MARCH 20, 2011 – San Fernando Valley (central)

March 20, 2011

APRIL 3 update: Where is the dweeb? I’m doing long neglected house cleaning so that my place stops looking like an abandoned shack on Route 66. But beginning next weekend, for 9 straight days I’m going to cache, A LOT! Blogs to follow…

There was a time when my map showed nothing but smilies from Agoura to Burbank. In those days I had to drive far outside of the valley if I wanted to find more than a handful of caches. Recently some new SFV cachers became prolific hiders. On Saturday I didn’t feel like hike-caching or using a lot of $4./gallon gas. So I went after some of the new green boxes so annoyingly close to home on the map.

A lifetime’s knowledge of the valley’s streets let me reach the caches quickly with none of the wrong turns and other bad navigation decisions that I make when I’m far from home. On the negative side, the SFV has very few photo ops. Or maybe I’m so used to everything that nothing is interesting. See? Here’s a typical mid-size street going to Northridge.

On the way I detoured to the train station. True, it was Saturday, but it was utterly deserted. Judging by its pristine condition I don’t think it gets much traffic on weekdays either. What good is public transportation that no one uses?

Continuing north, I reached CSUN (California State University Northridge) and found several new caches.

One of them Celestrial (s/b CelesTIAL) Garden (GC2Q468) was an easy find next to an orange grove and pond. The air there smelled just like much of the valley did in the 1960s. Nostalgic! I also learned that squirrels eat oranges.

And there were lots of oranges.

The turtles in the pond wanted food too. They swarmed to the edge when I walked up. I don’t know what they eat. Probably not oranges.

Back on the road I drove at a leisurely pace and found mostly caches that were plastic prescription bottles hangered into the tops of chain link fenceposts. At The 3rd Time (GC2NHPM) I was vaguely intrigued by the sign below. But I’m 50 years old now so I decided that finding caches was more interesting.

Finally, after 20 caches I completely agreed with the sentiment below.

Why was I looking for caches when there was so much to do at home?!?! Just then my batteries died. It was a sign for me to get my customary after-caching Double-Double & fries combo. Now, a day later, I’m glad that I cached because it’s POURING rain.


MARCH 14, 2011 – Happy Camp (Moorpark)

March 14, 2011

No, my elementary school teachers’ recommendations haven’t kicked in 40 years late. Happy Camp isn’t where I’ve been institutionalized. It’s a huge 3,000 acre park at the north end of Moorpark where I cached on Saturday with a mixed group of 18 cachers & muggle friends. We met at the The Happy Camp Trailhead West (GC24TMK) parking lot at 7:30am. Here we are taking our first steps onto the trail.

Our plan was to find 40+ caches in a 12+ mile clockwise loop. As large groups usually do, ours broke up into 2 and 3 clusters several times with the non-caching muggles (who were also much younger) pulling ahead. The view was good from the beginning but never clear enough to see the ocean.

Almost all of the caches were named “Happy (something).” To maintain that theme we signed all of our finds as “Happy Handful.” We’d already found a handful of happy caches when we reached the formal trailhead sign. Neither AWEMM (William) nor anyone else noticed “No Dogs” on the sign until looking at pictures the next day.

So this was BoBo the camouflaged geo-coyote who stayed with us the entire hike.

Sissopolis (Christine) found an early cache first while the rest of us looked in all the wrong places.

At another cache, Lightningstar grabbed an alligator lizard. It calmly let us take pictures without hissing or biting.

Newbie cacher 150MPH (Larry) made his VERY FIRST FIND. Congratulations!! Oddly he hasn’t logged it online yet.

Someone stepped on my favorite insect, Jerusalem Cricket.

Many animals were active in the great weather. BoBo was very interested in one that was hiding in a tree hole.

We stopped for an early lunch at Happy Picnic (GC2MYN2). We sat at conveniently located picnic tables and looked at an ancient water tank and pump across the trail.

We recharged for the very steep switchbacks to the top of Big Mountain (yes – that’s the real name). I found a few caches with GeoCraig and Don_J before we caught up to the main group. Don doubled signed the logs for us.

The trail along the top of Big Mountain is flat. The hiking was easy.

Two consecutive caches were each guarded by a big rattlesnake. They were too fast for my camera. The first one was ON THE CACHE. It retreated into a hole. GeoCraig blocked the hole with a rock and snatched the cache while the snake rattled furiously from inches away. Craig was lucky to not get a Happy Helicopter ride to the Happy Hospital. After signing and returning the cache, Craig removed the rock to release the snake and we all stepped away quickly…to the next cache…where we were greeted by another rattlesnake. This one moved away from the cache which 3 of us grabbed, signed and returned super fast in case the snake came back. Our last cache on top of Big Mountain was a multi near this hitching post.

At the base of the mountain, one of us went up a few feet again. The rest of us stayed below while Larry signed the log.

From there it was a mostly flat walk, cutting through a gap between a golf course and driving range back to the parking lot. After 42 finds in 7+ hours and 12.7 miles it was definitely a Happy Ending.