4.5lb Walleye Geocache revisited

walleye1


Not revisited in the physical sense!! It’s been a little over 2 years (June 8th was the anniversary) since Chris Wereley, AKA Stormgren-X, along with a non-Geocacher partner, took an 8 day canoe trip to find this remote cache, 4.5lb Walleye, in the wilderness of Northern Ontario. At the time in 2013, it was the world’s oldest thefindunfound cache, having sat untouched in the wilderness for 12 years and 7 days; it has not been found since, nor has anyone announced their attention to be the next do so on the cache page. We thought this was such an amazing story that we did not one, not two, but three blog posts on the subject (two of them were while the whole Geocaching world was watching his progress on a SPOT tracking device, the third being an interview with him). We do have a couple of updates to this story. First of all, you may notice from the very last sentence in the interview blog post that Stormgren-X placed a cache at the abandoned settlement of Ghost River, about 30 miles upstream from the 4.5lb Walleye cache. After about a year of not seeing it published, we wondered “OK, where is it”? We at OCNA thought maybe one of the Geocaching.com Ontario reviewers rejected it under their “vacation cache” rules, so we emailed Chris and offered to publish it on our site. Nope, he just had a little accident, and lost all the Waypoints in his GPS!

The lost 29 page journal of Stormgren-X:

Ghost River, site of an unlisted cache
Ghost River, site of an unlisted cache

More accurately, the existent, but nearly impossible to find, 29 page journal of Stormgren-X. Also in our interview blog post, we mentioned Chris gave us permission to host this journal, a .pdf that contains over a dozen pictures and over a dozen videos from the trip, on our site. He originally posted it on the the Wikisend file sharing website, which only hosts your (large) content for a few weeks. Apparently our SEO skills need a little work here at OCNA, because this thing is nowhere to be found on a Google search for any of the keywords relating to this canoe route, or the 4.5lb Walleye cache itself. In our defense, it is a .pdf, and not a “webpage” in the classic sense. We’ll keep working on that, but in the meantime, here is the nearly secret URL to Stormgren-X’s journal: http://www.opencaching.us/AlbanyRiver-4.5lbWalleye.pdf  Warning: We did say its a 29 page .pdf; may take a while to load, depending on your internet connection. 🙂

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An interview with Stormgren-X on the 4.5lb Walleye Cache find

The Find!

This is the third post we have done here on the OCNA blog covering the epic eight day Canoe trip (nine days to reach the final destination, the village of Fort Albany, Ontario), to find the world’s then oldest unfound Geocache, the elusive 4.5lb Walleye, placed by Jamie Matear way back on June 21st, 2001. This journey was undertaken by Chris Wereley, AKA Stormgren-X, of Sudbury, Ontario Canada, and his long time friend Gordon Morris, a non-Geocacher. This involved a 400 Km (250 Mile) paddle from Limestone Rapids, just North of The Constance Lake First Nations, and NW of Hearst, Ontario, to Fort Albany. The Rivers traveled on were The Kabinakagami, The Kenogami, and finally, The Albany, 1 Km (.6 Mile) wide in spots. The 4.5lb Walleye cache being along The Albany River, only 65 Km (40 Miles) shy of Fort Albany. This is one of the biggest stories in Geocaching in years, and was completed a month before this blog post, so we assume readers are at least somewhat familiar with the story. If you’d like to become very familiar with their trip, you can download Chris’ 29 page journal as a .pdf from wikisend.com, a file that is only available for 3 weeks from the date of this blog post. Chris has also let us host this 29 page .pdf on our server at http://www.opencaching.us/AlbanyRiver-4.5lbWalleye.pdf but your web browser and internet connection will pay the price!! We will eventually convert that to an HTML page. On with the interview!

OCNA Blog: What did you two eat during this 9 day trip? By the way, I had to Google what a Bannock was. Did you catch and eat any fish?
Chris: We brought and ate mainly dried and dehydrated foods.  Some instant meals that you just add hot water to, dried meats, instant mashed potatoes, dried fruits, nuts, trail-mix, bannock, granola, powdered milk, gatorade powder, cheese, crackers, chocolate, onion, garlic, tea.  The only liquids we brought were honey and a small bottle of after dinner drink to sip on.

We attempted to catch fish, but the water level made for poor fishing.  Even the First Nations people were not having much luck, and they also told us this was due to high water levels and the water being “dirty”.  This area usually has a great abundance of fish.

