Mega Sweden FAD 2018

8 11 2018

A week after WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018 it was time to attend another mega event. This time the journey was somewhat shorter as the event in question was Mega Sweden FAD 2018 just a 2½ hour drive north to Sundsvall. Last year’s FAD was in Uppsala and I went there with Madchicken and Ironhawk67. This year Madchicken had other engagements so it was just Ironhawk67 and I who made the trip. Of course, many other geocachers from Gävle found their way up to Sundsvall but all seemed to make a weekend of it and had driven up on the Friday. We just made it a day trip.

We made a short break on the way up to log Amors låda and Gubben i lådan, both with a high number of well deserved favourite points. I won’t spoil them by posting photos.

Our first stop in Sundsvall was the Mega itself where we registered and collected little goodies bag then wandered around. We found the fantastic dragon ”log book” which we duly signed.

FAD log(book) dragon

My nick on the log(book)

There were a couple of vendors of geocaching paraphernalia but to my disappointment the prices were much higher than at Geolympix so nothing was bought. I hadn’t bought anything at Geolympix apart from a few AAND’s as I didn’t think that there would be any difference in price but some items I saw were 10 times more expensive in Sundsvall and most twice the price.

Presentations at FAD

Mingle at FAD

We then drove into he centre of Sundsvall to do the daytime lab caches. On our way down we stopped for a very sneaky cache GC Sundsvalls Julkalender 2012 #6 St Nicholaus. A handful of people were there when we arrived but it still took quite some time before there was that ”aha” moment. I can see why the cache has so many favourite points.

The lab caches formed a multi of sorts with ten different places to visit. Each stop had a hint to the next so doing them in the right order helped even if it was not 100% necessary. Before setting off we stopped by the local kebab place for lunch. We needed energy for the walk around town.

FAD daytime lab caches

One of the lab caches was at the top of the stairs in Hotel Knaust

Once the lab caches were all found we ticked off a few trads and a virtual before getting to Panic Room, another highly favourited cache. The container was very special and I must admit to not having seen one like previously. We rounded the afternnon off with a Wherigo Sundsvalls stadspromenad. I couldn’t get the Wherigo loaded onto my iPhone but Ironhawk67 had no difficulties getting it on to his Android phone. In this case the problem was more probably the operator and not the phone.

We headed back to the FAD site to load the evening caches (GPS and smartphone) but stopped on the way up to find a couple of simple trads and a nite multi Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This was a (very) short firetack trail that took us to a box with the final coords.

I normally use the standard geocaching app on my iPhone (usually as a complement to my Garmin GPS) but that doesn’t have the ability to load GPX files. I can see that I will have to invest 50 SEK for Cachly or 65 SEK for Looking4cache pro to get that functionailty. I also need to update the OpenStreet Map on my GPS to the latest version as the one I had didn’t show most (hardly any) of the tracks in the area around Södrastadsberget but the smartphone did of course.

After loading the night caches and warming up we set off again in the dark to find the multi FAD Sundsvall 2018 #1 – Tarzanstigen. There were other cachers out there in the dark and they had fun finding an alternative route to the cache.

Some cachers taking a short cut

We found a couple more trads before calling it a day and heading back home. I didn’t take a photo of the view over Sundsvall during daylight so I have to make do with this one in the night. Still quite a good view.

Sundsvall by night

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WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018

2 11 2018

Last year I participated in my first Mega event which was Mega Sweden FAD 2017 as it ws not too far away from home. As I still had some frequent flyer miles to use I decided to visit WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018 as it was conveniently located less than an hours drive away from one of my brothers, and more relevantly the one that geocaches. He is half of ”zelger” and they had never participated in a mega and when I told them about my positive experience at FAD they were in.

I am not a keen myst solver and neither are they, however, we scratched our heads on the Friday evening and solved a handful of mysts. There was some lively discussion about how a myst can be listed as a letterbox/hybrid cache and even if we agreed it was stupid to give them that classification just because the CO stuck a stamp in the cache container of what is clearly a myst. It should be classed as a myst. Yes, I have read the geocaching guidelines, but I don’t need to like them. Rant over.

We started our journey mid morning and as always in England there is heavy traffic on most roads. When we got to Berkhamsted a closed road got us stuck in long queues. We finally made it and found a good spot to park on the road that passed by the night cache hub near Ringshall. Our reasoning was that there was probably going to be less traffic leaving from there than the main road in to the event site.

