I Need to Go Geocaching…Now

It has been 2 weeks since I finished the Geocache Diet and I have found a grand total of two geocaches since then.   I have found all of the caches near by and I have decided to stay close to home for a little while…but I really want to go out caching.  There have been some brand new caches published not too far away that I could take the kids to…but so far weather, school, birthday parties, and play dates have gotten in the way.  Some way, somehow, I am going to get out this weekend.  I just have to.

While getting one of the two caches I mentioned we bumped into a caching family who just happens to include a boy in Annika’s class.  We joined them on another walk to one of our caches and it was hard for Annika to not give them too many clues  like…”I will give you a hint, it is hiding behind that log over there”.  She did well.  All of a sudden we seem to be meeting a lot more families with young kids who have just gotten into geocaching.  We have talked to people about going out for some caching hikes together and we must make sure it happens.  How about now?  I really want to get out caching.

We want to thank Julie and the team from roadtripsforfamilies.com for allowing us to post a guest blog on their site and for all the kind words they sent our way.  Check out their great site and have a read of the interview I did for them.  It was a lot of fun and got me dreaming of some more family road trips.  Julie is another adventure loving parent who has discovered geocaching as a great family activity close to home and on the road.  Too bad they live so far away as maybe they would want to go caching with me.  That’s it….I’m going now.  Who’s with me?

The Geocache Diet is Over

It was an amazing sight.  After a long and gruelling hike I zeroed into the final location.  I gazed around surveying the area with the precision of a bald eagle as I prioritized the all the logical hiding spots .  Jumping to action I raced through the obvious locations with no luck.  Oh, a tricky one eh?  You think you can hide from a Family Navigator do you?  I paused once more scanning the area again when I noticed moss a little askew.  Pouncing as fast as I can I turned over the moss, reached into a hole, and pulled out my reward.  I had done it.  My 1000th geocache find in 1 year.  On the final hour of daylight on the final day I finally had done it.  I signed my name on the log, replaced the cache and glided gracefully back to the car.  As I reached the car there was a group of people including Phil Koeghan of The Amazing Race fame.  I jumped on the mat that was laid out for me and Phil announced to the crowd

“After 365 days, 2500kms walked, 1 small part of 1 country travelled, (mumble mumble) pounds lost, and 1000 geocaches found, Martin Pedersen of FamilyNavigation.com is the grand completer of the Geocache Diet!!!”

A roar came up in the ever increasing crowd.  Streamers fell out of the sky, I was being lifted up on shoulders… and then I woke up.  Nooooooooo!!!.  Phil hasn’t given me the $1 million dollar cheque yet!!!  As much as I tried I just could not get back to sleep.

It was 3 hours before sunrise and there was still some caching that needed to be done, for real this time.  Trying to not wake everyone else up I prepared for my trip, had breakfast, and then left home in darkness.  Happy to be ahead of schedule I turned on the GPSr as I neared the starting point for the day.  To my horror I discovered that something had gone wrong with the transfer of the geocaches on to the device.  It was empty.  Not a good start to the last day of the Geocache Diet.  I reluctantly returned home to fix my error and then left again behind schedule.  I had some catching up to do.  The rest of the story is not nearly as exciting as my dream so I will summarize.  I did some caching before meeting another cacher at a trailhead and did a fantastic hike…wait a moment I can say that the geocache diet went out with a bang.  This was the same trail I wrote about in “Big Bang on the Geocache Diet” because this is the sight of the Ripple Rock Explosion many years ago.  Since I did the hike the first time the caching angels dropped 7 more caches for me to find so I now had good excuse to hike it again.  It would have been good to say that the geocache diet went out with a bang, except the geocache diet did not end on this trail.  When I returned from the hike I still had two caches left to reach 1000.  I said goodbye to my caching friend and then pondered where to end my geocaching exercise challenge.  I quickly chose an earthcache, just past a quick traditional geocache.  I thought an earth cache would be a good way to finish and it would also be the most northerly cache completed in the past year.  This earthcache was to show off an artesian well where water constantly flows from the earth.  One of the requirements was to take a self portrait in front of the water pipe so it encouraged me to photograph the historic moment.  And at the click of the shutter, at 3:15pm on January 16, 2011 I completed the geocache diet.  I patted myself on the back and drove home to make dinner for the family.  I also found three more caches on the way back for good measure.

