Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Frostier - An Epic FTF at 2408 metres

A couple of weeks ago we were camping in E.C. Manning Park and had a ton of excitement, so much so we wanted to make sure we shared it with you all. No, no bear encounters (this time) but not only did we get FTF on an entire geo-art series (The Twisted Chocolate Bar Series - GC574V2) but we managed a 22 km return hike to the summit of Frosty Mountain (2408 m elevation) and found a cache placed very nearly a year before that had yet to be found.

A big goal for the camping trip was to make the hike up to Frosty and try for the FTF on that cache, as we'd had our eyes on it for a while, but with a late melt this year we really weren't sure when we'd be able to get there. We hit the Frosty Loop Trail at 07:10.

There was certainly no shortage of snow, and we started hitting larger and larger patches of it as we were only about half-way to the summit from the trailhead. I was beginning to get a little dubious about what the conditions would be like for the final push to the summit, recalling that it is a very open summit - this photo here is the actual summit where the cache is.

But Mrs. LANMonkey was ever optimistic and onwards and upwards we trekked through the forests. At points we had some amazing aerial views of Lightning and Flash Lakes. Eventually we hit the wilderness campsite at the head of one of the tributaries into Frosty Creek. The camp was FULL of young hikers hanging out under a tarp as it was lightly drizzling by this point.

"Uh oh" we thought, "did they already go find the cache?"

We passed through the camp and kept heading up. By the time we reached the Larch Meadows the ground was completely covered by about 1 - 2 m of snow. It was warm out and the snow was soft in lots of spots so hiking was tough work! Next we searched for "Frosty Mountain Larches" (GCQXNX) and made a quick find of that cache.
The view was spectacular here as we were nearly standing at the top of a rainbow! Next it was the scramble up the last rocky parts to the summit itself, and the path was surprisingly clear of snow which was great since had it been covered in snow this would've been impassable without crampons and an ice-pick.

Right near the summit we found a little pocket of hardy alpine flowers - a neat little "surprise garden." Finally we had reached the summit, and then began our search for the cache...

...it wasn't too long at all before Mrs. LANMonkey had the cache in hand, and we suspensfully opened it to check the logbook for any other signatures.

And at 11:04 on 6/28/2014 we found "Frostier" (GC3M7D3) which had been placed 7/15/2013 and unfound until our climb & search! What an exciting adventure, and we've captured it all for you (including Mrs. LANMonkey's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") in episode 56 of LANMonkey's Geocaching Adventure.

If you'd like to follow our adventures regularly, eat lots of bran, then follow us on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter (@LANMonkeyGC).

And remember to always cache safely, and cache often!

The LANMonkeys.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Backroads Mapbook Geotour Adventure

The silence has been deafening! But the LANMonkeys are back on the Interwebs after another brief hiatus. The good news is that we have been busy caching & filming so there's a bunch of great adventures coming, starting with our recent trip to the Interior of BC.

One of the goals of this trip was to collect the three Backroad Mapbook geotour caches for the Thompson Okanagan region, and the bonus cache north of Shuswap.

This was tied in with a MVGeocacher trip to Penticton BC where a group of us got together to walk a section of the Kettle Valley Railway trail in Naramata, and find the caches that make up the "Wine Glass" geoart. But more about that trip in a near-future blog entry. For this posting, we'll talk about our adventure in finding those BRMB caches.

The first one we found was west of Hedley, BC, on Old Hedley Road. As we pulled up to the logical place to park and hike to ground zero, we saw another car there and thought "perhaps other cachers?" Our thoughts were confirmed as we headed up the trail and met the nonchalant acting Maya Bee and Red Alert, just coming back from making that find themselves. We stopped for a brief chat, and knew we'd be seeing them the next day on the Wine Glass hike.

That was our Good Friday, and a really good Friday it was. The weather was beautiful, and we truly enjoyed the magnificence of God's creation along Hwy 3, as we made our way through Manning Park (with active snow at Allison Pass), stopped to cache in Princeton, stopped for more caching in and around Hedley then made our way (with several more caching stops) to Penticton for the evening.

Saturday, after a morning meet & greet event in Penticton, then the "Wine Glass" hike in Naramata, we headed off up the west side of Lake Okanagan stopping for only a couple of caches on our way to
the next cache in the series - BRMB - Thompson Okanagan  BC - On the Water (GC4KJQK) at the Everly Recreation Site.

On our way to that cache we passed a herd of Big Horn Sheep on the road - very cool!

