OCTOBER 25, 2009 – Trail of Terror 6 (Riverside)

October 26, 2009

My favorite annual caching event, by far, is the Trail of Terror at DeAnza Narrows Park in Riverside. It’s in the middle of a 7 mile long bike trail lined with 40+ Halloween themed caches rehidden by HaZzMaTt and his friends every year. The highly creative caches are sure to include blood, gore (not Al), body parts, unusually large mutated vermin, supernatural beings, at least 1 alien and some surprises. Sometimes just getting to the cache is the fun part. This year’s incarnation was Trail of Terror 6 – Dying for a Smiley (GC1X2FJ). Anyway…

I joined a convoy of San Fernando Valley megacachers and reached Riverside in record time. In each of the last 4 years I walked the entire trail, sometimes both ways. This time I rode my 32 year old Schwinn LeTour III. My geofriends car shuttled and I pedaled from parking to the northern trailhead and started caching.

At the third cache Public Hangings (GC1ZY2J) I had my first bike fall in 35+ years by flying over the handlebars, luckily into soft dirt. I got away without a scratch. I’d caught up to the convoy group and I stayed with them for the next few hours. Because combined, they’d found over 63,000 caches I knew that EVERY cache that was physically present would be found.
With Mt. Rubidoux in the background, f0t0m0m and Andy of Team Perks grabbed an exoskeleton cache.
We often encountered groups of other cachers. An EXTREME case was at Buttcrack Rock where a cache Suppository (GC1ZV7J) was hidden. Later it was confirmed that the cache had been muggled. A replacement cache was reinserted in the afternoon.
Generally, I rode ahead to each cache and waited for the group to arrive and make the find. Some got there quicker than others. Below, the Ventura Kids wait for EMC of Northridge before boarding a flying saucer.
At a right angle turn in the trail the group quickly found Bamboozled 6 HaZzMaTt’s Revenge (GC1ZV7Q). Three years ago, the site was a 12’ high bamboo grove. Now it’s field of punji sticks. One wrong step or a fall and you’re done! A few feet away DBRambling was parked with a cooler full of cold bottled water for thirsty cachers. Thanks!!
After the big westward turn the trail became more formal. Good visibility ensured no collisions with fast riding muggles.
Soon we had a string of 5 DNFs (Did Not Find). Later it was confirmed that they were missing; stolen by an unknown cache saboteur.
We reached the event site, the de facto mid-way point of the trail. After a quick meal and visiting with other resting cachers “my” group went home. I stayed and planted myself at a vacant picnic table from where I watched as shell1fish led a group to look for Winchester Mystery Cottage (GC1G6RJ) a wherigo cache.
I secured my bike and walked westward for a few more caches. Here’s a trailside glimpse of the Santa Ana River from just beyond the event. How clean is the water? In past years there were waders, right there.
This year there was no cache in the rocks below the bridge.
The most interesting cache, which will remain unnamed to protect the fun, required entering a drainage pipe. Let’s just say that 4 of the 5 senses are involved when logging this cache.
I especially enjoy the off trail caches west of the event. This year strong wind gusts added atmosphere (haha – dweebish joke) to the area. One fun cache Making Coffins (GC1ZZJG) was quickly found. Staying in the forest I continued toward Stalking Cachers (GC1ZZJJ). 300’ short of GZ I saw an elaborate homeless encampment dead ahead. I backtracked quickly and found a way around it from the South. GZ was reached by crunching through downed leaves. Within a few seconds some sneezes erupted from VERY close by. Whoever was hiding there HAD TO KNOW that I was there. So I decided to call it a day and returned to the trail and walked back to parking.
Thanks Matt for organizing another great Trail of Terror. And thanks to shell1fish for a critical piece of information that let me “do” TRUE paperless caching for the first time ever.


OCTOBER 16, 2009 – Pacific Grove

October 18, 2009

On my last morning on the Monterey Peninsula I made a left turn out of the hotel parking lot and drove through Cannery Row and reached the Monterey Bay Aquarium in less then 2 minutes. I saw it in 1977 when it was just a big hole in the ground with a “coming soon” sign and again when it was open in 2002 & 2008. So I drove past it to the City of Pacific Grove which literally begins a few feet past the end of the aquarium. At 8:00 a.m. the tourists were still asleep and I got to see the incredible coastline views without muggle distraction.
I stopped to find a cache in the rocks All You Need Is Love (GC1K89M). I noticed that I’d parked in front of the ideal place for EMC of Northridge to regenerate if she visits the area.
Looking backwards from the cache…
I continued driving, stopping at convenient (and vacant) viewpoints every few hundred feet.
Some closely packed sea gulls all facing the same direction were too tempting a target for me. I remembered all the aerial surprise packages over the years and the fast food snatched from my outdoor meals.
So I extended my arms sideways and slowly flapped 2x. The birds thought, “OH S***, THEY CAN FLY TOO?!” Their brains are tiny but their instinct for self preservation is strong.
101609_gullsAfter a last look at the scenery…
I turned inland and found 4 “urban/residential” hides. I’m always amazed by the deer that freely roam through the streets and front yards. My sense is that given the astounding number or Priora (pl. of Prius) and the profusion of Democratic campaign signs I saw here last year that Bambi doesn’t need to worry about being shot and eaten.
I found only 46 caches in ½ + 2 + ½ days of caching. Everybody laugh!! The non-stop trip home (a Prius perk) on the 5 fwy took 4 hours and 47 minutes.

