I’ve signed up for IronMan Arizona 2011, so my life has quickly become put into time boxes of swimming, cycling, running, and other activities to support these 3 – like yoga, spin classes, strength training etc…
So that means I have had little time to go just geocaching and probably will limit the posts I make this year.
I have set up a separate blog about IronMan training for those that are interested, but didn’t want to assume all you geocachers want to hear the details of a swim technique and heart rate monitors!
I came up with a creative way to combine both the geocaching and IronMan training by selecting the Highway 52 bike path geocaches. I have seen these listed as I go through the Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Hall of Fame geocaches bit by bit. And every time I think to myself “I’ll bring my bike and do those next time” but never have. So a great excuse to combine some bike training in with finding geocaches!
The recent rains in San Diego meant it was a little muddy on some of the paths…and I was sad to see that there were too many geocaches that are no longer active and need to be archived. I spent too much time searching for geocaches that were not there to find. But did manage to find 13 geocaches on the day and get a 10 mile bike ride.
My favorite geocache of the day was a surprise….it called us to walk to a yucca tree, and the trail was very muddy. I expected to have to look through bushes and then turned a corner and saw this very large geocache. Amazing it has survived for such a long time, but then again, who is going to come here and then carry this off on their bike?
What kind of a geocache would Santa hide? A webcam with a link to the North Pole? A puzzle that would keep you busy all day on Christmas? Well I found out what Santa and His Elves would hide in this local geocache.
What else is a better match for Christmas than Geocaching?
Christmas is a great time of year to get out and geocache. You often are travelling and visiting family – so you can find geocaches in new places. You can share it with family and friends and introduce them to this treasure hunting fun. And you can work off a bit of the festive food through walking, hiking, or biking to find the geocache.
Last year I saw a geocache pop up on my local area pocket query called “Christmas Card Lane” and it was only available for ~3 weeks around Christmas. By the time I got around to go and find it, it was no longer available. Darn! Santa has other work to do during the year, so I understand he can’t commit to keeping this up all year.
So I’ve been waiting all year for this geocache to pop up again. It came at the same time a neighbour told us about a local street that decorates their neighborhood and all the locals go and walk or drive through the area. I searched my geocache query and found the geocache I’d been waiting for within this neighborhood. It was meant to be!
Did you see who hid the geocache? It was Santa and His Elves! How exciting that he maintains a residence here in San Diego, California.
We drove down the street and admired the neighborhood, the locals have put a giant “Christmas Card” on each front garden with a different theme. Some have Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh or The geocache was located in a bush in front of Wallace & Gromit….that’s me in front of Santa’s geocache.
I didn’t see Santa at the house – he was probably very busy delivering gifts to people across the world. Merry Christmas to All!
Tags: geocache hides
Have you ever attended a MeetUp event? I just went to a Geocaching hike in Mission Trails and it was great!
I was doing a random search of local MeetUp groups in San Diego and came across the “Geocaching San Diego” group. I watched it for a while being that voyeur of social media and then saw this event pop up for Mission Trails hiking….as I’m trying to get more of the Mission Trails geocaches, I thought I’d give it a go.
We arrived at Mission Trails and found parking and could not seem to find the geocachers thinking they would be a group at the edge of the car park somewhere. There were lots of bikers and some hikers but no geocachers….
Then we realized that the invite was in true geocaching style and we had to meet at the spot of a geocache (Picnic – GC1C5P7). We walked to the spot and true to form in the bushes was our fellow geocachers for the day…Androyd, FDEdge, and SueBox.
We had a great hike in the Spring Canyon area of the Mission Trail Park. We tackled some hills to get the heart rate going and to enjoy the geocache find even more – it feels better when you’ve earned it!
We got to do some bushwhacking (i.e. no trail existing and you just have to make your way through bushes to get the cache).
We even got to do some back-tracking when Androyd left his hiking stick at 4 geocache finds ago….we walked back to each one until we found it. Just don’t tell his wife he nearly lost it!
Here was the geocache hike map that Androyd sent out – so these are the finds he had, which matched our cache find map pretty well.
Our hike finished with a respectable 12 finds and 7 miles of hiking, so a good workout too. I felt good later when I ate pizza, salad, fruit smoothie, 4 babybels, and asparagus risotto. Yeah, I know….but I was hungry!!
