MARCH 20, 2010 – Triunfo Canyon area

March 25, 2010

With only 4 hours of sleep after my 4×4 Landers trip, I woke up for the “sissopolis 21st birthday hike” in the Triunfo Canyon area.

A few minutes into the hike, 14 of us, including some muggle friends, hiked past an unreadable official sign.

I’d already found 13 of the 30 caches on the list so I got to stay back a lot while others searched.

A short side hike on this trail led to a cache Is it the End of the Road or the Beginning of the Trail (GC24VND).

The birthday girl, Sissopolis, distracted muggles while the rest of us found it.

Then there was a very steep ascent to a string of ridgeline caches.

The non-cachers among us pulled far ahead. They were younger, faster and of course they didn’t stop for caches.

I moved along at a much slower pace, often alongside my geofriend, Eagle Rock Rob.

The best view of the day was of the Las Virgenes Reservoir.

Too bad that it’s completely off limits.

With the altitude changes behind us, we turned for our cars. Sissopolis, spoondoggie and Albackore weren’t tired.

A big oak held the last cache on the way back.

Don_J leaps to the tree.
While others went for lunch & drinks, I rushed home and slept for 16 hours.


MARCH 19, 2010 – Landers 4×4 caching

March 19, 2010

A rare Friday off was coming up. I asked around, “any non power caching going on?” Someone responded, “there’s a trip with f0t0m0m & Albackore to Pee Wee Desert Lawn Jockey.” So as a dweeb, I invited myself thinking that I’d be the 4th occupant on a 1 vehicle trip. Albackore offered to give me a ride to meet f0t0m0m in Glendale. I woke up at 4:45am (!!) and we were underway an hour later. We were surprised to see the current f0t0m0m (Jim) pull up with the ‘original’ f0t0m0m (Karen), in the passenger seat. Their Lincoln Navigator would let us cache in luxury.

We stopped for breakfast at iHop in Banning where we joined 3 Jeep loads of other cachers, another surprise. They were all experienced and enthusiastic cachers. But I didn’t get to know them well enough to determine if they’d object to having their pictures here. For this reason I’ve limited their appearance to faraway shots.

We started out with 4 vehicles but 1 dropped out right away. Here’s a typical view of Crazy Teacher’s Jeep leading the way. I think that she wants to be a fighter pilot when she grows up.

17 new caches were placed. Early in the day they were sometimes in challenging off trail locations.
At one early cache Bear Den In the Desert?? (GCT4N4) I found myself in the lead walking to the coordinates. It was only at a rock wall and still short of GZ that I realized why everyone else was hanging back. So up I went ‘encouraged’ by the prior finders. I made sure that no one was home before entering the ‘den.’ Twenty feet up and about that far inward I found the big cache. F0t0m0m, Jim joined me and we signed in the other first time finders who waited within sight just below. The Den…

Another hill cache! I’m glad the air was a cool 65 degrees, not 105.

The highlight of the day for me was Pee Wee Desert Lawn Jockey (GC12F). It’s one of the oldest still active caches. We were lucky to have some prior finders in the group.

They led us on the hike and scramble from parking to the top. Strong gusty winds convinced us not to linger after signing the cache log.

With a final look back to the vehicles, we descended.

On the way, we walked to find a funny virtual cache, NOTHING (GC5007). Then it was lunchtime at the vehicles.

There were many more caches to find. We got back on the trail. Here the guys are growing spikes!!

Toward the end of the day, the new hides were in easy to reach locations a few feet from the trail.

The scenery was incredible. Here are some highlights.

Whenever someone asked, “what’s the hint?” I took sadistic pleasure in responding, “near a brown rock in the desert.”

After 7+ hours it was time to go.

Thanks to f0t0m0m for driving and the introduction to true 4×4 caching.

MARCH 18, 2010 – Antonovich Open Space Preserve

March 18, 2010

A series of 8 new hiking caches by VanIchiro51 in the Michael D. Antonovich Open Space Preserve caught my attention. Instead of the usual car shuttle hike with geofriends from the trailhead to Mission Peak (Point) & Neon Way I hiked in & and back out, alone.

At the trailhead a friendly pit bull stopped by. I played with him for a minute. Then in a perfect example of the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished,” he peed on my tire and walked away.

The hike starts at about 1800’ elevation and quickly gains 400’ before leveling off to a very gradual uphill. Even though it’d rained briefly the day before, there was no mud on the trail except in a few easily avoidable tire ruts.

This is one of the spookiest trails that I know. Its broadside orientation against the Santa Clarita to San Fernando Valley pass amplifies strong irregular wind gusts. They whip through the trees and cause unusual noises. Often it sounds as if someone is right behind you. I still turn around every time, just in case. The one time I don’t will be the time I’m mauled by Ursula the Bear. Anyway, the landfill was as ugly as ever.