After that steep little hike & find, we were off again to try and get to BRMB TOBC - 20th Anniversary Bonus Cache (GC4KKAA) on the north side of Shuswap Lake, past the little town of Celista, BC.

That's where we had one of the bigger adventures of the trip!

When we finally got to the trail head, we knew it wasn't long until dusk. So we armed ourselves with headlamps & flashlights, and off we went along the trail. Well, very quickly the trail disappeared on us. There's an exceptional amount of blowdown on the trail, and while our Northwest Trails actually did have the Onyx Falls Trail on it, it was a challenge to find that trail. So we kept trying to stay as close as we safely could to the trail as noted on the GPSr, and kept finding/losing the trail.

At one point, we ended up working our way through snow up to our hips (on April 20th), but pressed on regardless, with our daylight fading on us. By the time we got ourselves through the bush and to the last 100m, we faced a steep decent down what seemed about a 10m embankment. The top part was muddy and a bit slippery, but the last couple of metres was a sheet of ice! Surprise!

Safely at the bottom, we found that it was completely dark at this point. Using the cache hint, our geosenses, and the GPSr (which was wandering  bit in the deep tree cover along the creekside) Mrs. LANMonkey eventually made the find. At this point, we took a breather and recorded a bit of content for our vlog. Of course, we still had to get back to the truck, and it was completely dark now.

We made our way up the embankment, and bushwacked our way to where Northwest trails said there should be a trail. And what do you know, we found the trail. On our way back, we did lose it a couple of times, but actually found better luck following the trail out than in - I know, typical cachers!

Once back to the truck, we strapped in and headed our way back to Kamloops to spend the night before searching for the last of the BRMB caches for this trip, at Duffy Lake.

As we cleared Celista, the RCMP had a roadblock, and we had a nice chat with a constable who had been based in Walnut Grove (Langley, BC) not long ago. She had no problem with our story that we weren't drinking but actually heading out after finding a geocache. We looked pretty tired and "bushed." Literally!

The next morning, we headed nice and early west out of Kamloops, and followed the Duffy Lake FSR to Duffy Lake, hitting snow on the road for the last kilometre. Once at Duffy Lake, finding the final cache in the trio of Thompson Okanagan BRMB caches was pretty easy - at least compared to the previous day! That cache was well stocked with swag still!  We considered continuing west on the FSR but found it quickly impassable for anything except a quad or narrow 4x4, so back the way we came.

Well folks, thanks for sticking with me through that story. We sure hope you enjoy the video of the adventure, and trust me, there's lots more to come from that same Easter weekend adventure!

Cache safely, and cache often.
The LANMonkeys.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Steps, Streaks, and Naked Friends

Thanks for your patience folks, it's been a bit of a tough season to be focusing on getting content together, but we're back with some more for you all.

Future Blogs & Vlogs

We've talked about the idea of trying to get a new blog & vlog episode out for each Tuesday. It would be awesome if we can, but we've decided that we'll only be putting content out when that content features a geocaching adventure, per the promise of our title. As you all know, some weeks the caches are... well... average. Some weeks we're not going anywhere interesting, nor do we see or experience anything particularly interesting, and for those weeks we don't see a huge value in putting an episode & blog together. We value your time in reading and watching, and want to make sure we only ask for your attention when there's something interesting to share.

Caching Streaks

We sure hope you've all made it through winter and got some outdoor activities in - a little geocaching maybe? The LANMonkeys have managed to keep things going with getting at least one cache per day, and we just cleared 365 days of continuous geocaching. We know it's not the longest streak around, and we'd be interested in hearing from any of you about your geocaching streaks - long or short.

And if you are currently attempting a caching streak, what's your goal? 

364 Steps

This past week when we hit day #364 we made the opportunity (thanks to the longer evenings) to head to UBC and trek down to Wreck Beach to figure out how to find "364 Steps" (GC49C66).

Check out our latest episode of LMGA for a brief view of the beauty of that location and the fun of claiming a cache on our 364th day of caching in a row.

Wow, that was a lot of steps, and a very cool cache! Thanks very much to our caching friend Cuddlefish for creating that fun mystery cache, and giving us the "thumbs up" to use our experience at the cache in  that video.

Naked Friends

While we're talking about streaking and friends, here's the newest episode of LMGA, where Mr. LANMonkey finds the geocache "Naked Friends" (GC3CEVB) just out past the the starting coordinates for the "364 Steps" cache.

This was a tough find - the cache has a bit of a trick to it so read the description, hint, and logs carefully. Also be aware of the tides for this cache - here's an important website for investigating Vancouver area tides so you can be safe on your tidal caching adventures!