Have you been on a Meetup group for geocaching before? After this one, I’ll be going again.
I was recently in Tempe Arizona for the IronMan competition. You can read my prior post with information listed here, including a video with statistics about the competitors.
Whilst in Arizona, I couldn’t resist grabbing a few geocaches in the local area. So I hired a touring bike and picked up a few geocaches. Here’s the local map with a few of the geocache finds I found.
There was a few interesting geocaches here with some Math exams and some Webcam geocaches to find around the town. Apparently webcam geocaches are no longer allowed and have been grandfathered. You can still find these lovely little cache types on the Waymarking website instead.
There was one geocache that used my brain and walking skills a good test – there were 3 webcam waymarking geocaches to find – to then be able to come to the final puzzle geocache. With the lovely iPhone I went to the website and kept refreshing the page until we could see ourselves. At that point, I used the magic iPhone trick to take a screenshot of the site and “wha-la” our picture proof was done!
Can you see those little people in the photos? That’s me!
Have you been on a fun adventure with a webcam geocache?
A couple of friends told me they wanted to do the Arizona IronMan as part of their bucket list in their life a few months ago. I’ve been spending the past few months thinking “should I, could I” questions.
In case you don’t know what an IronMan is: It’s a really long triathlon where you swim for 2.4 miles, then road bike for 112 miles, then finish it off with a 26.2 marathon run. Even when I type this down, I go “Oh My!” at the thought of it. The cutoff to finish is 17 hours but the best people do it in 8-9 hours. Amazing, truly amazing what the human body is capable of.
People are likely crazy to do this, but the event seems to be gaining in popularity as most of the IronMan events sell out on the day they open. In fact the Arizona IronMan race (that the friends had chosen as the race they wanted to do) suggested that you volunteer to help out at the race 1 year prior so that you got in the priority line to sign up and register.
So off the group of us went to Tempe Arizona to watch the race, volunteer, and sign up for 2011.
I caught moments of the day on video and put in lots of interesting statistics form the event – like how many people were part of the race, how many finished, the oldest competitor, the winners, and event the last person through (at 16:56 hours). We heard and met about the great Chrissie Wellington, a british gal (love her already) that responds to your tweets, eats burgers, breaks world records, AND stays to the end of the race to meet the last finishers. An amazing kind hearted woman bringing a great face to this sport.
It’s a healthy video length at 6 minutes, but had to give the 17 hour race it’s justice.
Yes, I have indeed signed up for 2011! That means I’m now going to have to do things like swim in a pool, buy a road bike, and learn how to run. It’s both an exciting feeling and also a “what the hell did I do” feeling at the same time.
358 days to go….Nov 20th 2011
There are some areas that have no geocaches…and some areas that have so many you wonder how they all got there, and how many trips it would take to get all of them.
Mission Trail Regional Park (MTRP) is one of those areas in San Diego. There are 389 geocaches in a 3 miles radius shown below classified as the MTRP Hall of Fame challenge in May 2010. You can read about this challenge put together by FlagMan as 7 Halls of Fame around San Diego. There are more that that now and in a wider area….in case you need more to keep you coming back to Mission Trails.
Saturday Nov 6th, 2010 at 9am was the biggest race of my life….a 12 hour adventure race in Otay Lakes.
I’ve done a few adventure races this year so I knew what to expect in the disciplines of biking, hiking, kayaking, and orienteering. But the longest race so far was at 6 hours, so this was going to be at least double that length.
Full Disclosure Moment: I had been training with the Equinox crew in the area, and was part of the “testers” of the course, so I can’t claim full adventure racer credit on this as I had a good sense of the distance and routes to take. I had only done one leg at a time, so putting all three together was the achievement of this race.
We start with the pre-race packing…prepared the night before by using a checklist and my prior knowledge of how my body responds – for example knowing I get hot spots on my feet, I laid out the moleskin and duct tape to wrap my feet in as I got dressed in the morning. If you want to know more about checklists, check out this prior post.
The morning alarm goes off, we get dressed, have some breakfast of a bagel for the carbohydrates and ‘easy on the stomach’ aspect….then get in the care and drive to Otay Lakes.
