2009-07-10 49 -123
Near hiking trail at Seymour River.
- Robyn with T-Rex of course
- Rhonda with Sophie!
- Elbie doing the puppet master thing and sending her friend Tom as a proxy
Find how to get to hiking trail. Hike.
I'm going to bike up there. -- Rhonda 19:00, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Bus 229 will get you to the lynn canyon suspension bridge area, where you can get on lillooet Rd. to the point.
- Awesome, thanks. Looks like I'll arrive at Lynn Valley Road and Dempsey Road at 2:37 p.m. It's giving me bus 210. -Robyn 19:24, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
- Lynn Valley & Dempsey will get you to Lynn headwaters park (bus 228). Bus 229 turns off lynn valley road at Peters and gets you close to the lynn canyon park visitor's centre, which is where you want to get on Lillooet Rd. -- Rhonda 19:34, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
- Even better. That one gets me to Peters and Duval at 2:26 p.m. -Robyn 19:40, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I checked the coordinates this morning to discover that I didn't have time in my schedule to make it. However, I have a friend, Tom, who lives fairly close to the hashpoint, and I happened to meet up with him this morning. I pretty much just told him he should go, handed him my GPS (pre-programmed for him), and instructed him to take lots of photos.
At 14:45, I figured he'd had enough time to get home and set off, so I gave him a call. He happily reported that he was at Rice Lake, and that he'd be there soon.
At 15:35, he phoned me, and let me know that he'd been bushwhacking for the last half hour trying to get less than 30 metres from the point. I gave him some tips on where to go, and he managed to get within 15 metres of the hash before the GPS got confused and the numbers started changing. We declared him close enough.
At 16:15, Tom phoned to say that he'd ran into Robyn & Rhonda on his way out of the forest.
 Tom (Flag Guy)
I refuse to let accessible coordinates in the Vancouver graticule go unsought, so based on the fact that this one was within 300 metres of a road, and within 5 km of transit, it was, by Vancouver standards, welcoming geohashers with open arms.
Rhonda supplied me with the best North Vancouver bus number and I grabbed T-Rex, a ridiculous sun hat and my geohashing bag and went out the door. I turned on the GPS and tossed it in the backpack, as is my habit. I know it will find its satellites and start tracking so it will be ready when I want it. Once on the bus I pulled it out of the bag to confirm that it was, but it was off. I turned it on. It started to boot up and then faded out. Usually it lasts hours after the first low battery warning and I'd had no low battery warnings. But until now I had either been putting freshly recharged batteries in before each trip, or using regular batteries. The rechargeables have such a square power/time profile that they went from fine to dead before the device could issue a warning.
My Vancouver bus to SkyTrain to SeaBus to North Vancouver bus connections were all quite tight. I had an extra minute and thirty seconds coming off the SeaBus before the bus left, and headed towards a convenience store, but as I reached it I saw that the inside was still under construction. Not time to look for another one: I got on the bus and it left. Twenty-five minutes later, one minute before the bus was scheduled to arrive at my stop, it passed a mall. I got off the bus and bought batteries, then asked a passer-by for walking directions to the path through Lynn Canyon to Lillooet Road. He said it was far away. I didn't really believe him, as my now operating GPS said I was only 5.3 km from the geohash, which I knew was on the other side of Lillooet Road, but then he probably had a different definition of "far" that someone who recently walked to Langley. He said, "Just let me move this stuff and I'll give you a ride."
Rhonda and I hadn't arranged an actual meetup time or location, but she knew what bus I was supposed to be on and I was now behind schedule, so I accepted. Besides: hitchhiking achievement! Bill is a retired shipyard supervisor in the industrial cleaning trade, but these days he's doing odd jobs like mowing lawns. I didn't get up the nerve to ask "may I take your picture" before the ride ended, so I had to settle for a quick shot of the departing truck.
He dropped me at the entrance to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, but I quickly discovered that the bridge was closed for maintenance. I scrutinized the posted trail map (including the warnings abut cougars and bears in the area) and determined that there was another bridge across the canyon just upriver. It was kind of slow going following the trail because it was full of tourists walking slowly and taking pictures of one another, but I found the Rice Lake Bridge and a park nexus with one of those signposts showing a dozen ways to go. None of them was Lillooet Road, and of the three roads leading away from there, one was marked "closed to the public," and one clearly went south, so I took the one that went north towards the geohash, although it didn't really look like Lillooet Road. It was more of a paved park trail.
