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.