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Winter & Winter Caching

A neighbour who is spending two months in Florida said the following in a recent email:

“We have been following Moncton weather from here and it seems like this winter has been a real lulu. I am starting to think that the snowbirds do have the right idea.”

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I replied

“The last storm 2 days ago was great but the previous one was supposed to give us 30 cms but it was mostly rain here. We were very disappointed. We have done some skiing at Beaver and will be going again today although we don’t know if they have done the trails after last nights 10 cms. We should be getting 10 more by tomorrow morning
Yesterday we walked 8 kms on snowmobile trails in Turtle Creek area picking up a bunch of geocaches. The snow was often hip deep off the trail. Monday I snowshoed to Shediac Island with a group and did about 10kms, checking on the conditions of the geocaches over there. Next week we may go finish the job. Tomorrow we will snowshoe over to Cocagne Island again to check on geocaches. March 1 we will have more than 100 people at the center in Grande Digue to go over the islands.

Maybe that makes us snowbirds”

******

MA and I love winter and we would only think of going south if it was a lousy winter, i.e. rainy and no snow. Since December 1 we have found about 660 caches. Of our total number of caches found in 10 years, about 3800 were found in winter months. A number of cachers have told us that previous to caching, they usually hibernated during winter but that they now get out and walk snowmobile trails or get out their new snowshoes and get out on the hiking trails.

We have done winter caching in the Fredericton area a number of times. There are great caching series on trails and in the woodlot which draw us there.

Our Ice walk event draws many people every year. People come for the challenge of crossing the ice and conquering an island. But it is not only the island caches which draw cachers to the event. There is a large number of series in the area from Memramcook to Bouctouche. A few more series have been added this year. They are all winter friendly.

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Winter Friendly

When we say winter friendly in the Moncton area, we usually mean that the cache is hung at a height that keeps the cache above the snow. Our caches are usually winter friendly and the winter attribute is usually added to the cache page.

As I have learned from a recent discussion in the GC.com forums, the winter attribute can have another meaning. For example caches placed in swampy areas are a lot more accessible in winter when the ground and water is frozen. In addition, you avoid the mosquito problem. We have tried accessing caches on Shediac Island in summer but have been stopped by the thorny rosebushes and the bugs. The Condo cache on Cocagne Island will bring you to 100 overhead heron nests. I really wouldn’t want to be under those nests in summer.
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In the Maritimes we have had a number of fun contests/competitions each year to encourage winter caching. The recent winters, we have the Battlecache game and the Come Out And Play competition which motivate and encourage cachers.

Afew winters ago we would have a winter challenge where NS would compete against NB to see which province would hide the most caches. The reviewers would hold the cache pages and publish them all in one evening in February. Cachers would sit at their computers that night and watch all the caches being approved. There were hundreds approved in each province.

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Short Ice Walk History

We are members of the Moncton Outdoor Enthusiasts Club. Prior to geocaching we had an annual snowshoe event to Shediac Island from our house, followed by a pot luck meal. In February 2005 we placed a couple of caches on the island before one of the club events. Jim52 was a member of the club and grabbed the caches during the club event on Feb 7. One month later 6 cachers showed up at our place to cross the ice to the caches. Some of them were only wearing jeans and we were a bit worried about them so we stayed home and waited their return.

Log by Argus2


Our group of 6 continued along the trail until it swung to the left and headed for the last cache on the island which we found quite easily. Great trails here! Took metal brainteaser puzzle and left an eyeglasses repair kit. Definitely want to come back in the summer.
For the return trip, we stayed together on the trail but when we hit the frozen bay, johnny.cache and Dragoon set a blistering pace that my aching muscles couldn’t keep up with. In fact, Funky and RAYAR were now pulling away from Cache Jordan and myself who were bringing up the rear. I always thought the return part of any trip seemed faster but after walking forever, the distant shore just kept getting more distant. Pretty soon the first group were no more than little dots against the white background. The second group had pulled away by about 800 meters while CJ and I were convinced that somebody kept moving the home shore further away as a cruel joke. Ironically the last step I took off the ice was a foot soaker- just to add to the experience!
I have found in my few years in this sport that there is a special camaraderie among fellow geocachers that is unparalleled and today was the best example of this. It started with FarsideX lending me his top of the line snowshoes and ended with Ma & Pa whom I finally got to meet. They had a planned event to attend to this afternoon, but stayed home to welcome the 6 tired, aching souls into their home and provided trays of cheese, crackers, grapes, most awesome cheesecake, coffee and the best chili. Thanks… it doesn’t get any better than this!

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Two years later in 2007 we decided to have two crossings to the island. One weekend we had an event for the Outdoor Enthusiasts (snowshoe and pot luck) and the next weekend we had a similar event for the geocachers. That was the first ice Walk Event. Last year we moved the event to the community center in Grande-Digue and had major help from some local cachers.

