Galapagos

BARTOLOME (GALAPAGOS) — Geocache of the Week

EarthCache
GC1KGT8
by boiler
Difficulty:
1
Terrain:
2.5
Location:
Galapagos
S 00° 17.046 W 090° 33.048

The Galapagos Islands are well-known for their expansive population of species. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are endemic, which means “belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place”.

Seldom in nature can you be approached by a wild animal. Bartolome (Galapagos) GC1KGT8 can bring us up close and personal to nature. The island is also a geologist’s playground—so it makes perfect sense that a truly wonderful EarthCache is here.

The little island, Bartolome, is only 1.2 square kilometers (297 acres). Rocky pillars of basalt called “tuff cones” jut out from the surface of the island. These pillars are remnants of hardened fallout of a volcanic eruption. One of the great rewards of GC1KGT8 is the stunning postcard view of the prominent Pinnacle Rock, the largest tuff cone on the island.

On the path to the beach, just offshore, you will find a large volcanic crater that is encapsulating.

If you brought your snorkeler you are in for a treat! According to the cache page the northern beach is open for swimming and the beaches of Bartolome Island are filled with fluorescent fish, playful sea lions, and even whale sharks!

 

The trail continues to lead you across a sandy isthmus to another beach at the southern end of the island. Swimming here is not welcome, and not as friendly. White tip sharks have been known to enter the waters and the cache owner Boiler warns of hostile ghost crabs in that area.

 

The trail ends with a rock path and a long wooden stairway (~360 steps) brings you through the lunar landscape with almost no visibility up to summit hill and the viewpoint of Pinnacle Rock.

If you are EarthCaching on Bartolome Island here are some notable vocabulary terms to take with you as per the cache page:

1.) Lava tubes: Formed by flowing rivers of lava whose outer layer cools and solidifies quicker than the core (creating a skin). The liquid lava continues to flow through the middle, hollowing out an area creating a tube like structure.

2.) Spatter cones: These cones are either a deep red, gleaming black or intense green. The cones are formed when the pressure of gases below the magma in an active lava flow push upward. The gases escape carrying big pieces of lava into the air. The outside of the lava cools down and turns black, and when it hits the ground, the lava ball bursts open releasing the hot magma inside.

3.) Lava bombs: The outcome of a spatter cone. The outside surface of lava bombs are smooth, but the inside of the lava bomb bursts open with broken fragments, creating A’a lava. The broken lava is very runny. However, once the gases all escape, the lava will start to slow, creating pahoehoe lava.

Here’s what our fellow cachers had to say about their experience:

One of the most beautiful landscapes in the Galapagos so far! What an awesome trip Elm77 and I are having. The climb was a breeze for me and the view spectacular. Our guide knew a lot about the geology of the area so I learned a lot! Answers and picture will be sent as soon as I get home. Thanks for the lesson! –Pomwoof

Last year on my 40th birthday I made myself the present of a Galapagos dive trip.  And by doing so a dream came true. As a group of 16 divers from Switzerland we were able to charter the “Galapagos Aggressor” for our trip.

On the second day of diving after two dives at Punta Carrion we set foot on Bartolomé Island for a land tour.  Of course I had already hoped at home that I would get the opportunity to visit one of the few caches around the Galapagos Archipelago.

I enjoyed the hiking a lot, admired the view from the top and even had the chance to see sea lions, penguins, Darwin’s finches, a lizard and a blue-footed booby – part of the animals on land, part while riding the zodiac. –Haiopaia

Thank you boiler for cooking up this hot EarthCache. Is that name a coincidence? I think not. Check out the beautiful photography from geocachers who have visited Bartolome Island and in the gallery below!

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Make a muggle your valentine
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Guest blog from The Geocaching Junkie: Four reasons to make a muggle your valentine

We are featuring The Geocaching Junkie on our guest blog for Valentine’s Day.

