Thursday, December 29, 2016

Exploring the Cerillos Hills and finding treasure

A couple days ago, while the in-laws were still here visiting for the holidays, we drove down to Cerillos Hills State Park to explore a new area with them. While there we started the multi-cache, GCJ4WQ, but after finding the last re-director stage, realized that the final was a further hike than anyone was willing to do. The area was pretty neat though, and perfect for winter hiking, so I was determined to come back. I got that opportunity pretty soon, the kids and I had to take off and leave my wife free to do some work at home, so I planned a day-trip back to the area with the kids, this time with a focus on geocaching. We stopped at several caches along the Turquoise Trail, State Highway NM 14. We were pleasnatly surprised that a bunch of these roadside caches weren't the typical tiny micro cache, but actually something large enough that they contained toys for the kids to trade.

In the town of Cerillos, the cache GCVEJ9 brought us to a cool spot with a small petting zoo. This spot ended up being one of the highlights of the day for the kids.

In one of the other caches in town, there were some pieces of real local turquoise, and the kids thought this was amazing. We definitely traded for a piece and my daughter now keeps it with her other treasures. Our hike brought us into the low hills and mines around the town. The trails were very kid friendly, and the cache was in excellent shape.
Abandoned mine in Cerillos Hills SP

Ada with her piece of Turquoise

Turquoise Treasure!

Ada near one of our cache finds

One of the deeper abandoned mines we encountered
 This cache (GC4WQ) had a Haiku theme, encouraging finders to write a haiku in the logbook. I came up with something that I thought sounded poetic, but probably is pretty silly sounding. But one particular log caught our attention and is now one of the kids favorite poems. It goes like this:

Snake snake snake snake snake 
I don't want to see a snake
OMG Hiss Hiss 

 It felt really nice to spend the day out caching with the kids. We used to do this kind of outing quite a bit but recently it seems that I do most of my geocaching trips on my own (and with rugged hikes). Maybe a combination of the kdis losing interest in geocaching, or rather having more interest in things like Pokemon GO. Regardless, we all enjoyed the day and I think we'll be doing more of these trips in the future.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Back into the LCP game

One of the tings that I was sad about when we moved from NM to TN was that we would no longer live in an area covered by the Lonely Cache Project (LCP). That site had been a strong motivating factor for my geocaching, getting me to visit very remote and lonely caches,a s well as encouraging me to spend hours trying to crack some of the harder puzzles. The leaderboards in particular were fun for me, especially the ones where I was somewhat competitive. One of my favorite was the NM Year's Top Back Country Cachers leaderboard. In 2013 I was in a tight race for the top spot, a race that ended up coming down to the last few weeks of the year. This year, I was at a disadvantage having only moved back to the state in July, but I was going to make an effort to place high. After a few very remote FTFs, I was able to get in the top 5.

To help propel me a bit higher I planned a tough winter hike up Caballo Peak. That cache, as well as some of the ones along the way would be worth quite a bit, as well as knock down the points of the current leader, wolf11469, who also happened to be the cacher I was competing against back in 2013. That was the plan anyways. The day we went turned out to be one of the coldest of the year, and there was fresh snow along the trail. Not that this would normally be a problem, but I made the mistake of bringing my dog and she ended up having some issues with the cold and ice that I did not anticipate. Balls of ice would form between her toe-pads making it hard for her to walk, and she would constantly stop to chew at these, eventually causing her feet to bleed. We made it as far as GC4BQE1 before I decided that we should turn around. Only half way to Caballo, and without having found either of the big high LCP caches. There was one puzzle cache that would have been a high LCP find that was at the trailhead, but we couldn't find it under all the snow and ice.

Despite not being able to go after those high LCP caches, I had a back-up plan, going after the FTF of a remote desert hike near Espanola, Window Rock. A hike that would be at lower elevation where we wouldn't have to worry about the snow and ice, and the dog could happily run along the arroyos and mesas chasing rabbits.

 I will be back to go after Caballo, but not in 2016. And despite not reaching my LCP goals for the day, I am happy to be back in the LCP region. No doubt there are some high LCP caches around ehre that I will be targeting over the next few years.