JANUARY 24, 2012 – Oxnard, beach caching

January 24, 2012

As much as I like desert power trail caching sometimes I need to switch gears. Clear, cool weather before the arrival of a big storm gave me the chance to cache in Oxnard again. On the way I stopped for an easy series of 5 lamp post caches at Pleasant Valley Fields.

The last time I cached here, it was a huge dirt lot with a single oak tree. Now it’s a 3,000’ long soccer park. I was the ONLY one there. Everyone else must’ve been home watching the other football.

Next was a 10 mile drive to the coast. This seagull at Perkins End (GC339A7) seems oblivious that some kind of miniature medieval monstrosity is about to pounce.

Most of the local caches were already smilies on my map. I walked along this saltwater stream to convert a lone green box.

I almost made it, Bridge going nowhere (GC34VGD), a lot harder than it was. Reading the cache page first was a good decision.

Another drive, another mile and a $2/hour parking fee later, I looked back (South) to the old power plant that appeared in several of my old posts. I found a few more caches in the area. Note that people are living in tents among the secluded dunes. None who I saw were in direct view of any caches.

A chatty pismo clam digger told me that it was the lowest tide in months. I asked if it was safe to eat clams from an area near sewage treatment and power plants. He said that they taste fine in Manhattan clam chowder. I’ll pass.

Farther up the coast, Channel Islands Harbor has a new crop of recent caches. One of them Not almost in the water (GC363A7) is 6’ from this lamp post. Completely by chance, I saw evidence of the game that dares not speak its name.

After a North-South string of caches along an almost completely empty mile-long parking lot I ended up at a familiar jetty. The sign looks unnaturally bright red because it reflected back my camera flash.
My final count was 17 caches in 5 hours and 4 or 5 DNFs, plus a lot of “did not try” vegetation caches. The fresh air and beach walking made the day worthwhile. The caches were a bonus.


JANUARY 16, 2012 – Planes, Trains & Automobile series

January 16, 2012

You know that you’ve had a good caching day when your shower water runs black down the drain.

Last year I logged 3,140 caches. Of those 2,500 were in the desert, mostly on power trails. Unseasonably great weather and the new Planes Trains & Automobile series let me continue my desert fun into 2012. I booked a 2 night stay at the Days Inn in Barstow. A mile from there I saw this M47 Patton tank in a small public park. I stopped. Sure enough my pocket query showed a cache Wadda Caboose! (GCEF32). The name refers to the ancient train caboose that’s parked next to the tank. It was an easy find using the hint.

Saturday morning, after several false starts, I found that the best way into the center of the series at Planes Trains & Automobiles (GC39040) is Helendale Road south from the 58. It’s hardpacked and OK for any 2WD car. A large segment of the airplane caches are along this road too. Watch out for speeding locals in big trucks. They kick up a lot of dust and gravel. One of them saw me walking and floored it on purpose to make a bigger cloud. He even came back 2 caches later and did it again. A-HOLE!!! My windows were open.

Anyway, a huge majority of the series caches are 35mm film containers covered by suspicious rock piles. A smaller number, mostly in the trains section, are the same containers thrown into the center of random bushes. I think that those are due to the shortage of rocks in the area. Be careful not to poke your eyeballs when reaching for those caches.

This is a typical container and log.

Part of the trains run along a utility road with a cache at each double pole, spaced 0.14 miles apart. These are fast and easy to find.

A black speck in front of a circular dust cloud means an approaching vehicle. More cachers? Anyone who’s hiked with me knows that I hate leading because I feel pressured to go faster. It’s the same with mobile caching so I pulled over and waited. The others turned out to be 4 cachers in 2 trucks. My memory for names is super bad too. I only remember Materus…glad to meet all 4 of you!!
There’s a great themed cache 0.23 miles off road. I enjoyed the short hike to get there. As you can see, others drove directly to it. The tire tracks circled the cache several times before going back to the road.

Parts of the road in the airplane section are sandy. My Element is especially well suited for caching here. I’m glad that I didn’t drive my Prius. Thanks Gummyfrog for the advice!

