to do after work today? I hope to be able to find KBT-31 to KBT-40. If I am lucky this could be drive in caching. If I am not it will be a 5 km walk.





Husbyringen

25 07 2016

A couple of months ago we visited Stjärnsund where were enjoyed a walk around the lake collecting a handful of caches along the way. I said then that I would return during my summer vacation to do some of the power trails in the area. The most significant one after Dalälven PT (115 caches most of which I have done) is Husbyringen (111 caches) followed by VTIH16 (30 caches). Things didn’t work out as planned due to a bout of food poisoning that knocked me out for the last few days of my summer vacation, so my day in southern Dalarna didn’t occur until the weekend after my first week back at work.

We started at Husbyringen #30 as it was the first one we reached from our home in Gävle. I am pretty certain I have stopped here earlier on some geocaching trip to Hedemora or similar and signed the log but not logged it on the site. As there was a new log strip in the cache I couldn’t confirm that so it will just be one of those nagging thoughts that pops up in my mind from time to time.

PRESS STOP. Looking through my GSAK database of finds has solved the nag. On 2014-05-24 I found GC3RR6B Husbyringen by Knatos, now archived.

The first few caches were quickly logged before we made a detour from the PT to Silvehytteå and the canal. A perfect time to have a coffee break too. Silvhytteå canal joins the lakes Fullen and Grycken which formed part of an important water transport system between Edsken, Silvhytteå, Stjärnsund and Långshyttan during the heydays of iron making in the area.

Silver birches with nodules and the lake Fullen in the background

Silver birches with nodules and the lake Fullen in the background

Silvhytteå furnace

Silvhytteå furnace

Silvhytteå canal with passing boats

Silvhytteå canal with passing boats

There was plenty of activity in the locks during the time we were there. My first visit to Silvhytteå was probably around 2006-07-02 when I found GCWV8B The Ring # 4 Silfhytteå by ohrn, again long since archived.

So off again and towards Stjärnsund where we had planned to stop for lunch. The outdoor temperature was now in the high twenties and in the car over thirty as soon as I turned off the AC. Our lunch stop in Stjärnsund was to grab the “tunnbröds rulle med extra allt” that we ate on our last visit (It’s a thin chapatti like bread with a couple of hot dogs, mashed potatoes, fried onions and shrimp salad.)
It was apparently a market day so the place was swarming with muggles and the queue for food was long.

As soon as we could we left and continued on the trail as the temperature soared. It felt like the time we were on the ET Highway but more humid. We kept on until we reached Kloster where I last visited on 2006-07-02 to find GCWV8K The Ring # 7 Klosters krutbruk. So ten years on and I am revisiting Husbyringen, the main difference being the huge difference in the number of caches between then and now.

We decided when we reached Kloster than we had done enough and headed off to Långshyttan for an ice cream then home. I hope to get back soon and put a few more smilies on to the map.

Husbyringen is now about half done

Husbyringen is now about half done





Guernsey

14 07 2016

The ferry journey from St Helier, Jersey to St Peter Port on Guernsey only took an hour but it was enough time to enjoy a quick lunch onboard. We could see coming into port that St Peter Port was much smaller than St Helier and had a much steeper profile. We found out how steep as we walked up from the ferry with our luggage, which luckily was wheeled. We stopped on the way to find Dandilly’s Wedding series: The Transport but the DVD case that was the cache container had slid into it’s hiding slot and needed a revisit with appropriate tools to extract it.

View of St Peter Porting from the Jersey ferry

View of St Peter Porting from the Jersey ferry

After puffing up the hill and checking into our hotel we decided to do some exploring and walked the kilometer or so down to town. We were pretty close to Rooftop View but there was just a slight hinder. We had to walk back up 126 steep steps to get there. Phew!

View over St Peter Port from "Rooftop View"

View over St Peter Port from “Rooftop View”

After a great evening meal we walked back up to the hotel. The morning after started with drizzle that turned into rain so by the time we got to the bus terminus we were rather wet. Because of the poor weather we jumped on a 91 bus and for the princely sum of £1 each we had a two hour round island trip. On the way we saw the sign to Little Chapel so once we got back to the bus terminus we forked out another pound to get the bus there. We were so interested in the chapel I forgot to look for the cache that was there. Looking at the clue I am certain I was just within centimeters of the cache. Duh!

