12 of 12, September 2009

What a great 12 of 12 this one turned out to be!  I knew it would be a good one even before the day dawned as I had plans to go geocaching with SamCarter and SG-3, plus I was having a bunch of geocachers around for an ‘Oregon’ pizza night at my place.  (Some local geocachers who own Garmin Oregon GPSrs meet over dinner every once in a while to chat through issues, show each other what we know, etc). Unfotunately SG-3 wasn’t able to make the caching trip due to illness, but he seemed happy enough for SamCarter and I to have fun without him.

1 of 12a: KAA-POOWWWW!!!!!!!!!

1 of 12a: KAA-POOWWWW!!!!!!!!!With friends coming for dinner tonight after I've been bushwalking, I had to be organised and already had pizza dough happening.

1 of 12b: Lottie wondering how she'll fit into my pack

1 of 12b: Lottie wondering how she'll fit into my pack
Unfortunately Lottie wasn't coming bushwalking today. Poor puppy!

The two photos above were how my day started: checking on the pizza dough I’d made for the evening’s Oregon party (I’d already cut up all the toppings the night before) and making certain I had everything I’d want for the day in my pack.  I’d intended to get the pizza bases rolled out, however I’m NOT a morning person so just didn’t get moving quickly enough.  Unfortunately between various other things I found out via Twitter that SG-3 wasn’t going to be able to play as he wasn’t feeling well.  In fact he was feeling downright awful.  🙁  We had originally intended to go do the Black Glen caches, however we decided to leave them for another time and head for something else.  When SamCarter arrived to pick me up, she was very organised and had a list of caches neither of us had found yet all nicely printed out.  I’ve wanted to do the ‘brawn’ option for the ‘Brains…….or Brawn?’ geocache for a while, and there was another cache on the way, Confluence, that neither of us had found either.  So now our plans were reorganised.

SamCarter had made a quick attempt at Confluence before, so she led the way via the track she’d found last time.  This cache was taking us to the confluence where two streams meet in a hallow, so I decided me dorkify my appearance even more and tuck my jeans into my socks.   (I’ll pause here so you can laugh at me; I hate dorkiness less than I hate leeches.)  Down into the hallow we went, over moss covered vegetation with a healthy muddiness all around.  It took us into a beautiful hallow full of moss, ferns and streams. 

Young Fern

2 of 12: Young Fern

Once we got near GZ, hunting ensued.  It’s the sort of spot where your GPSr can’t get a good lock, so you have to use your cacher sense more than usual and hints get looked at fairly quickly.  This cache was set by Xorg & Pixelwarrior, whose caches specialise in little-known historic spots on and around Mt Wellington, so their caches often take you off tracks used today onto disused tracks barely (or not at all) visible.  Because of this, they usually have fairly good descriptions for how to reach their caches, so after a while of searching I re-read the description and checked out the waypoint the cache owners had for where to leave the main track.  Hmm. . .we hadn’t gone as far down the main track as they indicated, so the part of the hint telling us not to cross the stream probably didn’t need to be heeded.

So we went to cross the stream.  SamCarter was in the lead when a fluorescent green golf ball attached to one of her bags decided a swim in a cold mountain stream was a great idea.  It showed up nicely in the clear water, so it was just a matter of SamCarter getting a hand very cold and wet in order to retrieve it when <splat> her PDA decided a cold swim looked like lots of fun and headed in too.  Oh dear – this was a bit more serious.  Electronics and cold water = not such a great thing.  I crossed the stream and tried looking from a different angle; SamCarter tried looking from where she was when it leapt from her pocket.  Neither of us spotted it or found it during our cold foraging in the stream.

Eventually we gave it up as lost and continued to the ‘new’ side of the stream.  This time the cache was found quite quickly.  We took photos (well, I shouldn’t make it sound like we started taking photos at this point; it was a fairly constant thing!)  Before leaving the area, SamCarter had another attempt at finding her PDA:

Wet Victory!

3 of 12: A Wet Victory!SamCarter figured with the PDA at the bottom of the stream, there was 0% chance it would work again; finding it would at least give her a slim chance!

We headed up the ‘new track’ to the waypoint that the cache owners wanted gave for the place to leave the track.  It lead us to the main trail, much further along from where we’d turned off, and near another confluence, called ‘Twin Creeks’.  Lovely spot. 

Twin Creeks

4 of 12: Twin Creeks

Our mission accomplished, we headed back along the trail to SamCarter’s car, where we stopped for a snack of chocolate chocolate muffins.  Oh darn – SG-3 piking meant we had enough for afternoon tea too! 

We parked near the Chalet, where the track we’d be taking headed doooowwwn the Mountain.  The cache were were now headed for was Brains…….or Brawn?

5 of 12: Banksia

5 of 12: Banksia

6 of 12: Falls

6 of 12: After the recent rain, there were lovely streams and falls to cross.