Kabinakagami in the rain

OCNA Blog: How about drinking water? Did you just boil water, or use purification tablets? The first river, the Kabinakagami, didn’t look very drinkable!
Chris: All the water was boiled using a Kelly Kettle, some of the water had sediment suspended in it, but it was a very fine sediment and it didn’t bother us.  The Kabinakagami river did have a lot of sediment in it, but after boiling was ok to drink.  We did try to filter it with a ceramic filter and pump, but the sediment was so fine that a lot of it went through the filter.  Boiling kills everything I suppose, and we didn’t have any side effects.

Tin Cabin near Mammamattawa

OCNA Blog: I was amazed by the amount of gear you two were carrying in the pictures from the tin cabin near Mammamattawa. Was the barrel for food only, or did you stow other gear in it, in case the unthinkable capsizing of the canoe happened?
Chris: The canoe was rated for about 700 lbs. of total weight, and we were well under the maximum.  The barrel was for food only, and the rest of the items were kept in dry bags and we kept all our electronic gear in a Pelican water proof case.  Getting gear and food wet in the event of rain or capsizing would pose a problem.

OCNA Blog: Did you encounter any mentionable rapids on this entire trip? From some of the videos posted, it looks as if the water was flowing fast enough that you could just float down these rivers.
Chris: We did encounter some minor fast water and rapids.  Nothing of the kind we are accustomed to in the rocky and hilly Canadian Shield.  The high water levels we encountered in the rivers also contributed to smoothing out the rapids as the rocks were well below the water surface.  There are a dozen or so rapids listed on this route, and are more challenging during mid-summer water levels.  Some of these rapids need to be lined during lower water levels to prevent canoe damage.

One could just ‘float’ down these or any rivers, but the trip time would be extended greatly.  At least once a year, the First Nations people build a raft and do just that.  Float along the river all day and night.  We heard a story about one guy who built a raft and placed a brand new truck on it to bring to Fort Albany and made it!  Out of the 8.5 days, we traveled for 7 days, making good time due to high water levels and stronger current.

OCNA Blog: I assume you were very happy with your Goal Zero solar battery charging device? (NOTE: The device can be seen in this video, and an iPod rocking The Doors can be heard).
Chris: The Goal Zero solar powered battery charger worked very well for us during the trip.  It kept all our devices charged and worked as advertised.  Of course it works best under full sun and we were able to take advantage of that during sunny days.  It charges the battery pack that can hold AA or AAA batteries, and then in turn, the battery pack will charge any device that can be charged via USB.  They do make quite a few different solar powered products.

Cemetery at Ghost River, Ontario, along the Albany River

OCNA Blog: As someone who was closely watching everything on the SPOT tracking device, I saw you stop for lunch short of Ghost River, and was wondering if you were actually going to stop there. But you did, and spent a few hours there. That had to be one of the most interesting stops during the trip. Do you have any idea who is maintaining the cemetery there, some 60+ miles against the current from Fort Albany?
Chris: Ghost River was one of the spots that we did want to stop at and explore a little.  We had read about the graveyard from a 1983 trip report and wanted to see if it was still there and also see if we could find remnants of buildings.  It was one of the highlights of the trip and we do not know who maintains it.  Someone still cares and respects these hardy pioneers from the past.  Apparently there are some old First Nations burial sites along these rivers as well.  We did see one other cross up on the river bank on the Kenogami river that we did not investigate as we were on the other side of the river when we spotted it. (NOTE: The 1983 trip report, a blog post, can be seen here).

OCNA Blog: The SPOT tracking device tells us you spent about 2.5 hours in the area of 4.5lb Walleye. How long did you spend actually looking for the cache? It sounds like it was pretty much “buried”. How deep under Moss would you say it was?
Chris: We didn’t measure the time we spent at GZ, but estimated a few hours once we set off again on the river.  We probably spent about 1.5 hours of actually searching for it.  I say at times we were “digging”, but at no time did we need a shovel or other digging instrument.  The container was placed under moss as per described on the cache page.  It was under perhaps four inches of moss.

OCNA Blog: I was surprised at how many other people you saw out on these rivers during the trip. I assume everyone is very friendly and helpful out there in the wilderness?
Chris: We were surprised as well to see so many people during the first part of the trip to Mammamattawa.  There were boats on the river and float planes coming in!  Just happened to be there when the First Nations peoples were having a gathering from the different communities.  After we set off again from Mammamattawa on day 4, we only saw one other boat heading upstream on the opposite bank until day 8.

