APRIL 20, 2009 – Mission Trails Regional Park

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.
041509_mtrp_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.
041509_mtrp_start
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.
041509_mtrp_puddle
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.
041509_mtrp_cactus
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.
041509_mtrp_snake_city
The path North opened up.
041509_mtrp_ne
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:
041509_mtrp_warning
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.

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