Discovering the Little Gems with Geocaching


A recent geocaching quest into Smith Valley had all of the elements for discovering the little gems with geocaching.


  • The discovery of little gems we would have otherwise missed
  • The benefit of learning new things
  • Exercising in the great outdoors
  • Uncovering traditional caches with lots of trinkets
  • Finding a novelty geocache
  • Successfully finding and logging all of the caches


Highway Hieroglyphics


The first stop on our geocaching mission took us to a site located on Highway 2 West. When the GPS coordinates indicated it was time to pull over, we found ourselves in a nice spot on the side of the highway with ample room for safe parking, as well as rocky cliffs for climbing and exploring.


Pictograph parking

If you look closely in the center of the photo by the rock wall, you can see the fence where the markings are.


According to the cache description, we were to look for a hide near a rock wall with hieroglyphics.

The first thing we did after hopping out of the truck was to go and look for the markings. Sure enough, there they were on a rock face, painted in red. Vertical lines and drawings in the shapes of people and animals were protected behind a fence, obviously to prevent vandalism.


Pictograph Shapes



Person Pictograph



Rabbit Pictograph

Animal (rabbit)



What I’ve learned since visiting this geocache is that the images were not hieroglyphics, nor were they petroglyphs…as I first thought.


  • Petroglyphs are rock carvings – meaning part of the rock has been scraped away to form the image.
  •  Hieroglyphics on the other hand – is an ancient language using graphical pictures such as animals and people to symbolize words.
  • Because the symbols were painted on the rock, with no apparent continuity, pictograph best describes these ancient markings.


Before searching for the cache we got some exercise by climbing up the cliff, which led to big sky views of Smith Valley. Hazy skies evidenced that it was the first day of open burning season.


Overlooking over Smith Valley

Eileen and Mallory looking over Smith Valley


Back down – the cache was hidden at the bottom not far from the parking spot.


The Cache "Highway Hieroglyphics"

The Cache “Highway Hieroglyphics”


Navigating to the next cache.


A quiet country road and a babbling brook set the tone for the next discovery – a small bison tube clipped to a barbed wire fence.


Bison Tube Micro Geocache

Bison Tube


Bear scat nearby reminded us that the bruins are fattening up for winter.


Bear Scat full of seeds

Bear Scat full of seeds


Lots of Trinkets


Our next treasure hunt located in an area of pine trees and tall grass, resembled the Northshore. We were 2,000 miles away from Louisiana, but the surroundings sure reminded me of Covington.


Headed towards the geocache.

Headed towards the geocache.


Hidden under some logs, we found a plastic tub filled with lots of loot. Traditional caches are a favorite and I really wanted to trade for the butterfly fan. David tried to convince me that it was cheesy and to leave it for another geocacher to find. It didn’t work. We took it anyway. 🙂


Some geocaches have cool swag.

Some geocaches have cool swag.


Finding a novelty geocache.


Next on the list was a cleverly disguised novelty cache. Hidden in an upright stump, we found it pretty quickly using our geo-senses.


Geocache hidden in a stump.

Geocache hidden in a stump.


Signing the geocache log book.

Signing the geocache log book.


Exploring on the way to the next cache.


Since we were out in Smith Valley, David drove around Ashley Lake to show us why we didn’t want to camp there. We stopped at the campground and explored the beach. Mallory and Eileen thought it looked fine – they are happy to camp just about anywhere. I can see how David thinks it would be a tad boring without a boat.


Boaters enjoy an afternoon on Ashley Lake

Boaters enjoy an afternoon on Ashley Lake


Homes dotted the lakeshore and I tried to put myself in the scenario, especially in winter. It would be a long ride to town.


The Last Geocache and More Exercise


Last of all, we misunderstood the directions for the last cache. We followed the GPS coordinates and walked across a weedy hillside for about ½ a mile. Finally it dawned on us that we had taken the high fork in the road (and parked on private property), instead of the low fork.

Like it or not, walking along the side of the hill provided for an additional workout.

We had approached the cache from the top down instead of from the bottom up. Eileen scrambled down the rocky hillside while Mallory and I stayed atop and took in the view.


Scrambling down to find the geocache.

Eileen scrambles down to find the cache.


It was a large ammo can.


Ammo Can Geocache

Ammo Can


She climbed back up (Eileen has always liked rocks) after signing the log book, and we all trekked back the same way we had come.


When all was said and done, we agreed that it was a darn good geocaching adventure.

  • We uncovered some little gems
  • We found all of the caches

To top it off, Smith Valley was dressed for fall in mellow yellow.

Yellow Aspens

Yellow Aspens


Happy Geocaching!

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