Powercaching in USA 2013
During the autumn of 2012 the planning of a journey to USA started. The group consisted of Ingabo, Joy.se, TMR68 and me (Hallén). We had all for a long time been interested in visiting the E.T. trail in Nevada. Some other Swedish geocachers had already been there, could we do as good (log as many geocaches) as them or perhaps better…? The aim of this journey was to capture many, many, many logs!
To go across the Atlantic to the west coast of USA on a journey of 16 days requires a good plan. We made many changes to the plan during the beginning of 2013 due to new additions to existing powertrails and also entirely new trails. It was promising, and then we made the calculations the plan was to find 4000 geocaches, is it possible to find so many caches? Let’s find out! On the 18th of April we departure from the airport of Landvetter (Gothenburg, Sweden), on to Frankfurt in Germany to board the large Airbus A380 (the largest airplane I ever been on…), it would then carry us all to the city of San Francisco.
The Google map above shoes our tour, the blue line is the transportation between the tree large power trail arias, it is not a gps track, just an indication of our route.
After a long wait in the cue to the border everything went well, we got our rental car and soon we were out on the roads of California and of course the first found geocache in this state was quickly found and logged.
Our first destination were Monterey, we drove down the highway no 1 along the coast and had some nice views over the sea.
This first day, after a 10 hour flight, it we only found a few geocaches, and then we had some rest and a good night’s sleep.
19th of April: The following morning it was once again a long drive towards the south towards Los Angeles. This second day in USA it were more transport than caching, but we manged to make a visit to Santa Monica Pier and also Hollywood (in the dark) and then ending the day in Hesperia just outside LA to spend the last night before the start of the “powercaching tour” in the desert.
20th of April: In the morning we left Hesperia and drove to the east, into the Mojave desert. Now it was time to put our plans into effect, a powertrail like the Route 66 requires a good tactic. One person drove the car, one person stamped the log, one person collected and replaced the caches and one person rested. Each had a on hour shift, this method made it possible to keep working during long days of caching.
21th of April: It was still a fairly comfortable temperature when we stepped out of our room on the morning of 21: a But we knew that the sun would soon begin to heat up the Mojave Desert as it was as good as quickly as possible to get started. The breakfast was somewhat Spartan, then out on the road again to hunt for the caches on Route 66. We drove by the same method as the previous day to take care of a couple hundred geocaches on Route 66. We watched with astonished looks on the car thermometer, 108 F … which means 42 degrees C, no wonder I felt hot. Yet, Joy.se did succeeded to reach over 100 logs in an hour! Since the plan was that we would go into the back roads to clear a few brand new sets of geocaches CCX4 looked promising when it gave a cross-connection down to the HDM series. As everyone knows, however, even the best plans fall! These series were published in early April, and thus was brand new, they had been included in our plan at the last minute and no one had examined the cache descriptions closer, but when you do, it so it says the following on CCX4 series:
”The word ‘CacheX4ing” is a term used to describe a combination of caching and 4 × 4 Off Road Driving. The term was created by the cacher ”The Devious Max Power” as is used with his permission. This Cache Series is on a nicely graded dirt road, with a few rocky areas and several locations where the river washes go across the road. The ”wash” crossing have very soft sand. I would strongly suggest thatthis only be done in a high-clearance vehicle, preferably with 4 × 4 capabilities. I have driven the road in my 4WD Navigator, the 2-Wheel Drive, but given the inherent Risks in the off-road desert travel, I would suggest That You take multiple vehicles, in case of breakdowns. The road is not Heavily traveled. You can moonrise go the entire route without seeing any other vehicles. You will be as much as 25 miles from any civilization, with very limited cell service and no services. ”
Our car could not take us on this road, so we had to re-plan the day, still we succeeded to surpass our plan!
22th of April: Our first geocaching tour in the desert ended at 22th of April, we completed the last leg of Route 66 and then drove east to Flagstaff, Arizona. The final cleanup of the desert went according to plan and then waited for a long journey with only sporadic geocaching. The landscape changed significantly when we passed through the mountain passes, it was both greener and colder!
