I picked the only rainy day in weeks to look for Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View (GCF3B5) for the Santa Monica Mountains History Adventure (GC18DXW). On my drive North on Yerba Buena Road from Pacific Coast Highway I stopped at the Circle X Ranch NPS ranger station. It’s the site of a new physical geocache SAMO ParkCache 5 (GC2MPW1) placed by a ranger. The station was closed and deserted allowing me to find the extremely well constructed and placed cache, without distractions. The big clean restroom on the right side of the building was open.
I drove for 2 more minutes to the Sandstone Peak trailhead. There’s free parking there in the dirt lot for dozens of cars. I recognized Albackore’s big truck.
A ½ mile up the steep winding trail I met Albackore (Jeff) & Don_J (Don) returning from their own adventure. Five minutes later BWidget (Bill) and foon (Alan) also appeared. They brought rain with them.
Bill took my picture as it started to pour and we continued in opposite directions.
By now thoroughly soaked I reached the stairway to Sandstone Peak. I’ve been to the peak at least 30 times since 1992. As the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains, the view of the ocean and Channel Islands from there is incredible in clear weather. But I turned away from the stairs and kept hiking.
The few forlorn hikers I passed from this point onward looked miserable in the wind blasted rain and low 50’s temperatures. My steady diet of burgers, pizzas, burritos and kung pao chicken will eventually kill me. For now the resulting extra insulation lets me hike in these conditions with relative ease. My biggest worry was that the stream below would wash out the trail on my return trip. It didn’t.
The rain REALLY started to pour and it got much darker. Even nearby features disappeared into fog.
The trail became super slippery with an inch thick layer of smooth mud. I got to within 0.34 miles of my objective but couldn’t find the turnoff sidetrail I’d seen on my google map which was now wet, smeared and useless. The direct way was a straight uphill bushwhack, a stupid thing to do by myself in bad weather.
I had to turn back. I thought I’d salvage the trip by finding 2 easier caches nearby but the rain was so heavy that I couldn’t see my GPS screen. Of course, once I was out of range of those caches, the rain stopped and the sun briefly broke through. It was clear enough to see the infamous Balancing Rock across the canyon.
I was relieved to reach the parking lot just as the heel of my left hiking boot detached.
I hiked 6.2 miles in bad weather and completely failed to accomplish my day’s caching goal. If someone knows how to reach Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View (GCF3B5) from Sandstone Peak, please let me know. Otherwise I’m going to try to reach it from the Wendy-Potrero trailhead in Newbury Park later this year.