I had set 1 year as the duration of the challenge which makes the Geocache Diet over.  It may be officially over but in reality there is no completion date.  Even if I was at my target weight the challenge would not stop.  The goal of this challenge was to exercise regularly and have fun doing it.  As I mentioned a couple weeks back, this is a serious sounding activity that gives adults permission to go play in the woods.  This is a good thing and not something that is going to stop.  I still have a long way to go to meet my weight target and I am going to continue towards that goal.  I need my daily exercise and it comfortably fits into my schedule now.  I will continue to geocache with my family and by myself because I really love it but I will not be finding 1000 caches over the next year.  I would if there were another 1000 close to home but in reality the next 1000 would require too much travel.  Instead I will go get newer caches that get published in our area and really good caches when we find ourselves in new towns.  I really enjoyed trying to reach 1000 caches in a year but when it comes down to it, the numbers mean far less to me then the experiences I had.

I have seen so much this year without going too far from home.  I have gone from sea to sky, along rivers, lakes, waterfalls, dams, old growth forests, sand dunes, estuaries, and you name it.  I have learned so much about navigation, local plants, wildlife, and when not to go into the woods.  I have cached on hot days where the final cache was followed by a swim in the ocean and I have cached in the snow.  I have done many easy caches where I could see the hiding spot before I got there and found caches after days of worth of pondering and return trips.  One of the first caches I went looking for I still have not been able to find.  I feel better for the exercise and there is so much I want to share with my family.  The Geocache Diet is over and it does not require any hoopla, famous hosts, streamers, or even a million dollar cheque.  It was just a fun little thing I did as an excuse to get outside, get in shape, and play.  It did most of what I wanted it to do but most of all it made me want to continue.  The time has counted down on the Geocache Diet but for me it is far from over.

Final Outing on the Geocache Diet – Day 364

Tomorrow I finish my year long challenge.  I will hike my final trail, find my final cache, and have my final weigh-in.  This makes it sound all so final.  In fact tomorrow is just another caching day and there will be many more trails hiked and caches found in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.  The only real significance of tomorrow is that I will complete the challenge I set for myself a year ago.  I have already walked the 2500kms I had planned on and I need to find 15 more caches tomorrow to reach 1000 finds in a year.  The 100lbs lost was the main goal and unfortunately I have a lot more hard work ahead of me to reach it.  I am confident that I will reach my target weight this year.

I had thought about doing something special for my final official day on the geocache diet but I decided just to make it a regular big caching day.  Snow and cold weather did make caching a little more difficult lately so I left myself a few more caches to do on my last day than I had planned, but not too many.  I did go out in the snow one day and although I found a few caches it was quite difficult locating them.   Some of the caches were hidden in obvious spots so they were easy to dig out but a few other which would be easy otherwise were too hard for me while snow covered.  Most of the snow has melted along the coast so I should have no problem tomorrow.

I will write some more comprehensive summaries of the geocache diet the next few days as I look back at a fun year of caching and hiking.  As for now I will get some sleep and look forward for my final big caching day, until the next one.

Play Time on the Geocache Diet – Day 356

What is the best part about Christmas now that we have kids?  We get to play with new toys.  Kids need play.  They learn through play.  So does that mean when we grow up we change so much that we should stop playing?  What fun would that be?  Adults need to play too.

When I started the geocache diet almost a year ago I called it an exercise challenge.  I was determined to add daily exercise into my routine and I thought geocaching would be a good motivator to do so.  By calling it exercise it seemed to give my challenge a more mature purpose, more adult like, but it also sounded labour intensive and dull.  What the geocache diet really involved was a whole lot of playing.  This is not exercise; it is a game.  A game that can provide the benefits of exercise.  This challenge has not been a chore at all and far from dull.  It has been a blast and got me thinking…why on earth did I ever cut out playtime from my daily routine?

