APRIL 27, 2009 – Griffith Park

April 27, 2009

Eight days without finding a cache is far too long. So I sent a quick e-mail to some local geocachers to go after the new “Walk in the Park,” series by MShock in Griffith Park. Only Don_J’s response worked out so we did a car shuttle hike that was 10 miles long with 21 caches for Don and 13 for me.

We started at TT&BB’s #01 Griffith Park Cache (GC1A4DC), where there’s plenty of free parking. I’d found the first 7 caches on the trail so I sat nearby as Don looked for them.
Don emerges after finding a cache. The number of hiking and equestrian muggles increased as we made our way to Mt. Hollywood. We saw the famous “ollywoo” sign and the
Griffith Observatory. It’s weird that the sign is on Mt. Lee while the viewpoint summit above the observatory is Mt. Hollywood. I used to lug 40 lbs of ham radio gear up here several times a year to see how far I could talk on low power. Of course, that hobby had to go once I started caching.
We’d found all 10 of the TT&BB caches so after noting the benchmark at the summit we backtracked to find the way to reach the “Day in the Park” series. The map I printed didn’t show a definite connection to the trail we wanted to reach.
On one promising trail led to a locked gate instead.
We turned back and ended up at Out of the Way Picnic Day (GC12FT6)where we found a picnic table REALLY out of the way. The cache was 30’ from where we both ‘zeroed.’ Our fun was diminished by the PARTY POOPERS who left used toilet paper, a diaper and a few beer bottles all over GZ. I see this all-too-often on cache hikes.

We finally reached October: A Walk in the Park. It took almost 20 minutes to find it. Our dreams of being FTF were dashed by a signature already on the log. Oh well…Now that we were on the correct trail we expected to find the rest of the ‘months’ quickly. It didn’t work that way because we’d already hiked 8 miles with lots of elevation changes and most of the unfound caches seemed to be uphill. We found a few though.

On the way to November: A Walk in the Park (GC1QA8J), Don was captured by Imperial bounty hunters. See my Dec 8 and Dec 15 posts to see why they wanted him.
I had to bribe them with the coordinates to all 11 ewok caches to get Don out.

Both of us still need to find 10+ caches in the SE corner of the park. We’ll be back!!

Here are some random pictures from my 3 + ½ + ½ days, 93 cache San Diego trip that didn’t get into my earlier postings. There was at least 1 cache within walking distance from where every picture was taken.
I couldn’t get enough of the futuristic architecture.
This is GZ for a cache in National City. It’s NOT the Mexican border.
The view was great below but the area absolutely reeked of some kind of plant that smelled like wet dog.
Now I know how Google Earth Street Views gets some of its non-street views.
It was a scary walk across this abandoned railroad bridge. The ties were intact but the lengthwise beams were mostly gone, leaving big gaps with nothing but the water below.
There was another bridge just like it nearby. That one had a cache on it but there was no way I was going to crawl around looking for it. Maybe I’ll be braver next year.

APRIL 20, 2009 – Mission Trails Regional Park

April 20, 2009

On the GC.com map there’s a HUGE concentration of 250+ caches NE of downtown San Diego in Mission Trails Regional Park. Click here (GC.com map) to see the incredible cache density. Click down 2 sizes for the full effect. (Sorry – the link will work only for GC.com Premium Members).

There’s a large, well maintained, unpaved parking lot beyond the sign.
This cache is closest to the sign: Towers of Power (GCNZ85).

About 70% of my hike, an 11 mile, 30 cache clockwise loop was on wide open trails like this.
The remainder was on single tracks. Some of those were rocky, windy ridgeline paths. Five minutes into the hike, I walked around the only cross-trail mud puddle I saw all day.
I was glad that there were no caches anywhere near the mud.