 

Falling in love with a fellow geocacher might just be the epitome of finding the perfect partner for many cachers, and we have all heard stories of eyes meeting across a crowd at an event, and diamond rings hidden in ammo cans – the ultimate swag! Take German cachers reality666 and annimiles for example: they met at a geocaching event in 2012 and got engaged at Europe’s First geocache (GC43) in April 2016.

Unfortunately, since muggles (non geocachers—based on “muggle” from the Harry Potter series, which are non-magical people) outnumber geocachers by quite a margin, it’s unlikely that everyone can be lucky enough to be half of a geocaching pair. So what are the benefits of dating a muggle? I happen to be an expert on this subject, so here’s four reasons why having a muggle partner who supports your geocaching addiction has its own advantages!

1. They make excellent lookouts

Sure, they may not love poking their hands into places or generally getting their hands dirty, but their presence as lookout means that you can get stuck right in with your search without having to look over your shoulder every five seconds.

 

2. They’re good for security

As a singleton I rarely had any qualms about going geocaching alone, but FTF runs at night in the woods on my own? Not so much. A supportive muggle will understand why you want to go look for a lunch box in a tree hollow in the dark, and will accompany you for safety. It’s also good to have someone who knows where you’re going and will be concerned if you’re not home when you say you’ll be (it’s good common sense to have such a person aware of your movements, regardless of your relationship status.)

 

3. They can hold stuff for you

This could be the geocaching equivalent of holding your wife’s purse while she is shopping! I won’t even comment on how many times I’ve dropped the lid of a nano while caching alone (I’ve always found it, honest!). When my muggle is with me, he now holds out his hands to me out of habit and holds the container while I sign the log.

 

4. If all else fails, they will probably help you search for the cache

Even if it’s just so they can finally go home and have dinner, they are likely to help you search if you’re having trouble, and often will find it straight away—it’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can see, even in the same spot you’ve been searching for ten minutes!

While finding another geocacher to be your partner-in-crime might seem like the perfect scenario for a dedicated cacher, having a ‘snuggle muggle’ as your significant other is really not such a bad thing. Are you coupled up with a muggle or a geocacher, or are you still looking for the first to find your heart?

You can read more witty and adventurous articles from The Geocaching Junkie on her personal blog page: thegeocachingjunkie.com

Piz Palü 3901 m.ü.M. — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC5B9WM
by the Schnuppels
Difficulty:
3
Terrain:
5
Location:
In Graubuenden (GR), Switzerland
N 46° 22.715′ E 009° 58.152′

“Thousands of tired, nerve shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home.” –John Muir

If you love extreme, you’ll love this GOTW. In Switzerland, a mountain cache sits at 3,901 m (12,800 ft). Home to 30,239 active geocaches, and more than 250 summits above 3,600 m, Switzerland is a haven for mountain caching. According to the cache owner, Piz Palü is one of the great treasures of the Alps. “You will experience here breathtaking views that you will never forget, because you have to earn it with endurance and skill. The entrance over the Pers glacier is only possible with crampons, pick axes, and ropes.” –the Schnuppels

The journey can be split up into 3 days per Cosley & Houston’s Alpine Guide.

Day 1

Start by riding the Diavolezza lift to almost 3,000 m. From here you descend to the Pers Glacier, cross this and ascend the Fortezza to the Bellavista Terraces. These are followed to the Marco e Rosa hut, 3,597 m, where you spend the night.

Day 2

From the hut you climb up first glacier, then steeper snow, and finally rock to gain the east ridge of the Spedela, a 4020 meter sub-peak of the Bernina. From here a narrow ridge crest sometimes rock, sometimes snow, leads to the airy summit. Follow the same route back to the hut to spend a second night.

 

Day 3

On our last day, traverse back across the Bellavista Terraces to the pass at the west end of the three summits of Piz Palü. The first summit is mostly rock. the second and third are snow, with some steep and narrow snow ridges to add spice to the adventure. After descending the large Vedret Pers glacier, climb back to the Diavolezza lift and take it back to the valley.