Geocaching is a ridiculous activity; it really is.  A grown man should not be playing in the woods looking for a plastic box full of cheap toys.  It sounds like I have gone off the deep end.  I have heard many people say that Geocaching is a great activity for kids.  It gets them off the couch and outdoors where they should be learning and playing.  Kids need to play and be active and geocaching is a wonderful complement to other activities.   Geocaching seems perfectly geared towards kids (treasure hunt) and it can be easy enough for kids to grab the GPSr and find a cache on their own.  Sometimes child’s play can become extremely popular for adults of all ages.  Adults play the game essentially the same way as kids do and are not ashamed to do so.  Geocaching is a way to rediscover the pure joy of going outside to play.  Sure many of the harder caches, including the puzzles, are geared towards adults but essentially it is a treasure hunt in the woods.   When I look at our kids and what they think is fun I have come to realize that my personality really has not changed that much.  Even though I have matured I am pretty much the same person as I was when I was a child and I love to play.

So is the geocache diet an exercise challenge or a simply an excuse to play more?  I was exercising by playing.  I also challenged myself with puzzles, navigational dilemmas, and difficult terrain in places I have never been before.  I can say that this exercise was not only fun but educational.  I love the fact that when I take my kids out playing they seem to get so much out of it.  I discovered that a simple exercise challenge based around play can also have the same affect for mature, sophisticated adults.  Adults who also like to play with kids toys.

Nearing Completion of the Geocache Diet – Day 348

I am going to finish what I started.  When I set my goals for this exercise challenge almost a year ago I had hoped to be wearing much smaller clothes today.  I wanted to find 1000 caches, walk 2500kms, and lose 100 lbs.  After feeling a little down I have received a lot of encouragement to convince me that two out of three is still pretty good.  Among this support has included my friends at Groundspeak/Geocaching.com who allowed me to write a guest blog for their Latitude 47 blog.  This support has allowed me see that even though I will not meet all my goals, I still made positive changes to my lifestyle this year.  I now include daily exercise and I am much better for it.

I am closing in on the end of my challenge but I still have a ways to go to meet my caching/hiking targets.  I have 67  more caches to find while walking 100 km in the next 17 days.  I will accomplish this because it is now in my routine.  And 18 days from now what will I do?  I will go for a hike.  There is no way I am not going to continue to do daily exercise and regular caching.  I may not be able to get another 1000 caches in the following year but there will still be many finds.  As for the weight loss goal?  I am still confident that I will get to my ideal weight.  We have made many lifestyle changes that have improved our health and we will continue to make better decisions.

I will not write a complete summary yet because there are still things to accomplish. I wanted to make sure I thanked everyone who has convinced me to complete this challenge.  It has been a fun year of caching and lots more to come.  Now I just have to find the right cache for #1000 for the challenge.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!

Family Geocaching Milestone

We had some non-Christmas related fun the other day.  On one of my days out, the first one in a while, I had found enough caches to put the Familynavigation.com team at a total of 999 finds.  I really wanted to find more but I resisted and completed my hike stuck one shy of the millennium mark.  I thought it would be much more fun to go out as a family and find it together.  While Annika was at school the twins and I made these signs so we could take the photo I envisioned.  After we picked Annika up from school we rushed out to a newer cache called, If you smelt it, you dealt it.  Why wouldn’t we want such a classy cache as our 1000th?  The next milestone is the 1000 finds while on the geocache diet.  140 more to go.

Facing Nature on the Geocache Diet

A few notes and thoughts from the Geocache Diet

Not the bear I saw!

Most of my hiking adventures have been in bear country.  Many of the caches I have found this year have logs from other cachers warning of bear sightings.  I have been on so many trails this year and yet I have only seen one bear while driving on a freeway on my way to a hiking trail.  In my life I have seen many, many bears but always from the safety of a car, boat, or train and never with the vulnerability of being on foot.  I can say that I was due to stumble upon a bear.  I fully expected to be in the middle of nowhere all by myself and come face to face to a bear.  I didn’t necessarily want to have this encounter but I did expect it to happen.  I avoided certain trails at certain times as a precaution but on this day it was going to happen.  I did see a bear while hiking but it was not in the middle of nowhere, it was in a pretty well used park, and I was not alone.  I had run into other cachers earlier in the day and we had continued our caching outing together.  We were 100m from our car when a bear crossed our path.  For me it was a flash of black about 30m down the trail.  We waited until it was obviously gone and we walked back to the car.  We did see it one more time as I said goodbye to my fellow geocachers but it obviously did not have any interest in us.  It was kind of an anticlimactic way to have my first on foot encounter, not that I wanted a confrontation or anything, but now I feel like a real wilderness cacher.  Now that this has finally been crossed off my life list I will probably see bears all the time while hiking.