7 Comments

  • avatar PA says:

    Another example of winter caching activities:

    Thursday morning, Ma and I did a maintenance run on the south end of Cocagne Island with globuf, châtelaine, and John (of Brechan_Paytra_&_Fin). I believe this was only our second maintenance run on that section of the island

    It is sometimes difficult to navigate the south end because there is often no trail leading from one cache to another. As a result, a lot of bushwacking is required. I have the impression that participants to the Ice Walk only do this section after doing the rest of the islands.

    Crossing the ice to the islands is often possible without snowshoes but the recent storms has left a thick layer of snow on the ice so snowshoes were needed. Once on the island we had to work hard. The snow was deep and we were often sinking deep even with snowshoes and in addition, the snow was moist and heavy and stuck to the snowshoes.

    It was hard work going through the woods but it was a nice day and we enjoyed the challenge. After finding number of caches and making necessary repairs and replacements, we eventually got across the island and then were finally able to walk in the open along the dunes as we headed north checking more caches. Eventually we had to head back into the woods and cross the island again checking caches, including our favourite, the Condos cache.

    Because it is a tough section, we decided to make it more tempting and a few more caches were hidden including a Micro Logic.

    Whether or not you decide to do this section, you should be sure to go for the CONDOS cache and check out the dozens of heron nests.

    GC19F3D

    .heron nests

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  • avatar PA says:

    Here is today’s announcement for the Ice Walk

    .

    *A maintenance run was done to the south section of Cocagne Island on Thursday. All 12 caches in that section were maintained and 4 new caches were added, including a puzzle cache. There are another 13 caches on the north end of the island.
    *It has now been confirmed that all but 2 caches on Shediac Island are in great shape. We will check on those two caches this week.
    *The ice conditions are great and there is plenty of snow on the ice and on the islands.
    *Cache GC4YZ9B SURPRISE will be hidden near the event location. The cache is family friendly. The cache may not be published prior to the event but we will provide the coords at the event and in the next announcement. You will be able to log the cache after the event.
    *You are invited to drop in and say hello and have a cup of coffee before heading out. At that time, you can also drop off any food for the event.
    *chatelaine will be on hand to greet cachers and will be handling the log book for the event. Please come in and sign the book before or after your caching day.
    *herrminnz will be handling the draws for door prizes and will be selling tickets for modified 50/50 draws to help pay for the hall.
    *We plan on issuing a final announcement on Friday which will include a contact phone number for the event.

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  • avatar PA says:

    Ice walk Announcement

    *It has been very cold for a while and the ice conditions are great. We have seen trucks in the middle of the bay.
    *The temperature Saturday morning will be -15C warming slowly to -6C in the middle of the afternoon. It will be very cold out in the open crossing the ice. Please dress accordingly.
    *We found the snow to be deep on both our maintenance runs so we recommend snowshoes.
    *The event goes on all day so you can begin your caching at any time. Registration is at 8:30 and you may be able to organize carpooling at that time. You can register upon your return if you so wish.
    *All cachers will be eligible for door prizes. Tickets will also be sold for a 50/50 draw. It is not necessary to be present for the prize draws *Contact phone number if you have problems is 506 875-4315.
    *A fun cache (GC4YZ9B SURPRISE) N 46 17.691 W 064 33.586 will be placed near the center on Saturday morning.
    *Alcohol is not permitted in Notre Centre.

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  • avatar PA says:

    This afternoon, I snowshoed over to the North side of Shediac Island from our place. It was an interesting crossing, very windy with blowing snow. I did maintenance on two caches that were reported in trouble and also checked on Micro Logic 51 on the island. Following my snowshoe tracks may get you to the latter cache.

    PA

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  • avatar PA says:

    Two winter related logs from châtelaine for two of our micro logics in Sackville. Very funny stuff.

    If you want to read on the cache page, here are the links

    GC2E0FZ

    GC1Y0AP

    ****************************************
    09 Mar 14
    Herr Minnz and I just spent a great weekend in Truro with the COs, Sussex Ace, VFRgirl, Pikpik, Globuf and Walden07. We found a bunch of caches, went to the Battlecache event, had a nice dinner and enjoyed the group’s camaraderie. Couldn’t even really complain about the accommodations, such as they were. Anyway, we saved the best for last.

