We checked out of the Eagle’s Nest at 10:15 and drove west on Highway 20 to the Freedom Road Series #68 and began caching our way towards Bella Coola.
All went well until we got to cache #100 (there are 150 caches in the Series). The signing log paper was soaking wet. Geo-caches often have a special wipe dry paper that we daubed with Kleenex and held out in the breeze for a few minutes before we signed it and put it back. But from then on almost every other cache was very wet, many of the lids were loose but mostly it was because the little film-size containers had been laid horizontally in the hiding spot. With all the rain they have had lately water just seeped in. This process of drying off papers and the need to re-construct many of the rock pile hiding spots severely delayed our cache find rate. We had been averaging about 20 caches an hour. It took us over 4 hours to find the last 50.
And to make matters worse new logging roads had been created right through Ground Zero of three caches, a big graded turn-around area slaughtered a fourth, another was missing and only small shreds of the log were found; and a sixth we could not find even the rock pile it was supposed to be hidden in. We had to scramble around among our cosmetic bags to find little bottles we could put a piece of paper into and hide a replacement cache. I have sent a message to the Cache Owners to let them know the new co-ordinates for these. First aid by geo-cache finders is encouraged on these long power trails to help the cache owners with maintenance.
Amidst the Freedom Road Series of caches there are a few others hidden. This one was beside Louis Creek and a gallon jug of water was nearby. The object is to pour the water into the tube and the cache container floats to the top where you grab it. The tube has holes in it at various heights so the water flows out again and you can drop the cache container back down the tube for the next person to figure it out. Very cool!
As we pulled up to a stop to find Cache #146 we notice a Grizzly grazing in the roadside clover about 150 meters ahead. Cache #146 was about 20 meters from the roadside and there was a huge puddle between the road and the cache. While I kept an eye on Mr. Bear John circled around the puddle and went into the small trees to locate the cache.
The bear left his lunch on the far side of the road and started walking to the other side. He must have hand an itch because he stopped in the middle of the road and sat down for a few minutes. He decided he liked the clover on the right side and we were able to get some nice photos of him as we sat in the truck nearby. My camera had decided to change it’s setting so my photos are not that good. John got some great ones. Unfortunately to go get cache #147 we would have had to walk right past the feeding grizzly. Being wise old folks we left him alone and will stop and get the cache on our way home.
This is John’s photo. He cropped it a bit but it is very nice and sharp.
We entered Tweedsmuir Provincial Park not long after we said good-bye to the bear and hadn’t driven very far when we saw this young black bear. Again John got the best shots. I still had not noticed the changed setting on my camera so all of my black bear pictures are black.
We found cache #150 at 5 pm. YEA! After we finished the Freedom Road Series we only took the time to find two more of the caches hidden along the road to Bella Coola. It was close to 6 o’clock and we had some distance to travel yet. We’ll pick them up on our way home.
This great mushroom was on the trail to the last cache find of the day. I hadn’t brought along my camera when we went off into the bush to find it so I was glad John had his and was able to take this photo.
The Heckman Pass is home to The Hill, a narrow, winding 43 km stretch of road with 11% and 12% grades and a 9 km section at 18% that takes you to the end of the Bella Coola Valley. This stretch of road was deemed impossible to build but local people built it anyway.
We arrived in Bella Coola at 7:30. The drive down the valley showed some spectacular mountains on both sides of the highway. Since the sun was low in the sky the glare made them not-too-photo worthy. But we are here for five nights so we will get pictures soon.