SEPTEMBER 25, 2011 – European Invaders in Ahmanson

September 25, 2011

No, no, it’s a little late for a report about conquistadors roaming the area and it’s not about Fabrizio (pianofab) either. Let me start at the beginning. The plan was for a 3.5 mile solo hike to find 4 caches at the former Ahmanson Ranch including 3 new ones hidden by Marty (tozainamboku). Saturday morning conditions were ideal at the Las Virgenes trailhead.

And the 10 minute walk to the oft visited “T” intersection was uneventful. A right turn (East) and a short uphill section led to the non-Marty cache Nothin’ But Geo (GC2JTPA). I was lucky to walk up on it. My GPSr still showed “40 feet” when I had the container in-hand. Later, at home I saw that Fabrizio DNF’d it the day before and there were multiple complaints about bad coordinates.

Back on track, 600’ further on there was a junction with the newly reopened trail to Marty’s caches. It started out flat.

I passed a tree that has cache-potential, except that there’s another, old, cache 200’ away on a parallel trail.

There was a sharp upward turn. It was a good workout to reach Marty’s 3 caches where I was 2nd to find:

On the Way Up (GC3424M)
Moving On Up (GC3424X)
To the Westside (GC34255)

This is a look back from the turnaround point near the last cache above.

OK, about the European invaders… In the middle of the trail at the 1st cache in this post, I saw some bright red clumps. At first I thought they were out of season toyon berries. A closer look showed that they were beetle-like insects. I’d never seen the species in 20 years of hiking. They weren’t flying or very active so I cautiously took close up pictures and kept hiking.

A few days later I remembered to search online to identify the bugs. Immediately I found them at Center for Invasive Species Research (at UC Irvine). They’re identified as the “Red Bug,” Scantius aegyptius, native to the Eastern Mediterranean and first documented in Southern California in 2009. European Invaders!! They’re not reported in Ventura County so my sighting (a mile from the county line) may be the farthest West the bugs have been spotted.

I’m glad that, unlike for some other SFV Geo hikers, MY insect encounter didn’t involve running away screaming and flailing, stings, bites, welts, pain meds and anti-histamines. (Now watch. I’ll probably fall into a fire ant mound next week.)


SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 – odds & ends

September 12, 2011

A few months ago I threw out my back at cache #702 on Route 66. I found a few more that day but skipped 75 caches before the end at #800. On August 31 I went back to find those. On the way I passed fire crews. They were mopping up the last remnants of the previous day’s Cajon Summit brush fire.

Knowing that 75 Route 66 caches would take about 2-1/2 hours at most to find, I stopped at some other caches on the way. Several were on Kelbaker Road. I didn’t mind walking a few hundred feet off road to find them because it was still under 100 degrees.
Soon I reached the familiar vistas of Route 66 and started finding series caches.

Within 20 minutes the temperature soared. It spiked to 111 and didn’t drop below 108 until I was on my way home. Note the 50.0 mpg. Running out of gas was never a worry.

Now I can honestly say that I found all 800 Route 66 caches, by myself! That won’t be possible for the 1,500 cache ET2 series so I’ll have to behave myself and join a group.

Dweeb with desert power trail caching experience (Rte 66, Yermo Rd, Phobias, Mexican States Canadian Provinces, Australian States, Phonetic Alphabet), seeks to join non-insane local cachers on ET2 expedition.

On Saturday, Sept 10, a dozen of us from cached in the Dos Vientos area of Newbury Park (Ventura County). Albackore (Jeff) persuaded us to start at 7am to “beat the heat.” I’d found most of the 20 planned caches in 2005-7 and was along for the hike and exercise. We gave up on our first cache, T-Boned (GCZ268) and were starting to walk away when ca.scubastar found it. After that we quickly climbed above the neighboring houses.

Even though many of the caches were ammo cans, they weren’t always easy to find.

Defying all known laws of the physical universe, this was yet another all-uphill Mobius Strip loop hike.

Why aren’t there more pictures of the cachers? Because in all of my other shots, at least 1 person ASSumed an embarrassing position just as I pressed the shutter button.

What was once an open area is being crisscrossed with roads, fences, new houses and private property signs. A few caches appear to be completely cut off from public access.

And speaking of fences, this isn’t as it first appears. Our group is above and OUTSIDE of the second (back) fence too. Thanks to deeznutz® (Derrick) for the idea for this shot.

We finished the 5 mile hike at 9:40am, far too early for lunch. After our usual 15 minutes of indecision most of us drove to nearby Cronies for brunch. The atmosphere was great. Big screen TVs, each showing a different football game, lined the walls. My breakfast burrito was mediocre but those who ate egg dishes and drank the various beers enjoyed them, a lot.

Still slightly out of whack from the 7am start, I vaguely remembered that we did it to beat the blazing heat.
And then I got home to see that there’d been a torrential rainstorm. I understand that some of the others got caught in it.