Showing posts with label geocaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label geocaching. Show all posts

June 11, 2019

Our First Trip to Trinidad Lake State Park

Part of Carpios Ridge Campground from an overlook.
As I turned into the Carpios Ridge Campground at Trinidad Lake State Park, pulling the little pop-up trailer, I saw this tall building with a bright red-orange metal roof.

"That must be the visitor center," I said to M. But I was so wrong. It was the "camper services" building — toilets, plus coin-operated showers, laundry room, and vending machines. The actual visitor center was more modest.

By happenstance, the first weekend of June found us holding reservations for the dogs at the boarding kennel, but our original planned destination was impossible. What to do? A lot of the high country was still snowy and/or in the middle of the Big Melt, so we looked lower down.

A view from our campsite. The forest here is mostly piñon-juniper.
Trinidad Lake SP was not too far away, and thanks to our volunteer work, we had a brand-new hang tag for the Jeep that would give us free park admission — we still had to pay for the campsites. I went online to check, and there were two left, so I grabbed one. (All these campsites are by reservation only.)

The Purgatory River was dammed to create the lake in 1979, making it slightly younger than Pueblo Reservoir.  The lake's level fluctuates, but it is around 800 acres.

Creating the lake drowned some former "coal camps," but you can see visit Cokedale at the park's west end, with its long row of former coke ovens aging under the Colorado sun — when they were working, that little valley must have filled with choking smoke.

One morning I went down to fish before breakfast, and I admit to being skunked—I saw a couple of fish, but they rejected my lures. Some anglers in boats were not doing well either, but I saw one hooked by a fisherman on the shore.

Muddy water flowing into the lake.
When I don't know a lake, my default strategy is to fish the inlet. We went up there later, but the muddy water of "the Purg" was flowing in big-time out of the Culebra Range. So I switched to hiking and geocaching — CPW staff have placed some excellent caches, as well as those left by other geocachers.

The riparian zone meets the P-J in Long's Canyon.
The best hike is Long's Canyon, about a three-mile round trip, because it is away from roads and follows a creek and riparian area that offers the best birding and wildlife-viewing opportunities. There are even some permanent blinds.

It also includes a geological feature, the KT (KPg) Boundary, as described in "An Earth-Shattering Kaboom at Trinidad Lake State Park."

If all this is not enough, you are only about five miles from the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic Area.

January 08, 2017

Using Outdoor Electronic Technology the Right Way

In the current issue (Jan.-Feb. 2017) of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation magazine, Bugle, P. J. DelHomme talks about using electronic technology (smarphones, Google Earth, GPS gear, etc.) to draw kids into outdoor experiences.
If you have an area in mind to hunt, see if your kid would be willing to scout it for you via Google Earth. Turn it into a biology lesson. Elk need food, water, shelter, and space—lots of space. Have them pick out likely elk spots away from roads, mark them on the map, and then find a way in. You might just spark enough interest so they'll want to go with you to see if it pays off.
He also suggests geocaching, among other things, as a way to let the screen-obsessed do stuff outdoors. All good.

At the same time, however, you would want to educate those kids about "Death by GPS," the title of a recent article at Ars Technica.
What happened to the Chretiens is so common in some places that it has a name. The park rangers at Death Valley National Park in California call it “death by GPS.” It describes what happens when your GPS fails you, not by being wrong, exactly, but often by being too right. It does such a good job of computing the most direct route from Point A to Point B that it takes you down roads which barely exist, or were used at one time and abandoned, or are not suitable for your car, or which require all kinds of local knowledge that would make you aware that making that turn is bad news.
And J. R. Sullivan wonders at Outside, "Our Reliance on Technology Makes the Backcountry More Dangerous."
“One of the worst trends we’ve seen in the past 20 years is the proliferation of cell phones and technology in the backcountry,” says Tim Smith, a registered Master Maine Guide and the founder of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School, which instructs students in brush living, guide skills, and long-term winter survival. “It gives people a false sense of security. It's the idea of, Who cares how bad of a jam I get myself into? Because if there’s cell coverage I’ll call and someone will come get me. But if you had no outside line, no way of contacting other people, you’re way less likely to take risks.”
And a neurologist suggests that using GPS instead of building mental maps affects the structure of the physical brain:
An integral component of brain organization is that it changes with experience. So yes, our modern lifestyle alters our brains. The important question, however, is not whether technology changes the brain, but whether our technology driven life damages our brain.
And did you remember to charge your phone? 

December 31, 2016

GPS Receivers versus Smart Phones

Don't expect a cell phone signal here.
Is your smartphone as accurate as a dedicated GPS unit? Some researchers at Skidmore College tried to answer that a few years ago (note reference to iPhone 4). Their conclustion: "The short analysis is that iPhones are still worse than a dedicated GPS, but not that much worse."

I am using an iPhone 5s, so not the newest, but I have noted that its GPS unit is about as good as my Garmin's . . . except that for geocaching, it is not so good, because geocaches are marked in hours/minutes/decimal minutes, and the built-in GPS reads hours/minutes/seconds.