Speaking of caching friends, you've probably seen our good friends Catapult Jeff & Iron Maiden in some of our videos before, and we've decided that it might be fun to share some more about them. We've placed a new geocache on Mount Seymour as a "tribute cache" to them, and created the first of our "Friend-Caching" videos - an interview with these fun cachers while out on a geocaching adventure with them.

We're looking forward to following this pattern with other cachers who've become our friends - and we're open to any feedback, ideas, and suggestions. Who will be the next to go "Friend-Caching" with the LANMonkeys?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

I "Heart" Geocaching, Geocaching Adventures, and Lab Caches

Good morning, and welcome back to our blog, geocachers!
If this is your first visit, welcome, and thanks for checking us out.

I Heart Hucka... Geocaching!

There's been some excitement (in many senses of that word) since news broke last Sunday on The Podcacher Geocaching Podcast and other channels about "I Heart Geocaching" and yesterday (Monday, Feb 3) was the official release of those Geocaching Adventures lab caches for premium members to try out.


In an attempt to help folks understand what this is all about, we've put together a short, information laden video on our vlog and are adding this blog entry to supplement that.

As a starting point, official content from Geocaching.com (the good people formerly known as Groundspeak) has moved from forum chatter to an official and helpful FAQ. That's probably the best place to go, although many of my fellow bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters are all trying to make sure you have the pertinent info at your finger tips!

In that commitment to be helpful, we've created this short video to explain to you in three minutes what lab caches are, how Geocaching Adventures caches work, and what are the "rules" for "I Heart Geocaching" lab caches.

So in short:
  • You must be  premium member to participate.
  • You get to create 1 "I Heart Geocaching" Geocaching Adventures lab cache
  • That cache can only be found once, by one person 
  • The Geocaching Adventure is best played in the field on a smart phone
  • The 161 metre rule does NOT apply (these don't show up on the maps)

Thirsty for More Geocaching Adventures?

It's really important to Geocaching.com that they get your feedback if you do try this out. There's a few ways to get your constructive feedback to them. They seem to be soliciting this information via replies to this blog posting which first announced the I Heart Geocaching experiment for February. Of course, you can always use the forums also, but I'm in the process of reaching out to the good folks at Geocaching.com to find out how they want to hear your feedback, and share some of the stories they are hearing from you.

Our goal is to record the experience of creating and the subsequent finding of our lab cache (we're going to try it out on a muggle who is curious about geocaching) in an upcoming episode of LMGA, and try to round that out with some feedback from Geocaching.com themselves on how the field beta-test of Geocaching Adventures went.

But most importantly, we want to hear from YOU - are you interested in trying this out? Have you tried creating/finding an "I Heart Geocaching" adventure? What did you think? Would you do it again? Do you have any ideas on how to use these potential new cache types? Write to us via our email, Facebook page (like us! like us!), via Google+, or post comments on our videos. We love hearing from you guys and will be sure to include your feedback as we continue to review "I Heart Geocaching" and other geocaching topics.

Lab Caches Messed With My Stats!

The one criticism we hear most frequently about lab caches is that thy don't count in your stats like any other regular cache type. In fact, between lab caches and US benchmarks, we've found that things can get a bit hairy if you like tracking your stats. And although we're not *just about the numbers* cachers, we do like our stats to be accurate, and that is helpful if you want to tackle challenge caches.

So, the question remains, "if I create/find an "I Heart Geocaching" cache, does it count in my stats?

Well, here's the best answers we could find:
  • You will earn a "smilie" for finding any lab cache (you'll get  "lab cache" icon seen above)
  • Lab cache finds do not yet affect your statistics page on Geoccaching.com
  • Lab cache creation will not yet result in an increase in your "caches placed" statistics
  • Geocaching.com is promising to address these concerns in the future

Thanks for sticking through and reading this - we hope it's been helpful, and really appreciate any feedback you may have - did we miss anything important? Did we make any errors? Was this awesome and helpful? Let us know.

And until next time, please remember to cache safely, and cache often!
The LANMonkeys.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Cave Caching Along the Chilliwack River

This past week, the LANMonkeys called up their caching friends and said "We've got an idea for an adventure..." After a phone call and a couple of emails plans were set and the first Saturday of 2014 was spent on a caching adventure along the Chilliwack River. So today's blog post is going to be about caches in the Earth, and about the Earth.

In the course of a very full day we discovered four EarthCaches, explored two caves for geocaches, found two of the "Back Roads Map Book GeoTour" caches, enjoyed some amazing scenery along the Chilliwack River, and had a fantastic time with great friends. In the end we made a total of 19 cache finds in an area that you could spend days caching in with all the different spots to go geocaching or just exploring.

