JANUARY 26, 2009 – all over the Backbone Trail

January 27, 2009

MLK Day and the following weekend were spent completing the Backbone Trail Challenge, Spinal Tap (GC1C4Y4).

First it was back to Point Mugu State Park. This time it was a steep hike near the mouth of Sycamore Canyon to pick off 3 BBT caches. The weather was cool and clear.

From the hill above PCH, looking West toward Mugu Rock:
I’m always amused to see people on TV or in movies driving toward the rock, supposedly going to Los Angeles.

I saw a very strange phenomenon on the water that I’m going to call, BLINKIES. They were much more impressive than the video can show.

Out to sea, was the clearest view of Anacapa & Santa Cruz Islands that I’ve seen in years.
I emerged at the Ray Miller Trailhead at La Jolla Canyon and then walked 1-1/2 miles on PCH past The Great Sand Dune back to my car. After a 10 minute rest I started up Sycamore Canyon to find the last BBT cache I needed in the park Between Main Trails (GC1JGNP). It’s a very isolated cache on a long meandering single track up the west side of the canyon. It was already getting dark and I was surprised to cross paths with a mountain biker who was going downhill. We exchanged hellos, and “have a good ride / hike,” but didn’t stop. A few minutes later, from the top of the hill, I saw the cyclist far below lurking in the bushes. Later I learned that he was VCTrails who’d just found Between Main Trails and was placing a new cache below. I was wearing my geocaching.com t-shirt and had a GPSr in-hand and he said nothing!!

I ended my 9 hour, 14.5 mile hike walking the last 2.5 miles by starlight. There was a lot of movement in the bushes on either side of the trail, bats landing in front of me to eat bugs, and unexpected random hot and cold spots in the night air. I was relieved to finally reach my car.

On Saturday I hiked 11 miles on the BBT from Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park to Will Rogers State Historic Park. I started alone in the muddy rain but soon saw these guys:
albackore, Don_J, BWidget & robb_dog

We continued together, each finding the caches he needed for the BBT Challenge and hiding a few new ones.

The rain stopped after the first mile but it stayed cold and cloudy until near the end of the hike.
robb_dogg & BWidget at TSP: Resting Rock (GC1CE9P).

These things were all over. I thought we’d hit the UNI jackpot.
Then I remembered where we were – several miles inland. dOH!!

The relaxing and familiar sights of the local mountains gave way to a cityscape on the last leg of our hike.
That’s Century City in front with Downtown Los Angeles in the distance.

Don_J, me and robb_dogg at the last BBT cache for all 3 of us.
On the short walk from here to the car we were almost run down by teenage mountain bikers who yelled “make way!” as they sped through us.
We caught up to the cyclists at the polo ground parking lot and one of us (not me) talked to the parents.

On Sunday morning, Don, Robb & I found Spinal Tap together to complete the BBT Challenge.
012509_spinal_tapFor Robb and Don, it’s onward to ever greater challenges. For me, it’s back to lazy, slow speed caching.



January 19, 2009

Continuing my quest to find all 89 Backbone Trail (BBT) challenge caches before logging the final one, SPINAL TAP on Sunday 1/25/09, I took a weekday off from work and found 7 between Corral and Malibu Canyons. It was the first time that I’ve hiked with just LAEd. Ed is widely known for using leading edge caching technologies but I was shocked to see just how far ahead he is.

Beaming down from the mothership to start the hike…
But it’s one way only. I don’t know how he gets back up.

We were being watched while hiking to the first cache.
I wanted to place a new cache here called Oculus of the Condor but Ed had the spare cache and he named it a much more normal sounding, Eagle’s Eye (GC1KTVE).

A cloudless sky and minimal haze gave us good all around views. Looking South from anywhere along the trail we saw most of the Channel Islands.
That one’s not Jersey or Guernsey either.

The cool weather and mostly flat terrain let us hike comfortably. Northward views were into and over the main part of Malibu Creek State Park.
Las Virgenes Canyon Road below turns into Malibu Canyon Road.

Malibu Lake and the dam, behind a toyon bush.
I’ve seen birds eating the berries. And they’re often found in deer and coyote landmines too.

The arrow points to Brent’s Staircase (GCM766).
No one has logged that cache in almost 2 years.