The wind has ripped the overhead netting off of my favorite resting spot. I put my stuff down and walked a few feet away to check my cache, Where’s Ursula the Bear? (GC189YD). After 2 years it’s still in good shape.

A dry and almost flat trail kept me eager to go forward. Eight of the 9 new (for me) caches required stepping from 10 to 40 feet off trail through shin high grass. I don’t like to step without seeing the ground. Somehow I didn’t roll an ankle or squash any snakes. A bit of advice…go now while the grass is green and the abundant foxtails are still firmly attached to their stalks.

For the 9th and only non-VanIchiro51 cache Christmas Tree at East Canyon (GC226BR)I turned right (N) into East Canyon.

My Oregon 400t ‘zeroed’ at a small pine tree festooned with a leprechaun’s clothes. I was distracted by the fake gold coins sprinkled on the ground. These were a good pre St. Patrick’s Day conversation topic with the only 3 people I saw on the trail. All of them passed by separately while I looked for the cache. I almost gave up and then saw the cache in an unexpected place. My geofriends and me wouldn’t have put the container THERE. Be careful with the retrieval especially if you’re crazy enough to be caching here in wet or windy weather.

There were 2 more caches ahead but I didn’t want to lose more altitude (from a max of 2500’) that I’d have to make up on the return trip. And, of course, knowing that a naked leprechaun was lurking nearby was another major incentive to NOT continue. So this was my turnaround point. I got back to my car just as the sun set. I drove home and washed off my tire!

March 12, 2010 – Bell Canyon & Castle Peak

March 12, 2010

Work, weather, PC problems and overeating kept my caching at a low level for the last few weeks. My only recent hike was a counterclockwise loop at Bell Canyon & Castle Peak.

I started at the trailhead at N 34° 12.262 W 118° 40.175. There’s a cache there that I DNF’d because I followed the hint. It’s so misleading that it’s disinformation. I should’ve just read the cache page. Which cache is it? I won’t tell because it’s “subscriber-only.” Its owner sets up nearly all of his caches this way. He must not want them to be found by casual, non premium member geocachers.

Though it’d rained the day before, there was very little mud and none of it was sticky. Bright red shiny poison oak was massively abundant just beyond the trailhead. For now, it’s easily avoided by staying in the middle of the trail.
There were 4 stream crossings. This was the 1st and worst one. After a few minutes I didn’t even notice my wet feet.
A few caches down the trail I saw a mini-waterfall off of an artificial stream bed of concrete and rocks.
The trail skirts the unfenced edge of a private park that belongs to the ‘gated’ Bell Canyon community. As always, I hurried through this section to avoid potential problems with the residents. So far, so good. No one’s ever tried to stop me or claim private property. Less than a minute uphill from the park there’s another subscriber-only cache near some ‘ruins.’

The effect of water was evident even far from the stream at the canyon bottom.

I reached the ridgeline and made a quick side trip westward to find 2 caches. One of them Quarry View (GC2411M) lives up to its name.
I turned back eastward and enjoyed looking at the cumulus clouds.
The best views of the day were from Lavender Fields…(GC1AGV6). Here’s Chatsworth Reservoir. I’ve heard for years that it’s going to be opened up for recreational use. So far it’s still heavily fenced and closed to the public.
A weird street layout:
The iconic cliffs of Chatsworth:
My next destination and the highlight of my hike was Castle Peak to the southeast. From this viewpoint it’s a straightforward hike with only minor scrambling for the last 100 feet. The cache near the top Castle Peak Turret (GC2410T) is well placed, out of sight from where partying muggles are likely to gather.
The trip down was very steep. The way was well worn so I didn’t have to backtrack, even once. This is the view from the bottom, looking back. And to think, I even went UP this way 5 years ago. I can’t do it now.
It was a short walk to the Vanowen trailhead.
Hiking alone, without a car shuttle, I had to walk a ½ mile on residential streets to get back to the other trailhead.

With a lot of internet research I solved most of my PC problems. Now maybe I can go back to caching:

MGI Photosuite wouldn’t load: Windows 7 has a “compatibility mode.” I copied the CD onto my hard drive and ran Photosuite’s install program in the WIN-95 mode. It loaded immediately and all functions work fine!

No video: Error message on EVERY video told me to install Adobe Flash Player. But the Adobe site says there’s no 64-bit version. Instead of messing with it I went to Mozilla and installed Firefox. All videos now play, problem-free.

Wireless was deaf: I reset the wi-fi router and got it off of the default channel (which is where 13 of the 22 nearby signals were parked). The new, less congested, channel works well from anywhere on my property.

Connection to GPS (Oregon 400t) is still intermittent. Sometimes I’m unable to “write” individual caches into my Oregon because the “Garmin Communicator Plug-in” is missing. It’s plainly NOT missing and it’s aggravating that the problem is intermittent. I think that it’s a Windows 7 security setting. I’m going to track it down, eventually.