MAY 31, 2010 – Dragon Series

May 31, 2010

I had a mostly horrible holiday weekend. On Sunday I walked to a disabled (guideline violation) cache and then continued on to a small market. I put my Oregon 400T into a hand basket. At the single checkout line I took out my purchases and then got distracted, restacking the basket with my Oregon still inside. I realized my mistake almost immediately and ran back to the store. But someone had already taken my GPSr.

On Monday, with my old Magellan eXplorist 600 in hand I went with a small group to find the dragon series of caches, north of Las Virgenes and Chesboro canyons. It’s 11 new caches by pianofab (Fabrizio) and a very old one that I’ve wanted to find for years. I concentrated so much on relearning the old GPSr that I forgot my camera. BWidget let me use his. Thanks Bill! We started our 9 mile hike on good trails. The first thing we saw was a fully intact dead rabbit; not a good omen.

The going got tougher as we approached the base of the hill for the dragons.. Capsbug (Ellen) caught up below. Later it was me who fell waaay behind.

This sign looked stupid growing out of the bushes. I don’t think there’ve been any vehicles there, authorized or not, for many years.

The dragon series is a right turn at the sign below. It was going to be uphill from there to reach the dragons so 3 of us turned back. I kept going with 5 others, reasonably thinking that the return trip would be downhill.

Only Albackore (Jeff) & Tozainamboku (Marty) bushwhacked 0.11 miles through the area below to reach the ‘final’ of Piede del Gigante (GC2466). From here we were swarmed by flies and other annoying insects. A large black fly bit my arm and drew blood. We flicked off ticks and weirdly, some earwigs too. It was somewhere around here that I learned the hike was now a loop and that we were going back a different way.

The hint for this dragon cache said, “minor rock climbing.” Albackore found it. It was one the few “easy” ones.
This unusual rock towered 20’ over the trail.

The dragon here was a bison tube 50’ off trail, up a hillside through foxtails and thistles. The guys with long pants were delegated to make the find.
It took a few minutes to get this horny toad to pose for a picture. Even in near ideal lighting conditions his camo was extremely effective.

The horny toad seemed happy. On the other hand we were more miserable with each overheated step. After a DNF at Dragon Wing (GC28DVF) yet another off trail cache we decided to give up and skip the rest. We turned east and from there the ‘trail’ was little more than an overgrown up and down animal track. With each uphill I fell farther and farther back. This happens toward the end of long hot uphill hikes. I stopped every few hundred feet and layed down for several minutes, somehow without getting a single red ant sting. Don_J and BWidget knew that I’m OK in this situation but some of the others probably thought that I was about to go into heat stroke.

Before we finally reached the fire road back to Bell Canyon, Marty left 2 caches. There’s no chance of muggling. Unless you’re a geocacher you’ve got to be out of your mind to be back there.

I showed up at the (private) trailhead, different from our starting point, and joined some of the others who were waiting for the rest to return with vehicles from the original (also private) trailhead. They soon arrived and all of us went to a great BBQ dinner, which was a perfect way for me to close out an otherwise terrible weekend…and then I woke up the next morning with a scratched cornea – again!!


MAY 23, 2010 – Corral Canyon

May 23, 2010

GeoCraig posted a Corral Canyon hike on SFVgeocachers.com. Though I’d been there less than a year ago, 15 new caches had appeared since then. I showed up at the designated meeting place at 7:30am and was shocked to see a huge group. Later I learned that Craig had cross posted the hike elsewhere. The car shuttle scramble to the West end trailhead went smoothly. Here’s less than half of the group. The rest were off to the sides unloading their packs or taking in the scenery.

We quickly found 3 caches to the West before starting eastward on the main hike. Near No Swimming (GCW5MH) there was a wrecked car. Don_J identified the pieces as a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88.

The group of 23 was already starting to string out.

Spoondoggie found his milestone 1,000th cache Eagle’s Eye (GC1KTVE). L – Spoondoggie / R – his dad, Piquets.

Lightningstar walks the labrynth.

The view N toward Las Virgenes Canyon was exceptionally clear.

Someone authoritatively said, “The hike is mostly flat and downhill.” I knew better from past experience. Here’s the view ahead from near the hike’s midpoint.