Even though there is no ”Allemansrätt” (free right of way) in England the woods were open for all to use and even though there are many paths we needed to leave them from time to time. As we meandered towards the event location we logged a few of the handful of mysts/letterbox hybrids we had solved including Hotter/Colder – WG2018: “Ice Cold in Ashridge!“and some of the Big G mysts such as Big G: Hanjie

Ashridge is a National Trust site where the Bridgewater Monument can be found. The main estate is popular for walking free in a forest which is not so easily done in England.

Bridgewater Monument

As we approached the event location we wondered if everything had been called off. There was a small party tent with no walls for registering at the event and for TB and geocoin exchange. There was no-one looking after that so if you were interested in trackables you just had to hang around and assume that everything there was dropped. When we were there, I was able to find nine trackables. I’m sure that if I had hung around more would have turned up. There was a stall selling a wide array of geocaching goodies and JJEF demonstrating his gadget caches of which I have found quite a few on earlier visits to England. We had a good chat.

JJEF caches

Otherwise, there were just a couple more stalls and a couple of lab caches that we didn’t bother with. We could log one lab cache and that was by pure luck. As we walked towards the event we met a guy in a green sweatshirt with a word printed on the front of it. We had no idea it was Simply Paul the main organiser. We then found that a lab cache consisted of finding Simply Paul and using the word on his sweatshirt as the key to the lab cache. Easy, peasy as a famous TV chef would say.

Not hugely impressed, we headed off to find Read The Flippin’… Yada Yada: WinterGeolympix’18. We couldn’t have missed it if we tried.

A “Large” cache

Our path then took us towards Tim & Jon’s 1st Re-Stashed (UK’s 3rd oldest/Eng#2) via The Mossy Tree which was house in an ammo can, a not too common site these days.

The Mossy Tree: Join the queue to log it.

A few years ago half of zelger and I had been in the area to find Coombe Hill, which is the oldest cache in England together with a very interesting visit to Bletchley Park, so it was great to now find England’s 2nd oldest cache.

I’m used to wandering around Sweden’s evergreen forests so it was quite a change to be walking through a forest of deciduous trees. Many of them were sweet chestnuts and there were a few people out picking them up from the ground. Roast sweet chestnuts are a delicacy.

We wandered back to the cafe and joind a long queue to get a cup of tea. The coffee was terrible by all accounts. We also took the opportunity to find a letterbox/hybrid cache Rescue This & Save the World! Winter Geolympix ’18 located indoors where we probably spent more time logging the find than was needed, but it was much warmer than outdoors.

A letterbox/hybrid in a warm location

Of course, we arrived on a dry day that gradually changed for the worse. After early afternoon drizzle we were treated to rain most of the afternoon that got heavier as dusk fell. We found our favourite cache of the day TrOll FREE in the dark as the rain turned to sleet. We headed back towards the car arriving there at 18:30 where we decided that another bunch of night caches probably wasn’t our ”cup of tea” so we left and headed back to zelgers home for a meal and a beer.

Will I visit again if the Mega is repeated? I suspect not and it had nothing to do with the weather, just that the set-up mostly based on mysts was not to my liking.





Sandhurst

1 11 2018

After our pleasant family day out in London I spent part of Thursday on my own as the others had to work. I took a local train to Sandhurst which lies about 50 km to the west-south-west of London city. From the station I made an anti-clockwise circuit around the Yately Lake fishing ponds and the nearby Swan Lake Park.

Sandhurst circuit around the ponds

The pleasant walk of about 5km took me to 15 caches of which 12 were placed by the same cacher, VR7. They all had a consistent theme and that was wood. Most were gadget caches or camoflaged in some way, so it certainly made a pleasant change to the PET-preforms that are now so ubiquitous. There were a number of fishermen in the area but it seems that they know that there are caches along the paths so they are used to people ”foraging” in the bushes.

At BRPW No 3 I made my 7000th find. The cache was a birdbox with a simple mechanism to release the container but it was a little different. I wondered what BRPW meant and it stands for Blackwater River Path Walk, so now you know too.

My 7000th find!

The next cache along, BRPW No 2, was also a birdbox and of course had a different mechanism.

A well constructed birdbox.

The only cache that gave me some head scratching was Under wood. If I had read the clue I would have known where to look and the small log would have been an obvious cache container. I won’t spoil all the caches by showing photos of them so that means I won’t say which cache this sneaky little hide was found at.

A sneaky litte hide barely visible where it was placed.

Needless to say all the caches were in good condition and it was a good warm up for Geolympix on the Saturday.





Clerkenwell London EC1

31 10 2018

My last visit to England was in April but I had no opportunities for geocaching. This visit was made in order to participate in GC75FTF WINTER GEOLYMPIX: ASHRIDGE 2018. As it is about an hours drive from where my brother lives it was a great opportunity to catch up with family and make a couple of small geocaching outings.