Our caching location for the day was primarily the North side of the Chilliwack River, along the Foley Creek Forest Service Road, approximately 25 km's down Chilliwack Lake Road. Almost all of the area is accessible by pretty much any vehicle with decent clearance, but we went in Catapult Jeff & Iron Maiden's 4x4 Jeep, and were thankful we did. Plenty of spots on the roads and especially the wood bridge decks were icy.

Caching in the Caves

As part of our shared goals to try and complete our D/T grids, we were all happy to tackle caches with difficulties of 5 and 4.5 and a terrain of 5 - but mostly the guys were "psyched" to go spelunking in search of geocaches in both Hands and Feet caches (GC2X9HP & GC2X9H1).

As the cache descriptions indicate, it is very important to not go alone when exploring caves, and to bring the proper gear. Catapult Jeff & Mr. LANMonkey ensured we were equipped with coveralls, helmets, headlamps, radios, extra light, a long climbing rope, gloves, and of course, a video camera.

The video in this episode was primarily shot in Hands & Feet #2 as it was a deeper and slightly larger caving experience than #1. Quarters were tight in much of the cave and of course, the only light source was our headlamps, which made it challenging for shooting an episode, but we really wanted you to be able to join the experience of looking for caches in naturally formed, small underground areas.  It was most certainly a unique and awesome caching experience, but it likely wasn't for everyone - consider carefully if you'll be able to do this one both physically and mentally before attempting, and PLEASE do not try it alone!

EarthCaching in 2014

We are also grateful to Catapult Jeff & Iron Maiden for being willing to stop at four different EarthCaches in the area that they had all ready completed so that the LANMonkeys could discover them and learn as well. If you're not familiar with EarthCaches, they are a form of "virtual" geocache where you are not looking for a container with a log sheet to sign, but going to specific coordinates and stepping through a brief field-lesson in geology.  Watch this older episode of LMGA we filmed last fall when we were placing our first EarthCache to get an overview on EarthCaching.

In addition, check out the resources at the Geological Society of America's website EarthCache.org for the most comprehensive source of information about discovering and creating EarthCaches.

Speaking of EarthCaches, did you know that Friday, January 10th is the 10th anniversary of the first EarthCache? Educational and fun events are taking place world-wide to celebrate this anniversary on the 10th, 11th, and 12th. For a complete listing of those events, check here.  If you are in the Greater Vancouver area, it's not too late to sign up and come join us at the MetroVan Geocaching EarthCaching event at 7:30pm on Friday, January 10th.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

Good evening geocachers and readers, we hope that you've had a wonderful holiday season, and that your New Years is filled with joy and peace.

We had a great time with family and geocaching on Vancouver Island and are looking forward to seeing some of you at the upcoming events on January 1st (The Early Cacher gets the Smilie (GC4THJK)) and January 10th (10 Years of EarthCaching - Learn & Celebrate (GC4V35V)). If you can't make it out, hopefully we'll get a chance to see you on the trails soon!

 In addition to family time & some caching, Mr. LANMonkey made another co-hosting appearance on Caching in the Northwest with The Bad Cop & WitzEnd. In Episode 24 we talked about caching plans and goals for 2014. What are your goals for 2014?

In our upcoming episodes, we'll share some feedback on questions we've been asked over the past couple of months, and share a video that covers a week full of geocaching highlights in December.

Until then, remember to always cache safely, and cache often!
The LANMonkeys.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The LANMonkeys are back - in Bowser!

It's been a long stretch since our last episode and we've missed sharing with you all. But work & life have been a *little* hectic. Finally, we're back to share and thought we'd take you along the Lighthouse Trails in Bowser, BC. Just 60kms North of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, these trails are easy to access, and easy to hike - they are quite level, extremely well groomed, and wheel-chair accessible for at least the first 2.5km loop.

We had a fantastic time there with Manta Rayz and Piggy and would highly recommend the caches and trails to anyone heading, staying, or living in the area. Of particular interest were the wood carvings we took some photos and video of in Episode 37.  They seem to be chainsaw carved in the ends of felled logs and stumps all along the trail.

We hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and area about to launch into your New Year with all the excitement of a FTF.

Over the next week or so we'll get caught up on content we've missed with a few episodes and blog entries that we've been behind in getting out and shared with you all.

Thanks for watching & reading this past year, and we hope to see you all in 2014!

Cache safely, and cache often!