I’d already found half of the caches on previous hikes so was able to pull far ahead of the group. This gave me the chance to find the new caches by myself and put my own dated sticker on the logs. Several hikers who didn’t RSVP through SFVgeocachers had earlier objected to my stickers because they wanted to save time by signing a group’s name, one to which I don’t belong. I was happier after finding several caches and stopped to wait for everyone. Here they are, 1 cache back.

Spoondoggie has a cache thrown back to him to re-hide. By this time I noticed that many people were using their own stickers and that a new innocuous ‘group name’ was being used by the remainder.

Foon (Alan) shuttled me back to the trailhead and my car. Many of the others went to look for a nearby earthcache. I drove down the hill to PCH and home. On the way I pulled over for a shot of the Malibu coastline.
The Memorial Day weekend is coming up. I can’t wait to see where the extra day of caching will take me.


MAY 16, 2010 – stranded in the mesozoic era

May 18, 2010

Since my giant ant encounter in Nevada last month I’ve wanted to go back to the desert to see what else is out there. I woke up late on Sunday and decided that (Jim) f0t0m0m’s dinosaurian cache series in Rosamond, Kern County was the perfect destination. As usual, I was very disorganized and didn’t leave the house until after noon.

I’m always paranoid that I’ll take a long drive, arrive near the first cache, turn on my Oregon 400t and find that the pocket query ‘didn’t take.’ So I stopped at the Palmdale viewpoint to make sure that my Oregon wasn’t empty. It wasn’t.

After a quick stop at McDonald’s for my daily Carmel Frappé I got out for my first cache. GPSr in one hand and the frappé in the other, I had no way to grab the container or to open it. d’OH!! Reset!! The scenery was great. And at this point, my car was still clean.

I learned that California powerline roads are MUCH better maintained than those near Primm, Nevada. Note the wide flat surface, free of rocks and ruts. It was easy to park on the edge and walk off to find caches.

Because of my late start I’d expected about 20 finds. But they came much faster than expected. There were no parking issues and the coordinates were spot-on. I ended up finding 46 caches at 11 caches an hour. It helped that many of the containers were big ammo cans.

WEIRD: Most of the caches contained a flat magnet with a caricature of the former president of Syria, Hafez al Asad. WHAT’S THAT all about?! Photo from the WIKI and drawing = cache magnet.


A 4 foot (gopher?) snake watched while I logged a cache. It’s anti-camo was so effective that at first I thought it was a colorful piece of plastic pipe.

I’ve occasionally seen structures like this. They were each big enough to cover an 18-wheeler. Does anyone know their purpose? And yes, there was a cache very close by.

While pulling away from my 46th find in a very harmless looking area, I got stranded in dinoland. The car looks OK from this side.

Here’s the other side!! A 1’ high and 2’ wide mound of sand completely immobilized my Prius. I should’ve driven my all-wheel-drive Honda Element instead but, as mentioned earlier, I was completely disorganized. I dug with my hands (no tools) and stuck a tree branch (no rocks, boards, or other debris were found) under the tire but nothing helped. The car didn’t move an inch. It started to get dark and I didn’t look forward to hanging out with the jackalopes, chupacabras and other fun desert wildlife.

My new cellphone still doesn’t have any programmed numbers (I need to RTFM) so I reached help by a very roundabout way. Showstop (Tyler) & Candace drove 1-1/2 hours to tow me out, which took about 2 minutes. THANK YOU TYLER & CANDACE and thanks to UNCLEJON91, thedeviousmaxpower and also EMC for getting me in touch with Tyler.

I got home at 10:15pm.


MAY 8, 2010 – Tujunga Wash

May 9, 2010

A string of unhappy DNF (Did Not Find) logs on 3 of my Tujunga Wash caches accelerated my plans to go back to the always adventure-filled area to replace missing containers. But why have all the fun by myself? I posted my plans on www.SFVGeocachers.com and as a result Reinshadow (Reiner), Albackore (Jeff), EMC (Elin), tozainamboku (Marty), pianofab (Fabrizio) and RCKen (Ken) joined me. Fabrizio named our group, “¡Sabado Cachistas!” I often see “Sabado y Domingo” on Spanish language advertising posters and until recently thought that he’s a famous opera singer. But what did I know? Anyway, despite the sign below, I’ve always known this area as, “Orcas Park, next to the Tujunga Wash, behind Hansen Dam.”