My 2 previous trips to MTRP were to trails South of the 52 freeway. Those hikes involved lots of very steep hill climbs, usually on single tracks. I found 15 & 32 caches then. This time my hike was North under a high freeway bridge. The crossing point has the features of a major, official trailhead (kiosk, signage, bulletins). Then there’s 1 tiny sign among all the others that states that it’s a “wildlife crossing” and asks humans to keep out. But that’s absolutely ignored by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. So I crossed under the freeway and soon arrived at a cache protected by formidable cover. Let’s just say that a hiking stick is an essential piece of equipment.
From here there were some moderate climbs and descents. One of descents ended in Shepherd Canyon. GZ for a big cache Shepherd Canyon-Whey (GCV73N) looked like prime snake country. But it was too cold for them to be active. I was still careful.
The path North opened up.
The sea of caches ends abruptly all across the park at an East-West line. Local cachers have written that the line is the unmarked border of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Caches placed North of the line were confiscated by the Marines and cachers were warned to stay South. When I reached a cache well South of the line ReFit & ReConstitute (GCZX23), I found this note inside it:
Military helicopters had been flying overhead ominously all day too. I could easily have reached 7 more caches further North but as an outsider with no local contacts, I didn’t want to be the one who finds out from a military holding cell that the borderline on GC.com is wrong. So I cut across East and looped back South to parking instead.

I’ll be back to MTRP next year, hopefully with OFFICIAL info from the Marines about the exact borderline.

APRIL 19, 2009 – San Diego (Fiesta Island)

April 19, 2009

If you’ve ever driven South to San Diego on the 5, you’ve seen Mission Bay on the right side. Sea World and some big hotels are prominent but unless you get off the freeway you’d never notice FIESTA ISLAND, a roughly 1.5 x 1 mile “island” that’s almost completely undeveloped and currently is home to 17 traditional caches.
It’s really a pseudo-island because the narrow strip of land pictured above connects it to the “mainland.” I drove around the roughly 4 mile long one way perimeter road at the 25 mph speed limit, mostly on my Prius’ battery power. I stopped for the 6 caches that I hadn’t previously found. One of them Kiteboarding (GCWJFM) was guarded by a very scarey red backed jumping spider. It was REAL, not dropped cache swag.
Two of the unfound caches were in an area called “Dog Island,” amid a huge expanse of yellow and white flowers. These were a 15 minute hike from parking.
Strangely, on a different 15 minute hike to Gumball (GC1H0GB), I was followed almost the entire way (.3 miles) by a loose dog named Google. Here he is as he runs up to jump on me – again.
I finally pretended to throw something REALLY FAR. He took off to fetch it and I ditched him by going over an embankment down to the cache. On my return hike a few minutes later I saw Google far off in the distance harassing someone else.

I’ve heard that Fiesta Island can be crowded on weekends. But I’ve always found it to be the opposite on weekdays in April which is when I visit every year.

After completing my orbit of the “island,” I parked just outside, at the sign on top of this page. From there I walked across the road to a new section of the Mission Bay Bike Trail.
There are currently 9 traditional caches within a mile along or near the path. I needed 3 of them and found 2, including this one: BAMB: Jones‘ (GC1EGVD). It’s a very different and fun container.

A ½ mile across the street in a different direction from parking, there are yet 3 more traditional caches.
On this day of slow caching on Fiesta Island and Mission Bay I found 20. This rock hide was my favorite.

Next is Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP).

APRIL 18, 2009 – San Diego (waterfront)

April 18, 2009

As I get older it’s harder to sit day after day, week after week at my work desk. In my 20’s and 30’s vacation days were just something to accumulate and cash out. The cash out option no longer exists. That’s just as well because I REALLY need to get away every few months. So I took a week off and drove to San Diego for my annual April caching vacation.

Arriving in mid-afternoon I checked in and then drove to the waterfront where I was immediately annoyed by the profusion of parking meters. To add insult, they dispensed time in weird increments like 2.83 and 4.66 minutes. Fortunately, I had a roll of nickels that I’d forgotten to cash at the bank. Anyway, the current cache here Stargazer (GC1B5YK) was easy to find. The old one, at the same spot was guarded by a homeless man named Jake who stored his salt & pepper shakers a few inches from the cache.
The area is a hotbed of cryptozoological activity.
A mile down the road I stood next to cache Marina Park (GC1C6PK), looked inland and thought I’d been transported to the 22nd century.
Turning around at the same spot I saw the guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale leaving the harbor followed a few minutes later by
the Panamanian flagged Honda car carrier Rainbow Wing. I wonder what it was taking back to Japan.
To avoid getting caught in rush hour traffic I drove back toward my hotel and stopped just short at Liberty Station , a recently converted former naval facility.

