Sunday, July 31, 2011

Geocaching! Upper Bidwell Park

So we decided to get out of the house today and do some geocaching! This was our first time to do so in Chico and we were PUMPED! We decided we'd hit one at the top of our canyon road and then head over to the upper and eastern most parts of Bidwell Park and grab some of the caches and have a nice hike. 

Of course it would have behooved us to look at a map of the park before doing this, but why the heck would we do that? We instead made our trusty rusty geocache map and took off!

Our first stop at the top of our road was a bust. Looking at the logs it seems like someone hid this cache on private property and the coordinates were tying to point us up someone's driveway. Even if we felt like trespassing we would have had to climb over their fence labeled with "PRIVATE DRIVE - NO TRESPASSING" so we opted not to go for this one. 

We jumped into the car and headed off to the parking lot just off 10 Mile House Road. The first cache of this series (of 8) was supposed to be right at the top of the trail. Well we looked and looked and tried to avoid barbed wire and sticker bushes but we couldn't find it, even with a hint. We decided not to waste too much time and would look for it on the way back. Then we set off for the rest.

It didn't take long for us to realize that we'd selected a trail that went steeply down hill. Uh oh. Going downhill means eventually coming back up. Yikes. We decided to keep going and stay mindful of how far we were going and how long it would take us to get back up and just play it by ear. 

Only 5 minutes into the hike we had our first encounter with wildlife. Ange says happily "LOOK! A snake!" and I almost fainted. Luckily it was a very small snake, not that I wanted to see a snake at all, but it wasn't like it was a big fat rattle snake blocking our path. Because then this blog post would end here. I was on edge for quite some time after that, but I managed to calm down after a while. 

We found the second cache easily and then started hopefully off on a nice flat trail. After a couple hundred feet and consultation with our GPS and geocache map we decided we were going on the wrong path and we did indeed need to continue going down the steep incline. Dag. So we turned around and hoofed it down the path. We passed two guys pushing bikes up the path and after they passed questioned their sanity. We were being very mindful with our feet and we both had sturdy hiking boots on. And we knew we were going to die walking back up the path...why the heck would you push a bike up to the top???

After a bit we got to the third cache and by this time we'd taken a pretty long & steep stroll. We debated turning back. We checked out the fourth cache and it was only 0.11 miles away so we decided we'd go for it and then stop. The 5th cache after that was a bit away so we knew we wouldn't get to that one today. We got to the fourth cache and signed in and then started the long, sweaty hike back up. 

If I had to venture a guess, it probably took us three times as long to get up the hill than it did coming down. We're terrible at looking at the time so I can't say for sure, but we would go about 50 feet at a time, stop for a minute or two to catch our breath and then go another 50 feet. When you are chubby and not in tip-top shape, it's the only way to go! We'd set little milestones for ourselves, like "See the edge of that next shady patch? Let's make it there before we stop." Serious hikers would have killed us, but luckily, Ange and I are at about the same level of fitness and body physique so it worked well for us!

At some point during the hike back up we were passed again by the insane bike men who looked like they were about .5 seconds away from careening down the hill to their deaths. As they passed they said "I think coming down is worse than going up!" Uh, no shit dude (on a bike anyway). We could have told you that when we saw you the first time.

After a million years, we reached the top. We gave the first cache another try and still didn't find it so we trooped back to the car to strip off our hiking boots and throw on some sandals. We were both sweating like maniacs but were happy we made the portion we did! We fantasized about the shape we'd be in (namely, not round) if we did that hike every day. Then we snapped back to reality and giggled about the thought that we would commit ourselves to something so insane and jumped in the car to finish our errands for the day. (Sorry for the smelly sweaty messes you had to encounter if you were doing your Sunday shopping at Winco Foods!)

When we got home we decided to, hey! look at the freaking maps of Bidwell and lo and behold, we found out that we picked one of the hardest sections of the park to hike! Go us!

We figured that we did about 1.3 miles (round-trip) and went over about 500 meters of elevation. No wonder we were tired! But that made us stand a little prouder that we accomplished that big of a hike. Next time however, we'll be sure to do a little more research on the front end.

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