My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nature's Mystery Geocache

Geocaching is a very popular sport that requires people use GPS units to find the coordinates of a cache.  However, the rules for National Wildlife Refuges say that nothing can be brought in or removed. So Sacramento has used the idea of virtual geocaches to let people interact with some of the many refuges and refuge units they manage.With a virtual geochache, you don't find an actual cache, but interact with the environment  and usually post pictures.

I decided I needed to unravel the Nature's Mystery Geocache so I could tell other visitors about it.

Here's what #1 says:

Near Squaw Hill, CA
Coordinates: UTM: E 578605 N 4418266
Clue: The river can be seen here. (In Spanish)
Task: Meet a tree - use your senses to explore it and then describe it.

I can enter coordinates into my car GPS. So I just used it to lead me to the site. But a hand held unit is  best .In one of the tasks, I needed to put in the coordinates of my favorite nature discovery.

However the first thing I found out, is that my GPS is BLONDE.  Instead of just sending me up Hwy. 5 to Corning and then east to the site, it set me off on side roads leading to the west of the highway and then up them to the north.  But of course, my reward for being lost was this beautiful scene.

I looked through my GPS's directions and decided I could just zoom up Highway  5 to Corning and then turn east. Almost immediately after crossing the Sacramento River, I found this Unit.

I started down the trail, carrying my car GPS.  It said had had a few tenths of a mile to go to reach my destination. On the way, I found this stump lit with beautiful morning light. It reminded me that trees have very important role as habitats  and meals after they are dead.  And they also make great "carvings".

 When my GPS said I was at my destination, I looked for an interesting tree. This one caught my eye as it was close and looked lacy against the sky.

 And its bark had interesting marks and scars where it had lost limbs or been attacked by bugs, fungi, bacteria or even birds.

 It's base was also interesting and looked almost like it had a large foot. Is that a sandal strap I see?

 It was too pretty a place to leave without exploring further,  so I kept going down the trail and then branched off in the direction of the Sacramento River on a side trail. Soon I was watching a flock of western bluebirds fly up and down.

 Old blooms still held beauty.

While new blooms  promised that spring was on the way.


The path wound along the river for a little ways and then curved back around and became the path back out. This beautiful valley oak caught my eye.

Virtual geocaching is now called waymarking and has it's own site with a huge list of categories. You can find everything from churches to wildlife to parks to retired prisons. So you might be able to pursue most any interst here and definitely find interesting places to visit along your vacation route or near your home. I'm going to visit some waymarks and hopefully add some of my favorite places to the waymark list. 

FWS Recreational Geocaching Guidance - if you want to talk your favorite NWR into adding some waymarks, or a virtual tour, here are the guidelines.

Waymarking's list of National Wildlife Refuges - this is the place to look for coordinates of places on various NWR's, and to add your own favorites.

And if you want to come  to the Sacramento NWRC and  unravel the Nature's Mystery Geocache, you can get a copy here or at the refuge visitor center.  There are ten sets of coordinates, ending at the Sacramento Refuge.I still need to log my the box they maintain for that purpose there. It's on the outside of the visitor center so is always accessible.  And you have only nine more waypoints  to go.