There’s lots of free parking next to this cache USS Recruit (GC12JJQ). It’s an old completely landlocked training “ship.”
Find the cache and then, like me, hike the public walkway and find 7 additional easy traditional caches. One of them is also named USS Recruit. Two caches with identical names .3 miles apart. d’OH!!
Here’s another view of the walkway. Much of it is alongside an incomplete and still fenced public park.
While searching I saw a very odd looking crow-sized (but stockier) bird.
It was my first sighting of the black crowned night heron. I didn’t know that there are predatory nocturnal birds other than owls. This one was just sitting there in broad daylight.

The caches were on the ocean side of the path except the last one. The caching part of the walkway ends at a bench directly under the flight path of planes leaving San Diego International Airport.
A short walk inland through a parking lot leads to areas like this,
and (currently) 3 more traditional caches.

I ended my 3 hour cache run with 15 finds and a Santana’s (SD chain) asada burrito combo plate. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Next up, Fiesta island.

April 12, 2009 – geosurvey answers

April 11, 2009

I found this questionnaire on GeoCraig’s blog and thought it would be fun to complete. Collections of multiple peoples’ survey responses were called “Slam Books” when I was in junior high. My school banned them; even more reason to DO a page now, 35 years late.

1. What is your name? Ken
2. What is your GC name? OLdweeb = OnLine dweeb
3. What kind of GPSr do you use? Garmin Oregon 400t & Garmin Nuvi 500: I am a recent convert from Magellan.
4. What is your favorite feature on your GPSr? color maps w/cache icons and ability to select any of them to see details and others’ logs
5. What is your best memory of geocaching? jet ski caching at Pyramid Lake, California (2007)

6. What is the furthest from your house you’ve ever found a cache? less than 300 miles N // My travelling period ended in the last millennium.
7. What is the hardest cache you ever found? GC1C4Y4 Spinal Tap: It’s a challenge cache that requires finding all the caches located along the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mtns. When the cache was published, I already had 55 of the 90 required caches. I set a completion date and actually found the last cache on that date.
8. What is the most amount of caches you’ve completed in one day? 37 by myself on 4/4/2009
9. How did you get started in geocaching? I was vaguely aware of it from the beginning but didn’t start caching until Dec 2004 when I overheard a coworker talking about it.
10. What is the silliest mistake you’ve made while geocaching? Taking a picture of my hiking stick and Magellan eXplorist 500 against a trailhead sign and then turning around and driving home, without them. I never got them back.

11. What memorable animals have you encountered on the trail? A HUGE mule deer. We simultaneously arrived at a blind corner and surprised each other. From a standing start she bounded at least 8’ high and over 20’ long to escape.
12. What is your favorite earthcache? I log them if they’re there but I really like only traditional caches. I think Earthcaches especially belong on waymarking.com and not gc.com.
13. When do you geocache most often? (Season? Time of day?) Year-round, either 1 Sat or 1 Sun, almost every weekend.
14. Who do you usually geocache with? Originally alone, then w/local cachers-groups for the last few years. I’m reverting more to solo caching as I haven’t been feeling a 100% for over a year. I don’t want to be a drag on my friends with my too-low mental & physical energy levels.
15. Have you ever logged a find on one of your own caches? If not, would you? No & No. However, I did adopt 2 caches that I’d previously found. I didn’t remove my find logs.

16. What is the most consecutive days you’ve gone caching and had a find? 30: Feb 28 thru Mar 29, 2009.
17. How do you feel about people who “collect” trackable items? I won’t feel sorry for them if something they own is “collected” by someone else.
18. Is it all about the numbers for you? YES, I would not cache or hike recreationally if stats weren’t maintained. No stats = no motivation. No motivation + low energy level = no caching/hiking.
19. What have you learned since you started geocaching? I’ve learned a lot about the geography of southern California and to “think outside the box” by examining others’ cache containers and hiding styles.
20. What is the most interesting travel bug or geocoin you have discovered? I grab TB’s pretty much by (small) size and only look at them closely when I’m back home. I once ended up with a glass vial containing a cacher’s dead dog’s cremated ashes.