On arrival, we get to see lots of familiar faces (Equinox, Las 5 Marias, Jen & Michael…) and also a few new ones – to us as well as a few newbie adventure racers. A good turnout indeed!
We get given the maps – and there are 6 of them…you know it’s going to be a 12 hour race when you are given 6 maps! Barrie gives the race briefing and folks are planning out their routes for the day. The difference in this race to the other ones I’ve been in is the order of the disciplines.
Usually I’ve done kayak, bike, then hike. This time the order was bike, kayak, then hike. There was a need to finish the kayak before sundown and Barrie planned for the hike to be done at night to add to the night orienteering aspect (see that hill over there….oh yeah you can’t).
The countdown from Equinox leaders (Barrie & Steve) begins…5,4,3,2,1…and the pack is off of over 30 bikers. We start heading towards the trail and the first challenge arrives. The park gates are locked! Now remember that I knew this from my “tester” knowledge so Bangers & Mash turned to a different trail before hitting the park….and we soon had the pack following us.
I have NEVER been head of the pack, so it was amazing to see the speed (and sheer craziness) of this experience. The first downhill and people were tearing it up! A few people go their early fall off the bike (mine came later with serious pain…) and the pack was gone in a flash.
I did learn the lesson that YOU SHOULD NOT ALWAYS FOLLOW THE PACK. One person makes a decision, then a couple follow, so you assume they know what they are doing. They don’t!! Bangers & Mash watched as the bikers made turns that added 2 miles on their route, or didn’t look for the only electricity pylon in the trails where the first checkpoint was and climbed the hill missing it completely.
We can claim the credit of being first to checkpoint 1, which was a nice ego boost.
Ok, so the bike section was hard. I mean the longest and hardest bike ride of my life. Check out the route from my GPS when we did the test run. It’s 5,000 elevation climb and 26 miles. Whew!
See the full flash version on the Everytrail website Otay Mountain Truck Trail Loop at EveryTrail
After getting the first checkpoint, it is on the Otay Mountain Truck trail and just a long hard slog uphill. Bangers & Mash started mountain biking this year, so we have been building up our stamina and I was proud that we biked about 75% of the hill and walked the bike for the rest. We just kept to the lowest gear and pedaled very slow. Sometimes it seems like you are standing still….
BIKING TIP: The key to uphill biking is to keep pedaling, no matter how slow.
We arrived at the top to the friendly face of Steve from Equinox and a water stop. Fill it up, eat some food, chat to the fellow racers and off we go again. We found we were #8 to the checkpoint #3 and happy with that. I mean we had to stop to get just one geocache along the way….hee hee
After the big uphill climb, you get the fun of the downhill. The road was quite busy with tricks, so that meant more care had to be taken on the bends. If you skidded out, you’d also have a very nice roll down to the bottom of the mountain. I kept my brakes on most of the way to feel safe…the hand claw grip was definitely felt as we neared the bottom.
Still another 10 miles to go at this point, but the hardest part was done, right? I was feeling good and telling myself happy positive things like “this might be the race that you don’t fall” and of course I jinxed it. I hit a skid on a hill, the bike fell, I jumped off, but the momentum of my body propelled me forward and I took a hard tumble and roll 15 feet down the hill.
Pain……Pain……Pain…….went through the checklist, can I move my limbs? Pain is on what level from 0 – 10. Clothes ripped? Helmet broken?
Fortunate that was just going to be a BIG bruise and lots of scratches. But my mental game was definitely thrown. You are in shock and then panic and really hard to get that confidence back to keep you going. We walked down the next few hills and I was getting back into the ride to start on the hill next to the motorcycle rally area. When suddenly…WOOF WOOF….a dog was running from the rally area through the barb wire and right at me. Not a nice, friendly waggy tail dog, but rather a territorial dog with his tail alert and his teeth showing ready to bite. I jump off the bike and put it between me and the dog…..and because of the mental state after the bike fall I am in a hysterical mood and start shrieking. I mean blood curdling horror film screams. I scared myself at those screams.
The dog owner calls the dog back and I try and pedal out of there, but the sight of bike movement sets that dog (aka Kujo) off again and he’s back at me and the bike. I’m screaming again and ready to just get eaten alive. Husband is yelling at the dog owner, and dog owner yells at us and threatens to get out his gun and shoot us! Oh man…we added some extra adventure to this adventure race!