You know you are an avid geocacher when you start using cache names as directional landmarks.  Do you know where Sally Brown lives?  Oh sure you turn right pass the Sport card cache, near the park that has the ladybug cache and the Girly Girl cache.   Oh, Ok, I know where you mean.   We also use caches as a time reference.  When was the last time we were in Ladysmith?  It was when we did the Knight’s clock cache, remember.  Oh right…good times.

Sometimes when I get bogged down from everyday events I need a wake up.  I find the best wake up is to go outside and let nature give you a big kick in the teeth.  The other night I was feeling fatigued, frustrated, and a little down in the dumps.  I am never proud of myself when I feel this way as what do I have to complain about.  The solution that day was to get some fresh air.  Luckily when you live by the ocean, in Canada, in December the air can be very, very fresh.  It was dark, pouring rain (I mean buckets), and the wind was blowing (I mean pounding the town).  I decided that I needed to get out and let nature  knock some sense into me.  I was only out for about a half hour but boy did it do the trick.  Walking along the waterfront in that weather was awesome.  I powered my way besides the clanging boats trying to keep myself upright as I was getting pounded by the rain (it was what Forrest Gump would call sideways sting-ging rain) and it was fantastic.  Back home I went and quickly to a hot shower and off to bed not worried at all at what type of day I had.  It is great to be alive.

Puzzling Times on the Geocache Diet – Day 315

I am not sure if I am a puzzle person or not.  I am certainly puzzling but what I mean is, I am not sure if I like doing puzzles or not.  I don’t think I am very good at them and I just seem to get frustrated while doing them.  When I solve a tough puzzle however, the feeling is tough to beat.  This is the same when I am geocaching.  I am not sure if I like puzzle caches when I am doing them but if I end up solving the puzzle and finding the cache they usually end up on my favourites list.  I think the best part about doing a puzzle geocache is that eventually I will end up going outside.  While I still have to figure out if I like doing puzzle caches I now know that I do like hiding them.

The FamilyNavigation team has now has 17 active geocaches hidden near home and 7 of them are caches where you have to do some work before you figure out the final hiding spot.  The other 10 caches we have hidden are traditional caches but I can see a time where the more complicated ones outnumber the standard go to caches.  I don’t think our puzzles are too hard but I at least hope they are fun.  We have not created the best caches in town but I think we are heading in the right direction. As we get more experienced as cachers I can see our hides getting even more interesting.  After hiding a few puzzle caches I now have a real appreciation of just how much work is being put into some of the more involved caches.

Our first puzzle cache we hid may just be my favourite even though it is not much of a puzzle at all.  In Comox Wandering we lead people through town where they gather numbers that help them calculate the final hiding spot.  I like this one because these are the types that suit me the best.  I love wandering through towns and with this cache I get to show people some spots in my new home town.  The next puzzle was Gotta Love the Valley which I thought was easy but it has tripped up a lot of people and not many have found it.  In this cache there are lots to distract the solver.  The next one is not really a puzzle but a night cache.  In A-Maze-ing Night you follow reflectors to find the cache.  We won the reflectors at an event and thought it would be fun to hide a night cache nearby.

This week we released a  four cache series based on world related puzzles.  The first three caches in the Global Puzzle Series require solving puzzles before hitting the trail and the fourth uses clues discovered in the other three caches.  These were a lot of fun to create and I hope people enjoy them.

