OCTOBER 4, 2015 – Backbone Trail (BBT) West from Kanan

October 4, 2015

It rained overnight. And today was the first day below 85 degrees in a month. It was a good time to hike the Backbone Trail (BBT), West from the Kanan Trailhead. I arrived at the free parking lot with my good friend sissopolis at 9:30am.
It drizzled for the first half hour. It’s been dry for so long that even with the overnight rain there was no mud. The streambed was completely dry.
We stepped under the bridge to find the clue for multi-cache, Bridging the Backbone (GC3T9Y2). In a normal year sissopolis’ would be foot deep in creek water. We checked out a coned-off 8’ circular sinkhole and enjoyed the overhead canopy.
There were lots of small elevation changes. I lost 15 lbs this year and recently changed to lighter gear (more about that later). Still, I got a good workout keeping up with the younger and ultra fit siss. We emerged at an unpaved service road from behind this sign.
Looking forward (NW) from the same spot we saw what looked like an old landslide. This stretch of the BBT was completely new to me because there are no caches. (NPS land).
We reached a trail intersection and hiked to a cache just outside NPS land NPS is the Neighbor (GC26NYH). I logged it in 2011 and now reaching it from the East closed a gap on my “BBT hiked” map. I didn’t remember how the cache was hidden. Siss made the find today.
The drizzle was long gone and sunlight occasionally came through the clouds. We turned back toward the parking lot. On approach we took a short side hike to Kanan and found a roadside telephone pole cache Peace Get Set 151 (GC5H69R). We could’ve walked along the road back to the parking lot. But the noise and the possibility of being splattered by a speeding-texting-distracted driver convinced us to dip back onto the BBT for the last ½ mile. The round trip was just under 8 miles.

Gear changes – inspired by Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hikers, those who hike 2,653 miles on the trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, all in 1 trip. Pack: Marmot Ultra Kompressor 22L ultralight, Fujifilm Finepix XP-80 waterproof freezeproof dustproof outdoor camera, Thermarest-Z sitting pad, “Storm – world’s loudest whistle.” And of course, I now wear trail running shoes (Brooks Cascadia 10) instead of hiking boots. So far, so good. All the new gear is working flawlessly.

AUGUST 24, 2015 – TSP, Trippet Ranch to Parker Mesa Overlook

August 25, 2015

During a break in inferno like heat I drove to the upper parking lot in Topanga State Park at Trippet Ranch for a hike.
About 5 minutes later, I hiked right (South) at the sign, found a nicely placed cache Belly of the Beast (GC545W8) and left a Don_J memorial wooden nickel.
A few hundred feet later I sat on a convenient bench. I’ve always thought that it’s more for resting than sightseeing because there’s not much of a view.
I took a swig of slowly melting frozen Pocari Sweat. I prefer it to Gatorade but it’s $4.99/1.5 liter bottle so I only buy it on sale. The Smart Water cap from last week worked well with no leaks. I’m going to get more and use them on all future hikes.
It was gear test day. At this point I opened my newly bought German hiking umbrella (picture later).
It’s been so dry and so hot for so long that it was a surprise to see lots of mostly red stage poison oak on the West side of the trail.
Eagle Rock was visible in the distance. There are famous caches (Scab Island / El Indio Amazonico) in the canyon between. Bushwhacking, crawling through hot humid brush tunnels and rope climbing doesn’t appeal to me so I never tried to find them.
Today, I found another easy cache and repaired one of my own.
90 minutes and 3 miles from the parking lot I arrived at Parker Mesa Overlook. No one else was there!
The haze obscured Santa Monica Bay and the pier where I had lunch (Bubba Gump’s) last month.
Geocaching.com’s map shows a series of caches extending from the overlook toward the ocean. I’d never noticed that trail on past visits. Two runners staggered in from below, saving me the trouble of searching for it. Only a few dozen feet in below the overlook it widened and became obvious.
I found E piʻi kuahiwi me ke akahele (GCPTGA) and saved the rest of the caches for another day, and a hike from the bottom. When I reached the overlook again it was full of people. My umbrella caused curious looks and questions. Despite the dorky appearance, it’s like walking with a portable shade tree. The silver metallic coating kept me much cooler than expected. I’m going to start using it on all hot, open terrain hikes.
On the way back to the parking lot a passing group of Asian teens snickered at me. I heard “BOBA!! BOBA!!” when they were safely beyond my reach. It’s a new derisive term for immigrants, “Brought Over By Airplane.” The umbrella must’ve uncomfortably reminded them of their mothers who take extreme measures to avoid tanning. It was a long uphill hike back.
Including a short side hike, the round trip was just over 7 miles. It was made easier with Brooks Cascadia 10 trail runners, almost a pound lighter than my regular Merrill hiking shoes. They’re a favorite of long distance hikers. I’ve never rolled an ankle so I’m going to take a chance and wear the Cascadias from now on.
Note: The lower parking lot at “Daid” Horse, closed for years, is now open.