Now there are decided geocaching apps that work fine, but they require a good cellular data feed, and when you are in a place like the Purgatory River canyon, you end up thinking, "What possesed me to leave the Garmin in the truck and bring just the phone?"

Bottom line: a dedicated GPS receiver does more stuff than a smartphone does. Using GPS sucks batteries dead, but it's a lot easier to swap in two more AA's than to carry a cell phone backup power source (although I have one of those too, solar-powered).

September 09, 2012

On the Road: Glenwood Springs, 2

Footbridge at right crosses Colorado River, I-70.
Another historic hotel in Glenwood Springs is the Hotel Denver, which as the advantage of being right across the street from the Amtrak station. And next door to the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company, which pairs good microbrews that is, well, hearty.

I like the compactness of central Glenwood. It looks like you could hike right out of down — or soak at the hot springs, catch the train,  dodge bears while geocaching (a frequent occurrence according to one cache log), or just dream that you were having a whiskey with Teddy Roosevelt.

September 24, 2010

Crossing the Great Divide

We Coloradans tend to be obsessed with the Continental Divide. We speak of being on the Eastern Slope or the Western Slope. We name businesses etc. after it.

It runs through other parts of North America as well—see the red line on the map below.
(I am told that the divide was supposed to be the border between Idaho and Montana, but someone screwed up the survey in the 19th century, hence the narrow Idaho panhandle.)

Homeward bound from a recent trip to North Dakota, I paid tribute to another divide as I crossed from the Arctic back into the Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico) watersheds by visiting a geocache placed to mark it.

Here is a closeup of that area. I was right where the medium brown meets the light brown in southeastern North Dakota.

And here is the view from the divide, looking to the southwest, a typical scene of soybean field and slough full of waterfowl:

May 14, 2010

Geocaching Gets the Kids Outside

"I wish they had geocaching class in my 5th grade. We had square dancing." (Latitude 47 blog)
Geocaching is now being promoted as a way to get the kids outside, as you can see in this little YouTube video, a trailer for a longer production.

Well, yeah, maybe. As soon as the *(@$% rain lets up, I plan to hide some geocaches that will require some serious walking. But in my limited experience, you can drive right up to within a few yards of most caches. It's the exceptions that are most memorable. And kudos to the parents who do take their kids to find those kinds of caches.

January 15, 2010

Geocaching in Lieu of Hunting

In lieu of quail hunting, which ended on the 3rd, I took Fisher geocaching at Pueblo State Park today.

His part in the process is to go for a cross-country walk, to be leashed when Spandex Insects are in the vicinity (since he is unused to them), and to whine piteously when the walk is interrupted by my turning in small circles and peering between large rocks and at fallen logs.

As I quoted in "Gadgets in the Woods," some purer-than-thou types like Arizona writer Mary Sojourner recommend destroying geocaches.

Me, I am all for anything that gets you out and about, rewards close observation ("Which rock is different from all the other rocks?"), and as the T-shirt says, "lets you use multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods."

Urban geocaching, meanwhile, resembles Spycraft 101. Here is a small trade secret:

The  typical parking-lot light pole at a shopping center or supermarket has a concrete base in which are embedded large bolts. The metal pole is attached to that base.

Some models have a box of light sheet metal that covers the bolt ends and nuts. Normally it is held down with screws, but sometimes those screws are missing, permitting you to slide the box up the pole, exposing the top of the base.

There is a fair amount of space in there in which objects up to the size of a sandwich might be secreted. Drop the cover back down, and no one is the wiser.

I'm getting to the point that I can hardly pass one by without discretely wiggling that cover to see if it is attached or not.

If you lift one and find a geocache within, please sign the log and return the container. If you find something else, be prudent.

November 23, 2009

In Which We Go Geocaching

 A classic geocache—an old ammo box full of trinkets plus a log book.

Late this morning I broke off from editing a journal article on new religious movements in Ukraine and rousted M. from the sofa (where she was reading Julia Child's My Life in France) to go geocaching.

After all, we own a low-end GPS gadget (Garmin Geko 201), and I knew from the main geocaching web site that there are a couple dozen caches near our home. That comes of living near national forest just off a designated "scenic byway."

M. had not heard of geocaching before, but she likes treasure hunts and tromping through the woods.

We found four caches in short order, picking off the low-hanging fruit, so to speak—sites near roads.

This being America, there is a book to tell you how: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching. And Google Earth is your friend.

Geocaching's older Anglophile cousin is letterboxing. I know a couple of people who do that too, chiefly in urban areas. From my perspective,  letterboxing seems a little club-ier, more concerned with aesthetics (carving your own rubber stamps!) and mental puzzle-solving.

Does that make letterboxing more like fly-fishing, while geocaching is like cruising the lake with a sonar fish-finder? Either way, you still have to catch a fish.

At least both get you outside and moving around, more or less.