Most of these caches were thought up while out walking the local trails.  I think of a lot of things while walking, including geocaching.  I thought up the idea for global puzzle #2 a long time ago but thought about doing it with pictures like I did global puzzle #1.  Eventually the idea split and I thought of making them two stages of the same cache.  I finally got around to hiding the cache and I found a great spot when I realized that this would be a good area for a series of caches.  After hiding what turned into being the final cache I decided to make this a series.  For some reason I thought that this series needed four caches so while walking around the marina I thought up the idea for global puzzle #3. The idea on global puzzle #4 was also part of my original large cache idea.  Once the ideas were in place I must have made another 5 return trips to the park to find the best places to hide the other 3 caches.  I like walking in this park so I think it took me so long so I could have an excuse to return.

The puzzle series was released on Friday evening and it was fun reading the logs of the three teams that were running around the maze of trails, in the dark, in the snow.  It sounded like a lot of fun actually and it was tempting to grab a flashlight and join in.  Congrats to everyone who has solved the puzzles.

Things are going OK on the geocache diet.  I have not been on the scale for a while and I do not plan to weigh myself until December.  At this time I just want to concentrate on eating well and exercising.  I am finding the lack of sunlight difficult to get out because I still do not like caching in the dark alone.

Snow Day on the Geocache Diet – Day 309

Another day geocaching and another thing to check of my life list.  I have now geocached in the snow.  There wasn’t enough snow on the ground to prevent me from finding some of the caches I was looking for but there was enough to add another level of challenge.  Today was my day out and there was no way that a little snow would keep me at home.

I did not want to travel too far from home so I did some of the caches just south of where we live on a series of short to medium sized walks.  The further I went south the deeper the snow got so as the day went on the harder it was to find the caches.  I ended up finding 9, including finding the final of a puzzle I had been working on.  The best cache of the day was a multi-cache that started on the road and ended on the beach.  It was not the best day for a walk on the beach but it was still a lot of fun.  The rest of the caches were fairly straight forward traditional caches but the setting made it extraordinary.

Lisa talked me into taking the camera and I am glad I did.  I am not sure if the photographs do the scene justice but there is nothing like a west coast winter-scape to relax the soul.  My favourite walk was around Spider Lake Provincial Park and even though I only found one of the two caches I was looking for there, it was a magical place to be on this day.  A day without snow would have produced more geocache finds but sometimes it is not about the numbers.  I would not wish all geocaching days to be in the snow, but the odd one is just fine with me.

Fall Outdoor Activities Challenge – Week 7

Another Fall Outdoors Challenge activity spent close to home.  We went out on Sunday as a family to scout out an area to place some new geocaches.  We hid one cache and Annika is very excited as it is her second cache she can call her own.  The other caches were a little more complicated and require return trips but we know where to hide them now.  A walk in the woods with kids cannot happen without some distractions and diversions.  While walking the trails our outing turned into a Mushroom spotting trip.  Around every corner it became a race to see who would spot the mushrooms and scream out Mushshoom Mushshoom!  There were so many varieties ranging from HUGE to very small and from ugly to beautiful.  I have been wanting to learn about mushrooms so I can identify them so I photographed many of them so I can figure out what they are.  It was a shame that I did not know which ones were edible because the yellowish one photographed next to Annika’s boot could have fed our whole family.

Thoughts from the Geocache Diet – Day 295

More random thoughts and observations from the Geocache Diet.

