The story of hiding our first cache: GC1HQDV Stoney Creek Timberwolf – and how we got soaking wet, and attacked by leeches.
It’s been three weekends since we discovered the amazing sport/hobby/game of Geocaching. We’ve now found 14 caches, mostly learning as we go about different cache types, contents and hide locations. It was only a matter of time before we were ready to hide our own cache – and that time had come.
Over the weeks it had been in the back of our minds – “Where will we hide our caches, what’s a good place?”, and we settled on three general locations to start with on the Central Coast of NSW near our home base.
For anyone contemplating hiding their own cache I strongly suggest you read geocaching.com’s Tips for Hiding your first Geocache, and their Geocaching Guidelines so we’re all following a set of common rules.
One of the places under consideration was in the Sommersby / Strickland State Forest area near the F3. I know of an old disused bridge adjacent to Dog Trap Road that used to carry the old two-lane “Expressway” over the top of Dog Trap Road. It was built in the 1960′s and became redundant in the mid 1980′s when that section of F3 was built.
It’s an eerie location, and now densely overgrown with vegetation. I initially thought this would be an ideal location for a cache – even with a name in mind: “A Bridge to Nowhere”. But on arrival and surveying the area a few things put us off this location.
For starters there was a new work-site directly adjacent to the entry of this site, which will make it difficult for cache hunters to get in and out discretely. The works are only temporary (some kind of storm water drainage being worked on), but still enough to be off-putting.
Secondly, there appeared to be no “good” spot to put our small plastic container cache on or near the bridge itself, and recent tyre tracks in the mud made it apparent that construction trucks were passing over the bridge along the old roadway – so we couldn’t risk our cache being destroyed.
Finally we looked under the bridge itself, only to find it to be a haven for derelicts and graffiti vandals – again, probably not a suitable location for a cache. ”Plan B” ?? Yes, fortunately there was a Plan B in this immediate area, in the adjacent Strickland State Forest.
Strickland is a beautiful location and you’ve probably zoomed past it many times before on the F3. It’s the site of some amazing bushwalks, some waterfalls, scenic streams, and rainforest vegetation in its valleys. It’s right next to the busy Sydney to Newcastle freeway corridor, but the entrance to Strickland is somewhat out-of-the-way, and I think that’s a good thing.
When you drive into Strickland be sure to pay attention to the signs. The park gates close at 5pm in the winter, and 8pm in the summer.
There’s an upper car park, and a lower car park. The upper car park is near a picnic area that has views across the Gosford area with tables and toilet facilities – and walking tracks to the Strickland Falls.
Given there’s already a geocache at Strickland Falls we proceeded to the lower carpark. There’s no picnic facilities or toilets down here, and the road down is a little steep and rocky in parts but should be negotiable by any standard 2WD vehicle.
Down in the valley you are rewarded with some amazing walking tracks through some beautiful and tranquil rainforest vegetation. It’s also much quieter down here because most people opt for the upper car park. Having said that, there was one other car present on our arrival, and those muggles had invaded the specific walking track we were intending to investigate, so we opted for a track we’d never walked before known as Stoney Creek Trail.
Proceeding along Stoney Creek Trail we noted some possible hiding locations, only to be deterred when it was apparent that sometimes Stoney Creek rushes with water. There was evidence of a high water level by the location of some vegetation debris caught up against rocks and other trees in the creek bed. We wanted our cache to be safe.
We also wanted our cache to be dry. The last cache we visited was water logged.
Finally we found a suitable resting place in the woods alongside the trail, about 750m from the car park.
It was starting to rain and we had to rush things a little here. If you’re following us you know we like to get pictures of our trademark dog “Wolfie” in cache locations, but we had no time – we were literally getting drenched in a downpour.
We were totally unprepared for rain, and by this time we were absolutely soaking wet, but it wasn’t unpleasant. It somehow felt nice to be in a rainforest, on a warm day, in the rain. Our main concern was keeping our equipment dry, and to focus on getting an accurate location. We had two devices handy on us to help do that – my Apple iPhone, and a Mio car navigator.
Although sometimes very accurate and useful, on this occasion the iPhone didn’t provide us with any useful location. I suspect I didn’t give it enough time to pick up our location – and I have noticed it is quite fussy and needs a wide view of the sky to get a good lock. We’re in a valley, it’s raining, and there’s a tree canopy above us – not favorable for the iPhone GPS.
So we got out the Mio. Positioning it above the cache we took three coordinate readings and wrote them down and made our way along the sometimes muddy path back to the car.
Fortunately it was a short drive home where we could dry ourselves off, and discovered leeches had made their way into our shoes – but fortunately not through our socks (unlike the last time we were attacked by leeches which turned out to be a bloody experience).
After dealing with all that it was time to look at the coordinates obtained and get them into Google Earth for confirmation. Thankfully the three readings were within 5 metres of each other – which I was very happy with, and we settled on an average of these – simply calculated by taking the average of the three decimalized minute components.
To confirm our methodology we put our three hard readings as placemarks in Google Earth, along with our “averaged” location – and on zooming in we have a nice triangle with our “average” point in the middle, which is just what we wanted.
We are hoping the averaged coordinate, and our hint, will be enough to help anyone find this cache. Looking forward to your comments and feedback.
Keep on Cachin’
PS – we left a special gift in there for the First to Find.