On Wednesday both my brothers, one with his wife and one of the daughters in tow descended on Kings Cross station for a wander around the nearby area of Clerkenwell using the CAMRA Guide to real ale pubs in London as our starting point.

As we were starting our wander at Kings Cross Station it was only natural that we should visit Platform 9 ¾. There was a long queue of Harry Potter fans waiting to have their photos taken with wand in hand. I sidestepped the queue and took my selfie from the side then moved on.

Platform 9 3/4

From here we walked north to the Regent Canal and the new gasholder apartments that have been built. The whole area was industrial wasteland for a long time but is now a super trendy and extremely expensive place to live. A penthouse apartment was on the market for £7 million!

A lock on Regent Canal


Expensive gasholder apartments

We followed the canal eastwards aiming for the first pub on our list. Along the canal bank we found Narrow Minded which both zelger (my brother and wife geocaching team) and I gave favourite points to due to it’s construction and placement. I won’t post a spolier photo.

After finding the cache GC3Y2QD Calthorpe at the gates of a small park we wandered on to the next corner and the Calthorpe Arms. Lunch was great value in this pub as was the quality of the beer.

Calthorpe Arms

From there we passed through a couple more pubs where real ale was served before walking down the pleasant street Exmoouth Market with small ethnic shops, stalls and cafes arriving via a short stop at the Exmouth Arms, at Bone House in Spa Field Park just as a police drugs bust was going on.

As zelger really enjoy multis we decided to try The Smoothe Field Mystery and spent an hour or so visiting 7 waypoints before arriving at the cache. As we were also sightseeing it was a great way to see parts of Clerkenwell that we would otherwise have missed.

For example, at step 4 we found this bed of nails and behind it a colourful wall mural. The spike were painless according to my youngest brother who tried it out.

Resting on a bed of nails

Decorative ironwork at Smithfield Market

An alien in London

Another alien in London

I found the alien mosaics fascinating and it seems that they are a very common sight in Paris but can be found all over the world. I recall seeing one on an earlier occasion but don’t remember where.

Near to the starting spot for the multi was a virtual from 2001 that we just had to visit. A Meating place for Martyrs. Yes, the spelling is correct as it is close to the Smithfield meat market.

We were now happy with our day in London and headed for the nearby Farringdon tube station to start our journey back out of London.





Rossholm Trail

17 09 2018

These days if I want to do any geocaching that doesn’t involve solving convoluted puzzles I have to drive some way out of Gävle. Because of it’s geographical placing on the east coast that usually means driving in every direction but east. There are active cachers 40 km to the west but very few to the north and south. I decided for about the fourth time that I should do more caches in Uppland and was intending to do the RH-trail when I visited a friend who lives in the village of Näsmo half way between Fagerviken and Hållnäs. I stayed there so long that there was no time over for the trail. I only tried to find Hållnäs Kyrka but DNF’d it.

Today my luck was better. I made a detour to Älvkarleby, Laxön to be more precise, as Carl XII bridge is being repaired and I wanted to see it as well as the photography exhibition on Laxön. That of course took time so I set off for Hållnäs later than initially planned. When I got there I went back to the same place I had searched before and after a couple of minutes I found the micro hidden in a very neat way in the signboard. Nice.

From there I headed off for the RH-trail which runs on a wide gravel road between Fågelsundet and Hållnäs. There are 32 caches and of course I chose to do the trail in reverse order. At the first spot, a car was parked. Typical I thought, so had to drive to #31. As is always the case on a trail, I was expecting the CO to use similar containers and that the first one would give an indication of what to expect.

It looks like a kind of birdbox

This was an unusual type of container that I had only seen a couple of times earlier. I wasn’t to see many like on the trail either, as the containers were a mixture of small round tupperware type or birdboxes or micros. I love birdboxes as they are muggle invisible (obviously they can be seen but they are usually completely ignored by muggles.

Birdbox

At #22 there was a sign pointing to Degertrusket an area that looked inviting. Obviously as I was on a mission, I didn’t have time for a detour like that so I will have to come back another time, preferably not in the moose hunting season.

Degertrusket

I found a couple more caches but got frustrated at #20. The hint was ”Inte två/Not two” meaning that I was looking for an ”En/Juniper”. The only problem was that there were dozens of them! I finally found the micro hanging in one of them. I guess it was within margin of error for my GPS but I decided to call it a day, but being curious I wanted to see the lookout tower that was market on my topo map as being just a few hundred meters further along the road. It was impossible to miss but wasn’t open to the public. However, as I had got out of the car I walked the 100 meters to the cache #12 before driving on to the asphalted road between Fågelsund and Hållnäs where I turned right and headed home. I’ll be back as it’s a pleasant area and I still have a couple of dozen caches to find there.





