Geocaching in the Weaselhead

The Weaselhead is a natural environment park in southwest Calgary. Whether approaching from the north or the south, you descend to the Elbow River valley bottom until you’re just a few meters above the water level of the Glenmore Reservoir. What makes this park unique in Calgary is that it contains a river delta; the Elbow River delta began to form in 1933, upon completion of the Glenmore Dam. Every year since, the river has deposited sediment and the delta has grown eastward, gradually maturing into a mixed wetland / grassland habitat. The area is mostly in a natural state, despite once being used as a training ground by the Canadian Armed Forces. Users of this “natural environment park” are strongly encouraged to stick to the established pathways and trails; the park is well-used by walkers, hikers and cyclists.

Like most large parks in Calgary, the Weaselhead is home to plenty of geocaches. Most hiders are sensitive to the nature of the park and place their containers within a few meters of established trails. Here’s a general overview of the natural area and geocache placements:

Weaselhead map

Screen shot showing geocaches in the Weaselhead (from the beta maps option on geocaching.com). As you will note, there are still some geocaches in the area we have not found, including a night cache indicated by the puzzle cache icon.

The last time I ventured down into the Weaselhead was last spring, with a group of grade 6 and 7 students I was introducing to the game of geocaching. So when I knew I’d be in the area again last Tuesday afternoon, I figured there might be a few new geocaches for me to find. I was right! The most intriguing prospects are described on their cache pages as “beacons” dropped by the “Other Side”; although traditional caches they contain some extra instructions, and operatives visiting these beacons are asked to share any intelligence gathered with other operatives via GC3BGB9 – Loose Lips. In accordance with instructions from HQ, over the course of my walk I successfully located each of the three beacons and successfully removed 6 clues to share with my fellow operatives. So here we are, about 2 weeks after publication, with about half of the search grid completed. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for an insightful operative to locate the final beacon and save the world!

As always, I had my camera in hand. Being mid-winter, the sun is quite low in the sky by early afternoon, and with the Weaselhead down in a valley, long shadows were especially challenging. But I managed to come away with a few photos to give you a sense of the park:

First stop

This was my first stop, selected in order to find a micro cache. This area can be very swampy from late spring to late fall, so I was happy to make my way to the posted geocaching coordinates on solid (frozen) ground. My search took about 5 minutes and then I paused long enough to get a few photos of whatever this is. There are other similar strutures in this area, perhaps remnants of old docks?

Travel bug mission complete

Travel bug NoobBug completed its mission today, returning to Calgary after travelling almost 5,500 km over a period of 2 1/2 years.

Also of note, I managed to help a travel bug complete its mission today. Unfortunately, completion was delayed by about 6 months because poor NoobBug was forgotten in the bottom of my caching bag! That’s a big downside risk to being only an occasional cacher these days, and I’m really going to have to think through whether to pick up travel bugs and geocoins in the future.

By the time I climbed back up to the parking area, I’d covered about 7 km and found 6 new (to me) geocaches. The only wildlife I spotted were some birds, but I saw evidence of beavers in the area (flooding from their building efforts, frozen solid) and heard the chatter of squirrels and some yipping coyotes. And the best thing about a mid-winter walk in the Weaselhead? No mosquitos!

Main pathway through the Weaselhead

City parks policy for Natural Environment Parks, such as the Weaselhead, instruct visitors to stick to the established pathways. Although the main paved pathway doesn't offer big-picture views, the afternoon sun reflecting off the tree bark made for a nice contrast against the blue sky.

Elbow River Bed

The level of the Elbow River seems quite low at the moment. Walking upstream from the footbridge, about half the riverbed was dry, exposed river rock. Taken from the south side of the river, looking northwest to Tsuu T'ina lands. With the sun so low in the sky, the dry grasses took on a rich golden brown tone.

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One thought on “Geocaching in the Weaselhead

  1. Pingback: Monthly Photo Challenge – My Choice (October 2014) | Out and About with the GeoKs

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