Entering the Little Chapel

Entering the Little Chapel

Inside the Little Chapel

Inside the Little Chapel

Detail on the wall of the "Little Chapel"

Detail on the wall of the “Little Chapel”

The weather cleared up and when we got back to St Peter Port we started to look for Twixt. Not as easy as it should have been. There was a protest meeting in the park – something about building a car park there – so we waited until they were done beforestarting our hunt. The GPS pointed me just inside the park boundary and then outside it. We walked round the block before discovering a small path three quarters of the way round. Once we were in the right spot the cache was an easy find.

A protest meeting delayed our search for "Twixt"

A protest meeting delayed our search for “Twixt”

Beautiful hanging baskets were everywhere

Beautiful hanging baskets were everywhere

We paid a visit to Victor Hugo’s home which is now a museum. What a strange taste that man had, dark and egocentric. We passed by this interesting sign.

We couldn't find a cache in La Cache

We couldn’t find a cache in La Cache

We also had the opportunity to watch some of the soap box derby which was quite fun. No-one got hurt but a few of the “cars” got damaged and lost wheels on the way down over the ramps.

Soap box derby in St Peter Port

Soap box derby in St Peter Port

Our final cache find in my forty fourth caching country was at Victoria Tower which you can see to the right of the first photograph above.

Victoria tower and a captured German field gun

Victoria tower and a captured German field gun

Both Guernsey and Jersey are very different. Guernsey felt a bit too small and compact for my liking but it was great to have visited both the islands. We stayed in London for a couple of days on our way home but did no active geocaching. Food poisoning in London had me decked for the last four days of my vacation then it was work again. With the exception of an hour’s geocaching in Sweden after our trip to Iceland I haven’t done any during the vacation. I had great plans but the result of the food poisoning put paid to those. I wonder where our next trip will be?





Jersey

10 07 2016

You would expect that a four week summer vacation would be ideal for geocaching but in my case it seems that life gets in the way. After a great week on Iceland I had about ten days at home and only had an hour to hunt for caches. It was on the spur of the moment so that was without my GPS, just my iPhone 4S (I’m too cheap to upgrade) and the official geocaching app, which is nothing great. As usual too much “lull lull” and eye candy for the masses. I hope it improves. What I was able to do in that hour was to find the first six caches in the new KBT trail in Gävle. Apart from that I haven’t done any geocaching at home.

Then came another trip away from home and the opportunity to add a new geocaching country to my list! I had heard that the channel islands were a nice holiday destination so we decided to visit Jersey, Guernsey and England in one trip. It’s not cheap in the summer as it is a holiday destination for many and there are so many local transports involved. There isn’t a cheap charter option from Sweden that I know of.

We flew from Arlanda to London Gatwick on Norwegian keeping our fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be a cancellation. Everything worked well and the flight was on time. We had a few hours to kill at Gatwick but as we had to pick up our luggage, transfer from the one terminal to the other, check in with British Airways and eat lunch the time was filled with activity. Arriving at Jersey aiport was in diametric contrast to Gatwick. It’s a minute airport! We grabbed the bus into St Helier and made our way up to the hotel where we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had been upgraded to a suite. Way to go!

We were also relieved to find dry sunny weather, which we were worried about as it had rained there every day in the week up to our departure from Sweden. After spending an afternoon sightseeing in the rather compact town of St Helier (pop 28,310) and not coming across a single cache in the city centre that wasn’t a multi with a GZ way off the starting point we called it a day then the next after a hearty breakfast we decided to walk to Le Hocq

Looking towards Jersey Tides earthcache

Looking towards Jersey Tides earthcache

This is a walk of about 4 km and gave us the cache to find find a couple of traditionals and an earthcache at Green Island – Jersey Tides -on the way.

Low tide from "Green Island"

Low tide from “Green Island”

At Le Hocq there is one of the thirty plus towers built towards the end of the 1800’s to warn of impending attacks from the French. This one in Le Hocq is on the reverse of Jersey’s £1 notes. Yes, they have their own currency even though UK pounds are valid there but not the reverse even though they are on parity from a monetary value point of view.