The descent is steep and can be dangerous. Temperatures in the region can hit -22 degrees celsius at night (uh brrr?) and the cache page says the initial ascent of the mountain is 5-6 hours — the descent about 4 hours. Geocachers are drawn to parts of the Earth like this to fight nerves and be in an environment where they feel at home. Spending three days to earn a geocache through blistering freezing temperatures, putting your faith into your pickaxe on the side of a cliff hundreds of meters in the air, and getting swept in all directions by the Apline wind is home to some. Call it crazy, call it geocaching, call it what you will, it’s all in the spirit of adventure and finding your happy place in the world.

 

“At 4:40 we started from the Diavolezza. Apart from the ascent on the previous day, the first day on the route was exhausting, even without the acclimation. But in the end, we had a good time on the saddle and could fill up the summit with a short break. We were able to get here without a rope, so it was no problem to quickly go to the memorial plaque. I was surprised at how wide the saddle is.

Thanks so much for the cache at this special place! This was, of course, the icing on the cake! Now I’m curious when I’ll find an even higher cache. For a while, this cache will probably remain on place 1 of my high altitude list.” –SteinbamOne 6th log entry.

The Schnuppels was the pioneer who placed this extreme cache, and only 8 others have braved the journey since 2014.

The Ouzoud Waterfalls — Geocache of the Week

EarthCache
GC21VQ7
by Silvana
Difficulty:
2
Terrain:
2
Location:
Morocco
N 32° 00.900′ W 006° 43.181′

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Waterfalls draw people in with their effulgent mist, power, and calming radiance from the sound of flowing water. The Ouzoud Waterfalls are located in the epitome of an oasis, surrounded by trees and vibrant desert life. Can you imagine the excitement of crossing the Sahara desert and stumbling upon this multi-tiered waterfall?

gotw-morocco

This EarthCache here is designed to educate you on waterfalls and their formation. The geocache page does an excellent job in explaining the different types of waterfalls and will equip you with the right information so you can enjoy a fulfilling geological adventure.

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But to bring you up to speed: You’ll learn the difference between a cascade and a cataract waterfall, and how waterfalls are created. The peak of the falls reach 323 ft (98 m), and from there the water flows down several tiers of varying size. You can view the falls from both the top or from the plunge pool below. The name “Ouzoud” translates to “olive” in the ancient language of Berber, and was named that because of the plenitude of olive trees that surround the falls.

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There are also a ton of monkeys!

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SONY DSC
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Take a break to take this all in. 

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Here’s what geocachers had to say:

On the day before we went home, we visited the Ouzoud- waterfalls. First, we looked at this beautiful natural phenomenon from above. The the stairs down seemed endless. Both views were breathtaking! Thank you for this great Earthcache! – Trittauer translated from German

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We have found this cache during our motorized one week long geotrip around Morocco. We have visited cascades d’Ouzoud, some caves and lakes and interesting and beautiful places in cities like Fes, Casablanca or Marrakech. We enjoyed our journey a lot and we definitely will come back to Morocco in the future. These waterfalls are really beautiful, it is probably the greatest place we have seen in Morocco. We liked also the meeting with monkeys and our trip through valley down the river. Thank you very much for our 6000. cache!!! Greetings from the Czech Republic. – R+D

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Every EarthCache has delightful engaging facts about the geological site that you can observe first hand. Thank you Silvana for recognizing a great EarthCache and writing a very educational cache page. Go chase this waterfall if you’re in search for an amazing adventure!   

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Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.
Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.

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A new country souvenir: Romania!

Be prepared to hike mountains, take field notes on a volcanic crater, check out Europe’s largest parliament building, ward off vampires at Dracula’s famous castle, and travel back in time to the 17th century on our virtual visit to Eastern Europe.

