APRIL 30, 2016 – San Diego (beach bike caching)

April 30, 2016

From Warner Springs I drove to San Diego for 2 days of bike caching. First stop, Mission Bay. Immediately the front brake assembly fell apart. So I rode around with the rear brake only. I was careful to not roll off the dock at (GC5ZWW0) Barbras Previous Intention [no typo].
Some caches weren’t so scenic or easy, Bike Bridge (GC3HNYB).
The next day I worked my way south by vehicle along San Diego Bay, unloading my bike near cache clusters. This is Harbor Island. Oddly, there’s no bike path here even though there are bikes for rent.
I stopped at a random parking lot to get my bearings and stepped out to find an easy cache just a few feet away, Marina Gateway: National City (GC1WB6J). I think that this is Supergirls’s adopted home city.
Most of the caches along a stretch of the New Bayshore Bikeway seemed to be missing. I wondered if someone removed them. The one here, a magnetized tin, should’ve been easy, Friendly Fisherman (GC4JZ4B).
The view from just a few steps away made up for the DNF. There was no cache on the pier but I rode to its end.
My luck was better along desolate parts of the bikeway where there were no muggles.
As a non-athletic 55 year old, I count myself fortunate that in 5 days I hiked 25 miles, biked 10 and found 57 caches with no bodily breakdowns. Someday if my luck runs out I hope that it’s on the trail, hiking or biking and not attached to a bunch of machines in a hospital. 

APRIL 23, 2016 – WARNER SPRINGS, (San Diego County – PCT)

April 23, 2016

A long string of caches and pictures of vast grasslands on the PCT were too much to resist. To prepare for my visit I posted logistical questions on Facebook. Orange County cacher ThatsRoxie responded and agreed to a car shuttle. Roxie arrived at the Warner Springs Community Resource Center first and set up for car camping. Two hours later I checked in, made a donation and tried to set up my tent for the overnight stay. A slight breeze repeatedly knocked down my efforts until Roxie suggested assembly in the windless space between our 2 vehicles. d’OH! It worked! We carried the assembled tent to the end of the lot where it was easy to stake down. Then we found a few caches before dark. Ask me offline about the bathroom & shower situation.
In the morning we drove 15 minutes to the southern trailhead at Barrel Springs. Unfortunately the cache there was stuck out of reach #11 Alternate Desert Route (GC4RKN0).
We crossed the street N onto the PCT. The first mile was a gradual but steady uphill and the view was the same as what I’m used to seeing near home.
Beetle porn!!
We gazed down at what was ahead.
ThatsRoxie’s geodog MissVivian carried her own water and bowl. Later she had to wear a cooling suit. Even then she overheated.
Even without a GPSr it’d be hard to get lost. Here’s ThatsRoxie and MissVivian.
I visited a spot I’d seen in many PCT blogs and videos.
The caches were easy finds. Several thousand PCT thru hikers will obliviously pass them all.
The trail skirted a riparian area with lots of caches. Somewhere inside we split up for the heat-ailing MissVivian. Roxie & MissVivian went ahead to complete the trail without caching. I continued hiking at a slower pace, talking with passing thru hikers, caching and skipping those that were uphill or more than 50’ off trail.
The trail descended back into the grasslands. Caches here were sometimes in random open spots 20’-50’ off trail. Perfect coordinates allowed me to find those. I reached them only because the foxtails were still green and attached. A month from now cachers will need gaiters.
Unlike the Eagle Rocks in Topanga State Park and near Glendale, the one 3 miles S of Warner Springs actually looks like an eagle. I DNF’d the cache there, Eagle Rock (GCZFME) because a group arrived to take pictures and I didn’t want to be in their way.
The final mile was through another riparian area, alongside a running stream.
Most caches here were small tins hidden in burned out downed trees. The rest were bison tubes or other tree hangers.
At about 9 ½ miles I reached the gate across the street from my tent where ThatsRoxie was waiting to drive me to retrieve my vehicle.
Instead of following my original plan to camp another night and then cache N the next day, I packed up and drove to San Diego for 2 days of bike caching.