Norrland 2018 Part II

26 07 2018

Luleå, some 735 km (460 miles) north of home, was the point furthest to the north east that we visited. From here our journey took us more or less due west. If we had taken the shortest route it would have been just 240 km but we made a detour through Boden then up to Storforsen on our way making our route 325 km.

After a good hotel breakfast we set off towards Gammalbyn where we found a modern virtual cache Världsarvet Gammelstads kyrkstad and a micro at Tribute to Deo Gloria. Vi then visited friends in the nearby Sunderbyn before driving on to Boden. As I also enjoy urban exploration (UE) this is a place I could have spent a few days in as there are so many old and disused installations. However, considering the set up for the trip I had to choose just one place to visit and that was Rödbergfortet. Of course, we had to look round the town centre first, but finally got out to where the interesting things are!

No longer forbidden to be here

Entrance to Rödbergsfort

Rödbergs fort

Rödbergs fort

After the visit to the fort I found Anl. 1 followed by Point FortyNine. It doesn’t mean a thing to me but my son-in-law spent a year at I19 in Boden and he remembered it immediately.

P49

As we were approaching Älvsbyn I saw the sign to Storforsen and as it was just 42 km off our route (all distances are larger in the north of Sweden) we drove upp there. I have visited once before sometime in the eighties when I was working in Piteå. It’s impressive and also has a regular size cache there Storforsen.

Storforsen up stream

Storforsen downstream

We carried on to Arvidsjaur feeling thankful for a working A/C in the car. We had memories of our holiday in the south of Sweden in 2010 when the A/C packed in and all the workshops were closed for the Swedish summer vacation. It was as hot then as it was on our trip north this year – 25-30°C and a tough journey.

The only thing we stopped to see in Arvidsjaur was a local shop selling Same artifacts where the favourited cache Same same but different was cunningly hidden in a wooden figure outside the shop.

Our stop for the night was in Arjeplog at a hotel that was converted into a hostel. Bring your own bedding and get a full hotel breakfast for a reasonable price. Of course we had to grab a few caches, the first one being A tribute to Einar. We also visited the picturesque wooden church with a view over the lake Hornavan.

Arjeplog church

Interior of Arjeplog church

From here we started our drive homeward making a brief stop in Sorsele for a quick Park ’n’ Grab cache at SORSELEGÅRDEN.

Timber in the form of forest was just about all we saw during the day, apart from a few reindeer that insisted on occupying the road in several locations

We saw plenty of reindeer on our journey

and quite luckily, the DMU running on the Inlandsbanan which is a single trip per day in each direction.

This train full of tourists passes by once a day,

We had just stopped for coffee and a cache at Meselefors. I nearly stepped on this adder as I was about to have a bio break.

I nearly stepped on this little creature

Björn Lindströms art on a Same tent

The slightly larger community of Storuman gave us a good glimpse of The Wild Man.

The wild man in Storuman

Vildmannen as well as a short visit to the railway station for another quick Park ’n’ Grab cache.

Storumn station – a design typical in Sweden

Our next overnight stay was in Vilhelmina, at the old church village. Several of the cottages are now available for tourists to stay in. We were on the first floor of one of them and it was stifling hot, so despite open windows it was difficult to sleep. We spent the evening looking for a shop selling Swedish food delicacies from the north and close to Vägval we had success. We ate a really good meal there. I chose reindeer sausage, moose steak and smoked pork together with great side dishes.

A great meal stop just outside Vilhelmina

I had started hunting for a letterbox cache Filmtime during the evening and found the musical box hidden in a birdbox up a tree but got stuck at the final location. Contact with the CO confirmed I was at the right place and yes, I am going blind! Early the next morning before people started to work I revisited the final location and there was the cache! It was quickly recovered and the log book signed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my stamp and pad with me nor a notebook to use the cache stamp on, but I enjoyed the cache hunt.

A musical box in a birdbox just out of reach

Our next county was that of Dorotea where we hardly saw anything of a community, just the petrol station for refueling the car and the camping site where Doro Camp Dorotea was located. The cache container was a birdbox attached to the camping site sign and in plain view. It has over 50 favourite points.

We carried on to Strömsunds county picking up a total of four caches and getting a DNF on Anslagstavlan. We spent ages looking for something yellow but gave up in the end as there were a lot of muggles and we simply didn’t find the cache! At least the cache E SJ 952 was easy to find.

