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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People from all over Europe and the world
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“You have to be odd to be number one” — First of each geocache type

“You have to be odd to be number one”
— Dr. Seuss

The first to be something, now that’s something. Although a few of these geocaches are open for a spirited discussion, we’re fairly confident these are the “firsts” for each geocache type. Keep in mind that in the early days of geocaching, it was easier to change cache types after publication. Nevertheless, these geocaches should be fairly “pure”. Check out our list:

First Traditional Geocache

The Original Stash
GCF
May 3, 2000
Oregon, USA

Dave Ulmer's original description
Dave Ulmer’s original description restored from the sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroup.
Dave Ulmer at location of The Original Stash
Dave Ulmer at location of The Original Stash when the tribute plaque was installed

First Mystery Cache

Octopus Garden
GC70
October 30, 2000
North Carolina, USA

The reason for the name of the Mystery Cache
The reason for the name of the Mystery Cache
The contents found in the first Mystery Cache
The contents found in the first Mystery Cache

First Multi-Cache

Tour of Stone Mountain
GC1E
June 11, 2000
Georgia, USA

And here it was, deep in the woods of Georgia
And here it was, deep in the woods of Georgia
Nice use of the ammo can for the world's first Multi-Cache
Nice use of the ammo can for the world’s first Multi-Cache

First Virtual Cache

Rift Valley
GC53
6/15/2000 (The user carved his initials in a tree, years prior and listed it as a virtual cache in September of 2000, backdating to June of 2000. It’s possible that “Virtual Dublin” GC60 may be the true first.)
Kenya 

Driving to the world's first Virtual Cache in Kenya
Driving to the world’s first Virtual Cache in Kenya
Virtually amazing?
Virtually amazing?

First Letterbox Hybrid

Open Space 6
GC190
1/15/2001 (This one is the most difficult to confirm. GC2D is the oldest Letterbox Hybrid in the database, but it was never found. It’s possible it was changed to a Letterbox Hybrid after the fact.)
New Mexico, USA

En route to the Letterbox Hybrid
En route to the Letterbox Hybrid
En route to the Letterbox Hybrid
En route to the Letterbox Hybrid

 

First Event Cache

Austin Geocachers Happy Hour
GC389
March 24, 2001
Texas, USA

The first Event Cache was a rousing success
The first Event Cache was a rousing success

First Webcam Cache

Houston Webcam Cache #1
GC21DF
October 11, 2001
Texas, USA

Remember dial-up modems and websites that looked like this?
Remember dial-up modems and websites that looked like this?
Webcam image. No bull.
Webcam image. No bull.

First Locationless Cache

Please Donate Blood Cache
GC1C90
September 12, 2001
Locationless—duh! 

Blood, sweat, and cache
Blood, sweat, and cache
<3
<3

First Cache In Trash Out® (CITO)

Earth Day Cleanup at Raccoon Creek Park
GCE2F1
April 26, 2003
Pennsylvania, USA

The original CITO gang
The original CITO gang
That is a successful haul for a CITO
That is a successful haul for a CITO

First EarthCache

Earthcache I – a simple geology tour of Wasp Head
GCHFT2
January 10, 2004 (other EarthCaches have earlier GC codes, but they were retroactively changed to EarthCaches from other cache types)
New South Wales, Australia

This EarthCache rocks!
This EarthCache rocks!
Get one with nature with an EarthCache
Get one with nature with an EarthCache

First Mega-Event Cache

GeoWoodstock 4
GCRRC6
May 27, 2006
Texas, USA

The first ever Mega-Event had great weather
The first ever Mega-Event had great weather
If you were at the first Mega-Event, you remember these guys
If you were at the first Mega-Event, you remember these guys

First Wherigo

Where I went, Hugo
GC18FP7
January 9, 2008
London, UK

YOU SHALL MAYBE PASS
YOU SHALL MAYBE PASS
Whereveryougo, sign that logbook!
Whereveryougo, sign that logbook!

First Giga-Event

Project MUNICH2014 – Mia san Giga!
GC4K089
August 16, 2014
Bayern, Germany

Setting up for the GIGA!
Setting up for the GIGA!
People from all over Europe and the world
People from all over Europe and the world
Good fun for everyone
Good fun for everyone

What do you think of our list? Do you know of geocaches that may qualify as “geocaching firsts”?

K&K LOST Train

K&K LOST Train — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC2J0H0
by K&K
Difficulty:
2
Terrain:
1.5
Location:
Egypt
N 27° 22.616 E 033° 39.778
K&K LOST Train
K&K LOST Train

El Gouna is a completely man-made tourist resort located in eastern Egypt on the Red Sea. There you will find golfing, horseback riding, scuba diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, parasailing, and snorkeling. There are two main beaches, Zeytuna and Mangroovy, which attract tourists sun-seeking from around the world. El Gouna is known as the “Little Venice of Egypt” due to the canals that allow each house to have its own strip of “beach” even if you may be quite far inland.

Egyptian tuk tuk
Egyptian tuk tuk

But just 10 minutes outside of this luxurious area, you will find something very different: an old train left stranded in the desert.

Skeleton crew
Skeleton crew

Talk about lost places. There are just two dirty, rusted, and battered train cars covered in graffiti. The tracks start at a pile of bricks, go under the cars, then simply end in the middle of nowhere. The rails are just long enough for the two cars to sit upon, plus a dozen sleepers (the wood beams that run perpendicular to the rails).

Weather worn
Weather worn

The most likely scenario is that this train was part of a line that was shut down due to maintenance or repair issues, and it was easier to leave these cars here than to haul them to another location. However, accurate information about this train is difficult to, ahem, “track” down. 😉

Tracks to nowhere
Tracks to nowhere

The train cars conjure up images of an era full of romance, mystery, and adventure. If they could only talk and tell us where they have been, what they have seen, and where they wish to go.

Last call
Last call

But that part is up to you, geocachers. Where will you go next to find romance, mystery, adventure, and maybe a geocache?

"Track" ables?
“Track” ables?
Chugga chugga choo choo
Chugga chugga choo choo
The sun is setting on this train
The sun is setting on this train
The end of a day, and an era
The end of a day, and an era

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.

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.