7 of 12: Cheeseberry (Cyathodes Glauca) and Rice FlowerBuds

7 of 12: Cheeseberry (left) & Rice Flower buds (right)

SamCarter is, of course, a fantastic companion.  Not only does she stop about as often as me to take photos (although with better results than me), she’s one of the nicest people I know – a family trait she shares with SG-3.  Plus she’s a born scout leader / teacher.  Although I’m interested in knowing the native plants and such I see while bushwalking, it’s hard to acquire any knowledge when all you are going on is plant identification books from a knowledge base of nothing.  I’m not stupid, and it’s not that I don’t know any plants, but I’ve uprooted myself in different continents a couple times.  And the Australian bush is unlike any other.  So I’m a bit rude and keep begging SamCarter to identify plants, which she’s good enough to do.  She’s fantastically patient, but also doesn’t assume that I’m coming from no knowledge.  She pointed out some plants related to others even I already knew, gave me some mnemonic advice for remembering some names, etc.   The cheeseberry and rice flower buds were just some of the plants she named for me.  Once she points them out, I can look them up in a plant identification book.  And it starts to give me a basis for understanding more plants.  Great!
8 of 12: Track

8 of 12: Track

After more downhill than you’d want to contemplate when you know you have to go back uphill, we reached the waypoint for Brains…….or Brawn?.  It was on a rather steep hillside, and not only was it hard to get a reliable GZ but also on this sort of hillside even moving a few metres horizontally means a lot of work getting up and down the hillside.  After a bit of searching I read out the hint; unfortunately is wasn’t the sort of hint that helped much – maybe if you were certain you have the right spot for GZ, but not specific enough to help you pinpoint it.  Plus its wording was open to some interpretation.  I’m not usually one to phone a cache own for a further hint, but we’d come a bit far to get a DNF so I tried phoning red tag.  I had strong mobile signal where we were, however the call soon cut out on her end.  So no help there.  We kept going up and down the hillside, tried using our brains as well as our brawn,  but no luck.  It was hard to give  up the search, but eventually that’s just what we had to do.  I was perhaps a bit grumpier than I should have been about it; it’s a stunning track so having to take it another time shouldn’t upset me, but I wasn’t looking forward to the long slog up to the Chalet.  As often happens though, the return walk seemed shorter than the walk out – even with me pausing frequently for breaths (and yet more photos).

9 of 12: Boulder Field

9 of 12: Track Through the Boulder Field

10 of 12: View

10 of 12: Boulder Field near top of the Track

 We actually reached the top of the track before I realised; I was looking out for the bit that seemed especially steep coming down, but it didn’t seem as bad going back up.

All along our walk, the streams and falls we’d crossed had given us a really delicious water supply, so we also stopped at the waterfall near where we were parked for a drink.

Falls At The Chalet 

We had a brief trip to the summit for a couple quick photos.  My wind-proof jacket helped a LOT against the cold, however it did chill my (bleh) sweaty clothes.  We didn’t stay long – just grabbed a couple quick shots.

From Mt Wellington Summit, 

11 of 12: Richea Scoparia

11 of 12: Richea Scoparia

SamCarter had decided to stay for dinner (HOORAY!), so as soon as we got back to my place I very rudely took a shower, abandoning her to Lottie (who had decided SamCarter pats were very nice).  I couldn’t help it; I felt disgusting and just couldn’t see making food for people when I felt so sweaty.  My sweatiness had another strange impact on the night.  I’m usually the last person to turn on heaters in my house, but as soon as we’d gotten to my place I turned on the heaters as I thought it was really cold.  Once I got out of my shower (and into clothes that weren’t wet with sweat) I was really warm.  But the heaters had their effect; everyone drank lots of water throughout the night!

As I hadn’t made up the pizza bases in the morning, I quickly made some hummus for people to nibble on, then set to making the bases.  Everyone arrived in dribs – the DDTs, the Fairly Magic adults, and Dippedy (sans an ill Marcus).  Scott wasn’t feeling well so soon retired upstairs, but the rest of us had a great time (or at least I did!).  I of course made several more pizzas than we could eat, and Dippedy made a fantastic coconut cheesecake!  We didn’t actually engage in too much Oregon-speak, so it was OK that the non-Oregon SamCarter was in attendence.

12 of 12: Leftover Pizza :-)

12 of 12: Just some of the leftover pizza. I always over cater!

I think this is one of the best 12 of 12s I’ve ever had, geocaching, bushwalking, and chatting over food – all with the most fantastic people / geocachers!   It was fairly impossible to narrow down the day’s photos to just 12, especially as some photos I’ve selected to help the ‘narrative’ of the day rather than because of their merits as photographs.  The rest of the photos from the day are available here.  Umm. . .there’s a couple.


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