OCTOBER 15, 2009 – Manzanita Regional Park

October 17, 2009

My last full day in the Monterey area was spent at Manzanita Regional Park near Castroville. On the way I picked off a cache I DNF’d last year Lapis Junction (GCRQX8). Three bovine muggles stared while I made the quick find this time.
Another cache on the way was the famous virtual The World’s Largest Artichoke (GCHK3T). I took pictures and then went inside the facility to obtain info for the logging requirements. I know of only 1 virtual cache that would be more fun to visit : Aardvark (GCGYHZ) in Botswana, Africa.
My arrival at the park portended a very frustrating caching day. The vehicle entry gate was closed and locked. But a sign read, “park outside gate at your own risk.” It suggested to me that it’s OK to walk in. This was confirmed when 3 carloads of dog walkers arrived simultaneously and everyone and their dog(s) went in. I followed and stopped 50’ inside at the first cache. GZ was a miasma of broken branches, pine cone clusters and other debris, all scattered on soft wet ground. The clue said to look in a “bracken” of branches & pine cones. I still don’t know what that is and I didn’t find the ammo can cache. Continuing uphill on the paved road I waved to a groundskeeper who I encountered again a few hours later. At the top there were some superbly maintained baseball fields, clean restrooms and a big, empty parking lot. I DNF’d 2 caches there that should’ve been easy walkup finds.
I walked beyond the outfield of the most distant diamond and onto a combination use trail and natural drainage path. The first cache was an ammo can 70’ off trail and dead center in a very thick rigid bush. Eventually I snagged the handle with my hiking stick and dragged it out. I didn’t feel right about putting it back differently so the a/c went back to its spot. The path opened up into a real trail and I felt much better after finding the next 4 caches easily on a seemingly orderly loop.
101509_on_trailThere was no mud and only small, gradual elevation changes. Finding more ammo cans and lock-and-locks should’ve been easy. Little did I know that most of the remaining caches were far off trail through tough vegetation. I found only 3 more caches and DNF’d 5. One of my successes was Under The Bay Window (GCPKAG).Though it was hundreds of feet off trail only the last 30’ or so crossed into the bushwhacking category. It was down there, somewhere…
Another success and the most interesting physical cache of the day was 1954 Chevy Bel Air (GCXWXZ). The car was just outside of the park’s boundary fence. The cache was at the fenceline.
The most aggravating cache was The Blair Witch Project (GC1BHDX). The last 40’ were blocked by a big downed tree. By this time I was so mad that I climbed over, right into an area full of poison oak. I’m (still) immune and whacked through it and much heavier vegetation that didn’t part easily. A half hour of the H-S-P (hiking stick poke) method produced no cache. I left the same as I arrived, over the downed tree. Afterward I read others’ logs that mentioned a non-bushwhacking way to GZ. I definitely didn’t see that.
From talking with well travelled cachers I know that there are sometimes big variations in local hiding styles. I got to see TRUE bushwhacking caches today. But I’m glad to be going back to the tame trailside caches of the Santa Monica Mountains (50+ mile long E-W range in Los Angeles & Ventura counties).

On my way out the groundskeeper shouted from a distance, “I saw you looking (by the baseball diamond). Did you find the treasure?” He said, “It’s there.” So I went back and looked again for Joe Lloyd Field (GCWTXM) and STILL didn’t find it.

OCTOBER 14, 2009 – Fort Ord Dunes State Park

October 16, 2009

A new California State Park? It’s true. While waiting out the torrential rainstorm on Tuesday I saw Fort Ord Dunes State Park along the coast 3 miles north of Monterey on the GC.com map. I counted 10 traditional caches and 1 multi (which I ignored).

The rain stopped overnight. On Wednesday I drove less than 10 minutes from my Cannery Row hotel and reached the park. I passed by some old barracks and
arrived at the Secret Trailhead (GC1HVY6). There was free curbside parking for about 6 cars. I really appreciated someone hiding a cache here. It saved me from the usual random driving looking for parking and access into a new area. The graffiti in the tunnel was mostly written in standard letters and grammatically correct American English. Very weird.
There’s another cache 9,11 Fort Ord Dunes Numbered Remains (GC1HVXT) just on the other side. Then there’s a paved trail that goes through the ice plant and other low level vegetation to reach more caches.
Those are a mix of lock-and-locks and magnetics. They’re mostly near manmade ruins like this one 3854 – Fort Ord Dunes Numbered Remains (GC1HVYA).101409_building
There’s one here at this bunker 11 – Fort Ord Dunes Numbered Remains (GC1HVXF).101409_bunker
There are several more bunkers too. The door to number12 was open. This is a flash picture of the inside.
This is the view from the top of the bunkers looking South toward Monterey.
I walked North along the top and passed some impressive dunes.
Beach sand must absorb rain quickly. There was no mud from the previous day’s storm. Eventually I found a way down and walked through the red ice plant on a tire track to the next cache 7-Fort Ord Dunes Numbered Remains (GC1J104). I was surprised and happy to find a 2005 white Jeep travel bug. It’ll be taken to Riverside on October 25.
After 3 hours I found 7, DNF’d 2 and was too tired to reach 1 that was off by itself. One of the DNFs was at the OFFICIAL trailhead 0,0 – Fort Ord Dunes Numbered Remains (GC1J0ZF). There’s plenty of free parking there. Probably the most efficient way to find ALL of the caches is to park here for the Northern caches and at the Secret Trailhead for the Southern ones.