All the people we met along the river were very friendly and helpful.  I found that once you approached them and showed some courtesy and respect, the same was given back.  After all, we were in their neck of the woods.

 

OCNA Blog: So you gave the canoe away in Fort Albany? No problem finding someone willing to take it off your hands?
Chris: The plan from the start was to leave the canoe as it was an older one with many fiberglass patches.  No problem giving it away, although we kept our paddles as a souvenir!  We also gave away our unused food and ammunition.  The cost of transporting the canoe was too great, and sometimes you need to wait until the cargo plane can take it, adding days to the trip.

OCNA Blog: Your longtime friend and trip partner Gordie has no desire to create an account at Geocaching.com, and log this cache?
Chris: Gordie has no desire to start a geocaching account or to log the find.  He just likes the adventure and the challenge of the great outdoors.  If I would have had another geocacher on the trip with me, I probably would have arrived in Fort Albany alone….  😉


Thanks very much to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions, we here at the blog really appreciate it. We know he’s been very busy with other such requests, and answering emails from all over the world. He has stated that after he finally logged on to the internet at the Lodge in Fort Albany, he was astounded by the interest in his trip in the Geocaching.com forums, and all the emails he had already received while on the water. He has also stated that he is most touched by people commenting that they were inspired by the trip, and want to challenge themselves, even if it is just a little bit more. We agree. Reading his 29 page journal, with all the excellent pictures, and links to 15 videos posted to YouTube, one can’t help but be inspired; what an amazing journey. Maybe one can even be inspired to take the same trip, after all, he did leave a Geocache at the Ghost River site!

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Happy 4th of July, and some odds and ends

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy this public domain fireworks picture, as we’re all about public domain things at OCNA, be it the Leatherman Variant Logo, The Geoachers’ Creed, or our own new logo. Mr.Yuck had a really, really bad day on Tuesday, July 2nd, with two separate really annoying things happening, so we’ll just wish you all a great holiday, and blog about a few assorted odd’s and ends here. We have completed our interview with Stormgren-X, he of the epic 9 day canoe trip to be the first to find the (then) world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye. We had and planned to post that this week, but we’ll put that one off for a week.

New OCNA Logo

Speaking of our new logo at OpenCaching North America, we have shared that on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, but we’ve never mentioned it here on the blog. Of course you’ve seen it for a couple weeks on the banner on the top of this blog. This is the “unlettered” version, without the text OpenCaching North America. We are very close to finalizing that design. First up? OCNA Pathtags! We will not be selling them ourselves though, they will be available through a little-known and little-used fundraiser program for Geocaching Organizations through coinsand pins.com. Don’t worry though, we will not be “raising funds”. The proceeds, if you want to call them that, are payable only in pathtags cash, so whenever we earn enough, we will just buy more of our own pathtags, and distribute them to promote our website. Next we will probably try OpenCaching North America T-shirts. We would most likely set the commission at zero to keep the cost to a bare minimum, and no money would be made there, either. It’s all about promoting Opencaching North America!

After a slow start, the Travelfleas.com gift certificate contest is going very well; we have many entries. Maybe this blog really does have 500 readers a week, like the Blogger.com statistics tell us! Since you now have a less than 1 in 25 chance of winning, and probably even worse odds by the time the winner is drawn, feel free to go to their website and buy your own. Remember, the contest ends at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, on Wednesday, July 10th. Remember to check your “spam”, or “junk” folder should you be the lucky winner, because as previously mentioned, you will be contacted from a Gmail account, more specifically Opencachingnorthamerica at that domain. We will do a short blog post announcing the winner. Be sure to check back for that post next week (assuming the winner responds quickly), and also the interview with Stormgren-X.

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Update; 4.5lb Walleye Cache found!!

At 8:30 PM Eastern Standard time on Sunday, June 9th,2013, the above video was posted to the file sharing site wikisend.com by Geocaching.com account name Stormgren-X, featured in the last blog post for embarking on an epic eight day canoe journey to the world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye. Well, as can be seen in the video, it was found! We at the blog have no issues with posting this video, as it was posted to a file sharing site. I’m sure we’re fine!  However, the official Blogger.com video player leaves a lot to be desired. You can download the video yourself from wikisend, but be advised it was taken with an Apple device, and is an .MOV file. You may not be able to view it on all video players. (Update 6/16/13, Stormgren-X does indeed not have a problem with it being posted here).