August 16, 2015 – Emma Wood State Beach (Ventura)

August 16, 2015

It was 101 degrees when I left the Valley at 10am. 40 miles and less than an hour later it was 71 degrees in Ventura. My worries about finding a full parking lot were unfounded. Before I could hop on my bike, a campground volunteer walked up and said I “drove right through,” (past the iron ranger). I pointed to my California Explorer day pass hangtag on my rear view mirror. She put her hands all over my window, peering in, and didn’t recognize that type of pass. She said it was facing the wrong way. I told her that Emma Wood State Beach was specifically listed as “good at,” on the pass’ CA state website and that no regulation specified which direction to hang it. She decided not to make an issue out of it and went on her rounds.
Right away I saw that the bike path going North was uphill. It ran parallel to active railroad tracks, between a chain link fence on each side. Here are the track and a parking lot road as seen through a break in the fence. The caches were M&M tubes hidden along the fences. I found 5 of them before reaching a narrow section that ran along an unguardrailed freeway onramp, and turned around.
Close to the parking lot and through a tunnel there was a cache along a dirt single track. (GC5HR4R) Rogue Cache.081615_03_dirt_path
I parked and poked at suspicious rock piles.
Finding nothing, I sat on the log below and enjoyed the view.
Note to my non-Camelback/Platypus using friends: It was there I noticed a great new cap type on my Smart Water bottle. It’s easier to use then a regular screw-off cap.
In years past I would’ve driven around looking for more caches. I’m more relaxed now so I watched sandpipers grazing,
and sailboats sailing by for an hour before returning to the now 111 degree! Valley and my customary after-outing In-n-Out double double.

MAY 8, 2015 – Don_J 1961 – 2015

May 8, 2015


I am greatly saddened to learn about the passing of my friend Don. Over the years we hiked hundreds of miles together and found at least a thousand geocaches. As part of larger groups we usually ended up at the back of the pack. I think at first this was because he didn’t want me to lag by myself. Later it was because, though we were near opposites on religion, politics and social issues, we still had much in common to discuss. We were less than a month apart in age, both went to high school in the valley and had been fanatical CBers in the late 1970’s. Without knowing each other we spent decades hiking Chatsworth Park and the surrounding mountains.

On our last few hikes together it was Don who lagged and I sensed that something was very wrong. But he never complained. And as a fellow introvert I didn’t pry very hard. When he stopped communicating altogether I thought it was because he was putting 100% of his energy into his new job. I’d hoped that once he was settled that he’d come back to hiking and caching. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.

Don was low keyed but had a keen sense of humor. He rarely laughed out loud, at least in my presence. A notable exception was when I compared him to an ewok.

We consistently agreed on on-trail decisions, sometimes against the opinions of everyone else in a group. Once, we chose not to take an iffy-looking ‘short cut’ up a small hill. The two of us reached our destination first and waited in the shade. Later, the others straggled in with a wild story about a bee attack and painful red stings to prove it.

Don was especially knowledgeable about oddities we encountered on remote hikes.
I was amazed that not only did he know about every abandoned wrecked car I’d found on my solo hikes, but that he could recite the model and year for each one.

Don had exceptional balance. I told him he had gecko-feet because he could stand sure footed on steep uneven edges of precarious drop offs that no one else would approach. I witnessed this often when we worked on the Spinal Tap challenge. We finished the 96 caches (at the time) together with robb_dog.
Organizing group geohikes can be like cat herding. So we sometimes went on 2 person caching expeditions. Once, on an isolated section of Ventura Beach, we walked around a dune into a nude photo shoot. My programming turned me in another direction and I waddled away in the sand as fast as I could. A few minutes later Don sauntered in with a big smile on his face. We went to the desert too. Here Don holds a Kern County Altoids tin.
And we DNF’d here on a day trip to Fiesta Island in San Diego. I found a $20.bill nearby (the 3rd time I found big money while caching with Don) and used it to buy us a late lunch at Santana’s Mxn. Don was incredibly picky about his food. Seeing an unfamiliar ingredient listed he at first refused to eat his burrito. When I was half done, hunger got the best of him and he took a tentative bite. He finished before me.
Another time, after a morning of local urban caching, I dragged a visibly reluctant Don into a Japanese street food restaurant on Saticoy St. Even though there was no sushi and not a fish anywhere in sight Don looked grossed out; this from a guy who ate his first In-N-Out Burger on another of our expeditions! So I suggested a beef teriyaki, BBQ chicken combo. He stared at it for awhile before finally poking it with his fork. He never touched the side dishes but in the end there wasn’t a speck of teriyaki or BBQ left on his plate. This proved that he wasn’t as set in his ways as he might’ve wanted people to believe.