There were a number of roads turning off it, with fences and gates and "not open to the public" signs, but the multi-use road kept winding along towards the geohash. I figured I'd meet Rhonda there, or in the vicinity. And then she came up behind me, on her bicycle. "Excellent!" I said, glad of not only her company, but also the formidable weapon her 25 kg bicycle would be against an attacking cougar.
Because the route to the geohash was bikeable up to the last 300m, I decided to go for my bicycle geohash ribbon and not combine transit with the bike like I did on every other cycling hash. I climbed the hill from the Lonsdale Quay area and then across the more or less flattish parts of upper North Vancouver, watching for the signs for Lynn Canyon park, where I was going to meet Robyn and cross the river to Lillooet Road.
I had allowed a bit extra time and arrived at the bus stop where Robyn would be getting off about 15 minutes early, so to kill time I rode the extra two blocks to the Lynn Canyon ecology centre to see if there were any postcards of the area. Unfortunately, there seemed to be only generic animal photo cards.
I was back at the bus stop with a minute to spare, and had my camera out to take a picture of Robyn - except she wasn't on the bus. I was pretty sure I had remembered the time correctly. Maybe she missed it. I tried phoning, but there was no answer. The next bus was in a half hour, at 2:57.
I decided to do some scouting and at least find the bridge. After riding around a couple of times, I spotted a man in a park ranger shirt carrying a large, rolled-up map, and asked where the bridge to Lillooet Road was that my hiking map had shown. Apparently the bridge in question was the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a narrow, bouncy, suspended footbridge. I had been across it before on foot, but never with a bike. He also told me that the bridge was closed for maintenance and would be open at about 3, that there was a second bridge in that park but there were many stairs down to it and up the other side, and that there was a much more bike-friendly bridge at the nearby Lynn Headwaters park. I decided that if Robyn had missed the bus, she would be arriving at just the right time to cross the newly opened bridge, so I headed back to the bus stop to meet the next bus.
That bus also came and went with no Robyn, so I decided to strike out for the hash point on my own. There's no way she would be any later than this. I also decided to go to Lynn Headwaters, 1km or so up the road, because in order to get my bike across the suspension bridge I'd have to clear the entire thing - it was barely wider than my handlebars.
At Lynn Headwaters park, I saw the same bridge Elbie had taken a picture of as she tried for a hash up past Seymour Dam, and then also saw signs pointing to the dam and the hatchery. Since the hash point was on the way to the dam, I followed the signs onto a multi-use trail and watched my GPS count down the distance very quickly.
Then, I saw somebody with a small spotted backpack and a rainbow striped hat, and slowed down to see if it was Robyn. Sure enough, T-Rex was watching me from his position in the backpack, so I slowed down further to match her speed, and said hi.
 Robyn & Rhonda
Rhonda introduced Robyn to her new hashscot, Sophie, an adorable squeaky giraffe, and a stand-in for a knit giraffe about the same size with too much sentimental value to go bushwhacking and kayaking. We continued down the multi-use trail until the distance to the geohash started to increase again, 390 metres from the geohash. This was to be our stupidity distance for the day. Rhonda locked her bike to the guardrail by a creek and we set off the trail. Four hundred metres is quite a long way to bushwhack, but the terrain was not bad. Between the trees there are a few logs, stumps and sticks and lots of ferns. The substrate is mostly a spongy pile of last year's fallen needles and well rotted logs and sticks. Robyn hadn't repacked her bag since the Langley urban geohash, so it lacked not only spare batteries, but a compass, too. She took a bearing from the GPS and sighted through the forest to a light patch ahead that had sunlight on it.
Before long it became evident that the light patch was another road, probably the Lillooet Road we were looking for in the first place. As Robyn reached the edge of the road she found a difficulty: a deep ditch to cross. There was a young cedar tree growing out of the steep bank and Robyn bent it towards herself and used it like a pole vault to land safely on the other side. Rhonda wasn't quite as keen on pole vaulting, so Robyn waited on the road while Rhonda experimented with a more cautious way to cross. As Robyn watched, a person came out of what was presumably a trail on the other side of the road. He turned and walked down the road.
"Hello," said Robyn, "Are you a geohasher?" Robyn persists in asking this of strangers in the vicinity of geohashes. It's sort of fun to watch people get confused and ask what that is.
"Actually, yes," said the person who had come out of the bush. "I've just come from today's location."
It's a good thing Robyn wasn't standing on the edge of the ditch anymore, or she would have fallen in. "Really ... but ... who ARE you?" Turns out it's Flag Guy. He says he planted a flag at the geohash. We take a group photo and wish him a good trip home while he wishes us the best of luck reaching the geohash, and assures us we'll need it.