In the evening we reached Flagstaff to prepare for our upcoming ”rest day” and a visit to a spectacular place that was not so far from our new temporary geocaching HQ.
23th of April: We started early on 23 to do some geocaching and visit the sights, Meteor Crater and Grand Canyon. So it would be a day of rest from the hard toil with logging trails on this day, yet we spend a lot of time on the road as it is long, very long distances between the sites. The landscape and the mountains looked different in Arizona, the red color of the mountains and the strange formation on the rocks was very appealing.
We were so early that the area around Meteor Crater (which is privately owned) had not opened! So to “kill some time” we had to do some more geocaching before it was time to visit Earth cache and associated Crater. About 40,000 years ago this was the site of a disaster, cache description to Earth cache provides a good picture of what happened:
”Barringer Meteorite Crater rises 150 feet above the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. It is nearly a mile wide and 570 feet deep. The nickel-iron meteorite is Estimated to have been only 150 feet across and 300 thousand tons. The meteorite traveled at 40.000 miles per hour When it struck the earth Approximately 49,000 years ago. The force of the impact was the equivalent of 20 million tons of TNT, more than 1000 times the force of the blast at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Approximately 175 million tons of rock was excavated by the impact. Bedrock was ejected up to 1.2 miles away. The explosion produced a shockwave and Airblast Which spreads across the landscape. Winds Exceeding 1200 miles per hour scoured the terrain. Parts of this meteorite May still be found scattered throughout nearby Canyon Diablo.”
Right after the visit to the crater, we traveled on to the Grand Canyon. There were a few geocaches on the way, but the number of stops was limited so we would have time for today’s program.
Grand Canyon, we have all heard about, seen pictures on TV and read about in books, but nothing can prepare you for the real encounter with this scenery! I was mightily impressed by the sight that suddenly appeared in front of my feet! Just a few feet away you could not see the ”hole in the ground” and then suddenly appears this Canyon and 1,100 feet further down to the Colorado River. No pictures can do this landscape justice, but I will of course still view some of the photos I took during our relatively short visit.
One thing is certain, I will be returning to the Grand Canyon for both geocaching and not least a long hike in the stunning landscape. I purchase some books that tell of the trails in the area and its interesting history. Today it is hard to imagine this as an agricultural landscape, but until the 1400s farming actually took place here. But during the 1400s severe drought hit this area and the inhabitants were forced to abandon their villages. There is detailed information on the latest excavations in the area through the National Park Service website. Grand Canyon River Archeology Virtual Tour can be recommended! There’s even a (16 minutes) long movie that is worth seeing.
It was hard to tear away from the view out over the magnificent landscape, but if we would have time to travel all the way to Las Vegas today so it was necessary to leave. We drove therefore out of the park area and onto the road west again. There was the occasional geocache and we focused on virtual caches, they are quite rare in back home in Sweden! In the ”Stone Age” we made a pause to have some food and log a traditional cache. When we were about to eat our food a camper arrived with two Dutch geocachers – TsiisSkaaf. Nice meeting you!
The sign says the following:
”Territorial Jail. At one time held Such notorious outlaws like Seligman Sam – Three Finger Jack – James Younger and Many more. In 1866 four Indians escaped by tunneling from this small cell to the OK Saloon. Four days later They were dead after a shootout with Marshal Carl ”Curly” Bane.”
After many hours of travel by car, we achieved so until Sin City, Las Vegas. Once we looked our way through the intricacies of the motorway network we could establish a new temporary base at our motel. Afterwards came Joy.se, TMR68 and Hallen by taxi into the city to see this remarkable city and the nightlife there. Ingabo held outside the center and was joined by homeless people and police officers … At midnight, we took the taxi back to the hotel and was able to get a few hours of sleep before it was time to get up again to get ready for the next giant trail, the one that required the most planning of them all, ET.