SPOT tracking near Ground Zero

The cache was found Saturday morning, June 8th. To the left is their time spent at Ground Zero per the tracking on their SPOT tracking device.  Click to enlarge. It’s pretty obvious the video started at track #35, after the cache was found. Total time on the ground in the area of the cache was 2 hours and 21 minutes, according to the SPOT device. Despite speculation by many of their “watchers” from around the world (including, umm, this blog), they were not able to convey their success or failure finding the cache with the SPOT device; it only had two previously set up custom messages. Basically one for experiencing good weather, and one for experiencing bad weather. We had to wait a day and a half until they arrived at their Hotel in Fort Albany, Ontario.

We will consider this our post for the week here at the Blog. We could use a little break! Finding guest  Bloggers was harder than we figured. If you’d like to write a guest post, please, by all means, contact us!

Sneak preview, we are in possession of a relatively new Geocaching related product, and are currently “testing” it for a scheduled blog post/interview for the middle of next week.

UPDATE 6/16/13: Stormgren-X has responded to this blogger, and will be interviewed on this amazing cache find at a later date!

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Follow live tracking on a Canoe trip to the World’s oldest unfound cache!

On May 31st, one day before an epic two week wilderness Canoe voyage in Northern Ontario, Geocaching.com username Stormgren-X announced his intention (along with a friend) to be the first Geocacher to arrive and ground zero, and look for the world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye, (placed June 23rd, 2001) in the Groundspeak forums. And with this announcement he also stated that he would be using a SPOT tracking device, and that you can track their progress online.When turned on, this device updates their location every 10 minutes.

Although we at Opencaching North America tweeted about this on Twitter, and posted about it on Google+, we did not plan on doing a blog post until after this cache attempt happened. But then we got to thinking why not get word out to as many people a couple days before they arrive at the cache site, and additionally, it’s going to be pretty hard to secure an interview with Stormgren-X when the trip is over! He is going to be inundated with requests for comments, not only by the Geocaching community, maybe even the mainstream media. And we’re quite certain that Latitude 47, The Geocaching.com offficial blog, is going to want to do a feature on the trip. After all, the 4.5lb Walleye cache is listed on their website only.

Stormgren-X and friend pushed off from N 50 05.251 W 084 09.920, on the Kabinakagami River, approximately 50 Km. Northwest of Hearst, Ontario, at 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 1st. Their destination is The Village of Fort Albany, Ontario on the Albany River, near it’s confluence with James Bay (of the Arctic Ocean), approximately 400 Km. away. They traveled north on the Kabinakagami, then the larger Kenogami River, before turning east on the even larger Albany River. Here is excellent blog post from a gentlemen from Hamilton, Ontario who took the same trip in 1983. The blog post itself was written in 2008, however. As far I can tell, they may have pushed off from the exact same spot.

The early stages of the 2013 trip were not without incident though. Stormgren-X did not say which particular SPOT device he owns, but it is one of the models that does allow him to insert short text messages with the device. Those of us following along on the website found a custom message, as they’re called, went out about 10:00 AM on Sunday June 2nd that they were experiencing bad weather. They set up a campsite for the whole day, and did not shove off again until Monday morning, June 3rd. A Canadian cacher closely following along and commenting to the Groundspeak forum thread found a video online suggesting that it snowed in Hearst, Ontario on Sunday. But they have had excellent weather since, and should continue to for the bulk of the trip.

Their “weather day off” was in the vicinity of the abandoned Hudson Bay Company settlement of Mammamattawa but you can see by clicking on that link that this settlement, at the confluence of four rivers, is still used by the Constance Lake First Nation (although not inhabited year-round). Despite this, there appears to be an unmanned weather station nearby, and you can look up the Mammamattawa Weather Forecast or alternatively, you can look up the Fort Albany Weather Forecast.

This Blog post was posted around 6:30 PM Eastern time on Wednesday, June 5th. By estimates of most Geocachers who are following along, they will reach the 4.5lb Walleye cache location Friday or Saturday. It does appear Stormgren-X does have the ability to send a message from the field whether the search is successful or not. He has stated that he will log a DNF if the cache is not present, he is not going to replace the container and claim a find. There has been much speculation over the years that the cache may have been washed away in the annual Spring floods, or eaten for dinner by a Black Bear or Moose! Lets hope that it’s still there. This Blog post will be updated when his success or failure is reported, and of course we hope to be one of the lucky ones to have a few words with him after the trip.

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