 The Last 200m
The next part wasn't too bad, we walked along some fallen trees that took us above all the forest litter and across a fairly open area right up to the edge of the 70 per cent grade downhill slope that Flag Guy had described. Uh yes. The descent included times when we were hanging from tree branches because the ground sloped away too rapidly. There was a lot of slippery clay on the slope, but many cooperative trees to prevent us from hurtling to the bottom. So we reached the bottom the long, slow way. The bottom was, as you might expect in a rainforest, a creek, but the large stones were a pretty good path to walk on as long as we ducked under the branches as we went. Robyn was wearing big toe-stub-resistant boots and has a tendency to charge ahead, while Rhonda takes a more cautious approach to footing, resulting in Robyn serving as a permanent, but usually too far ahead vanguard. The little arrow on her GPS keeps spurring her on. Robyn sings a special bear-repellent song while geohashing in bear territory. It goes kind of like "La la la la, la la la la la la, la la la la, arf arf arf arf arf!" Black bears would rather eat berries than humans, but you don't want to stumble into their berry patches while they are eating. It's best to scare them off first. And bears hate dogs.
In addition to the bear-repellent song, each of us made a number of noises similar to "ow!" and "aaaaah!" followed by "I'm okay!" The sound of the creek drowned most of it out. Robyn made her way downstream, ignoring the random fluctuations of the GPS that occasionally told her she was going the wrong way, or that the distance was increasing, because the last good open area with strong satellite lock had made it fairly clear that the geohash was this way. Robyn decided to find the exact spot and the flag while Rhonda was still working her way down the creek, so as to save time at the geohash. She inched down the creek getting the GPS into single digits with five metre accuracy, but every time the distance to destination figure dropped to zero, by the time Robyn sat down and got out her camera, it had jumped up to twelve or so. And of course Robyn knew there was a flag planted at the geohash, so she kept an eye peeled for that.
By the time Rhonda arrived Robyn had circled several times around through the 5 metre accuracy ring without finding the flag. At 17:20 the GPS settled at 1 m distance and 5 metre accuracy, so Robyn photographed that and the panorama surrounding them, while Rhonda attempted to send a text message because she was supposed to meet somebody at 17:30. Perhaps although we were unable to locate the flag in person, it would suddenly become visible in later analysis of the photographs. We were getting bitten by bugs and it was time to get out of there.
 Return to Civilization
Even though we next had to go up a 70% grade clay-covered slope, the rule of "getting back from a geohash is always faster" held. We scaled the slope with the help of trees and roots and then mostly retraced our steps through the level part of the forest, along the fallen trees, across the road, over the ditch (Robyn got one foot soaked, as the pole vault wasn't as well tuned for the other direction), and through the woods back to Rhonda's bike.
Rhonda walked her bike to keep Robyn company for the walk back to the bus stop. After a while a park vehicle pulled up beside us with a concerned offer of a ride. Someone had seen Rhonda walking her bike and reported that a cyclist had a broken bicycle. Very sweet of the person to look out for us, and the park employee kindly offered us a ride anyway, but we declined.
Back across the bridge the bus was waiting, so Robyn got on it and Rhonda biked home. Another successful geohash!
| Rhonda earned the Bicycle geohash achievement
| Flag Guy earned the Land geohash achievement
| Flag Guy earned the Walk geohash Achievement
| Flag Guy earned the Earliest geohasher achievement
| Elbie earned the Puppet Master Geohash achievement
Robyn thought she had the hitchhiking geohash, but the achievement description asks that she do "most or all of the travelling to the hashpoint by hitchhiking" and her travels today by three different types of public transit and on foot exceeded the distance hitched, thereby invalidating the achievement. Rats.
The tracklog shows the blips of recordings as Robyn struggled with the GPS before the batteries died, then a steady track once the new batteries were installed, including a dense area where Robyn wandered in circles trying to find Flag guy's flag.
It's always awesome to meet another geohasher in the middle of nowhere, and the way this worked out with us both emerging at the intermediate road at the same time was pretty funny. I'm trying to figure out which would have been most astonishing, all three of us converging on the same spot in the middle of the forest and getting to do the "From the Internet I presume?" routine, or Rhonda and Robyn reaching the spot and finding an inexplicable xkcd flag already there. I love meeting first time geohashers at the hash, because they just assume that's how it always works.
In retrospect Robyn wonders if perhaps we should have stopped to play games with and get better acquainted with Flag Guy. It made no sense for him to return to the geohash or to wait for us, but I'm left hoping we'll get to know him better at future geohashes.