NOVEMBER 27, 2010 – Nicholas Flats

November 27, 2010

For many, Black Friday is a day for crazed shopping or laying comatose from the previous day’s over indulgences. For me it’s a day to work off excess turkey and to NOT spend money on more stuff I don’t need. This year I tried to recruit fellow cachers to geo-hike with me. Only Sissopolis (Christine) & BWidget (Bill) could go. We chose the Nicholas Flats area of the Santa Monica Mountains. None of us had been there and the map showed 26 caches.

This is the trailhead at: N34 04 .397 / W118 54 .396

Sandstone Peak, the site of many previous hikes, was visible to the North in the cool clear air.

The trail was obvious and not overgrown. There was no bushwhacking and we found caches in rapid succession. Soon we rounded a low hill and saw the ocean.

The scenery kept getting better and better.

We arrived at the very top at exactly 12:00pm. The view of the ocean and 4 of the Channel Islands: Catalina, Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz was so spectacular that finding the cache Surf’s Down (GCH8EA) became secondary. We took pictures and ate lunch before seriously looking for the cache. Group photo by Christine’s Lumix camera on timer.

Here’s 1 of 2 meadows that we skirted. I often see deer in places like this. They must’ve heard us coming.

We tried to skip stones but there were no flat rocks. All of those are probably already at the bottom of the lake. However there were some small salt water crab legs and claws. The area isn’t an estuary so how did they get there? Dropped by passing birds?

While rock scrambling above the lake we passed a burial site for a pet cat.

I lingered to look at the grave offerings and caught up to Bill & Christine as they found a scary cache Nicholas Lake Guardian (GC1GHD4) on a ledge above a big dropoff.
We even found 2 multi-caches. One of them was ancient: Rock ‘N View Surprise (GC6DA2). Each stage is a fully stocked ammo can!!

Always ready for more adventure, we stepped through a miniature stargate.

But it only led back to my car.
In 6-1/4 hours we found 1 park-&-grab and 26 hiking caches. We didn’t know the area, didn’t have a formal plan and weren’t sure if a loop was possible (it is!!). But EVERYTHING went right. The weather was perfect. Every decision we made was correct. Every choice led to the next cache. There were no wrong turns, no unplanned backtracking, no dead ends and no DNFs. It was a great day.

And then I went home and ate another turkey meal.


November 23, 2010 – San Diego / Santee

November 23, 2010

The NWS forecast showed a 70% chance of rain. But my 1 night hotel reservation was non-refundable so I went anyway. Sure enough the precipitation started about half way into my drive, which was made slower by multiple accidents. Here are 3 of the 8 that I saw.

Offramp spinout:

Crashed and spun around backwards: (different accident)

I’d hoped to cache on the Ocean Beach bike path before checking in at the hotel. But THOUSANDS of raincoated people were walking on it for some kind of event. Plan B was a return to Fiesta Island to pick off a few new caches.

Afterward I had lunch & wi-fi at McD while it rained and then checked in. When the rain stopped I drove to the inland end of the bike path. There were no walkers and I found 5 of 7 caches. The 2 DNFs were a micro in wet vegetation and one with multiple other DNFs in a field of homeless geotrash.

The horrendous wet weather traffic cut short my attempt to find more urbans. The cache in the tree behind the statue was another DNF. I went back to the hotel & slept for 12 straight hours.

I woke up to sunshine, checked out and drove 15 minutes to a big empty public park in Santee, across the street from multiple trailheads. (It’s not the West Hills in the San Fernando Valley.) It was now cloudy again but still dry.

Here’s the view North from the trailhead.

The first cache contained no log. So I signed the container.

I’d found 1 more cache when a huge rain cell reached the area. I ran into a rock formation for cover. It didn’t help much. Here’s the view back to the trailhead.

A very nearby flash of lightning (no thunder) persuaded me to get back down the hill, fast. On the way I saw a carcass. The skull & major bones were gone but I think it used to be a small coyote.
Back at the sidewalk my GPSr showed a cache 300’ up the street. I found that one in the pouring rain and then another one in the parking lot. Grand total for the day was 4 caches instead of the 35-40 planned!! I now know where the trailheads are so I’m eager to go back. Of course, the rain stopped a few miles into my 145 mile drive home and it was sunny the rest of the way.

November 10, 2010 – Coyote Creek Bike Trail, Cerritos

November 10, 2010

Early in my caching career (2004/5) when hides were few and far between, I found most of the easy ones from Ventura to San Pedro. I HAD to go to Orange County to build up my numbers. As the Los Angeles & Ventura county maps filled up with green boxes I stopped going to the OC. Now, years later my Orange County map had only a few old smilies, all surrounded by hundreds of ‘new’ caches. The Kollection of North Orange County Kachers (K.N.O.C.K) Coyote Creek Bike Trail event was the perfect incentive for me to go back.

Arriving at the huge well maintained park I unloaded my bike and rode to the trailhead above, where the event organizers had the sign-in sheet. They also uploaded the all important pocket query into my Oregon 450t. I received general information on the trail conditions and got started.

This is the path going South. For the first mile, with no hiding places on the left, the caches were on the right (West).

I remember mostly no-hint micros. I probably wouldn’t have found this one if another cacher who walked by hadn’t told me where to look.

I skipped the caches along backyard fences with barking dogs and gardening residents. The path made a right angle turn across a bridge and then continued along the East bank. Cachers tended to accumulate at the more difficult hides.

A few more no-hint fenceline vegetation hides later, instead of continuing South for 15+ more caches, I turned around and headed back. I packed up my bike and drove to McDonalds for lunch and wi-fi. After a McDouble and large carmel frappe’ I returned to the trailhead in a much better mood. Biking North this time, at least the backyard walls were higher and made mostly of cinderblocks.

There were still vegetation hides. I almost kept pedaling here. Note my archaic 1977 bike, turned around to keep it from falling over on the sloping ground. Weirdly the cache was an easy find.

FlagLady and not tom had a more difficult time farther North. I joined forces with them and with the duneriders. 2lablovers joined us off and on for the rest of the day.

We rode to the Northernmost cache and worked our way back South toward the trailhead. This was my favorite part of the path because it was along mostly deserted (Sunday) industrial areas and not residential backyards. There was room for bigger cache containers and many different hiding styles. I didn’t see anything I hadn’t encountered before but the variety kept things interesting and enjoyable.

There were 2 underpass hides as well. These were easy and fast finds.

Back in the residential area at least one cache had fallen into a backyard. A custom retrieval tool was cobbled together.

Here’s (Mr.) duneriders successfully using it assisted by not tom and 2lablovers.

We arrived back at the trailhead after 5pm and parted company. I logged 44 finds. Without the group the number would’ve been around 30 due to my various caching shortcomings. I’m picky, slow, lazy and easily distracted.

It was my first bike ride since the Trail of Terror (Riverside) in October 2009 so I expected to be limping around the next day. For reasons unknown I had not even a hint of soreness. Oh well. If any of my SFV or L.A. friends are planning to cache the Coyote Creek Bike Trail I recommend the Northern leg. If walking, a car shuttle would be best.

Thank you K.N.O.C.K. for putting together the power trail and organizing the event. I’m sorry that I don’t remember your individual names. Take that as a compliment. If my brain says you look ‘normal’ I won’t recall your name or recognize you again until we have an extended conversation. 😛