Monday, March 12th, 2018
Geocaching Bellingham – Exploring Neighborhoods and the Chuckanut Mountains
Todd Elsworth

I was recently introduced to the world of Geocaching and immediately got hooked. My journey actually started at the global Headquarters of Geocaching.com in Seattle, WA. Their office space is a destination for Geocachers worldwide. If you are new to the outdoor activity, this story can give you a taste of what to expect in Bellingham, WA. For a visual perspective, check out this screenshot of all the geocaches around Bellingham:

 

After you peruse the website, you can download the Geocaching.com app and be on your way. Fortunately, we had a tip on where to begin. We were given a list of highlights to seek out from a local experienced Geocacher, Wendy Crandall. She also offered insights as to Why we should check them out as part of the list. The first on our list was located in a local neighborhood. The complete list is outlined (including the Why) at the end of this story for your use and exploration of Bellingham.

South Hill-Tic Tac Toe
Why: There’s a fun game to play on site.

This cache is a relatively easy find, with a large Tic-Tac-Toe game planted in the front yard for casual passersby and intent Geocachers, like ourselves.

After a couple rounds of Tic-Tac-Toe, we headed for the hills, just south of town on the northern flank of the Chuckanut Mountains. We have been through Arroyo Park many times, but never with the intent of finding a hidden stash in the woods.

The search was ON! Following Wendy’s advice, we set out for a cache that has been there since 2003.¬†With the app running, the girls grabbed the controls and the search was on for the prize.

Arroyo Park – Three Billy Goats Gruff
Why: It’s been here since 2003!

Following the directional arrows and distances displayed on the screen, these Geocachers set out to explore. They got as close as they could with the screen and relied on intuition to guide them. A hole in an old stump caught their eye. It’s these kinds of places where you are prone to look.

They were confident that the geocache was stored in the hole. These brave young ladies reached into the dark hole to find…

Nothing. It was empty. We continued our search for the surprise at the Billy Goats Gruff with no avail. If we would have delved deeper into the description we would have seen the note: “PS: The reach is blind ambition. The container cannot be seen. Have fun.”¬†We were not deterred. Journey onward. On the way to the next cache, You’re So Vain, we were distracted by a large downed tree, immense in its size- invited more exploration.

The¬†You’re So Vain geocache was named after the “great 60’s song, by Carly Simon” according to the Geocacher, Badger 49, who boasts¬†2,092 finds, 392 hides and 339 trackables. These are terms you will come to learn as you get deeper and deeper into the world of Geocaching.

We headed back downstream, with an expansive view of Chuckanut Creek flowing through Arroyo Park. Look out for the trolls under the bridge!

After Arroyo, we headed back into Bellingham, to a familiar Columbia Neighborhood playground. The girls were going to meet a chum there for a playdate, but we had to log another cache (or two) before the sun set over the bay.

In Lorriane Ellis Park, on the north end of our neighborhood, is another cache A Hole in a Tree. Lyvia squints into the sun as she shows off the official Geocaching Hide-a-Cache that they found, stored in the hole in the tree.  Yes, this cache is aptly named and easy to find!

As the girls hung out in the park with their schoolmate, we went for a walk to see what was hidden at the¬†Welcome to the Columbia Neighborhood¬†cache.¬† Being new to this sport, it took us awhile to find the cache. Sorry to spoil it for you, but this rock is the cache! You’ll still have to find it, but now you know that these caches can be tricky.

You’ll know it’s the right rock when you turn it over and look on the bottom for the Official tag. The added challenge makes the find that much more rewarding!

This is just the start of our exploration. Geocaching is a fun sport that all can enjoy, especially in Bellingham where there are sooo many to choose from.

Geocaching Bellingham Highlights, by Wendy Crandall.

South Hill-Tic Tac Toe
Why: game to play on site

Boulevard Park – Tin Man
Why: neat history story

Sehome Arboretum
Why: stroll through the arboretum (there are several caches in the Sehome Arboretum)

Arroyo Park – Three Billy Goats Gruff
Why: It’s been here since 2003

Teddy Bear Cove
Why: Fun hike and a cute name.

Waterfront
Why: I can’t tell you, you need to find out for yourself (waterfront)

Chuckanut Drive
Why: When you’re ready for an earthcache (it’s different) Chuckanut Drive

Railroad Museum
Why: it’s hidden inside the railroad museum (free if you are a geocacher) Downtown

For more ideas see Hilary’s article, Urban Adventure: Downtown Geocaching With Kids

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.