One of the caches we found was named Mesa Puerco (GCM75F).
The “Puerco Motorway” starts at the cache and goes 2+ miles to the ocean. There’s a cache at the other end but none in between. It’s not NPS land and as far as I can tell from online sources, it’s open to hikers and equestrians. I hope that someone reading this places a series of pork themed caches there. Oink Oink!!

Continuing on the BBT we found all of the caches on the 6 mile trail and I found 1 more on my way home.

On Saturday, I met robb_dogg and we found 2 BBT Challenge caches together near Paiuma & Las Virgenes before going our separate ways to find others that we respectively needed. I spent 3+ hours wandering around Trancas and Encinal canyons without a map looking for Bagonybone (GC1HN62). It’s the only BBT cache in the area. I walked over 2 bridges,
through a eucalyptus forest and up a very steep canopied hill and found (GC1HN5W) Peak of Agony. Later, at home, I found that I’d been on the Agony Trail.
Despite the names, neither the trail nor cache was especially difficult. From here it was an easy walk to the elusive Bagonybone.

Getting back to my car was another adventure that took waaay too long. I finally emerged on Mulholland 0.83 miles to the East and walked back to the trailhead without getting run over by speeding motorcycles.
I ended the weekend with 11 BBT Challenge caches bringing my total to 82 of 89. I’m on schedule to finish next Sunday.

STUFF: Are you annoyed by those very strange yet oddly compelling TV commercials for the Snuggie? I would’ve bought a Snuggie if only to stop the commercials. But I never got around to mail ordering one. Then I heard about a Snuggie sighting at the Bed Bath & Beyond in Canoga Park. I rushed over, and saw dozens of boxed Snuggies (blue only) ready to go for $14.95 each. The “one size fits all” display model looked far too long so I went home empty handed. Then after a sleepless night of ‘knowing’ that I’d made a mistake, I went back the next day and bought one!
I’ve always liked the ecclesiastic look. Too bad the store was out of purple Snuggies.

The Snuggie is LITERALLY as advertised. It’s a BLANKET with sleeves. It’s meant to be ‘worn’ while sitting or reclining not while walking around. The back is open with no provision for tying it closed. It doesn’t fit, at all, if you try to wear the open side in front. The fabric is very light, thin and surprisingly warm.

OK – enough babbling. Bring on the next cold spell.

JANUARY 12, 2009 – Sycamore Canyon

January 12, 2009

The publication of the Spinal Tap (Backbone Trail challenge) cache gave me the push to finally go after a cluster of caches mostly near the middle of the Big Sycamore Canyon trail. Getting there means a 4+ mile hike from either end, Satwiwa in the North or the Sycamore Canyon campground in the South. Tozainamboku (Marty), who needed to find many of the same caches, & I hiked in from the campground finding a few stray caches along the way. From there it was a clockwise loop eastward on Old Boney Road. Our track looked like an italicized letter “P.”

The first thing I noticed about the canyon was the orange
and more orange.
It must’ve been the same in past years but I don’t remember…

We spent a ½ hour looking for Love Shack (GCPHYG). The remaining part of the corrugated steel roof rattled and flapped in the wind and pieces threatened to fly off.
Marty found the cache. It had ‘migrated’ from its hinted placement.

We turned east at the ranger’s residence / picnic area onto Old Boney ROAD which is a single track trail despite the name. True to the BONEY part of the name, Boney Mountain was clearly visible during this part of the hike.
That’s another day, another hike.

The horned skull and the other bones along this very isolated trail
will freak out some people.
But as long as MY bones don’t get added into the mix, I have no problem with the area.

The cure for being freaked out is to concentrate on finding caches!!
Marty did some climbing and found one here.

On our long walk back to the parking lot, we were overflown by a flock of noisy Black Hooded Parakeets.
Some of them landed nearby.

And I had to ask, “Why??” when I saw this.
It definitely wasn’t to avoid mud. It’s worse than any geo-trail!

After hiking 15 miles in 8 hours and finding 14 new caches I was ready to go home.

This is what I saw just outside of the parking lot. Those are Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands in the Channel Islands National Park. A few virtual caches & an earthcache are out there.

Any health benefit that I gained today was cancelled out by my traditional after-hike meal of a Double-Double and fries.

