Geocaching at Rockwood: Adventure with a side of science

The first fall weekend this year felt more like mid-August bringing us two of the hottest days of 2017. I will admit camping was on my mind for most of those two days. But with Great Lakes Water Walk scheduled for Sunday, we didn’t have time to go anywhere. Instead we decided to launch the fall season of microadventures.

Rockwood Conservation Area

We opened our fall season of microadventures at Rockwood Conservatio Area

After some discussion, we settled on Rockwood Conservation Area. We visited Rockwood once before but that was in the middle of the winter right at the beginning of our geocaching adventures. We didn’t have a GPS unit yet so most of our geocaching was based on guesses and clues. We did manage to locate two caches during that visit but there were a lot more waiting for us. A few of those were hidden on small islands scattered around Eramosa River that runs through the park. So some canoeing was in order, and with 30+ temperatures we couldn’t have picked a better day for it.

canoeing at Rockwood Conservation Area

Some geocaches at Rockwood required a bit of paddling

When we arrived in the park, we were greeted with screams of joy and an omnipresent smell of BBQ. The park was buzzing with people and geese. Luckily, the former were concentrated around the beach area: sunbathing, swimming and picnicking. And the latter didn’t bother us too much.

beach at Rockwood Comservation area

The park was teeming with people…

Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area   Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area

…and geese

Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area   Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area

Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area   Geese at Rockwood Conservation Area

We rented a canoe (luckily Rockwood has a large fleet of both canoes and kayaks) and set out in search of geocaches. Before I proceed, I have to warn all geocachers who haven’t visited Rockwood yet: spoilers abound ahead. If you have tried geocaching at Rockwood, we’d like to hear about your experience. Ours was a blast!

canoeing at Rockwood Conservation area

canoeing at Rockwood Conservation Area    canoeing at Rockwood Conservation Area

Rockwood Conservation Area

Canoeing on Eramosa River past limestone cliffs and caves

The first geocache had the highest difficulty level and a cryptic clue about needing all ten fingers and something in your backpack to retrieve the cache, and the bigger that something was, the less time it would take. Turned out it was a long pipe attached to a tree. The trick was to fill the tube with water to get the cache float to the top while keeping the holes at the bottom plugged to prevent the water from escaping. A perfect puzzle for a science teacher so my husband joined our son to help retrieve the cache while I observed from the canoe.

Luckily we had a good size water bottle so the experiment didn’t take them long. Filled with a sense of accomplishment, we proceeded towards our next goal. This one was hidden in a cave close to the waterfalls.

waterfalls at Rockwood Conservation area

waterfalls at Rockwood Conservation Area    wading in Eramosa River at Rockwood

Pretty little waterfalls, a great spot for wading and splashing

We tried to get to it the last time we visited but it didn’t work out well in the winter. The waterfalls turned out to be a pretty busy spot with people coming to splash and wade around. So we ran into a bit of a canoe jam as we tried to disembark. Our son made a foray into the cave but quickly returned chased out by spiders. So his dad stepped in and the cache was successfully located.

geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area   geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area

geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area   geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area

Some geocaches required climbing into spider-infested caves

Our final water cache was not particularly unique except for being located on an aptly named Goose island. Once our son found it, we paddled back to the beach to return the canoe and have a snack.

The final portion of the day was dedicated to collecting land-based caches — six in addition to the three we found on the water. Some were pretty straightforward. There was another geocache tucked in a tube, which required strong lungs to get to. And one that demanded some tree climbing skills.

hiking at Rockwood Conservation Area

The Cedar Ridge Trail was a great place to end our microadventure

hiking at Rockwood Conservation Area  hiking at Rockwood Conservation Area

Some geocaches were hidden along trails…

geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area

…some required strong lungs…

geocaching at Rockwood Conservation Area

…while others called for a bit of climbing

Along the way we also caught some great views of Eramosa River, mill ruins, limestone cliffs and crevices, and, of course, Rockwood’s signature potholes.

view of Eramosa River at Rockwood Conservation River

Rockwood’s limestone cliffs reflected in Eramosa River

view from Lookout at Rockwood Conservation Area   view from Lookout at Rockwood Conservation Area

View of the river and kayakers from a lookout point along the Cedar Ridge Trail

limestone cliffs at Rockwood Conservation Area

Rockwood’s limestone cliffs and tenacious cedars

mills ruins at Rockwood Conservation Area   mills ruins at Rockwood Conservation Area

mills ruins at Rockwood Conservation Area   mills ruins at Rockwood Conservation Area

The Harris Mill Ruins, another of Rockwood’s landmarks

potholes at Rockwood conservation area

potholes at Rockwood conservation area   potholes at Rockwood conservation area

Rockwood is home to over 200 glacial potholes

All in all an amazing start to our fall microadventures. Here is to an even greater season of nature quests. What is your favourite nature spot close to home?

 

Our road trip to Newfoundland – Part I: Icebergs, whales and trail tales

Here I am again, at the corner of Lawrence and Dufferin, waiting for the light to change. Our three-week trip to Newfoundland seems like a distant memory even though we just came back. It feels as if I’ve never left this intersection. I also feel like I’ve been gone for years. Both. At the same time. Long road trips do that to you. They fly by while also stretching time to infinity.

watching sunset in J.T.Cheeseman Park in Newfoundland

Watching our last sunset in Newfoundland — seems so long ago

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Backcountry camping at Frontenac

May long weekend is an important milestone here in Canada. Many consider it the unofficial start of summer and/or the opening of the camping season. It certainly was for us until we started camping year round and May 2-4 lost its special status. So we had to rethink its purpose and for the past two years May long weekend has become the opening of the backcountry season.

campsite 4C on Big Salmon Lake at Frontenac Provincial Park Continue reading

On transformation and hope: Easter camping at Wheatley and Point Pelee

I am way behind on my writing. It’s been two weeks since our Easter camping trip and I am only just getting to it. But before I begin, I have a confession to make: I am not a very religious person, more of a questioning agnostic, but I love Easter. Its message of rebirth and transformation lifts my spirits and brings hope. And nowhere is this message more pertinent than in nature so that’s where we choose to spend our Easter holidays. This year I welcomed Easter morning watching the yellow Easter egg of the sun roll out of Lake Erie and right into my heart, sparkling a fire akin to religious devotion, a feeling I haven’t experienced in any of the churches except for Nature’s cathedral.

sunrise Continue reading

Fun day at Mountsberg Conservation Area: raptors, sheep and maple syrup

Hard to believe it’s been four weeks since our last microadventure at Terra Cotta Conservation Area. Not that the break wasn’t fun. It included a glamping trip in Killarney and a day at the Outdoor Adventure Show, where we gathered information for our summer trips and bought a new tent (can’t wait to start using it). Plus there was our son’s birthday, which we spent bouldering at Boulderz (we had a blast and it only took three days to regain the use of my arms). So all in all the time was well spent.

 Toronto outdoor adventure show    Eurika El Capitan 3 tent

bouldering at Boulderz centre in Etobicoke   bouldering at Boulderz centre in Etobicoke Continue reading

Another great glamping trip at Pinery: birds, beach, still no snow

Yes, another trip to Pinery with just as much snow as before, which is none. Well, maybe not exactly none. There was some white dust mixed in with brown leaves along the trails and sand on the beach. But not nearly enough for traditional winter pursuits. Not that it mattered, though. We were looking for an escape from the growing avalanche of quite often depressing news and a trip into the woods away from Facebook feeds and news reports, with or without snow, was all we needed. So when I stumbled across a last minute yurt cancellation at Pinery, I didn’t think twice and booked it.

Lake Huron in the winter at Pinery Continue reading