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?

 

Spring into microadventures: Bruce Trail and waterfalls

Getting outside in any season comes with lots of rewards but spring offers a special kind of magic. In the spring, the forest looks like a giant colouring book and every day nature fills it in with more colours. Sure spring adventures can be a messy affair, quite literally. But if you focus too much on the mud under your feet, you risk missing the fascinating transformation happening around. And as we return to the woods every Saturday, I savour the colours splattered around where nothing but grey contours were seen the week before. All to the glorious bird song reverberating through the trees.

first green leaves on a branch 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

Winter adventures at Silver Creek and Terra Cotta

Those who have been following this blog are aware of my frustrations with the extremely un-wintery behaviour of this year’s winter, at least in my part of the world, and the extent to which we’d been going to find even a little bit of snow. So you can imagine my delight when we woke up to a major snowfall this past Sunday. We knew this winter spike might no last long so we dropped all our chores and headed outside. It was magical.

snowfall Continue reading

Searching for snow at Hockley Valley: our first microadventure of 2017

I love snow. I love it when it falls softly, inaudibly, in large cottony blobs and blankets the whole world. I love how the world slows down almost to a halt, spellbound, as if trapped in a giant snow globe. I love how it muffles all sounds, softens sharp edges and turns even the ugliest urban landscapes into works of art. I love how the snow cover sparkles and squeaks under my feet on a crisp sunny day. I love to walk through a fresh layer of snow, testing its depth, drowning in its soft whiteness.

shadows on the snow Continue reading

Bruce Trail, snow and lime

Our latest microadventures had three things in common: snow, Bruce Trail and lime (as in construction material, not fruit). Why lime? Well, with easily accessible deposits of limestone in the Niagara Escarpment, the Halton Hills area not far from Toronto became a hotspot of industrial development in the 1800s. At the beginning of the century, the land was surrendered by the Mississaugas Nation (now known as the Mississaugas of the New Credit), and the lime production boom began. It was the remnants of the lime industry that we got to explore during our trip to Limehouse Conservation Area and Hoffmann Lime Kiln Ruins near Devil’s Pulpit.

Bruce Trail at Limehouse Conservation Area Continue reading

Our search for beauty at Eramosa Karst

As someone very accurately pointed out in their comment to one of my previous posts, November is not the prettiest of months. Devoid of colour, without any kind of cover‎, be it foliage or snow, November landscapes stand with all their sharp edges and irregularities exposed, looking vulnerable and lackluster. While this year we’ve been extremely lucky (the planet not so much) with warm weather and fall colours lasting longer than usual, November inevitably arrived undressing the trees and injecting notes of melancholy into the air. Determined not to give in to its mournful call, we set out in search of beauty.

Eramosa Karst Continue reading