Saturday, July 5, 2008

Finally Back At It!

I've been at work all June, and required to report for duty at 7:30 Mountain Time, the same hour as the hash data comes out. Therefore no hashing for me, because by the time I would get internet access at the end of the day, it was time to go to bed to do it all again the next day. Toss in food poisoning making me miss the SFU hash and it was a hashfree month.

Never mind, here it is today, a Saturday and despite slightly diminished CON and STR stats as a result of the food poisoning, I was ready to go find the nearest hashpoint that wasn't underwater.

Initially I had a dragalong companion, with the wrinkle that he was sort of to be dragging me, as I was going to ride on the back of his motorbike. We just had a forty-five minute errand to do first and then were going to hit the hash on the way back. All ready to leave at 2:30, this was going to be sweet. "Just a second," he says, just as I get my helmet on, "I have to check the address." Turns out it's an hour and ten minutes away, and closes at five. No time to go there and back before four and no time to go after four. I'm on my own.

I thought I could get to the hash in an hour and a half if I pushed it. I rushed around to change clothes, helmets, shoes, etcetera and transfer my stuff from motorbike to bicycle. I got out the door at 2:45, knowing everything had to go right for me to cross town and two bridges to find the hash.

Everything didn't. There's a tricky bit in between the Queensborough Bridge and the Alex Fraser where they post helpful signs reading merely "Bike Route" and you don't know if they are the bike route to Richmond, Delta or New West. I spent about twenty minutes casting about for the right road, making worse progress than a pedestrian with a cane, until I finally got on the right sidewalk for the Alex Fraser Bridge. I knew four o' clock was passing as I crossed the bridge, but I persevered.

Exiting the bridge I knew that I was going to be forced onto another anonymous bike route, this one unpaved through the forest, beside a river, but I had a plan to get out of the woods, so I switched on the GPS at that point. Unfortunately the forest canopy prevented acquiring satellites, and the unit kept deciding to switch off because it wasn't finding any.

I forded the stream at the first opportunity and came out in a subdivision that had sky, only to discover I had gone too far south. Heading north hooked me up with another wooded bike path that matched the vector I needed, so I followed that. I ended up with the same no satellite problem, plus mud and tree litter clogged fenders, and had to escape by hauling the bike up a steep wooded trail, bringing me out a mere kilometre from the hashpoint. A few lefts and rights later I was triumphantly at the destination. There was even a piece of board on the ground that I imagined had once said xkcd in chalk letters before the rain washed it away. It was an elementary school playground, the peculiar pavement markings visible in the Google Maps image now so faded that I wouldn't have spotted them if I weren't looking for them to verify my position. The green vertical things appear to be part of some sort of ball game, I guess a variation on basketball. There was a soccer tournament or a sports day or something going on in the fields on the other side of the building.

Sadly, it was 16:45 and anyone else who had made it to this easy destination was long gone. I deliberately haven't looked to see if anyone else went yet, so I don't know whether to be happy that it didn't matter I was late, or to be happy that at least someone got there on time.

I wish I had more photographs, but I had to hurry on the way there, and was exhausted on the way back, so I documented only the hashpoint itself.

At least I officially achieved the bike hash.

Monday, June 16, 2008


In my home graticule it's in the middle of a ski run at Cypress. How cool is that? I'm in 40 -111 today though, and it's off in a National Forest I can't walk to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two Graticules

I worked all day today, but tried for a couple of graticules. I was flying in cloud and it was almost time to turn, so I checked on nearby hashpoints. It didn't really matter where I turned north, as long as I was past the weather. So I turned a little earlier than the original plan. I turned as soon as the 32 -93 hashpoint lined up with my destination.

The plan was to nail the IMC achievement, and I was in IMC minutes before the hash, as illustrated below.

Unfortunately I broke out into scattered cloud right before the hashpoint, so I didn't photograph the arrival. Aerial hashing in VMC is so three days ago!

At the end of the day it was still light, and I checked to discover that the nearest hashpoint, in the unclaimed 40 -112 graticule, was 2.5 nm from my hotel. It looked like there were even trails going to it, I grabbed my GPS and went looking. Almost a mile was on paved roads, then across a field, and then I was stopped by what on the map had been called a "drain." A wide, deep, flowing canal was the end of my quest, 0.96 nm from the target.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aerial Speedhashing

I'm out of my graticule today. What do you think? Did I achieve the hashpoint?

Here's a picture of the hashpoint out the window ...

The airplane goes way too fast to capture the exact spot on film, but I took pictures as I was arriving ...

I don't have a co-pilot who can take my picture, so this reflected self-portrait will have to do as proof of the smiling face ...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Possible but Not Fun Today

Today's points are in the far north of their graticules, putting Vancouver in Garibaldi Provincial Park and Surrey in untracked mountains north of Tipella, at the far end of Harrison Lake. Today's rain and single digit temperatures are just not conducive to that kind of because it's there adventure. Even Bellingham manages to be on a mountain ridge today, 2400' above Racehorse Creek.

Maybe tomorrow it will be in my living room and we can have a party.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cassidy and the Raindance Kid

It looks like Vancouver's point today falls on the island, accessible by BC Ferries and in a semi-residential area, on a property on Filipana Road and Capnac Place. It's possible that the community in question is a reserve. Weather is forecast to continue cold and rainy.

Surrey's point appears to be on someone's front porch at 156th Street near 20th Avenue, practically at a bus stop.

