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.
There 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.