One of the thirty odd watchtowers from the late 1800's

One of the thirty odd watchtowers from the late 1800’s

One good thing about Jersy is that you can get a day pass on the buses for £7.50 and a trip around the island only takes a couple of hours. We used it to get to St Aubin which is a small village with a picturesque harbour.

St Aubin harbour

St Aubin harbour

View south from St Aubin

View south from St Aubin

From St Aubin, we jumped back on the bus and continued on to Corbière Lighthouse, where I found Corbière Lighthouse Viewpoint. The earthcache La Corbière was not accessible due to high tides. The height difference between low and high tide is over 9 m making it the second greatest in the world. There is an unbelievable focus on the German occupation of the island during the second world war that I found to be rather excessive. There are still bunkers all over the place and many are now tourist traps. The place would look a lot better if most of the concrete blocks dotted around the island were removed.

One of many types of WWII fortifications on the island

One of many types of WWII fortifications on the island

A cache find at Corbière

A cache find at Corbière

One of the local inhabitants at Corbière

One of the local inhabitants at Corbière

La Corbière Lighthouse with the tidal causeway just visible

La Corbière Lighthouse with the tidal causeway just visible

From here we continued on north to the small harbour at Greve de Lecq where we found Greve de Lecq Tower. The bus then headed back to St Helier where we jumped off then got on a bus to St Catherine on the east coast. We stopped for afternoon tea in Gorey which is another picturesque harbour at the foot of the impressive Mont Orgeuil Castle. A short walk to a secluded beach lead us to Petit Paw a letterbox hybrid.

Petit Paw letterbox hybrid

Petit Paw letterbox hybrid

As our short stay was not focussed on geocaching except to be able to tick off a new geocaching country making this number forty three, we only found nine caches, but enjoyed a relaxing stay on the island. From Jersey we took the ferry to the smaller island of Guernsey which has quite a different character.

Leaving St Helier with Elizabeth castle in the background

Leaving St Helier with Elizabeth castle in the background

Food for thought?

Food for thought?





Southern Iceland

25 06 2016

We were now more than half way through our stay on Iceland and of the thirty one caches we had found eight of them were earthcaches. During the remaining days we were able to clock up a further twenty eight caches of which fourteen were earthcaches. The focus on earthcaches was by choice as I really enjoy them and Iceland has a fantastic geology that makes that part of geocaching really fun. The only downside of things is that it takes much longer than normal to log all the caches. I hate reading “TFTC” logs on my caches and will always write something meaningful in my logs and give as complete as possible answers to the owners of earthcaches.

Now we decided to tempt fate and visit the attractions on the Golden Circle which of course meant rubbing shoulders with bus load after bus load of muggle tourists. On that particular day we found ten earthcaches and two traditional caches . I can understand why Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfossen are major attraactions in Iceland and as they are pretty close to Reykjavik they are ideal for the masses to visit. We had to elbow our way forward on the viewing platform at Þingvellir and there wasn’t a chance that we could take any photos without hoards of people in them. The only thing that surprised me was that it was possible to find a regular cache, Thing Sites: Thingvellir Lögberg, right in the middle of the area in plain sight of many hundreds of muggles without anyone paying the slightest bit of attention. I have never seen such a concentration of selfie-sticks before. Adonis, move over.

Visiting Þingvellir with bus loads of tourists

Visiting Þingvellir with bus loads of tourists

Between Þingvellir and Geysir we made a slight detour on a pretty rough road to find Do you know Pillow Lava? and had the added bonus of seeing where a family had lived in a cave – in relatively modern times – and overheard muggle Swedish tourists at the sign explaining in Swedish that it was a near relative to them that had been born in the cave. Amazing.

The Icelanders who lived in a cave

The Icelanders who lived in a cave

The pillow lava was just as amazing but in a completely different way. Imagining that the area was under water during the eruption of the volcano was hard to fathom. For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip. I have seen large waterfalls and glaciers all over the world but never pillow lava!

Close up of pillow lava.

Close up of pillow lava.

Pillow lava earthcache.

Pillow lava earthcache.

We then carried on to Geysir where we spent ages waiting for the geyser Stokkur to spout and missing it several times. In the end the batteries in my camera packed up so I had to do with the photos I got at the tail end of a spout.. Very impressive formation though.