  • I have two pairs of hiking boots, one for serious day hikes and walks in wet slippery conditions, and a lighter pair for shorter hikes and warmer days.  The geocache diet has not been kind to my boots and they are now both trashed.  It is getting harder to ignore as I now even dewy grass gets my feet wet.  The problem is that I like my boots.  They are both very comfortable and have become my friends and I also hate shoe shopping.  Both being beyond repair and almost useless in the wet fall weather I must think about the well being of my feet and buy some more boots.  So sad.
  • There is snow in them-thar-hills.  I guess I will have to wait for the thaw before I do any more mountain caching.
  • Even in the coniferous forests of Vancouver Island there are still a lot of falling leaves this time of year which do a very good job of covering up hiding places and geo-trails when geocaching.  I recently cached on some great hiking trails with easy hides most of the year.  In the drier, warmer months you can just follow the worn path to the cache and see the neatly placed piece of bark over the hole but right now all you see is freshly fallen leaves.
  • I find myself craving new caches around our home.  I have now found most of the caches in our area and I love seeing new caches being published.  There was a new one published 300m from home which was very exciting.  Five minutes later I had cache in hand, got a shared first-to-find, and started wishing for more new caches.  Note to local cachers…pleeeassse!!!
  • One nice thing about working at home:   You can eat all the garlic you want.  Mmmmm Hummus!!!
  • I had my first ever first-to-find on a puzzle cache and I am really proud of myself.  I am not quick on puzzles and this was no exception but I did prove that perseverance pays off (that and the fact that many of the local puzzle champions did not try for the FTF).  It was published in the morning and I found it just before sunset the next day with another cacher finding it an hour later.  The cache, Migraine Mania, involved solving 3 different puzzles before locating the final.  A lot of work went into this cache including all three hides.  I appreciate the time cachers take in hiding any cache but I also like to encourage these creative and well thought caches as they are the most enjoyable.  We need a variety of caches including these time consuming beauties.
  • After I found the puzzle cache I received a nice letter from the cache owner.  He wanted to know how I came up with the solution as he wanted to learn about different methods people used to solve the puzzles.  I was more than happy to write back as it is great to see so much enthusiasm with cache hiders.  There was an incredible amount of work put into this cache but unfortunately many cachers will not attempt it because it is too time consuming or daunting.  I enjoy going for a hike and picking up a few easy hides in between exercising but these ones are truly rewarding.   These are the caches that have me standing in the middle of the woods dancing and fist pumping.  I don’t think I have hi-fived so many trees in my life.

I am seriously going to do well on my challenge the next month.  November is going to be great, I promise.

Big Bang on the Geocache Diet: Day 280

Tee Hee…giggle giggle.

I was itching to get outside and go for a walk…no…a hike…and not just any old hike…but a great hike.  The problem was that I also needed to do some serious geocaching and I only had the afternoon available to go.  I still was unsure where to go until I checked my e-mail early that morning and I saw that 5 new caches were published on the Ripple Rock trail.  I had wanted to do this trail for a while and even though it was a little further away then I had hoped to travel it was still very doable.  When I looked at the map I figured it would be a 3-4 hour hike which included searching for 8 geocaches.  This suddenly was the place I wanted to be.  I arranged to leave a little earlier than planned and off I went.

The Ripple Rock Trail was to take me to a viewpoint overlooking the scene of Vancouver Island’s biggest ever bang, Seymour Narrows.   When I sailed with my parents as a child Seymour Narrows was a place we avoided.  If we wanted to travel further north than Campbell River small boats like ours either had to wind their way through many islands and four rapids to enter Johnson Strait, or they took the short cut through Seymour Narrows.  With currents that could reach up to 15 knots we had no interest in tackling the channel that Captain George Vancouver called “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.”  The strong current in a narrow passage was not the only reason for Seymour Narrows to be feared.  The biggest reason was Ripple Rock, a twin peaked underwater mountain which was inconveniently located just under the surface of the water.  Not a good thing to have in the middle of your main shipping channel between the Pacific Ocean, Alaska, and the Port City of Vancouver.  How do you fix the problem?  You make a big bang.

As a young sailor, for some odd reason, I loved the story of Ripple Rock.  Hiking to the overlook was fascinating and it gave me a good reason to look back on the video of the explosion, wow, the things us humans can do.  There was no big bang on my hike however, but I did find the Big Bang in Campbell River geocache near the Seymour Narrows lookout.  I was really in the mood to push myself physically and this was a really good trail to do it.  There was a lot of up and down hiking with stairs, hillside scrambles, and the wobbliest suspension bridge I have ever crossed.  I will not call it a super challenging trail but it was the perfect trail for me to test myself and see where I was physically.  At the end of power walking, in between finding 7 out of the 8 caches I was looked for, I was tired.  This morning I woke up with the sorest muscles since the first month of my exercise challenge.

This was a great hike and it really lifted my spirits.  I was proud of myself for pushing myself so hard though it still shows me just how far I have to go.  This is the type of day which keeps geocaching special to me.  There were a couple of hides which we really special but all the caches, even the easy ones, combined in showing me a great trail with some fantastic views over a place I always wanted to visit.  There may not have been a big bang here for over 50 years but it was still a rockin’ place.