APRIL 11, 2009 – Upland

April 11, 2009

I continued to enjoy my Garmin driven improved caching efficiency by diving into a map full of green boxes in and near Upland. I began with a 1 hour, 2 mile urban “hike” on a paved trail around a large ugly construction pit. Hopefully someday it’ll become a nice suburban lake. The view didn’t matter because there were 13 caches to find. Each cache was named “CSI” and then the name of one of the 13 original American colonies. Here’s one to start: CSI – Connecticut (GC1M8K5).
The path has 1 long and 1 short switchback. Follow them both to reach all 13 caches. There’s one dead end. You need to go there too. Even on a Saturday there were only 4 muggles on the entire trail. One cache was missing (has since been replaced) and a nearby resident was too close to another. I found 11 of 13.

The rest of the day was spent pursuing park and grabs. This far inland, the area was wide open and semi desert-like. One street had a big unpaved median lined with pepper trees. This was one of the caches there: Tree Cache on Euclid (GC1DE2W).
There were drainage ditches instead of rain gutters.
There were some parking lot lamp post hides. But I appreciate ANY cache that I can find. This one was “stuck” open and the container (it had magnets on the back) was on the ground without a log. I added a new log and put everything back in place.
The view must be even nicer when the mountains are snow capped.
I beat my previous personal best of 32 caches found in a day, set last week, with 37 this time. The number could easily have been 45 because there were almost 2 hours of remaining daylight. But smaller increments = more records = more fun. Hopefully…more record days will follow, soon.

APRIL 7, 2009 – Camarillo / Oxnard

April 7, 2009

After 3 months, I’m finally proficient at using my Garmin Oregon 400t & Nuvi 500 together in the field. I cursed my bad eye and began a day of urban caching in Camarillo and parts of Oxnard (my favorite unscenic city).

Jumpstarted by a McD large hazelnut ice coffee, I soon found myself in “Old Town” Camarillo. It was my first time there. As a muggle I would’ve walked around to check out the interesting shops. But there were caches to find!!
Haliaeetus leucocephalus (GCRGXH) was one of the very few “green” hides that I attempted. The DNF rate is more than 11% so I was lucky to find it right away. Continuing onward I passed through some BORING terrain!! The biggest challenge here was to keep from zoning out and driving myself off the road and into a drainage ditch.
A passing train was a loud and welcome distraction.
Some unusual airplanes flying around also helped.

I drove right by most vegetation hides without stopping, for the reasons I mentioned in a recent posting. Last year, 4 of us searched Almost a Lamp Skirt-Vegehide (GC1EPTM), unsuccessfully. It definitely wasn’t THERE then. This time I saw it immediately.
And speaking of missing, Granite & Water (GCKGH2), has been my Oxnard nemesis for almost 4 years. The first issue is that it’s an offset cache, not at the posted coordinates. I didn’t know that on my first few visits. Or maybe it was a traditional cache then and only later became an offset. On later visits I had very specific instructions about where to look and still couldn’t find it. I think I just happen to show up when the cache is missing. It eventually gets replaced but I keep coming back when it’s gone again.
The new Garmins REALLY make caching easier. My PC recognizes them as drives and I now cut-and-paste pocket queries as-is directly into both of them. The Nuvi gets me to parking and the Oregon walks me to GZ. It’s great to see green boxes on both screens turned into treasure chests (Garmin “found” icon) with each find. My Prius’ nav system is now officially retired for caching purposes. No more punching in coords on the fly for me. I finished the day with a personal best 32 finds. Megacachers laugh at me. But I start late, am a slow mover (like a lazy teenager, I’m conserving energy) and almost always park legally, even if it means a long walk to GZ.
Just before starting for home I stopped at a small decrepit cemetery that I’d seen in passing on previous cache runs. It’s for Japanese field workers who died early in the last century. A few of the tombstones are almost modern looking. Others are crudely made and weather worn. There are lots of plain wooden markers too, presumably for those who couldn’t afford a stone. I’m sure there’s an interesting story about how this place came to be… After I got home I saw on the map that there’s a cache, in the trees on the left side of the picture. d’OH!! I’ll get it next time.