I refuse to skimp on gear. Except for the windblown tent everything functioned perfectly.
Tent: Big Agnes – Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO
Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering – Alder
Daypack: Marmot – Ultra Kompressor 22
Trekking Poles : Black Diamond – Trail Pro Shock
Camp stove: Snow Peak – Litemax
Headlamp: Princtontec VIZZ
GPS: Garmin Oregon 550T (discontinued)

MARCH 30, 2016 – HOLLYWOOD SIGN (the hard way)

March 30, 2016

I dimly knew that it was Easter. So I shouldn’t have been shocked to find Lake Hollywood Drive absolutely packed with cars and the sidewalks jammed with people apparently walking to/from some kind of event/service. I was about to go home when a parked car pulled out. I snagged the spot and trekked thru the throng of worshippers to the public easement.
At first there weren’t many people going my way.
My first destination, the hilltop American flag was visible from the official trailhead.
Before I could start I was passed by a stream of 20 somethings.
Only my twin hiking poles let me keep up with them on the steep rocky trail.
Even then everytime I stopped to look at the view more of them passed me. Exactly 1 hour after starting I reached the top. One of the 20 somethings was explaining that the various ammo cans and boxes at the foot of the ‘Tree of Wisdom’ were geocaches! I HAD to interrupt and say, “no they aren’t.” My input was not favorably received but it stopped the misinformation.
Everyone’s attention moved on to other things and I wandered away a few feet and immediately found a cache Ben & Jayme: For the Love of Caching (CG2DD3H). It was in good shape.
I turned around and took pictures of the sea of rock cairns (new since my last visit in December 2013) and the hazy scenic view.
Only a few feet away behind the bush in the picture above stood the flag I saw from below.
I headed East toward the Hollywood sign. By now the trail swarmed with muggles. Many of them sat around resting at a wide spot. But no one knew about the convenient butt-friendly benchmark pedestal, just out of sight. As I sat on it and played with my phone a small child approached and was immediately grabbed away by a concerned parent who probably thought I was pooping behind the bush. Haha! When the coast cleared I walked 9 steps to the obvious (to me) cache Cahuenga Peak (GC5NR2C) and made the find.
I signed the log, returned the cache and rejoined the muggle stream toward the sign. From the main trail I looked down on a side trail and saw 2 men shouting, jumping around and gleefully using sticks to bang something at the base of some bushes. It was almost certainly a case of snake murder. I watched from several hundred feet away and hoped for P22 to spring out from cover and eat the offenders. What’s 2 more skulls in a remote section of Griffith Park? But it didn’t happen…
Here’s the view from there looking back to the “Tree of Wisdom.”
Eventually the trail dropped steeply. Here’s a look-back from the bottom.
Another smaller hill was easily crossed over and the trail merged into a paved road behind the Hollywood sign. The best viewpoint is at the top of the small hill on the left side.
From behind the “H” I gave a telepathic shout out to the ghost of Peg Entwistle. “Don’t Jump!! Your audition was good! You got the part!!”
The hike back was uneventful. I noted that my hiking poles let me descend the rough trail easily while those pole-less repeatedly slipped, tripped and fell.

MARCH 24, 2016 – AGUA DULCE (PCT road/town walk & 2 geocaches)