The aforementioned Albackore, EMC and tozainamboku:

Most of the group headed under the freeway toward Tujunga Wash Caching Trail Bonus A (GCMMFT). This was the last time I saw Reiner because he went back to a previous cache to find his sunglasses and never caught up with us again.

While the others went under the freeway, me, Marty & Elin looked for a way to cross the wash. I didn’t get wet, this time and the next 2 times. I shouldn’t have felt so smug because I fell in on both the 4th and 5th crossings.

The crossings were the most entertaining part of the day. RCKen launches himself from a crushed half submerged pipe over the final 6 feet.

Fabrizio goes fully airborne at the same spot.

Elin HAD TO BE different.

Some of the yucca flowers were bigger than us.

Elin is doing the 100 day caching streak challenge. I have no idea what the GC number is, the formal requirements or where the final cache is located, but I’m doing it too. May 8 was day 38 for me. Both of us had already found all of the caches in the wash except for Lunch on the Rocks (GC1T8M6). So it was critically important that we find this cache as the cache of the day for May 8. But when we got there the area was a trashy mess. Even the water was garbage filled and algae choked. What may once have been a scenic lunch spot was now ugly. To add insult, there was no hint of the cache. Blah!!

Elin left us at this point to go look for ANY new (for her) cache outside of the wash. The remaining 5 of us continued and encountered a trap to capture and remove Brown Headed Cowbirds, a non-native invasive species. I think that these are the guys that steal my fries when I eat outside at McDonalds.

There’s already a cache called, smav3719’s cactus encounter (GC1H448). I was very careful to make sure that a new cache named OLdweeb’s cactus encounter, wouldn’t be necessary.

Fabrizio kept flying over streams.

Is it surprising that his GPS ended up underwater? At least he was able to confirm for all of us Oregon 400T owners that it’s waterproof. No drops got past the rubber seal.

We took a wrong turn after the last cache and ended up walking into a forest that became a jungle that became a swamp. The only things missing were leaches and alligators.

Knowing that we were only 500’ from, and paralleling, the main trail kept me from complaining too much. We bushwhacked through dense foliage and ankle deep water for about 20 minutes and emerged on the bone dry, dusty trail. From there it was a quick walk back to our cars. We visited 18 caches, replaced 3 and placed 2 new ones.


MAY 1, 2010 – Upper Las Virgenes Canyon OSP

May 3, 2010

Sometimes hiking is more important than finding caches. (OK – not so often for me…) So even though I’d found almost all off the caches, I joined Albackore’s hike from a private trailhead in Bell Canyon through the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve. After a car shuttle, 12 of us, including Sissoplis and her 3 tween students got onto the trail just after 8 a.m. The super bright clear weather made colors especially vivid. Seventy degree temperatures and the almost entirely gradual downhill route kept me content.

The group found a steady string of caches, many of them were mine! Then I heard the unmistakable rattle of an annoyed snake as we passed by just out of striking range. We stopped and watched in horrified fascination as a large rattler tried to swallow an unlucky ground squirrel much wider than itself. Pianofab (Fabrizio) took a video. Eventually the snake had enough of our noisy picture taking and slithered away. I hope that it went back later to finish its meal in private.

The squirrel wasn’t the only one who had a record bad day. This California King Snake was killed by a bicycle.

We saw some new life too. During several shallow stream crossings we carefully avoided adding to the carnage by stepping around the tadpoles.

A little later, while I sat in the shade, most of the group went up a small hill to find my cache, Crossover to Chesbro Canyon (GC16V89). They came back and reported that the cache is present and in good shape.

Gummyfrog, Reinshadow and Spoondoggie marched to the next cache after a short side hike.

The eastward leg of the hike, toward the Victory trailhead was especially colorful. In another week everything will be brown except the oak trees.

Albackore led the group on another side hike to an older cache, Fortune Cookie Cache (GCNBGQ). Some of us who’d already found that one stayed on the main trail.

We regrouped at a place so scenic it looked like an impressionist painting.

We continued on to find new caches placed by T&A Divers a few days earlier. I ended with 7 finds while those caching here for the first time found 30+.

I won’t add a picture of the ugly parking lot at the trailhead. We’d parked just outside anyway to avoid the $3.00 fee. Our customary ritual of confused car shuttle return ride scrambling was duly performed. SOMEday, someone is going to be left out at this step and stranded. But not this time. We all found rides back to our cars in Bell Canyon.