Because our final new souvenir of the year takes you to Romania!

romania
Aside from having Europe’s most abundant resources of gold, there is a rich and vibrant geocaching community in Romania. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to check out the local geocaching events. The community is warm and welcoming to people who travel to the country for geocaching, and are eager to share stories. You may be invited to join in on the adventure and broaden your visit by tagging along to learn more about the country and culture.

Balea Lake

GC2DYPD | by delcho | D3/T3.5 | Traditional Cache |

romania
Visitors will fall in love with Romania’s picturesque countryside filled with landscapes of the Carpathian Mountains, steep valleys, and glacier lakes. Our first stop is in the heart of Romania at a place that even impressed hollywood superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme: GC2DYPD – Balea Lake.

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The drive to the Balea Lake will bring you up winding roads that climb to 2,034 m of elevation through the Carpathian Mountains. Be prepared for the cold air that sweeps through the valleys during winter time. Though if the cold doesn’t bother you too much and you only want to escape the wind, you can always seek refuge in the nearby Ice Hotel in case of a snow storm. The cache is south west of the lake and is located at the best vantage point. While you’re in the area be sure to also check out nearby caches “A walk in the clouds” (GC1VM88) and “Dragon’s Window”(GC5CF4R ).

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Nobody Home

GC1BFHH | by silentmouse | D2.5/T1.5 | Traditional Cache |

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Stop by this old 17th century village in the capital city of Bucharest, but don’t bother to knock because there’s Nobody Home (after you make it through the museum entrance). The village museum is open to the public and you are welcome to poke around and imagine you are back in time — with a GPS or smart-phone of course. If you find yourself overwhelmed with joy here, know that it’s probably not by coincidence, because the city of Bucharest literally translates to “City of Joy.”

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[MR] Casa Poporului

GC5FPEX | by miss_shady | D2/T1.5 | Traditional Cache |

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Not too far away from GC1BFHH and the open-air village museum is Casa Poporului the second largest parliament building in the world. If you plan on doing some sight seeing through Bucharest this is a must-grab geocache. It is a small cache on the street facing the palace strategically placed for some great photo opps. However this is a major tourist attraction in the city, so be wary of muggles in the area.

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Volcanic Crater in Racos

GC1QAVH | by Mioritics | D2/T2.5 | EarthCache |

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Of the 51 EarthCaches in Romania  the Volcanic Crater in Racos tops the list when it comes to that “wow” factor and provides a glimpse at the country’s eclectic geomorphological features. As far as geology enthusiasts go, the volcanic crater is a perfect place to study all types of slag, ash, pumice, volcanic bombs, and hardened lava.

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Dracula’s Castle

GC5D8 | by Orangefizzy & Buntoro | D3/T3.5 | Traditional Cache

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The Bran castle is better known as Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, and has the most favorite points of any geocache in Romania. The former abode of Vlad the Impaler attracts over countless visitors each year. If you take the tour, you will see the vampire theme played out in the castle: coffins, red colored drapes, and melted wax candles. Bran castle is open to the public year-round and you can stay in the castle overnight on Halloween.

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This legendary castle also has a legendary geocache. On April 1, 2001, Team Romania placed the country’s first official geocache at this location. The castle is an international icon and surrounded by mountains, giving it the perfect conditions for a geocache. The contents of the cache consists of mainly of toys and games, but also includes a few essential vampire deterrents, including a mirror, a Croatian pre-paid phone card with a photo of the Pope on it, and a large pencil that could be used as a wooden stake in an emergency. The cache container is a rectangular plastic tupperware container with a green lid. According to the cache page there are three different ways to grab this cache depending on how you would like to get there.

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Romania is home to 3,221 geocaches and a strong community. Whether you are visiting the capital city of Bucharest or sight-seeing in the rural regions of the Romania, you will have a geocaching adventure you won’t forget!

La revedere!
(Good-Bye)