    We had intended on picking this cache up enroute but ran out of time, so we decided to make one more stop on the way home. Well, we drove as far as the snow plow had gone and then looked in dismay at the 500 meters we still had left to travel. Its already 5:30 p.m. so none of us really want to walk in and back but none of us want to leave it there either. Finally, egging on Herr Minnz he agrees to drive over the ridge row left behind by the plow – it’s really not that high and is definitely frozen solid. Once past that we can pretty much see bare pavement all the way to the cache – except the snow drifts across the pavement were a tad deceiving and I wasn’t too sure that we were going to actually get through that one drift. But we did and we drove until we were parallel to the cache – with 70 meters still to go. No choice but to post-hole. Well, hindsight being 20-20 we might have been better off taking the time to don our snowshoes but then we wouldn’t have found ourselves rolling in the snow with laughter. Globuf went tripping along ahead of us, just flying over the snow. I swear she moves so fast that the snow doesn’t have time to grab her feet and haul her in. Me on the other hand, well I move slowly and – deeply. Sort of up to my crotch deep in the words of Walden07. I am wallowing in all this snow and she’s not doing a whole lot better. Globuf in the meantime arrives at the cache only to break the wire as she removes it from its perch. No doubt about it, that little sucker is not going to hang anymore. Worst of all, no where to wedge it. Well, being the kind people that we are, we decide that since the CO is so nice (Ma all the time, Pa quite often) and we have just had a great weekend with them, we’ll do some maintenance and replace the container. Now you realize that means getting back to the vehicle, through all that REALLY deep snow, get the cache and make another round trip. Do we really want to do this? I’m questioning our folly as once more I’m up to my crotch in snow. I decide the only way to get back to the car is to crawl. So off I set but then I think “what if I sink in while I’m on my hands and knees; I could plunge my head into the snow and suffocate!” Up I get, all the while we’re laughing like a bunch of hyenas. Back at the vehicle Herr Minnz has found a new container and is trying to persuade Globuf to put on snowshoes for the return trip. She figures we’ve made enough of a geotrail that she doesn’t need them. I’m not arguing with her, I’m just letting her make the trip by herself this time. Cache in place, now we have to get back through all those snowdrifts. “Just gun it” we advise Herr Minnz, so he does and we plow our way out. Whew.

    Lord only knows what anyone watching our antics from the Trans Canada Highway must have thought. Twas the best adventure ever (well, of the weekend anyway). TFTC

    ***************************************

    We had a great time caching in Truro with the COs and others but the best adventures happened in Sackville, almost home, but we just HAD to stop for a couple of micro-logics. This one we had pretty much given up on before we ever got there since Pikpik had been by a week earlier and couldn’t get to it due to the extraordinary amount of snow that we have had to contend with this winter. But Herr Minnz is always the optimist and figured the snow had likely melted enough in the intervening week. As we drove up to GZ we can see the guard rail where we think its going to be totally clear of snow. Unfortunately, the guard rail on the other side of the road was buried in the snow and, yes, you guessed it, THAT is where the lucky little cache is hiding. Walden07, Globuf and I jump out of the vehicle while Herr Minnz goes to turn it around. The three of us follow our respective GPS to GZ and all three actually take us to exactly the same spot where, coincidentally, there is a post in the guard rail. We can tell this because the very top half-inch of the guard rail is peeking out of the snow. So, we begin to dig. Its pretty easy to clear out the top half of the guard rail, except the cache isn’t there. The bottom half is a little trickier because we are having to dig through ice, not just snow. Finally we get a hole just large enough for me to get my hand inside – with a little pushing and squeezing. I’m thinking, “yeah, but am I going to get it out?” That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the cache wasn’t there! “Oh dear” we think, “it’s a nano, more than likely we dislodged while we were digging.” Now we have to dig through the snow for a nano! As Walden07 and I are contemplating this very sad state of affairs Globuf gives up. Actually, she doesn’t. She simply walks down to the next post which is half uncovered, sticks her hand in and pulls out the nano. Ha. Well, the jokes on her because she drops the log in the snow! Now she has to start digging. Never did find that sucker but I happened to have a nice “rite as rain” nano log in my caching bag so now the cache is safely back in place with a brand new log!

    Time to go home. I can’t take any more “adventure”. Not to mention my sides hurt from laughing so much! TFTC.

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  • avatar PA says:

    After a snow storm, park and grabs are not park and grabs, especially if you listen to JIM52.

    Here are two logs from this morning
    ******************************
    Today we needed 3 caches to continue with our goal of having 3 caches on every day of the calendar. We started our day with breakfast at the Casino with Jim52 and friends. We used the Casino’s money to win $40, while Jim won $75 with their money.

    Jim said that the new caches were park and grabs. Well maybe they will be in July but right now they could be an adventure.

    PA was in too much of a hurry to put on his high caching boots so he went with his low boots. Access to this cache required us to climb a 6 foot snow bank at the side of the road. Once over the bank snow was deeper than PA’s boots. We hadn’t entered the caches in the GPS so we had to use the Iphone. It lead us to a tree which had no cache and we then had the choice of two trees. PA continued through the deep snow to the wrong tree. Finally got to the cache and the virgin log sheet.

    Yeah FTF

    TFTC

    *******************************

    We heard no pheasants and saw no pheasants, but maybe because we were busy trying to walk through knee deep snow and also trying to rely on our Iphone to get close. The darn phone took its sweet time telling us when we got close.

    We think we got a FTF but it is difficult to know if we did cause the was no log sheet in the cache. Fortunately MA had a piece of paper with her, so we didnt have to go all the way back to the car to get a log sheet.

    If someone else had the FTF , they left no footprints. LOL

    TFTC

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  • avatar PA says:

    FUNNY STORY

    Regarding my last cache story in the previous comment.

    There was no log sheet in the Pheasant cache when we went for it yesterday, so we added a piece of paper and signed it. After the breakfast event this morning, a group went for a number of caches including this one. They found a clean log sheet and for a short time thought they had the FTF, until they read our log. It seems that Cableguy got there before them, removed our piece of paper, and put a new log sheet in the cache and did not add our names to it.

    LOL

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