Saturday, May 14, 2011

WA COUNTIES CHALLENGE

It’s time again to begin the motorcycle/Geocaching trips. This year I’m doing the “WA COUNTIES CHALLENGE” which requires logging a cache in each of Washington’s 39 counties. I have a head start as I logged about a third last summer when I was in the process of doing all the Oregon counties.

I belong to a group of old codgers that meet at Mac’s Cycle the first Saturday of every month and we plan occasional rides. The first one was May 4th over to Connell for lunch. We left from Clarkston about 9:00 am. As it happens Kittitas County is the only one in the state that I didn’t have a Geocaching route planned. So I took the ride with the group of six over to Connell but after lunch I continued northwest past Vantage which is in Kittitas County and logged a cache. It was a neat cache just off an old highway hidden in some boulders. The cache container was a life sized and realistic looking skull. I had a great ride and arrived home about 7:00 pm having traveled 365 miles and logging caches in six counties.

My first planned trip began Tuesday, the 10th, as we finally had a forecast of two successive nice days. This was my North Central loop. I left home at 7:00 am and headed north to Coeur d’Alene. It was 44 degrees and I had to stop about 60 miles out at the Potlatch junction to warm my hands. I stopped for gas in Coeur d’Alene and took a little break before heading northwest. I went through Rathdrum and Spirit Lake before actually entering Washington in Pend Oreille County. This was rolling forested terrain along side the beautiful Pend Oreille River. At Tiger I turned southwest toward Colville which is in Stevens County. It had begun to get warm so when I stopped for a cache in Colville I peeled off an undershirt.

Crossing the Kettle River at Kettle Falls I entered Ferry County. The terrain begins to rise here as you approach Sherman Pass. I took my lunch break at the Crystal Falls cache which is a beautiful and peaceful spot. I had targeted three caches in each county but there was so much snow pack in Ferry County that the Crystal Falls was the only one I was able to get. I might add that all this travel had been great motorcycling with plenty of curves, hills and beautiful countryside on a sunny pleasant day.

The other side of Republic I entered Okanogan County and was surprised at the scenic but different terrain. It was similar to some of the county in southeast Idaho or parts of Colorado. There were a lot of craggy rock formations with sparse stands of timber with much of my southward route along the Okanogan River.

It was after 7:30 pm when I arrived at my motel in Chelan. I had dinner at a café across the street and didn’t have any trouble sleeping that night. It had been long and fun but tiring day.

I was up by 6:00 the next morning and toured the town of Chelan logging several caches in the area before checking out of my motel. Lake Entiat is the body of water that is the result of a dam backing up the Columbia River running southward by Chelan. I followed this lake south to Orondo where I turned east pulling out of the valley. It was a twisty and fun climb up to the high desert floor where the fun pretty much ceased. From then until late afternoon when I hit Highway 195 at Steptoe I was fighting a stiff headwind traveling across desolate desert on an overcast day. I did make a detour up to Coulee Dam at Kathy’s suggestion. According to the sign it was built the year I was born and was then and still is the largest man made structure in the country. I arrived home a little before 6:00 pm having logged 23 geocaches and 835 miles. Don't I have fun! M/W

8 comments:

Kathy said...

I'm just so glad Mike thinks he's having fun. Seems like real work to me!

Hallie said...

Looks like a tiring trip to me, too. How many more WA counties to go?

Leah said...

Without the photos, your story wouldn't be as interesting. Guess it's the child in me that always wants pictures in a book.

Mike, your geocaching trips are for finding hidden items, right? Do you every geocache in reverse? I mean, do you ever hide things for other people to find?

Mike said...

I believe I have about 17 counties to go which I plan to get on a trip west where I will stay at Hallie's one night.

Yes, Leah, Geocachers hide caches too. It's called owning a cache and you are responsible for keeping it up. All logs made to one's caches are received via e-mail. I own about a dozen.

Leah said...

I understand that the journey is important, but is there anything inside the caches? I'm thinking candy bars, pencils or maybe a Chinese fortune.

Mike said...

Yes, Leah, most caches contain trinkets that you can trade for equal value items or you can take nothing and leave nothing. Some caches are so small they have just log books. Check out Geocaching.com. You may like to take it up. They're all over the world so you can play wherever you go. For me it's about the journey but that's not the case with everyone.

Kathy said...

The caches contain mostly valueless items. Sometimes a cache will be focused on something specific, like dog bones, novels, collector coins, etc. Lately the trend seems to be for "micro" caches. Those aren't so much fun.

In my opinion, the purpose should be to learn to use the GPS, not to have to spend hours hunting for a cache once you get there. Some geocachers disagree with that philosophy.

Leah said...

Boy, I'd think that learning to use the GPS should be the only reason for geocaching. Who cares what's in the box/bottle/can if you found the exact spot. Of couse, my opinion doesn't count since I'm just observing from the sidelines.

Funny thing...I have a friend in Oklahoma who is retired. He plays a game called "Where's George" by tracking dollar bills on the internet. People put a stamp on the bill and enter it on the website. They then track where it's been when other people enter the serial # of that bill. He needs to get outdoors more!

Mike is getting healthy exercise by geocaching. Kudos to Mike.