An old steam engine SJ 952

Even though Östersund is a biggish town we didn’t actually find any urban caches in the county but one outside along the road we were on and that was just because I needed a bio break after all the coffee and water I had been drinking earlier in the day. The cache was aptly named Vatten and involved pouring water into a tube to get the cache container to float up to the top where it could be grabbed and the log signed.

Our stop for the night was in Bräcke. We stayed in the motel in the centre (if you can call it a centre) and was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the rooms and the food in the restaurant. We walked over to Bräcke Kyrka 1, where we found a cache but no church.

By now we just wanted to get home as the heat was becoming quite tiring and the only county that we stopped in was Ånge where we found a couple of caches including Hjulet and getting really frustrated that I couldn’t find Urväxlad.

In all I logged 31 finds on our 1800 km (1125 mile) trip that included a couple of letterbox hybrids and a virtual cache. Of course there were some DNF’s but no too many. The main thing was that I had found caches in Norrland, the last state in Sweden where I had no finds. It also added sixteen new counties to my finds leaving 120 of 290 to find.





Norrland 2018 Part 1

19 07 2018

One of my many short to medium term geocaching targets is to find caches in each of Sweden’s twenty one regions. It has been on my list of targets since 2014 and was nearly achieved that year. I made a trip up to Umeå but ran out of steam due to poor weather and didn’t drive the extra couple of hundred kilometers to get to Norrland. See Västerbotten.

A long term target is to find a cache in each of Sweden’s counties, but the process is slow as Sweden is a fairly large country.

Last year I even booked hotels in Umeå and Luleå for a planned trip that got washed out at the last moment. However, this year I made it. As I had my muggle partner with me I knew that there would be nowhere near as much geocaching as I would have liked but I am happy to find a cache or two in each new county that we visit. (In this post I will use Region and County as done on geocaching.com but actually prefer to talk about County and Borough as done in GSAK).

My original plan was to drive up through the inland of Sweden then back down the coast road (E4). At a later stage in the planning I reversed the route as I thought it might be quicker to get to the far north on major roads rather that the smaller roads in the inland. As I have found caches in most counties up to Umeå that was the first overnight stop, two in fact, so that we could explore the town at a sedate pace. Of course, not geocaching whilst in Umeå meant I had a couple of other geo-locations games to fall back on. Ingress and Wallabee. In the latter a good many really low numbered cards were dropped in a small area of Umeå and I should have got up there in 2013 to pick them up but waited until 2014 by which time the best ones had already gone. There were still a fair number there now so I picked up a couple of dozen to trade on.

Geocaching started in the county of Robertsfors, still in Västerbotten, with Tövalite.

A helpful cafe owner pointed this one out for me

From there we made a short hop up to Lövånger where we had a look around the old church village and church then grabbed a cache by the canal joining two lakes together. This was my first find in the county of Skellefteå and the first find in Norrland, the last region needed to have found a cache in all of Sweden’s twenty one regions.

If the goal had just been to find a cache in Norrland, we could have turned round here and headed for home, but we wanted to see more of the north.
The second cache was Utedasset which was the most favourited cache of the ones I visited.

Nicely decorated!

The county of Piteå was next on the agenda and we spent a while in the town centre after finding a cache I was very curious about namely RACER copy light v1.1. This was a really ingenious cache so if you don’t want to spoil the fun jump down the page a paragraph or two. I had guessed traffic lights and here we found three ”lights” in a roughly made wooden container. Shining a torch on the front of the cache lit up small points on the bigger ”lights” that gave the numbers needed to unlock a code padlock.

Cache opened

Shine a light and get numbers in the “traffic lights”

There is a long power trail near Piteå so if I had been on my own or with geocaching friends some or all of that would have been on the agenda. As it was now, I was content to find the favourite cache in Piteå and Tribute to “Tredje gången gillt” which was just a few meters from where I had parked the car.
We walked around town with an obligatory ice cream as the temperature was around 28C. I was able to relieve some memories of Piteå from when I was a frequent visitor at the beginning of the 1980’s.

From Piteå we carried on to Luleå which was our next overnight stay. Once we found a suitable place to park the car for the night and had checked into the hotel we went out for dinner and found Quiz! Vilken geocachartyp? – Vägskyltscacharen which was a straightforward trad but in a well camoflagued container then the Letterbox/Hybrid cache Festlig fanfar!

That was a fun cache that took us around a few streets in central Luleå to a real letterbox where the cache was hidden.

Final destination for Festlig Fanfar!








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