Garmin Oregon 450: First Hike/Geocaching

5 September 2010 SFAEFI got the new GPS out for a hike and some geocaching on this day. I started out by loading the USGS topos for the Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest (SFAEF) onto the Oregon from Topofusion. I chose the topos because many (but not all) of the trails on the SFAEF appear on the topos. It also shows the boundary of the forest, locations of some pipeline right-of-ways, and locations of some wetland areas. Important information for what I wanted to do.

My next step was to load some geocaches onto the Oregon. The Oregon supports paperless caching, and I was anxious to take advantage. I have paid for premium membership and pocket queries in the past, but I don’t geocache enough for that anymore. I only go occasionally, and so I used the direct download to GPS function on the Geocaching website to choose individual caches to hunt. The website function didn’t work perfectly, for one. Sometimes I’d have to retry the download because it wouldn’t detect the Oregon. I don’t know if it was because the Oregon was acting up, or because the website was acting up. Either way, it was a minor annoyance, and I was able to get a few caches loaded I could hunt. Here’s a track of my hike and cache hunt.

The Oregon handled things nicely. It is a bit of a pain that when folks use HTML in their cache pages, you see all of that HTML on the Oregon. Plain text is better for this, it seems. I’m not sure if people will ever simplify their cache pages to accommodate this, though.

I did notice one spot where the Oregon was off. If you look at where the track deviates from the road and follows roughly parallel to it, that was the spot. I was on the road that whole time, so I’m not sure what was going on. My wife’s Forerunner 205 showed us on the road the whole time once we downloaded her track. It could have been the way I was carrying the Oregon. I was using the carabiner that came with it to hang it from my pack on my chest, so the antenna was not positioned for optimal reception.

Overall it was a good hike. We were able to find a couple of clever hides out here. It was a good change in pace from some previous caches we’ve looked for that haven’t been very interesting…just a box in the woods hidden under a log or something.

The hike was very good. Although walking on the gravel roads through this area makes for sore feet when you’re wearing lighter trail shoes. The area gets burned regularly, so the woods were pretty open in spots. We saw some wildlife on our hike, too. And, the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) was looking great.

5 September 2010 SFAEF

This black swallowtail was the only wildlife I was able to photograph.

5 September 2010 SFAEF

Everything else was too quick, but we also saw an owl (probably a barred owl), a whitetail deer, an armadillo, and a handful of lizards (anoles and skinks).

At the end, we had two very tired doggies. In fact, they’re still two very tired (probably quite sore) doggies today. Tired doggies are well-behaved doggies.

5 September 2010 SFAEF

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