March 24, 2016

After finally admitting that it’s impossible for me to miss 5 months of work to thru hike the PCT I decided to day hike as many contiguous miles on it as I can, finding caches along the way. I went back to the innermost parking lot (all free) at Vasquez Rocks and walked to the same spot where I started southbound hikes. It was so close to the lot that I was able to turn my car alarm off and on from it.
This time I hiked North, along the edge of the park where there were few people.
But, of course, there was family playing with RC cars at the first cache. I kept hiking. Here’s a picture of the Star Trek themed container that I found there 4 hours later on my way back.
The well marked trail led to the park’s entrance/exit and continued East across the street.
This extended rural road walk was a first for me. At this point traffic was light and I could hear approaching vehicles from a thousand feet away.
The trail turned right on Agua Dulce Boulevard through the middle of ‘downtown.’ This is the supermarket (L) and pizzaria (R) of PCT through hiker legend.
Directly across the street…burgers! They serve cold drinks in Mason jars, very welcome for those who started their hiking day 11 miles away near Acton and for cachers who spent the day at Vasquez Rocks.
On the same block there’s a liquor store and a not-yet-open restaurant. Sadly there are no geocaches.
The PCT continues beyond the businesses. There’s more traffic and one potentially deadly stretch for hikers. I made sure no cars were approaching from behind and then ran through it.
Even though the trail is wider on the East side of the street there are some hard to walk sandy parts. On my way back I found that the narrower West side has less sand and is easier on the feet.
At Sierra Highway the trail turned West and then North again.
It was a relief to finally be completely away from pavement and hiking uphill toward a cache, even if the scenery still wasn’t so great. The upper hilltop in the picture is where I hiked (from the other side) in my February 29 post.
2-1/2 hours after my start I reached my destination cache, one that hadn’t been found in 3 years and 5 months. The Backpacker’s Cache (GCG5QG). I’d expected an ammo can but read on the log that the decon container I found was a replacement hidden more than 4 years ago. The decon didn’t look new but it was still completely intact. And the logbook looked like it was placed the day before even though it hadn’t seen the light of day since December 2012. I would’ve continued up the hill but there were no more caches.
I sat for 5 minutes, turned around and did a reverse hike. The round trip distance, including some side hikes in the park, was 10.05 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. The hike was mostly flat and slightly downhill going back. The temperature never breaking 70 and cool breeze made it even easier. The earliest Class of 2016 PCT thru hikers were still more than 200 trail miles South. By the time the main ‘herd’ arrives in May and June it’s going to be much hotter.

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 – PCT Bouquet Canyon Road (S)

February 29, 2016

I’ve been obsessed with hiking the PCT for about a year. On the offhand chance:-) that I’d win the lotto I prepared for the 5 month 2,653 mile “thru hike” from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I researched & bought all the gear, all the books & maps, read the blogs, watched youtube videos and immersed myself in thru hiker culture. But I didn’t win and therefore have to keep working. So I’m relegated to hiking small pieces of the PCT on weekends.

This time I chose a trailhead where the PCT crosses Bouquet Canyon Road. Cacher Vanichiro51 had very helpfully placed a string of PCT caches extending several miles both north and south of Bouquet Canyon Road. I parked in a small dirt lot, hung my Adventure Pass on the review mirror and walked a few feet to the south side trailhead. For PCT enthusiasts that’s: Section CA E2, mile 465.55. The trailhead cache is: P.C. Trail # 1 (GC2EF7J).
From the beginning the trail went gradually but relentlessly upward. The greenery was evidence of recent rains though there were no trail washouts or mud. Conditions were excellent throughout.
A cool breeze kept the 85 degree temperature from becoming uncomfortable. The Bouquet Reservoir, closed to the public, was visible for the early part of the hike.
I started finding caches with Don_J’s signature last on the log. I stamped underneath and left a memorial wooden nickel. Back at home I saw that there were online logs dated after Don’s finds. But those people didn’t sign the paper logs. Hmmm…
In addition to cache/hiking, I scout for “forest hikes” for my friend Christine (cacher sissopolis). I’m sorry to report that this hike definitely doesn’t qualify.
Finding caches every 600’ or so I arrived at a place where the soil abruptly changed from grey-brown to reddish. The vegetation became more dense at that spot.
Fortunately the caches were mostly very large containers, not too far off trail. But they were old and in various stages of decay.
This one was destroyed.
Just before the top of the last hill a forest of sorts appeared for a few hundred feet.
At the top the ‘forest’ ended in a wide plateau.
This is the view South from just beyond the sign on a dirt road. The town of Agua Dulce and Vasquez Rocks are in the middle. And the white line across the center is the 14 freeway.
I walked around for the best view, sat for a few minutes to enjoy it and hurried back down in order to reach my car before sundown.
022716_11_selfieThe RT hike was 7.4 miles with 1,200’ elevation gain. Going up and searching for 15 caches, finding 12 took 3 hours. Coming back down and searching for & finding 2 caches took 1 hour & 20 minutes. Eventually I’m going back with an earlier start time to find the many caches along the dirt road at the top. Maybe I’ll start from the other (South) side.