My mental game was gone at this point…so this was a low point that all racers get. How do you get back in the game when you just want to give up? You have a great teammate that tells you “just take one more step” over and over again. You sing a song together (today’s choice was “The Cheeky Song” a classic nightclub hit for 1 summer in England). And you add energy back into the system with GU and Stingers.
This got me to the dam for checkpoint 6 and the “hike-a-bike” section. I am so glad we had tested this part out, because I would never have been able to do this blind. I would have doubted at every step that this was the right way to go.
So other racers….I have serious admiration for all you that managed this one!
After 7 hours, we arrived back at the transition at the boat dock and changed for the kayak. We were back to position #4 said Barrie. Nice one Bangers & Mash. I was looking forward to the kayak, it’s generally my favorite discipline, and I was sad that the timing of the race meant we’d not have tie mot doo the 5 checkpoints out there. We opted for the 3 that were the closest and paddled around the lake for 1 hour.
It was 5:30pm by the time we had loaded up the kayak and driven to the final location for the hike. Nightfall was within 30 minutes and a 10 mile hike with 3,000 elevation gain was before us. We estimated 4 hours of hard slog for the 4 mandatory checkpoints, so had some food and off we went. We felt good at this point; we’d eaten some food, had feeling back in our legs, and had hiked parts of the course before. So really was just the endurance factor for us. And the nighttime factor for Mash (aka Lucy), who has a phobia of the dark.
6pm, checkpoint 1 done and we picked up a backpack for the 10 minute bonus. The Otay area is right next to the Mexico border, so there are many attempts by illegal migrants to cross the border and the hills are the perfect cover to make this attempt. You see many border control vehicles and many pieces of litter showing the attempts of the migrants. Barrie requested that teams bring back a backpack to help clean up the area.
We continued the hike and the darkness meant you can’t really see the big ups and downs, you just keep walking. Good for the mind not seeing those hills, but definitely harder to navigate with. You really have to keep the map in front of you and read every single contour to tell where you are to get the checkpoint. We hooked up with another team – Michelle and Terrie – after the 2nd checkpoint and continued the rest of the hike with them. Lucy was thankful because of her darkness phobia and because of the night navigation. Nigel (aka Bangers) told me later he ran into 3 coyotes at checkpoint 4…I was happy to not know this fact.
See the full flash version of the hike on the Everytrail website Otay Lakes and Ranch Hike at EveryTrail
We chose to go off-trail after checkpoint 4 to get across the valley to checkpoint 2 (order was not an issue here) and it was very steep!!! Michelle was a fantastic navigator and she took a bearing, so I learned how to do that – never really used my compass before as the daytime I use landmarks. We found our way to checkpoint 2 and we filled the time with chatter and a song or two (this time it was the Bangers & Mash chant and “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”).
Finally after 13 hours and 58 minutes, we arrived back at the finish, tired and happy to have completed the race.
Many thanks to the organizers, Barrie and Steve from Team Equinox. They make this a fun and challenging event, but also are great teachers to help anyone new into the circuit. So feel free to reach out to them and visit the Equinox events website.
Tags: adventure race
I’m currently packing for the 12 hour Equinox Adventure race tommorrow. I’ve done a few short races and have started to get into the groove of what to pack, but I still like to have a nice check list to use to make sure I’ve got everything for the adventure race. The worst thing is to arrive at the race and realize you forgot a pair of shoes or helmet. If you forget a pair of socks, you can survive the pain, but a missing helmet means not being able to take part in the race….
I found this nice comprehensive list from AR gear and sharing it here for you to use and see as well. It recommends various types of each item if you don’t have it or want to see what they recommend.
Do you have a different adventure race gear list that you use? Please share….
Tags: adventure race
This post focuses on The Sprinkler. Yes, those little black sprinklers that you see all over lawns and parks and fields can actually be geocaches. So you have to build up that geosense to know when to go and twizzle that sprinkler and when to leave it alone.
You can find geocaching tools for most phone carriers and I am familiar with the iPhone and Blackberry versions (see blog post). I am less familiar with the Nokia phone and its Ovi store for apps until a fellow geocacher (Chico Valdez) reached out and mentioned he was creating a Geocaching app.