Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. Stretching 19 km from east to west, the park encompasses 13.5 square kilometers showcasing 3 of Alberta’s natural environments: grasslands, parklands and foothills forest. FCP contains a diversity of habitats including wetlands, grasslands, spruce forests and riparian woodlands. Glacial melt waters originally carved out the Fish Creek valley and today the landscape continues to be shaped by the meandering flow of Fish Creek. The Park attracts more than 3 million visitors annually, from naturalists to history buffs, nature photographers, hikers, walkers, joggers, cyclists, and picnicking families. We’re thinking the 3 million visitors must be the gross headcount, not the number of unique visitors, as the entire Calgary regional population is only just over 1 million. Since this is our fifth geobiking expedition if the Park this year, that means we’ve added a total of 20 to the 2009 visitor count!
During the three weeks since we last geobiked in the Park, some cache maintenance has been done by a couple of geocache hiders plus we managed to solve a few more puzzles. As a result, we had 4 target geocaches in mind for our ride today, starting with Xiii. This cache was disabled back in February, when the possibility of a ban on geocaches in Provincial Parks first came up. However, since Alberta Parks is now working on a policy that will continue to allow caching in the Parks, our local cache reviewer is prompting cache owners to get these caches back up and running. We solved the puzzle a few weeks back and when the cache was enabled this week, we knew we wanted to get out to find it this weekend. It was well hidden at a nice spot along the banks of the Bow River.
Our next goal was to find another puzzle cache by the same hider. We DNFd DateNite a few weeks ago and asked the owner to check on it. He kindly did, so we returned to search again. Determined not to leave with another DNF, we widened our search area and Mrs. GeoK finally spotted the well-hidden container about 10 meters from where our GPSr zero’d out.
We hoped to repeat our success at clearing a past DNF at "Littler Easy 2", which we DNFd twice at the start of the month. The cache owner put out a replacement container about a half hour after our last visit on May 10th and it was still in place, which meant for a quick find for Mr. GeoK.
Our last target was about 3.5 km south and west, up a long hill. The total elevation gain seemed like a lot more than the 50 meters recorded by the altimeter in our Garmin Map 60CSx; Mrs. GeoK’s heart was really pumping by the time we arrived at the posted coordinates. The well-hidden bison tube container for "The Littler Not So Easy" took the two of us searching for just about 5 minutes before Mr. GeoK announced "I got it!" While Mr. GeoK signed the log, Mrs. GeoK decided we could probably ride to one more cache hidden south of the highway, as she noticed an underpass just past where we’d turned to pedal up the long hill.
We enjoyed coasting down to the pathway and then turned south to Rotary Natural Area Park where we soon left the paved road for a bumpy, gravel topped rough pathway. About 60 meters from the solved coordinates for the Hugs and Kisses cache we had to abandon our bikes and act like mountain goats on account of the very steep slope. Mr. GeoK made the find and after the signing the logbook headed back down the hill while Mrs. GeoK snapped this photo…
A few minutes later (about where the gravel pathway joined the road, Mr. GeoK noticed his GPSr wasn’t on his handlebar mount. After checking his jacket pockets he concluded that he forgot it back at the cache, so he reprised his role as a mountain goat and successfully retrieved the unit.
We rode non-stop almost all the way back to the lot where our bike-rack equipped vehicle was parked. The one stop we made was to check out the owl family nesting in the Park. We managed to get a couple of decent photos…
Total riding distance for the day was just under 18 km, with 5 caches found in the Park and another 4 found while driving to / from the park for a total of 9 for the day.