The geyser Stukkor in action

The geyser Stukkor in action

Our next stop, of course, was Gullfossen. We were after all on the Golden Circle following the tourist hoards. It is a mighty waterfall and when the rainbows are present it is worth its name of Golden falls.

Gullfossen

Gullfossen

Our Golden Circle tour differed a little from the commercial offerings that we made a detour to the Grindavik, to look at the soon to disappear NRTF station then on to the Blue Lagoon where again there were hundreds of muggles queing to bathe in the translucent milk white stinky waters.

Cocktails at the Blue Lagoon

Cocktails at the Blue Lagoon

Lava field Illahraun at the Blue Lagoon

Lava field Illahraun at the Blue Lagoon

On our final full day in Iceland we were a little undecided as to whether we would drive north towards Hraunfossar where the water is ejected from the side of the fells or if we should visit a glacier. As we had already seen a number of waterfalls the choice fell on the Sólheimajökull glacier to the south.

We stopped by the side of the road before reaching the turnoff to the Sólheimajökull glacier and read on the sign that we were at the foot of the now infamous Eyafjallajökull. There were photographs to show the area before during and after the eruption in 2010 of the volcano under the glacier, that caused so many difficulties for air travellers over most of Europe and even further afield. My brother and fellow geocacher, zelger, with family got trapped on Madeira only to be “rescued” by a luxury cruise liner that took them back to the UK in style, all inclusive. I am stilll green with envy.🙂

I have finally learnt how to say Eyafjallajökull!

I have finally learnt how to say Eyafjallajökull!

Don't pass this sign!

Don’t pass this sign!

The glacier Sólheimajökull.

The glacier Sólheimajökull.

We also wanted to see something that is typically Icelandic and that it the puffin. We read that there were colonies at Dyrhólaey so we continued on in that direction. There was a cache at the turn off from the main road, Li’l Dyrholaey 2 with a guardian that was very curious about what I was doing.

A curious muggle

A curious muggle

The area at Dyrhólaey has two parking spots, both with fantastic views and interesting geological formations. Well worth the visit. The road up to the upper parking was a bit rough but our rental car did a great job. I wouldn’t have taken my car up there! The only puffins we saw were in flight at long distance so we didn’t see their characteristic beaks which was a shame.

The black sands at Dyrhólaey

The black sands at Dyrhólaey

Sea arch at Dyrhólaey

Sea arch at Dyrhólaey

The lighthouse at Dyrhólaey

The lighthouse at Dyrhólaey

One thing that we couldn’t fail to notice in the country was the presence of lupins, not the ones we are used to but Lupinus nootkatensis, the Nootka lupine, which is native to North America. They have become a problem and seing the extent that they cover the ground in some areas I can understand it.

Lupins as far as the eye can see.

Lupins as far as the eye can see.

Our final stop on our southern journey was at Vik and the closeby Reynisdrangar, a rock formation that of course has a few folk stories attached to it.

The rock formation Reynisdrangar.

The rock formation Reynisdrangar.

We stopped in Selfoss on the way back to Reykjavik where we found a couple of traditional caches and the earthcache Unusual Geological Formations: Ölfusá.

A pseudocrater at Ölfusá

A pseudocrater at Ölfusá

Rather than drive back the same way to Reykjavik we made a detour and found this little pearl on the coast – Strandarkirkja. The local community had made a very interesting map over the area that they had posted in the church car park. Visit it!

The little church at Strandarkirkja

The little church at Strandarkirkja

View of the Atlantic from Strandarkirkja

View of the Atlantic from Strandarkirkja

Fom here we visited our final earthcache which was a 1,3 km long lava tube of impressive proportions – Raufarholshellir. From the photo you can see that the basalt “roof” is not that thick and has very pronounced cracks between the basalt coumns. There are, however, some very impressive ice formations in the tube so with the right equipment this is a great place to visit.

The gigantic lava tube Raufarholshellir.

The gigantic lava tube Raufarholshellir.

So that was Iceland in a one week visit summarised in three short chapters. Was it worth the €2500 we paid for the week? Yes, but not if you compare it financially with a week in Croatia or the Canary Islands. There is an fantastic nature to explore and sights that you won’t find anywhere else, all in a fairly compact area. The beer is tasty but at the prices they charge you are better to abstain. Would I go again. Yes, definitely, if I win some big money.








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