Monday, June 11, 2012


McKinnon Flats

I had to go down in to one of my favorite areas along the Bow River lately, where I wanted to make a modification to my geocache located there, and with all the rain that we have received lately, I knew that the switchback road that I normally drive down to the valley floor would be a sea of mud.

So I grabbed my Think Tank Speed Demon out of my truck, and began working my way down the slopes bordering the Bow. The day was not great to be out and about, with rain showers and wind present, but I had my rain gear on, with the rain-cover in place on my Think Tank Speed Demon that carried my camera gear.  I was presently surprised to find the southern slopes of this range of hills bordering the river valley starting to display various wild flowers. Normally I would use one of my favorite lens, but lately I have been enjoying using a lens that I hadn't used much lately, my 50mm 1.4 lens.At one time the 50mm lens was a favorite with all photographers, but not so much anymore. The 50mm makes beautiful dreamy photographs with wonderful out of focus backgrounds. It does its best work when shot wide open, where its shallow depth of field and optical aberrations are displayed making for very cool photographs, especially in portrait photography. On this day I had fun shooting these flowers, as well as other subjects, with my 50mm lens wide open at f1.4. As you can see in my photograph, the depth of field for this lens is extremely shallow. This clump of flowers maybe measured 30cm front to back, but that was enough to knock most of the flowers out of focus, with the flower that was nearest to me, being my point of focus.

Once I reached the trailhead for my geocache, I proceeded to make the adjustments that I had come to make. I have recently put my geocache (McKinnon Flats-The LK Ranch) together, and I recently had the first visitors to my cache, giving me some insight as to what changes I felt were required, based on comments left on my geocache webpage.  If you don't know what geocaching is, then I will enlighten you.

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a membership at is required, allowing you to download the necessary lat/long coordinates and notes required for you to find the cache. There are different types of caches, the most common being the traditional cache, that gives you the lat/long coordinates of the cache, allowing you to navigate directly to the cache with its hidden container. My cache is defined as a multicache, as it consists of 5 stages, and although I publish the lat/long coordinates for the trailhead for my cache, you are required to decipher the clues that are published on my geocache site, allowing you to move from one stage to another, before you can discover the hidden cache.

 You are probably wondering what is in my cache once you find it. In its simplest form, a cache always contains a logbook or logsheet for you to log your find. Larger caches may contain a logbook and any number of items. These items turn the adventure into a true treasure hunt, and I remember how excited my daughter Jennifer and her friend Danielle were, upon finding their first cache all those years ago. We had a lot of fun while we traved around Alberta geocaching. You never know what the cache owner or visitors to the cache may have left for you to enjoy. The un-written rules of the game are, that if you take something, you must leave something of equal or greater value in return. Besides the usual swag found in most cache containers, I have made my cache somewhat unique, as my cache has signed copies of photographs that I have shot at McKinnon Flats. Already, this has brought favourable comments from the geocachers that have discovered my cache.

I also had  a trackable in my cache, that has been removed and will be put into play with the instructions that I had included with my trackable. Now your asking what a trackable is, right? A trackable is a sort of physical geocaching "game piece." You will often find them in geocaches or see them at geocaching gatherings. Each trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on as it travels in the real world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache!
There are three main types of trackables: Travel Bug® trackables, geocoins and other trackables.
My trackable is a travel bug, and has a trackable tag attached to my "hitchhiker." Each travel bug has a goal set by its owner. Goals are typically travel-related, such as to visit every country in Europe or travel from coast to coast across Canada & the US. In my case, I have left instructions for my hitchiker to travel to a cache located in Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan, and owned by my friend Brian VE6BCA. Once my hitchiker visits Brian's cache, and the visit is logged, my hitchiker may travel wherever the geocacher that picks him up, may take him.

I touched briefly on what geocaching is, and if you have kids, you will want to try geocaching, as it is a very fun family activity that everyone will enjoy.  This link will take you to my geocaching page, although you will need to register if you wish to read the notes and the clues that I have included.

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