I finished the plane caches at 4:10pm and was back at my motel before dark. There I had everything needed to prepare for day 2. BTW – skip the Chinese buffet across the street. The only tolerable items were the jalepeno chicken and orange chicken. The 1 salad choice had wilted lettuce and the seafood looked really unappetizing. My night wasn’t very restful either. I could HEAR planes, trains & automobiles and motorcycles, helicopters and people talking outside too.

The overnight low was 26 degrees. By the time I checked out and reached the center cache again it was in the mid 50’s, warm enough for my usual t-shirt and hiking shorts. There was an SUV with 2 women parked on the dirt track I needed to use. I assumed that they were cachers and approached on foot holding up my GPS for them to see. Their reaction instantly told me that I was right. Nice to meet you team Fat Cats!! We exchanged trail info. They then went for the airplanes and I went for the automobiles.

The automobile caches are on either side of the road, which is completely straight from end to end. The forward view is basically the same for 90 caches. There are some dips that could be ‘iffy’ for a low clearance 2WD like my Prius. Toward the southern end there’s a parallel track. In the North it’s just the one below.

After the last series cache (actually #1 for those going S to N) there are those hidden by others. The older ones off to the sides were my favorites. This is Luxury House (GC1KZ9W). It’s OK to drive to this one. There’s a signed unpaved road leading directly to it.

The view on the ground isn’t so impressive. This is an all too familiar desert sight wherever lots of people stop. At least the cache is hidden away from the worst of it.

Back on the main road and just short of the paved highway, there’s Steps to nowhere (GC1NA2G). It’s 0.25 away from the road but it’s worth the stretch, especially if you have a long drive home.

Somewhere between the last 20 caches I emerged from the back side of this sign. Sadly, there were multiple tire tracks leading to every cache that was off the side of the road, even the ones that were several tenths of a mile out.

At Hwy 395 I turned left and sped through Adelanto, Victorville and Hesperia to reach the 15. Early on I hit and killed a large tumbleweed that seemed to change direction in a suicidal head on charge. Here’s its smaller brother coming at me for revenge. He missed. Later, at home, I found tumbleweed fibers completely clogging the left half of my radiator grill. *%^#!!

This was my first desert power trail with ham radio, phone service and internet coverage, with most places at 2 to 4 bars of Verizon 3G. Some might see the electronics as intrusive. I liked being able to stop, take a drink and check what my geofriends were posting to facebook.

I ended my ½+1+½ day trip with 270 finds. Thank you Team Stevecat for another great series. It’s back to work for me tomorrow so I’m pretending to be normal by spending today car washing and house cleaning…unless some new caches pop up nearby.

JANUARY 13, 2012 – Daggett to Route 66 Series

January 14, 2012

I added a vacation day to the MLK holiday weekend and drove back to Barstow to cache the Planes Trains & Automobiles series. At the half way point in Rancho Cucamonga huge wind gusts pushed my high profile Honda Element all over the freeway. It became so dangerous that I pulled off and found myself with others who’d done the same. There was weak 3G coverage so I played on facebook. 15 minutes later I cautiously got back on the freeway and crawled along in the truck lane to Cajon Summit. From there onward the gusts were gone and it was a smooth ride. It was already 1:30pm at hotel check-in, too late to start the series. So instead I went East for the caches starting at Daggett.

This is on Route 66 but about 15 miles before the Western end of the mega series. The caches here were farther apart and on both sides of the road. There were few 35mm film containers. Most were Altoids tins and camo’d metal cylinders. There was even an ammo can. Many travel bugs and geocoins were logged into the caches but not a single one was actually present.

I DNF’d here. At the back end of the cemetery my arrow pointed to the other side of the fence on the left. The graves were very old but still maintained. I didn’t approach or take pictures. There was no road on the other side of the fence so I skipped the cache.

There was a string of caches on a parallel road that was lined with several different types of power plants.

Back on Route 66 my favorite cache of the day was Emigrants Pass (GC264ZA). The geotrail does NOT lead directly to the cache.

I skipped another promising cache because there were 2 twenty-something women walking toward GZ from the same direction. Nothing good could’ve resulted from me driving past and pulling over at GZ 200’ directly in front of them. But I ended up finding 7 caches attached to the end (actually the beginning) of the big series. Now my map shows no green boxes on this end! Now watch…someone will hide a cache there tomorrow.