JANUARY 5, 2009 – Saddle Peak (East)

January 5, 2009

I continued my 18 year streak of hiking locally on New Year’s Day. This year I hiked to Saddle Peak (East) for the first time ever, with my geo-friends Mr. & Mrs. robb_dogg and Don_J. We started at an easy to miss trailhead at:

N 34° 05.161 / W 118° 39.595

Coincidentally (or not), this is the trailhead for the final cache of the Backbone Trail (BBT) challenge: Spinal Tap. We went up the switchback filled trail and made it to the top without encountering any mud.

Why is Robb cheering?
Because he found the cache, of course.

The few people who live up here have long trips up and down.
We were unhappy with muggle “AMIR” who etched his name and
“12-30-08” in large letters into the pristine sandstone nearby.

Saddle Peak (West): That’s a huge antenna farm. Many legendary ham radio battles were relayed through there in the 1990’s.
A few hams and unlicensed people even served time in federal prison as a result.

The view from the top of Saddle Peak (East).
Snow capped mountains & downtown Los Angeles in the same picture.

On the way down we saw “Ladyface Mountain” to the NW.
Getting to the top there and caching along the ridge is an epic hike worthy of its own blog report.

After reaching our cars we found a few more drive-and-hike caches nearby. I found 10 caches for the day. If I could do that EVERY DAY I’d finish 2009 with 3,650 finds, and STILL fall further behind EMC. blah!!

From the dweebian archive:
archive_vegMicro in a bush anyone? Happy New Year!!

December 31, 2008 – closing rant

January 2, 2009

I’d like to mentally evolve to the point where “numbers” aren’t important. This won’t happen anytime soon without the intervention of a mental health professional. Unfortunately, the only one I know found more than twice as many caches as I did in 2008! But I found 617 fewer in 2008 than in 2006 so maybe I’ve made progress on my own.

Anyway, not counting the trips detailed in my last 3 posts, during the final week of the year I found 32 caches in Downey (2-trips), 16 in Burbank and a handful of others scattered all over. All 50+ were urban hides so photo ops were few and non-scenic.

Downey: world’s most ancient, still functioning McDonalds
The prices are modern though.

There’s a cache there: Your Kind of Place (GCK61H). There’s also a burger museum on the property – free admission.

Downey: A weird combination shares the building and parking lot.
There IS a cache a few feet from where I took this picture.

This is the 2nd time I’ve seen a cacher do this:
122908_elin_lamp1EMC finds, grabs, signs and returns a cache without leaving her car.

RANT: When confronted with a complaint, cache owners will often say, “If you don’t like my cache, don’t log it.” Fine! But that doesn’t erase the seeker’s nightmarish experience of seeing & smelling an absolutely putrid ground zero. Here are 2 of the worst I’ve encountered. The second one had the added attraction of unfriendly locals glaring at me from nearby. I left both areas quickly. I then deleted the caches from my GPS without looking at the hiders’ names for fear of exploding into a verbal rant if I ever meet them. So if these are your cache sites, don’t tell me. As my grandmother would’ve said, “Shame on you!!”



Now some contrarian is going to crawl out of the woodwork and say that s/he doesn’t understand the problem. Happy Caching to you!! We’ll probably see you on the 6:00 o’clock news after you’ve been beaten to a pulp by hostile natives, dumped into the trash and have succumbed to toxic fumes.

STUFF: A major irritation of middle age is presbyopia, the loss of ability to focus on close-in objects, especially reading material at indoor light levels. Annoying glasses can mostly handle the small print. And now I’ve found a way to address the low light level situation, cheaply. I can read cache printouts and lists again!!

The “Y” adaptor is $2.47 at Walmart and the 4 pack of CFC bulbs is 99.99 cents at the 99¢ Only Store.
Two “23 watt” CFC bulbs provide the same light output as two “100 watt” old style incandescent bulbs. Energy consumption is (23 x 2 = 46 watts) as opposed to (100 x 2 = 200 watts) for the same illumination.

The discount CFC bulbs don’t seem to be inferior in any way to the major brands.

(50¢ for 2 generic CFC bulbs) Vs. ($7.49 at Walmart for 1 GE CFC bulb with the same output as a “150 watt” incandescent bulb)

Happy New Year and more caches for all.