Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2006-01-08

Musings about Geocaching

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Quick GSAK tutorial by a non-power user

Okay, I'll be the very first to admit that when I downloaded and installed GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) on my PC last year, I was stumped. I have never worked with a database program before, so when I clicked the icon for the "Filter" on the Toolbar

I was overwhelmed with all the options:

Some kind people in the GSAK thread in the Groundspeak Forums helped me as I learned to set different kinds of filters.

Now, after loading a new Pocket Query, the first one I use is a default GSAK filter that finds all the caches with two DNFs by the last cachers.

I look at the list and check out the caches on the website, if I have time. If not, I just right click and from that menu, choose to delete all the waypoints in that filter.

After that, I choose a center point for that day's adventure. If by some chance I am going to head out for a specific cache, I'll use that one as the center point.

Then, since my Vista C has a 500-waypoint limit, I have to do a distance filter because I have more than 1000 caches in my Default GSAK database.

A good distance for my area might be a circle of 15 miles. That will reduce the number of caches in my list to a number well under 500, so I can delete the "Geocaches" and "Geocaches Found" from the GPSr, but keep the other waypoints on it that I want, before sending the new cache waypoints to it.

At this point, if I have time and want to see where the waypoints are in Mapsource, I use the File/Export/Mapsource menu to Export those waypoints in the Mapsource .gdb format.

After I have filtered the caches to an under-500-waypoint list, and looked at them on the map, if I added that step, I select the GPS menu item and choose "Send waypoints."

Once the waypoints have been sent to the GPSr, I use the File/Export menu to create a .pdb file for my Palm M500.

After opening my Palm Software and making sure the file I just created is ready to be installed to the card on my Palm, I HotSync the Palm.

To simplify these previous tasks, I finally customized my toolbar in GSAK to put the icons for Cachemate, Mapsource, .gpx files, and GPSr functions there so I don't have to navigate the menu.

The entire process of filtering waypoints, sending them to my GPSr, and preparing the caches for installation to my Palm doesn't take very long. I can be ready to go on my a caching adventure with up-to-date information for the caches in the area I am going to in less than five minutes after a new PQ arrives in my InBoc.

GSAK is a very sophisticated, complicated program that can do much more than I have learned to do with it. There are power users out there who have created Macros that can do what I do manually. However, even this way, it doesn't take very much time to get those brand new caches, and fresh data for other caches, into my GPSr and my Palm so I can get out the door prepared for my next caching adventure.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Two FTFs and a great hike on a beautiful, warm day

Yesterday a new cache was approved out in my "territory." This morning, since the weather was still warm and beautiful, I decided to head out and find it.

I created a Magnalog of the adventure.

Initially, I tried to follow my arrow from the closest spot on Lyons Valley Road. There is a paved road that goes down from there towards the Barrett Honor Camp. I walked for about a third of a mile before coming to the open gate that had a No Trespassing sign on it.

So . . . I turned around and walked back up the beautiful little canyon to my car and drove to the suggested parking down the road a bit at the Horsethief Canyon staging area.

It was about 1.7 miles to the cache from there, so I grabbed some snacks and made sure my water bottle was full and took off. The day was absolutely beautiful and so warm it was very hard to believe it was January.

The first mile was a familiar trail from my hike to "Valley Pillar via Quail Oasis" back on November 14. The day today was similar to that one. The temperature was in the high 70s and it was very clear. Past the Quail Oasis, the trail goes down to a tree-lined valley.

It was shady and cool and quiet, except for when I went past a bush and flushed a covey of quail. It took a while for my heart rate to get back to normal after that scare.

Finally I only had a few hundred feet to go to the cache location. I was watching my footing because the trail had faded and when I looked up, there was the "Ghost Corral." What a surprise!

I put down my pack and looked around for the cache. I knew what size it was, but I didn't know if it was tucked under some of the downed wood, or inside a hollow log, or . . . It took a little while, but I finally spotted the well-cammoed container.

I signed the log and then put the coordinates to the next cache in my GPSr. Then I took a bunch of pictures of the corral and an odd nearby hollow tree before heading off to the other cache, one that hasn't been approved yet.

I really enjoyed the long walk and sometimes wish all cache experiences could be like this. After I got back, I created a new bookmark list just for caches that involve a nice long hike.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I met up with the FTF and STF on my new cache

I drove down to the Hollenbeck Canyon area again to take a picture from the location of my new cache.

Last year at this time, this picture would have been green all over, not just down near the creek where the oak and Sycamore trees create the green ribbon. This year it is so brown because it has been so incredibly dry, and warm, and nice.

After taking pictures, I continued walking and placed a new cache further down the trail and back towards the highway. I decided to call it "Geocache Anniversary Cache" and have it go "live" on January 17, which is the day I found my first cache a year ago.

On my way back to my car, I looked up and saw the Anonymous Geocacher. We started talking for a while and then were joined with Cegrube, who was the STF on my cache. We had a nice visit and then, I hitched a ride with the Anonymous Geocacher to find one of Night Hunter's "Stone Ruination" caches.

This was the neatest one yet. It had been a very large house back in its day.

After bouncing back out the rough road, we decided to head up the highway a bit further to see if we could get to a couple other Stone Ruination caches. Unfortunately, there had been an accident and the gate we needed to pass through was blocked by the stuff being offloaded from the jack-knifed truck.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. I know the weather is bound to change; after all, this is January. For now, I'm very happy to be able get out and hike on a 70° day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I placed another cache tonight and my new map

I haven't written the description for my new cache yet, so I better get busy with that project. It is a small cache placed where you have a view looking up Hollenbeck Canyon. I have been scouting that location for more than a month and finally, since it was such a nice day, I decided to get out of the house and go for that short walk.

The cache is hidden under a neat rock that makes a perfect chair for sitting and looking at the view. It is just barely .1 away from another cache, but there isn't another rockpile on that hill further away. It is out of sight of the other cache, so it shouldn't be a problem as far as "proximity" goes.

Before I turned off the computer this afternoon, I created another Keen People map that shows the caches we found last Sunday on Palomar Mountain in the far north area of San Diego County.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A great time was had by all on Palomar Mountain

At 7:00 in the morning, I met Princess Toadstool and we headed off to meet some of the others in the San Diego Caching Event Team near "Nessy is Good Eats" off I-15 in North County.

Fisnjack was there, and then TrailGators showed up, and then Tinfoil-Hat Head & Wall-eyed Nutbag. We piled into two vehicles and headed off to meet duganrm and rogue and Toby's Gang near "Gray Matters," a cache that had gone missing that we replaced for Chuy.

We started up, up, up a road that at times was similar to the Old Burma Road near Pine Valley. At most of the caches, the views would have been astounding, if the air had been clear. In contrast to the way it has been recently, it was very hazy.

One of the most fun caches was at the rock-walled ruins of a house.

duganrm decided it looked like a garage, and his vintage Mustang fit perfectly.

At the top of the mountain is a lookout tower.

Some of the group climbed up the stairs while others of us looked on as they ascended.

We made our way down the mountain on a very steep, single-lane dirt road that seemed to barely cling to the side of the mountain. As we continued on the road, a cache far down the mountain remained elusive for the longest time as we made our way down, down, down to "Take the High Road."

Before the day was over, we found five more caches, bringing our total for the day to more than 20. The last cache of the day is near the beautiful bridge that spans I-15 to the south of 76.

We had a great time and I look forward to another caching adventure with whomever makes up the SDCET the next time it meets.


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