24th of April: On the morning of April 24, we left Las Vegas to go to the start on ”ET-trail” the classic powertrail in Nevada. It’s probably one of the powertrails that received the most attention in the media over the years. When it was first published, it was whtwolfden and Clay4 that was behind the establishment by an idea they got at Gocoin Fest in Salt Lake City for 2009. The goal was to put out a new power trail of 1,000 caches. They conducted many trips to the area and put out between 150 and 350 new geocaches at every visit. Unfortunately, the ”Nevada Department of Transportation” oppose geocaching traffic in sparsely trafficked road:
Cachers not pulling completely off the road
Cachers not paying attention and pulling out in front of traffic
Cachers stopping IN construction zones while work was done praying
Caches in blind spots or not optimum viewing for approaching cars
Caches in / on / near guardrails and mile markers.
More can be read on http://www.etgeocaching.com
In March 2011, the series was archived. In Episode 192 of Geocaching Podcast – ET Highway Power Trail is told more about the events.
On August 22, 2011 the new E. T. trail were published (listen to Episode 208 of the Geocaching Podcast – Return of the ET Highway to get to know more), and has since had substantial number of visitors, number one is right up there today in 1445 visitors! In addition, the new version is not 1000 caches but 2, 000. Moreover, there are some other geocaches around. The E.T. trail was the part of our journey that required the most planning. It is located in the middle of the desert where there is no coverage for the phone, there are not many places to shop for groceries and gas so everything must be precisely planed, especially gasoline.
At the start, we met a couple of other geocachers and got a good start on our hunt. Then we drove in the same way as before, a driver, one using the stamp, a runner and one resting, shift after shift, hour after hour! A bit on our way through the desert, we reached Earth cache ”Alamo Breccia”, where we met geocacharen catspa!
Always fun with these unexpected encounters around the hunting grounds. Although we chased geocaches very intense today’s lunch break was on time, it was woven into our shift schedule so we knew exactly when it would occur! Even cachingdays the desert has an end, and when darkness fell canceled the hunt and we went to the area’s only possible accommodation – Little A’Le’Inn!
25th of April: Little Aleinn are pretty spartan but good enough when you need somewhere to stay along the trail. One can well understand how important E.T. trail is for those who run this small inn, when we arrived we were met by three other geocachers – from London. They stayed several nights at the ”inn” while we only stayed one night and took off at dawn on the 25th of April, to continue our journey along the trail.
Now began the routine sit in the spine and the team worked hard and everyone really gave everything for us to achieve our high expectations. Anyone who imagines that there is an easy job to sign a trail at 2,000 geocaches should think again! It’s really hard work, and strangely enough, it was not boring, largely because we rotated the duties and that we were a well-functioning team where everyone really were devoted to the task with a mixture of seriousness and humor. The area where E. T. is located trail is mostly flat desert land with the exception of some higher mountain passes which divides of the plains. The landscape makes you feel small.
We continue towards the small mining town of Tonopah. There was some confusion at check-in, first we were told that there was no room for the two of us, but it turned out they thought we booked four double rooms instead of the two doubles we really needed! It took some time to sort this out so when it was ready, the local eateries closed so we had to content ourselves with the finished sandwiches from the local convenience store. During the evening we met again the English team which was also in Tonopah.
