November 30, 2013
It was Black Friday, time to avoid mall madness. Albackore, BWidget, Don_J, EcuaDeb (+ Mr. EcuaDeb), Foocachers and I ventured to the Planet Series on the Western Plateau, North of Newbury Park. Once again my lifetime of eating cheeseburgers, pizzas, burritos and kung pao chicken let me hike without the insulating layers needed by normal people.
Light rain the night before kept the dust down in the new parking area and throughout the 8 mile counterclockwise hike, without producing mud.
There’s a bridge at the trailhead: Western Gate to the Western Plateau (GC38VEQ).
The hike South was mostly flat. It was strange to see a stream flowing North. I’m used to them flowing South, directly toward the ocean. I think that this one originates in the water treatment plant to the East and eventually turns West and South.
A coyote calmly watched us, showing no fear of people.
There were many trail junctions with caches in all directions. We turned East into a canopied area.
Here’s the first of 2 ancient abandoned cars we passed between caches.
The Planet Series was hidden by Blig in late 2005 and later adopted by chaosmanor when Blig moved out of the area. I was lucky enough to log the entire series on a group hike with Blig in 2006. So, for me, the hike was to find the non-series caches hidden afterward. I ended with 13 finds while those new to the area found 30+. This is GZ at Earth (GCRPWM).
The hike was NOT mostly flat on the Southern part of our loop.
Near the top, there’s a convenient bench close to A House Overlooking Mars (GC3A6W8). This is Mr. & Mrs. EcuaDeb.
This is part of what they saw looking down.
We had (2) DNFs toward the end of the loop. I’m going to watch the listings to see if someone else can find those caches. Orbiting the Lemonberry (GC421V7) and Black Hole (GC3954). This is the trail back to parking. We closed the loop in exactly 4 hours.
I’m 228 caches short of my annual goal of 1,200 finds. Finding 228 is a morning’s work for some cachers. But I’m SLOOOOW. Like last year, I’m going to cache frantically next month to reach 1,200. Pictures and details to follow.
October 19, 2013
On Friday, the day before Geocoinfest 2013, I took my long anticipated trip 100 miles beyond Las Vegas, to a place near where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet. My goal was to cache the Kokopelli geoart series.
Exactly 2 years ago I broke off from the SFV ET2 Hwy Group by myself and reached within 0.3 miles. But that was a recon probe in my Prius and I wasn’t equipped for hike caching. This time I had the Forester and full gear. A few feet into Utah I passed this sign.
And 2 miles past that, the easy to miss turnoff for the Kokopelli:
The road was well maintained and I stopped for some easy caches.
A few spots that were REALLY scary in the Prius were no problem for the Forester. I passed Stockade (GC1R7CE) one of my all time favorite locations. It obviously hasn’t been used in years. But I saw some cowpies in the area so cows, or something like them, are still in the area.
I found a wide spot in the road, 0.3 miles N of the Kokopelli’s head and parked.
Immediately I knew that the hike wasn’t going to be easy. There were lots of gullies. It wasn’t hard to cross any single one. But having 1 or 2 or even 3 of them between every cache and the terrain going steadily downhill made me realize that it wasn’t going to be a mega-find day.
The Kokopelli caches are called, “jeeks,” online. They’re absolutely-do-not-make-for-urban-caching “pipe bomb” containers. You’d think that the double layer would keep logs dry but a lot of them were soaking wet from the previous day’s light rain.
Then my Garmin Montana 600, which had problems from day 1, started turning off randomly. It aways restarted when I pushed the power button but I worried about the worst case scenario if it didn’t. I’d hate to be known as the Geocoinfest cacher who got lost in the desert and was airlifted 2 days later. (stoopid stoopid stoopid of me to forget
my Garmin Dakota 20 as backup) So I regretfully hiked back to my car after finding only 10 Kokopelli caches.
The scenery was especially nice on the way out.
Plan B: Two miles South of the Kokopelli, in Arizona, there’s a dirt road driving series of 30+ caches.
At least here, if the Montana died, I could just backtrack on the dirt road, to pavement.
The caches were unevenly spaced and the road became rougher with each mile. The containers were mixed, from rx bottles to huge nut jars to ammo cans and ‘natural’ materials. They were placed from roadside to 200′ out. It was while walking to a 100′er that I stopped in my tracks. A LIVE desert tortoise!! It was only a 6″ baby, but the first live
tortoise I’ve ever seen!! I hope that it lives a very long life, long outliving me. (I’m 52.)
At 3 caches from the end of the series there were just too many jagged looking rocks ahead. It was mid-afternoon and I didn’t want to get stuck with a flat tire. I don’t have a full size spare yet.
On the way back to Las Vegas I pulled off for some easy caches (they weren’t). These geocows stared at me near one of them.
I got back in plenty of time to attend the event pre-registration. Next…Geocoinfest 2013…
October 15, 2013
I took a weeklong vacation, driving across the desert to Geocoinfest 2013 in my new geocar (2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring). After years of going E on the 210 to the 15, I finally got smart and took the 5 to the 14 to Pearblossom Hwy/Palmdale Blvd to Victorville – and THEN to the 15. Weekday traffic was light and there were lots of cache filled dirt side roads along the way.
My 1st order of business was to check in at Days Inn Barstow. It was disappointing to find my favorite Barstow eatery down the street, Hollywood Subs, shuttered and out of business. Oh well, McD was next door. At 7am I drove 80 miles E on the 40 to Kelbaker Road and the Route 66 Shield series. It was my 4th trip there in 2 years and I FINALLY found the last 36 caches. There are now 200 smilies and no more green boxes on the map!!
It was a comfortable hike across familiar terrain.
Unfortunately, most of the containers were in sad shape.
Earlier this year they were fine. Less than 10 caches from the end I DNF’d one. A 1/2 hour search found no trace. I was resigned to having 199 finds and 1 DNF for the series. Then 3 caches later I found a re-supply ammo can. It had 3 new containers so I took 1 back to the DNF site, left it and logged a find. The shield owner was notified and I’m told that replacements for the original containers are on the way.
The temperature never reached 80. A cool breeze kept me from overheating, even when crossing the only altitude change in the series.
After encountering dozens of dead tortoise shells on previous trips, I’d hoped to see a live one for the first time. No luck. The most interesting wildlife seen was this catapillar.
I stayed another night in Barstow and then cached along the 15 to Las Vegas, concentrating between Primm and Jean. To be continued…