I haven't decided whether to go after either yet.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's in the water today. The Surrey one is doable, but I'm going to go watch the Triathlon World Cup instead.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wolves and Watershed

The expedition began as planned. There was a little bit of blue sky, so perhaps I wouldn't need my raingear. I realize that one thing I love about geocaching is that you don't know whether you will succeed or not. It might be easy. It might be impossible. Twenty-five kilometres of trail shouldn't be too bad. Worst case scenario is that it is impassable by bike, and I have to go on foot. That would be four hours. Each way. I hope the bridges are still there. I'm hoping to be able to average 10 km/h on the trail. That allows for dragging the bike up rocky inclines, and cruising on reasonable gravel for part of it. The contour map shows it pretty much level, too, with one steep climb. The satellite images made it look like a great road.

At the SeaBus there are six cyclists waiting to load. Here's a shot of the bike in the SeaBus leaving Vancouver. Sorry, no forward shot. Bikes are required to stay at the back of the boat. Next I load the bike onto the bus and it takes me to the Skyride parking lot where this road should begin.

It's the end of the line for the bus, so the bus driver is still there as I open my map. He thinks I'm lost. It's true, people always think you're lost if you look at a map. The lost people are the ones who don't have maps. I have a compass, a GPS and a map. I know where I am. I just need to orient this large, irregularly shaped parking lot to the map so I can find the corner the road comes out of. It looks like the road runs right along one side of the parking lot and heads northwest. I ride off to the northwest corner of the lot to get away from all the people trying to help me. The GPS says 14 km to the hashpoint. Too bad I'm not a crow. The trail isn't straight.

I'm expecting to find one of those low vehicle gates that cyclists can go around. There's an open area that could be a dirt road. And that's where I found the sign that said "Do Not Feed the Wolves." They're real wolves, timber wolves, found wild almost everywhere in Canada, but these ones aren't wild. They're reportedly retired movie wolves. That would explain why they are so acclimatized to humans. But it doesn't really explain why they are hanging out in the vicinity of my trail. I look at the map again and determine the compass bearing of the road, and the coordinates of the corner where it leaves the parking lot. I go to that corner and I can see the road. It's fantastic. It's paved, with good pavement. I'll be at the hashpoint in an hour. But there's a fence around the parking lot, between me and the road.

I follow the fenceline back to where I should be able to get on the road. And then I run into the real world equivalent of 403 Forbidden. No one is allowed in this area, because it drains into the city drinking water reservoir, and they don't want any contamination. I'll try to get more information on exactly where the borders of the no access watershed are, so I don't have another expedition like this one. Frustrating to have the point be so doable, but forbidden, but I find another road to ride around the mountian a bit, then zip back down to the SeaBus at 50 km/h with the brakes on. It was the speed limit. Also I'm chicken.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Saturday is Doable

The Saturday spot just north of Daniels Creek by Appian Mountain looks challenging but achievable, and the weather should be okay.

My plan: 22 MacDonald, SeaBus, then 236 Grouse Mountain bus to the base of the Skyride. The initial road, which looks to be a decent gravel road, goes all the way up the Capilano River first on the east bank then crossing to the west bank until past Daniels Creek. There there is an opportunity to cross back, putting you on the correct side of Daniels Creek, not far from the hashpoint. About 25 km of gravel road. It looks as if it was in a clearcut at the time of Google's satellite coverage.

An alternate route with less gravel would be up the Phyllis Creek road, just north of Porteau Cove.

Will I be the only one?

Mt. Louis

Today's Vancouver hash is in the Earl [mountain] Range perhaps accessible via the Sunshine coast. Access would begin by putting my bike on the Horseshoe Bay bus and riding it to the ferry terminal. Then take the ferry across to Gibsons, bike approximately 85 km on a hilly but paved road to Egmont, continue another 3 km on what might be a powerline right of way or a trail to Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park. Ford the narrows themselves, probably requiring a boat, then hike another 8 km, probably closer to 10 km as it's all switchbacks, up the trails around Earl Creek, to finish at a point between Mt. Louis and Mt. Sumner. It's overcast and raining now, and they're calling for light rain all day.

So let me see
Bus 1:15
Ferry :40 - earliest ferry arrives at noon
85 km bike 5:00
Trail to park 1:00
Crossing water 0:30
10 km uphill hike 2:00
TOTAL 10:25 - earliest possible arrival 8:30 p.m.

And then I'd have to get home.

So this one is sadly a no. Perhaps I'll go after a not-too-far geodash instead.

Surrey, meanwhile, is on the edge of the Mamquam Icefield in Garibaldi, another glorious trip, accessible from Squamish up the Skookum Creek. That would be worthy of taking a car, were the weather nicer.

Bellingham is in the ocean. Victoria is reachable, between Sahtlam and the Tzart-Lam Indian Reservation, possibly within the territory of the latter. I like the way Sahtlam and Tzart-Lam are undoubtedly the same Halkomelem word.

Okay: tomorrow, come Hell or High Water, I'm going to go for it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm addicted

Vancouver is in the water today, but on the mud flats by the mouth of the Fraser. I have a little boat I can carry on my bicycle (okay, it's a swim toy, but it's like a boat). I have a wetsuit. I need a lifejacket, a paddle, and tide tables tell me I want to be there at 13:45.

I couldn't find my other bicycle pannier to carry the wetsuit, so I cleaned the garage instead. I found the pannier, too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Vancouver was a beautiful spot on Gabriola Island. I wish I'd gone for it, but Surrey was a cinch, practically at the King George Skytrain station, so I did that instead. I thought I wasn't going to get it, because across the street from the actual parking lot where the site lay I could see a Keep Out sign, but the Keep Out fencing didn't go all the way around the lot, so I just came in through the open side, and logged my spot. I waited ntil 4:05 p.m. but no one else came, so I went home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Too Wet and Rainy

Bellingham graticule looked doable, east of Limestone Junction in Washington State. I biked as far as White Rock, but the weather was awful and I was nervous about crossing the border for such a frivolous reason, so I turned back.