26th of April: On the morning of the 26th we left our base in Tonopah to be head out on the E.T. trails dusty narrow roads in the wilderness. All took their places according to the schedule and we started again. The vast open plain, we saw a lot of even today, but we also got to see the abandoned house in the middle of this wilderness. You feel really small in this huge landscape! Mile after mile of small shrubs, sand, soil and dust. As in previous days all worked hard and we defeated stretch after stretch of trail. Of course, we stopped for lunch / dinner at the appointed time and the kitchen was picked up and our canned food was prepared. Today it would be chicken soup, but we had just flat plates, what do you do? TMR68 found a solution by using our used water bottles, these were converted to ”soup bowls” and we could under reasonably civilized forms consume our meal! When we started approaching the end of one of the sub-sections, we met a car, the man in the car turned out to be a geocacher of the heavier kind, Hunster. He has found 50,620 geocaches, resulting in a seventh place in the world! He lived on the East Coast but had been driving alone straight across North America to clear E.T. trail and some other areas in Nevada, an incredible accomplishment when he did not have any with him and has to do it all by himself. During further tour through the desert, we watched a couple of priority caches, ”Thank you very much!” by Bo & Elisabeth and ”Dryers you another one?” by Goran Mary, thus Swedish canned hunters who left thank-you-caches out in the Nevada desert!
All the fun comes to an end, so even the search for E.T. geocaches, we reached in the afternoon until the 2000th cache in the series, but that did not mean we were done when there was a stage left as we had left. When we returned to our motel in Tonopah after a dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant was a surprise. Outside the room there was a cairn of stones in the midst of the rocks a film canister! It was geocacharna Jessex and Casuli from London who left a small greeting!
27th of April: This day was devoted to end the hunt for E.T. trail and a number of ”thank-you-caches” in the neighborhood, and of course, the deployment of our own thank-you-cache.
The road towards Yerington was lined by geocaches, we had then got into a newly established trail area. We started with a bit of TS-trail and cache ”TS 0276”. The landscape began to be slightly more hilly, caches were also not only in stone cairns, there were several types to choose from. Something special was that they only put out wooden sticks that were signed (or stamped). Our accommodation during the coming nights was inside the central part of Yerington which was a positive surprise. A really nice motel opposite a casino. This turned out to have a great dinner where we got to eat several nights and even a breakfast.
28th of April: On the way to the breakfast table was Ingabo were “captured” by an another team of geocachers who had seen his ”Garmin” cap, it proved ihavecats, Jayel57, Invertedvee and Square T. A team that we would encounter again during the day!
Today’s caching started with a small tour on foot in Yerington which, among other things became another virtual logged – School Dazs.
Dust was abundant in this district! I believe that I rarely before had so many sneezes per day during as I did on this tour. It was still better to breathe through the nose than the mouth, slightly fewer particles coming through the. After a couple of hours on TS trail we were joined by a much larger and more off-road, it was the female part of the team that we have met during the morning. They were very fast and also took the move faster with the larger vehicle, we had to fight all the harder!
The trails around Yerington were in part more demanding. ”Captain Caveman” was a bit more memorable, not least because of the acrobatic exercises TMR68 and Joy.se engaged!
This day ended with large purchases in the local supermarket where we really became noticed. Everybody wondered where we came from! Tourists are extremely rare in this region as foreign visitors Raises Concern.
There was then an attempt to do some geocaching in the dusk which very quickly turned into night, but it was rather disappointing as we returned to our motel and began to wonder whether we should take one additional day beyond the scheduled when the area was so rich in geocaches.
29th of April: Desert, desert and more desert that was what characterized the last days caching. Today we would get some variety when we traveled into the lush valleys around Yerington. The portion of the trail that we now had some geoachings at D4 level, especially those at cattle grids. We did not actually give up a number of such caches and it was driving Ingabo to ….
A bit into a slightly more inaccessible road we found a fun cache, a vintage telephone sat on a fence and the border to an ”Indian territory,” Joy.se raised naturally on the phone!
The pace was high even on this day, and we exceeded our goal for the day by far. It started to get sweaty thinking about all these logs must also be written when you come home! But it was still an idea that was dismissed as slightly distant. Now we had to catch into the city to get something to eat.
30th of April: We managed to book another night at the motel in Yerington, hence we would have the whole day at our disposal to clear most of the area’s trailer. Today it would not only bee caching by car, finally we would have some hiking.
In addition, the T5-rating on several of the geocaches! And still you could just walk up to them!
In the middle of the desert, we were met by an Egyptian temple!
