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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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.

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.

Stay strong, geocachers
1 Comment

Deep Darkness — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC1QC0V
by Balla & Silly
Difficulty:
2
Terrain:
3
Location:
Islas Baleares, Spain
N 39° 28.425 E 002° 29.127
Mediterranean sea side
Mediterranean sea side
Gorgeous views
Gorgeous views

This geocache is located in Islas Baleares, Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. This idyllic area has everything you could ever dream of: beaches, prehistoric ruins, gorgeous countryside, and of course, awesome geocaching.

Awesome geocaching
Awesome geocaching

This geocache is in a former military zone which is now used by the public as a recreational area. It’s not suitable for little kids, people with claustrophobia, or people with nyctophobia (fear of the dark), but if you’re up for a hair raising adventure next to a beautiful ocean view (and who isn’t besides children, or people with claustrophobia, or people with nyctophobia), then this is your cache.

Former military zone
Former military zone
Are we sure we want to do this?
Are we sure we want to do this?
Got claustrophobia?
Got claustrophobia?

Normally for Geocache of the Week, we highlight several logs written by geocachers to give robust first-hand accounts of what it’s like to actually be there. This cache offered many amazing logs, but one in particular had to be shared in its entirety. And now ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, we present to you a log by Jessex:

We were looking forward to this cache. After hiking to the GZ, and looking down the shift, Mrs J says, “I’m staying up here.” Mr J got down to the first platform and started down the next ladder. With scenes from various catacomb films flashing in my head, I stopped. I swear I heard something evil in the darkness and I climbed as fast as I could back to daylight. Mrs J was kind but I was disappointed in myself, I knew I had get this cache.

Down I went, ignoring the images of zombies, murderers and maniacs in my head. With my light in my pack, I descended into the darkness, the worst part when my body was in the tunnel but my head still in the shaft. As soon as I could I looked both ways down the tunnel, hoping to alleviate my fears of impending death but, alas, I could see nothing but darkness. With feet finally on the ground and light on, I could now see there was no danger, at least for as far as my light shone, 20 feet or so. Trying to remember the way from the cache page, with my back to the ladder and went right.

There was a door to the left very close by, I thought how wonderful. Entering the room it grew in size as the light revealed it, I knew this was not the right place. The only option was a small door with the words “dead end” written above it, emphasising the DEAD. This tunnel was hacked from the rocks and led downward. I thought to myself, “There’s no way in hell am I going down there!” if I had no scruples, I would have high tailed it out of there and logged a find, but damn my morals, I walked into the abyss.

Next I did something I knew I shouldn’t, I looked behind me. There was nothing there, of course, but now I was even more aware of the enveloping darkness and dread. At the T junction I went left as instructed but moved a bit too fast to see the cache, I had to go back and search more slowly. Eureka, I found it. But how to hold the light, cache and find a pen and open the cache without losing control. I managed but just barely. I took a TB, closed up the cache and redid it, without any monsters getting me.

I noticed a light further down the tunnel, I thought I may have an easier way out. Managing to squeeze by the boulder blocking the exit and climb a little only to see I was deeper than I thought. I could not risk climbing the cliffs back to Mrs J, on fear of plummeting to my death. Dread overtook me as I realised I must leave the glorious sunshine and descend once again into the realm of the dead.

Stiff-lipped, I slid into the tunnel and began walking into the darkness. My light was fading and I was sure I saw a being walking toward me, I sped up hoping to get to the turn before it did. I turned right and headed up the incline of jutting rocks, hearing something behind me, I refused to look, focusing on the tunnel ahead. At the door I closed it as far as I could, concentrated on getting to the ladder. Looking right, I saw the big room again, only this time a sinister feeling overtook me. I heard the door I had just shut begin to open. Don’t look, don’t look. Just get to the exit. I put the light into my pack, walking the last few steps in only the light offered by the ladder shaft. Up the ladder, up the ladder.

I am not fit, and am carrying extra weight, but fear and adrenalin are great helpers. Up to the platform, listening to heavy breathing, was it mine or the monster’s? Legs don’t fail me now! The last few rungs almost got me but finally I was bathed in light and arms of Mrs J. We did it, mission accomplished!