I noticed that NO ONE uses stickers around here.
Thanks to Trail Reader who hid 6 of the 7 caches I found and to Mimring who hid the 7th and with whom I exchanged some friendly e-mails. I spent the afternoon finding urban caches in the Fort Ord and downtown Monterey areas.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Manzanita Regional Park near Castroville for 20 traditional caches.

OCTOBER 12, 2009 – Monterey

October 13, 2009

Compared to most obsessed cachers in my home area I travel very little. Monterey at 328 driving miles is as far as I go. The weather was perfect on 3 previous trips this decade, always in mid-October. As my 4th trip approached the ominous forecast was for “heavy rain and high winds.” No refunds or changes were allowed by the hotel so I went anyway, hoping to get in a partial day of caching before the bad weather.

Anomalous for a cacher, I know, I don’t like extended driving. The 12 cache “Rimrock” (GC1Q244) loop just off of the 101 was the perfect thing to break up the monotony. Thank you Pdiggidy for the series. I drove 1 side of the loop and found 4 + 1 other cache, all park & grabs. I was surprised to see that my geoneighbor BWidget was the last signor. Hi Bill!! Anyway, the loop looked like this.
I left the loop unfinished to beat the rain. It was hard to stay alert while driving by the “Boring Hills.” They’re all the same from horizon to horizon. It was even worse in previous years because there was no greenery.
I stopped at an offramp entrance to an oilfield. The view was the same for at least a mile on both sides of the picture. Only later I saw on the GC.com map that there are caches at many of these offramps/pullouts. So it’s very possible that I was standing within a few feet of one.
I reached Monterey in the late afternoon ahead of the weather. After a quick check in at the hotel I rushed to the Rip Van Winkle open space (it’s a forest), less than 2 miles inland from Cannery Row. There are 6 hiking caches within a ½ mile square. This one is closest to parking Nearly Stumped (GC1Y4WN). Between the major marked trails, use trails and random paths all of the caches are reachable without any real bushwhacking.
Still, poison oak is abundant and I brushed against it several times. If you’re highly sensitive, I recommend caution or avoiding this forest.
I found 5 of the 6 caches. The containers ranged from a double size ammo can to a decon to a lock-&-lock.
I’m writing this on Monday (10/13) at noon, stuck in my hotel room. It’s a top floor corner and the windows have been shaking from torrential wind blasted rain for the last 5 hours. Oh well, this ‘caching vacation’ is a washout.

While driving in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month, I found the site of The Colony.
The closest cache is GeoCraig’s 4th street bridge.

OCTOBER 7, 2009 – Oxnard (again!)

October 7, 2009

When it’s 100+ degrees in the San Fernando Valley, caching in Oxnard is a good idea. The temperature there is likely to be 70 or even less. And new caches by capable hiders pop up on a consistent basis. It’s farther away than the Westside or South Bay but the traffic & parking situations are infinitely better suited for mobile caching.

Once again, I woke up late one weekend and found the temperature already at 90+. So I quickly loaded a pocket query centered on the middle of the Oxnard plain into my NUVI 500 and Oregon 400t and drove. After stopping briefly at McD on Kanan for my requisite ice coffee I continued to the Conejo grade and watched my dashboard thermometer drop with the altitude.

When I saw santa claus I KNEW there had to be a cache there. THERE WAS!! HoHoHoHo (GCGKMH). It was a quick park and grab from outside the fence.
There’s one cache I can never find because there’re always muggles nearby. Eat Your Vile Veggies At Johnson Creek Park (GC1CTZ3). This time was no exception. Where in this picture do you think ground zero is?
Later, when I saw the effect of salt air on an Altoids tin cache, all kinds of possible design improvements flashed by. No pain – No gain (GC1K860). Then I thought, why not just use plastic? d’OH!!
Another cache My Loop On Oxnard #24 (GC1730T) was watched over by a huge bird. As it flew off I was impressed by its 6′ wingspan.
I’ve tried not to think about how much fast food I eat throughout the week and especially while caching. But it was unavoidable when I counted 279 packets of Del Taco Inferno Sauce and 84 IN-N-OUT Burger ketchups in my refrigerator. I took them to work and left them on the breakroom table. They disappeared gradually over 3 days.

I saw an all electric, blue Tesla Roadaster in the Fry’s parking lot. It was a great looking car though smaller than I’d imagined. The driver couldn’t get it started/moving and ended up poking under the hood. Oh well…