The cache ”Old Mill Site,” was probably not something that Egyptian pharaohs left behind after all, rather it was a relic of a more recent mining facility. But still an exciting place!
This day we canceled caching already at 14 o’clock! Why? Had we become acutely sick of geocaching? No, of course not! The reason was simple, we had to clean the car now when we were done with geocaching in the desert. You may recall how the car looked like on the inside?
We had to almost to remove everything in the car. The whole process took a little over four hours, but after the car was clean and shiny again that we hardly dared to step in and go with it again!
The following morning we would leave Yerington and travel west again.
1st of May: On the morning of the first day of May, we left Yerington to travel to San Francisco. It would be a long travel day with sparingly geocaching, really just a few stops to stretch our legs. The high mountains stood now in front of us and it was a climb of a thousand meters up to levels above 2000 meters above sea level.
When we travelled high up into mountains to find a couple of geocaches, the road was cordoned off by large amounts of snow! A bit of a culture shock when we spent so much time in the desert, but it was not without satisfaction that we pulsed through the drifts!
From this point on, it became an almost continuous downhill drive down to the Pacific Coast. Our goal was to first do a little longer stop at one of the redwood forests north of San Francisco and then drive to our motel.
The drive over the Golden Gate Bridge was interesting, but even more exciting was that the slopes in the center! It was totally impossible to see anything at intersections because of the slope, Joy.se who sat behind the wheel got sweat! Everything went well and we made our way through downtown, onto the area of the airport where we had our motel the next two nights.
After the long journey, it was nice to arrive at the motel that day. We then went out in search of a place to eat and ended up at a Brazilian restaurant that served meat in the never-ending variety. You could buy a buffet (excellent one) and then people came running in with a skewer full of meat as long as we had a ”green” sign up on our table. It was really good food.
2nd of May: After breakfast we took the commuter train ”CalTrain” towards the center, beautiful stepping aboard a train after all the time in cars in the past weeks! Already at the station, we started with the hunt, first of all was logged even a virtual jar ”CalTrain – San Francisco”. Then began a lovely walk through the city.
In some places in the center of the city it took time to find the cache. At one geocache a women walked by and said; ”good luck – it’s hard …” there are geocachers everywhere!
Of course we also got to admire the city’s cable-driven trams that go in the really steep slopes.
Those car in the city can quickly learn how to handle and parking on hills …
Speaking of hills, you’ve heard of cache ”Lombard Street,” which named the curvy street that seen on many movies? A spice is that it is owned by none other than Alamogul, you know who he is? If not, he now has logged 86,099 caches, making it the geocachers in the world who has logged the most geocaches.
Amidst all the streets we found a green oasis (of course with a cache), it goes small hidden paths down the steep slopes between the houses.
We rounded off the visit to the center with a few found geocaches, both traditional and virtual. Sorry to say we were unable to get tickets out to Alcatraz (as TMR68 and I planned), apparently you have to buy those several days in advance! It was a disappointment, but we were still very satisfied with the visit to the center. San Francisco is both beautiful and pleasant to visit, beautiful with an urban restorer for all time in the wilderness. In total it was today 24 kilometer hike in the urban environment.
Now, when we could not go to Alcatrz TMR68 & Hallen chose to follow Ingabo and Joy.se out to the Great Mall. While the two shoppers went to jean department TMR68 and I walked through the mall, the first thing you’ll see is HM … (Swedish company…)
We saw no shops or goods that were of interest, so we had a ice cream while waiting for the shopping gang.
Then followed a little urban evening geocaching before we returned to the motel for our last night in the U.S..
3d of May: TIME TO GO HOME!
We wish to say a big and warm Thank You to all geocachers we did meet during our weeks in the USA, also a big and warm Thank You to all cache owners who made it possible to find around 5400 geocaches, we can hardly believe it is true, still like a dream! One thing is certain, we will return to the USA to do more geocaching in future, it is a fantastic geocaching-country.