On one of our last trips we cached the RV series near Barstow. On the way back to the SFV Don took me to his confluence cache at coordinates N 35° 00.000 W 118° 00.000. I never would have thought to visit on my own. It’ll always be one of the highlights of my caching career.

I’m beyond upset to think that I’ll never go on another geohike with Don. He’ll be remembered and missed by the caching community. I’m sure that there’ll be multiple tribute caches. I look forward to finding them all.

MARCH 31, 2015 – OLdweeb’s Caching Zoo

March 30, 2015

I haven’t been able to go caching very much in recent weeks. But I want to post something to show that Dweeb’s Diatribe is still alive. Here are pictures of animal life I saw on the trail (urban, mountain, desert, beach) over the last few years. Mountain lions (never seen one), bobcats (can’t find picture) and condors (didn’t have camera) are missing.






























FEBRUARY 16, 2015 – Upper Las Virgenes (Northeast)

February 16, 2015

While the Northeast and Midwest froze under several feet of snow, I hiked in 85 degree sunshine, 15 minutes from home. This is the Victory (Blvd) Trailhead to the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (the former Ahmanson Ranch). Free street parking is a block away.
Inside, the parking lot costs $3.00. From there I hiked up this trail for the first time. It’s steeper than it looks in the picture and I struggled to keep from being overtaken by a 20 something couple and their small children.
At the top the trail was mostly flat. The family went North and I went South. I DNF’d the first 2 caches, Take Five (GC5KZCF) and Raptor Ridge (GC5KZCG) when coordinates led to unlikely spots.
It rained twice this year, enough to turn the area from brown to green. The East-West trail down below is so well maintained that it looked like a paved road. Most park visitors hiked there and very few were above on the single track trail with me.
Caches were all a few steps off trail. Those steps were scary because the greenery was invariably sock top high. I used my hiking stick to make very sure that no rattlesnakes were underfoot. Surprisingly, the only non-flying wildlife I saw were fence lizards, lots of them.
The trail turned North and went steadily uphill. I was glad that there were lots of butt friendly rocks to sit on and rest. At one of them, I forgot my last pair of As Seen on TV “HD” sunglasses. They’re the only brand that comfortably fits my oversize head. Oh well, they were only $10. I bought 5 pairs and went through them in 2 years.
I replaced the cracked lid of this cache. Baring muggling or fire, it should be fine for years to come.
Here’s a water tank that rolled downhill a long time ago. Tank Down (GC5MT6G)is a few feet away.
I’d found 6 caches and decided that I didn’t want to hike several hundred more feet steeply uphill for the rest. This is the view South from my turnaround point.
A few minutes later, as redtail hawks and crows fought overhead, the view East reminded me how close the park is to suburbia.
The 2 caches I DNF’d at the beginning were easy finds on the way back. It helped that the arrow pointed 30’ away from the original ground zeroes. Sometimes it just happens that way.

JANUARY 25, 2015 – Chatsworth Park S

January 25, 2015

With 1,045 finds in 2014 I failed to reach my annual goal of 1,200 caches. A flat tire on December 24 left me with a temporary 50 mile, 45 mph maximum spare. I couldn’t safely reach any power trails to make up the difference. I ordered 4 new all terrain tires. They didn’t arrive until January 2. &#%@#$^!!!

I started the year with a local hike at Chatsworth Park, South. An unexpected lack of parking, a registration table and cases of water bottles were indications that a big muggle herd was somewhere nearby. Nevertheless there was no one in sight to tell me that the area was closed for an event so I walked in at the trailhead: N 34° 14.980 W 118° 37.198
My first stop was at Need a Lift? (GC4EWF7) where I DNF’d what should’ve been an easy to find magnetic container. The cache owner later confirmed that it’s missing and disabled it.
The trail ahead was wide and mostly flat. But I turned S (left) on a side trail for Hometown View (GCEWFX).
Here’s the view looking back from GZ.
Returning N, eventually the muggle herd appeared. This is about 1/3 of the group. I was glad when they kept walking and didn’t come up to the high point where I was searching for another cache.
Later, it started to look like Along the Road (GC2NHX0) was only reachable from below. Then I found that the trail continued over the edge, down to a paved road. A chain link fence and “Area Closed – Hazardous Materials,” signs blocked access across the road. But then again the cache was named, “Along the Road.”
Cool temperatures made it easy to walk uphill and back to the plateau. There were no unfound (by me) caches in the cliffs so I turned S to find a final cache and hiked back to the trailhead.
On the way I saw a giant hole in the ground. At more than 15’ in diameter, it seemed too big to be a fire pit. And there were no obvious scorch marks on the masonry. Does anyone have info?010115_08_hole


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.