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.
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.
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.
The park was teeming with people…
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 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.
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.
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.
The Cedar Ridge Trail was a great place to end our microadventure
Some geocaches were hidden along trails…
…some required strong lungs…
…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.
Rockwood’s limestone cliffs reflected in Eramosa River
View of the river and kayakers from a lookout point along the Cedar Ridge Trail
Rockwood’s limestone cliffs and tenacious cedars
The Harris Mill Ruins, another of Rockwood’s landmarks
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?