JANUARY 10, 2012 – Upper Las Virgenes NE (ex Ahmanson Ranch)

January 10, 2012

I’m trying to maintain the conditioning I gained while massively hiking over the holidays. So I chose a steep uphill trail that I’d avoided for years. From the trailhead at the West end of Vanowen Street, I walked West into El Escorpion Park and passed Castle Peak on my right. It wasn’t my destination.
Further down the trail someone made a 35’ structure that looks like a boma/kraal. There was a fire pit in the middle. Is it just me or is it dangerous to surround a fire with a wall of dead wood? The situation is compounded by overhead branches and leaves.

This is the end of El Escorpion Park and the Ventura County line, 0.75 miles from the Vanowen trailhead. I remember being stopped here by fences and no trespassing signs in the 1990’s. Now it’s wide open.

Just on the other side I looked North to the fabled “Batcave.” There used to be a cache inside but it was archived before I could get there.

Still continuing West I reached my destination uphill. Behind the first hill there were 2 others, each steeper than the one before. I replaced an animal chewed container for my geofriend Don_J at Dazed & Confused (GC2NT2P). To pay “*cache tax,” I carried 6 new containers to hide.

At the top of the third hill there was a surprisingly flat and wide open summit and a cache too, On Top Where the Hawks Soar (GC1FQ4C).

This is the view backward toward where I started hiking.

Here’s the view South. The area was greener than I’ve ever seen it.

There was only 1 more cache to find ahead and I started placing my containers, leaving at least 4 gaps for others to hide new caches. Hint, hint!! I finally reached a familiar East/West main trail and used it to loop back to my car.

The huge number of coyote poops encountered on my 6.8 mile 3 hr 40 min hike indicates that they’re having a record year. They didn’t even bother to hide and didn’t seem to care that I was there. One walked parallel to me for about a minute before turning away. I saw more coyotes on this hike than in my entire 7 year caching career.

Caches I hid:
– Anomalous & Igneous (GC3AJJR)
– The Trail Top “T” (GC3AJKX)
– sissopolisification (GC3AJWN)
– Across from the Oak (GC3AJWY)
– trail guardian – east side (GC3AJXA)
– Rock Wall View (GC3AJXG)
*Cache Tax = the implied obligation to the caching community to hide new caches in return for finding many of their caches

JANUARY 1, 2012 – Stunt Rd / Mulholland Dr

January 1, 2012

It was the first day of the year and the last day of my holiday vacation. A 9th and final caching hike was in order. Sissopolis (Christine) and pianofab (Fabrizio) joined me for a car shuttle. From the viewpoint at the intersection of Stunt Road and Mulholland Drive we started hiking toward Topanga Lookout (GC1CB6K).

What was a fire lookout post in decades past is now a concrete foundation covered by taggers.

The 360 degree view is still great though.

And we found the (lidless) cache.

Years ago I’d been here, DNF’d the old cache (since archived), and turned back because there were no more caches ahead. Today, we continued NW along the ridgeline for a series of 5 caches. The single track trail is definitely not for inexperienced hikers. Though it’s not overgrown there are many “which way are we supposed to go” choices and some rock scrambling. We passed by some interesting formations.

Christine looked, and found no cache in here.

Here’s me with my work location, Warner Center, at center left in the background. I’ll be back at my desk there in a few hours.

Here’s a rare open area on the ridgeline.

We worked our way toward Cloud City (GC35A5) at the “X.” It was a cache I’d found and reached from the other direction in 2008.

From Cloud City, this was the look back to the ridge. 2D photos just don’t show the steepness of our descent.
We reached the Calabasas Peak Motorway and walked to my car which was parked at the bottom.

The drive back to Fabrizio’s car at our starting point took less than 5 minutes. From there we found several caches on the Backbone Trail. One of them, Hid It By Some Fossil Shells (GC2JN6J) was aptly named. I’d hiked this trail before and never noticed the fossils.

We hiked a total of 5 ½ miles and found (11 Christine, 8 me, 5 Fabrizio) caches and celebrated with lunch at Wood Ranch in Agoura. My holiday vacation total was 9 hikes for 48 miles and 76 caches found. Thanks Siss and Fabrizio for hiking with me today.