Favourite point, thanks.
Jessex (UK)

Stay strong, geocachers
Stay strong, geocachers
You'll be fine
You’ll be fine
Just a little further
Just a little further
Which tunnel is the correct one?
Which tunnel is the correct one?
Is that a dead end?
Is that a dead end?
Jose was here
Jose was here
Is this the cache?
Is this the cache?
Light at the end of the tunnel
Light at the end of the tunnel
And a little turtle friend to comfort you on a job well done
And a little turtle friend to comfort you on a job well done

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.

A Box of Red Herrings — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC6NQC2
by burgo78
Difficulty:
4
Terrain:
1
Location:
Townsville, Australia
S 19° 17.724 E 146° 46.327

“A Box of Red Herrings” (GC6NQC2) delivers exactly what it promises. The cache itself is hidden with permission inside the Aitkenvale Library in Queensland, Australia. It’s not  difficult to spot, but the logbook inside is as well protected as J.K. Rowling’s sorcerer’s stone.

The cache sits in an inconspicuous corner of the library.
The cache sits in an inconspicuous corner of the library.

At ground zero you’ll find a three-foot tall cupboard with each of its drawers padlocked. Tackle the bottom drawer first, using instructions on the cache page and letters from a nearby library sign as your guide.

"A Box of Red Herrings" is easy to find but tricky to open.
“A Box of Red Herrings” is easy to find but tricky to open.

Open that drawer to find over a hundred mostly unmarked keys. You might start to feel like Harry Potter himself as you search through a throng of dud keys to locate one that will unlock the middle drawer.

It'll take a while to sift through the contents of the bottom drawer to find the right tool to open the middle one.
It’ll take a while to sift through the contents of the bottom drawer to find the right tool to open the middle one.

The middle drawer contains several items. Some may be useful in opening the top drawer and gaining access to the log inside. Most are red herrings. The challenge lies in discerning which are which.

unnamed-12
The contents of the middle drawer will take some time to sift through.

The middle drawer contains the following:

  • A magnifying glass and a small clue; on the clue some letters and numbers are in bold or capitalized
  • Two tent pegs which will fit into holes in the drawers
  • A telescoping magnet
  • A mirror and a backwards note
  • Toothpicks and a block of wood – when the toothpicks are pushed into the holes in the wood they spell something in Roman numerals
  • Several plastic eggs, some with letters on them
  • A UV torch
Is it a literal or a figurative red herring?
Is it a literal or a figurative red herring?

Is one of the objects — or are several of them in combination — a clue? Or is there some other trick to getting the top drawer open? We won’t reveal any more than that here, but cachers who make it out to this cache won’t find it an easy one to finish…unless, says the cache owner, they ask for a hint from the local older gentleman who often sits in a chair near the cache.

The UV torch highlights a clue...or another red herring.
The UV torch highlights a clue…or another red herring.

Impressively, the cache owner, burgo78, has only been geocaching since March of 2016, proving that it doesn’t take years of geocaching practice to design a cool hide. He’s been thoroughly enjoying his first year of caching. “I now have 800+ finds and have 60 hides in Townsville (plus one in the USA, and one in England); some are simple containers but most are either a little harder to get to (boat or remote) or are a little more creative as these are the types of hides I enjoy finding myself.”

The bottom and middle drawer successfully unlocked. One to go!
The bottom and middle drawer successfully unlocked. One to go!
unnamed-7
A mysterious jar of sticks can be arranged into a mysterious upright row of sticks.

Although he’s sure his caches will provide a fun challenge for many, burgo78’s motives may lie elsewhere. “I also hope that this cache my inspire new hides in Townsville as I’ve found almost all of the 400 currently in place and the next substantial city is over four hours’ drive away.” The struggle is real.

Trying to discern what the magnifying glass is for.
Trying to discern what the magnifying glass is for.

Until now, only a few folks have found “A Box of Red Herrings”, but the comments have been unanimously positive. Burgo78 hopes that more cachers will rise to the challenge and won’t be too distracted by the red herrings they’ll encounter along the way.

We can see a lot of work and thought has gone in to this really great cache. We tried many options, slowly and methodically working towards success. My comment when I signed the log, “WOW”. Thank you, a favorite for us.

The logbook finally reveals itself.
The logbook and a trove of other objects — mysterious and otherwise — finally reveal themselves.

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.