Other Geocaching Class Pictures

Geocaching Class, Santa Teresa Park, 4/11/09

Sam Drake's Santa Teresa Class Pictures on Flickr

Pictures from the Santa Teresa class on

Geocaching Class, Almaden Quicksilver, 6/14/08

Geocaching Class, Almaden Quicksilver, 1/17/09


Geocachers of the Bay Area

Geocaching in Santa Teresa park

Wikipedia: Geocaching

How Geocaching Works

How to Go Geocaching

How GPS Receivers Work

County Parks' Geocaching Rules (example)

Park Links

Mt. Madonna County Park

Santa Clara County Parks

Bay Nature article on Mt. Madonna Park

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Santa Teresa Park

Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Santa Teresa Park Pictures

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, Spring 2002

Mine, Fortini, Stile Ranch Wildflowers, 4/11/08

Bernal Hill wildflowers and views, Feb-Apr. '08 Part 1, Part 2

Coyote Peak, Rocky Ridge, Feb-April '08

Outdoor Photography Class, Bernal Hill Wildflower Walk, 4/4/09

Mother's Day Walk, Fortini-Stile, 5/4/08

Healthy Trails Walk, Fortini-Stile, 5/9/09

Other County Park Pictures

Healthy Trails Hike, Calero, 4/24/09

Healthy Trails Hike, Almaden Quicksilver Wood Road Trail 3/28/09

Harvey Bear Ranch 3/10/07

Harvey Bear Ranch 3/20-21/09

Harvey Bear Ranch 3/20-21/09

Uvas Canyon Healthy Trails Hike 2/21/09

Penitencia Creek Trail

Geocaching Class

Mt. Madonna County Park, July 11, 2009

Sam Drake held a geocaching class in Mt. Madonna County Park on July 11, 2009.  The class was part of the County Parks Outdoor Recreation Program. Mt. Madonna is a 3688-acre park on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains between Gilroy and Watsonville, off Hwy 152, the Hecker Pass Highway. The upper parts of the park are covered with dense second-growth redwood forests. Breezes blowing in from the coast, as well as the  heavily-shaded forests, keep the upper parts of the park cool in the summer. The park has 14 miles of trails, campgrounds, group picnic areas, an archery range, the ruins of the Henry Miller estate, a visitor center, amphitheater, and a deer pen with white fallow deer. The class met by the parking lot near the deer pen.

Geocaching is an activity where participants use a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver to locate hidden containers, called geocaches. The locations of the geocaches are published on the website. GPS coordinates are entered into the receivers. Seekers, called geocachers, use the receivers to get within about 10-20 feet of the geocache. Then they search the area looking for the hidden geocache, which can vary widely in the size and type of container. Some typical containers are film cans, Tupperware food containers, or large metal boxes. They may be painted or covered with colored tape to make them less visible. There are rules and limitations on geocaches, imposed by and the County Parks. A cache cannot be buried, but it can be covered with rocks, sticks, leaves, wood, or other materials. Geocaches, at a minimum, contain a sheet or book on which finders sign their names, usually a geocaching nickname, or "handle." The handle may be used for one person, a couple, or a group. If the cache is large enough, it may contain trading items, which can include toys, coins, or personalized signature items. It may also contain "travel bugs," which are items moved from cache to cache and tracked online. After finding the cache, finders then sign on to the website and log their finds online. They may include comments about the cache experience and upload pictures.

Experienced geocachers showed up early to help with the class. Some were from the Central Valley and were camping out in the park.

Sam setting up the table with maps, flyers, and loaner GPS receivers.

Class participants sign in.

A Girl Scout troop shows up for the class.

Sam begins his talk on geocaching.

Sam gives a paper Powerpoint presentation on geocaching, beginning by explaining what geocaching is.

"Does anyone know what this is?" Sam shows a film can used as a cache container. This size is called a "micro cache."

Sam shows the different types of geocache containers. He is holding an army surplus can used as a large cache container.

Sam demonstrates how to use the GPS receiver that were provided for the class.

The class looks for the first geocache near the deer pen.

After finding the cache, they look at the white fallow deer. Geocaches usually have a purpose, often marking trailheads, trail junctions, viewpoints, or points of interest. The purpose of the cache here is to introduce people to the deer pen.

The deer here are descendants of the two pairs of deer that newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst gave to the Henry Miller Estate in 1934. The deer are native to the Mediterranean Europe and Western Asia. Since they are non-natives and can be invasive, they are not allowed to breed or roam freely outside their pen. A number of deer were killed a few years ago by mountain lions, who climbed over the fence to prey on the deer. The barbed wire and electrified wire on top of the fence now protect the deer from further predation.

The class split into smaller groups, accompanied by experienced geocachers. This group is taking the route clockwise.

Other groups prepare to take the hike counter-clockwise. The hiking route is 2.3 miles, mostly on the crest of the ridge, with a few gradual climbs and descents. Along the way are seven geocaches of widely varying sizes. All are close to the trail.

This group taking the counter-clockwise route walks down the Lower Miller Trail, looking at their GPS receivers to lead them to the first cache.

The group finds the cache and signs the log near the Henry Miller estate site.  The purpose of this cache is to bring people to the site.

The ruins of cattle baron Henry Miller's house. Henry Miller (not to be confused with the Big Sur author) was a Gold Rush-era immigrant who eventually owned 1.8 million acres and 1 million head of cattle and became one of the most powerful men in California. He built an estate here on the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There were five structures at this site built between 1890 and 1902.

Checking out the stone ruins of the Miller House. This was once part of a mansion with seven bedrooms and 3,600 square foot ballroom.

The group with the Girl Scouts arrives at the cache by the Miller site.

The cache container is a small plastic box, containing a logbook and a number of trading items.

This is a closeup of the cache, which is a Lock-N-Lock food container. This type of container is waterproof and durable. It contains a wide variety of trading items.

The hiking route follows the Tan Oak Trail, which runs through shady redwood and tan oak forest. The shady forests kept the hike cool, but the trees made GPS reception less accurate, which would make it more difficult to find the caches. However, the kids were able to zero in on the caches quickly, particularly when there were many searching at the same time.

One of the groups finds a cache at a corner of the trail by a cluster of redwood trees.

The next group, with the Girl Scouts, looks for the cache by the redwoods.

The trail passes by some large boulders. The next cache is nearby.

The Girl Scouts have found the cache.

The forest floor here is covered with redwood sorrel.

This redwood stump looks like it has a face. Cuts in the trunk were made by loggers for steps and platforms so they could cut the trunk higher up, where it was slimmer.

The hiking route turns to follow the Meadow Trail, which runs through and near open meadows.

This group looks for a cache near another large redwood stump. After finding this cache, the group continued on the Meadow Trail, which crosses the park road and closely follows it for about 0.1 miles.

At the next site farther down the trail, the kids have found a micro-cache, made from an M&M's candy tube. It contains only a logsheet, though very small trading items can be placed in it.

The last cache in the hike is near the park's amphitheater.

The kids are searching for the cache near the amphitheater. After this, the hike followed the park road back to the deer pen parking lot.

Wrapping up at the end of the class.

Geocacher and hike leader Duckylee has her ducks in a row. The ducks and balls were used as geocaching trading items.

Page created by Ron Horii, 7/14/09