FEBRUARY 12, 2016 – Western Plateau? (Camarillo)

February 12, 2016

For as long as I can remember, the area on the North side of the 101 between the Camarillo plain and Wildwood Park has been called the ‘Western Plateau.’ This past weekend I saw signs there that variously read Camarillo, Hawk Canyon and Hill Canyon. I unexpectedly ended up there when another location had extreme dust filled wind gusts. Sissopolis and EcuaDeb chose the plateau as Plan B. My last visit was on Black Friday 2013. What I noticed this time was the utterly empty pay parking lot and the almost full free lot. Strangely the free lot was much closer to the trailhead! There wasn’t much dust but it was still windy enough to keep some tumble weeds rolling.
The bridge over the North-flowing artificial stream led to the trailhead.
This guy probably didn’t know that the water is the output from a sewage treatment plant!
Early February in So Cal, 85 degrees and cloudless. We passed so many dog walkers that we thought there was a dog event nearby.
Because we hadn’t planned for this location we had no pocket queries or caches in our GPS units. Phone signals were sporadic and the GC.com app was slow. So we probably walked right by several caches.
These palms could be long ago escapees from someone’s landscaped garden.
I whined and whined about needing to find “at least 1 cache” so much so that siss & Deb indulged me. They went out of their way to go with me to COSCA’s 23rd Annual Trail Work Day cache (GC4CFBZ) and a neighboring cache.
Having found the caches I was unstressed and took the time to observe the scenery.
Here are Siss & Deb on a conveniently placed scenic bench, just steps away from No more house overlooking Mars! (GC50ZFQ).020716_09_mars_bench
We were very careful not get blown over the side by wind gusts into the canyon below.
Behind us was the newly named Elliott Mountain. We remembered reading about a memorial cache. With strong cell service we found the coordinates and Deb led the way. Both the mountain and cache are named after Burt Elliott (cacher Big Eagle) who gave decades of volunteer service to local trail and recreation organizations.
The summit was so windy that we only stayed long enough to find the cache, The Eagle’s Roost (GC5WF2J).

The descent was easier than expected.
020716_14_lichenWe rejoined the main trail and looped back to the parking lot.
After the 7.9 mile hike we had a Vietnamese/Californian fusion lunch at 9021PHO in Thousand Oaks. Spicy!!

JANUARY 27, 2016 – Indian Creek Trail Head (PCT)

January 27, 2016

With my friend Christine (cacher sissopolis) I tried to drive to Messenger Flats Campground in the Angeles National Forest. Our plan was to hike from there to Mount Gleason summit. She likes forest & snow hiking and I wanted to find the summit cache. But we were thwarted on every attempt by private property and road closures. The route recommended by a hiking blog led to a private animal sanctuary. A helpful local told us that everything beyond was also private property. He pointed us in the general direction of possible routes but we found them also blocked.
The left fork here was the wrong road, but it was closed anyway.
The right fork ended at an active mine/quarry.
Instead of driving around all day we went to the Indian Canyon parking lot (see Dec 22, 2015 post) where the PCT (mile 444.2) intersects Soledad Canyon Road.
We hiked South on the PCT. The trail was immediately uphill. An ammo can cache Cherokee Warrior (GCZQPF) was a welcome stop. Just ahead there were 2 long ago crashed cars in a canyon below the trail.
There was ample evidence that a lot of shooting goes on here.
Trail intersections were helpfully marked.
From here there was a long flat stretch.
We met a Northbound hiking Australian family, probably from the parking lot RV. They were worried about large animal tracks they’d seen. I think those were made by dogs. We said goodbye and kept hiking. The sun broke through the clouds and made me regret leaving my sunglasses in the car.
At just under 4 miles (PCT mile 440.3) we decided that we were losing more altitude than we wanted to make up on our return trip. We sat down, enjoyed the view for a few minutes and hiked back to the parking lot.
Back at home I read a warning that there’s a big stretch of the infamous Poodle Dog Bush ending at mile 440.0. I’ve always wanted to see it but missed it by 0.3 miles! Pictures 2 & 3 are by Christine, cropped by me.


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