May 30, 2012 – Franklin Canyon Park

May 30, 2012

A forest hike was requested. Unprepared for a major expedition to some remote high elevation site we chose Franklin Canyon Park, off of Coldwater Canyon Drive. At 8:30am, the free! parking lot was almost empty.

Almost immediately along the paved road we saw the lake (Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir) made famous in the opening sequence of The Andy Griffith Show.

A small side lake (Turtle Pond) was full of koi and…turtles.

While blue jays and squirrels fought for food a few feet away, this guy lazily observed.

Siss grabbed a big snakeskin.

We rejoined the main road and found Tashlit (GC15YH2). EcuaDeb explained the significance of the name. The cache’s location is very appropriate. Here’s another view of the main lake from near GZ.

There were some creepy looking trees alongside the road. Some of them had beehives in them.

There’s a deserted house at a key intersection of roads and trails. We hiked left.

This view from uphill toward Beverly Hills shows what looks like some kind of evaporation pond. It was dry.

The southern end of our hike was up a long winding uphill trail that led to Franklin Canyon Overlook (GC16Q8N) by EMC of Northridge. All that remained were 2 lock & lock tabs and some swag. Fortunately Deb had a replacement container and camo tape.
None of our maps or satellite photos showed the big locked gate that blocked our path to the last cache on our list. So we took the “stupid trail” down a steep hillside.

A flat section let Deb & siss pull far ahead as I hobbled downhill with a sore knee.

We arrived back on the main trail where we’d previously passed and walked back to the abandoned house. Then we went uphill again on a different side trail. Eventually we arrived at At Creek’s Bend (GC18RB4). I really wanted to find this cache because I’d met the hiders, Platypus & Shrike, on the trail on the day they hid it in January 2008. 15 minutes of looking produced no cache. There’s been a lot of tree trimming so it’s possible that the cache was cut down and removed. Our hike had been more or less a counterclockwise loop so it was a short walk back to the now full (possibly due to a Los Angeles Times article about the park that coincidentally appeared in the morning edition) parking lot.

Despite 20 years of hiking in the local mountains, I don’t know much about plants. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look. Here are some interesting ones we saw. Purple in open sunny areas.

There were lots of ferns in the heavy shade of the canyon bottom.

These 3 foot high thistles are easily avoided if there aren’t too many of them. The spines are bigger but less painful than those of the smaller and more numerous thistle species.

Onward to a summer of caching!!


MAY 27, 2012 – Wistful Vista Open Space, (Oak Park)

May 27, 2012

I finally took a short vacation but stayed near home. Between errands and home maintenance I squeezed in some hikes. One was to Wistful Vista, an open area in Oak Park, above and surrounded on all sides by suburbia.
When recruiting others to go geohiking, my signature phrase is, “it’s mostly flat.” And whether or not I’d previously been to the location, and regardless of map evidence, in my mind it really is mostly flat. Arrival at the trailhead often reveals an enormous hill. Sure enough, a minute away from my car the first hill appeared which shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’d been here only a month earlier.

A good thing about solo hiking is being able to hike uphill verrry slowly without worrying that others are becoming impatient. I eventually reached the summit and a wide trail.

I turned left (South) up another hill toward Agoura Hills Overlook (GC12PX2). My geofriends know that I go to great lengths to avoid puzzle caches. For most/many puzzles I don’t even know the question let alone the answer. But after 7-1/2 years of caching I wanted to have a “?” icon in my “geocaches owned” column. So I hid I Hate Puzzle Caches Puzzle Cache (GC3KFDT) along this section of the trail. Then I turned around and went up the next hill.

This is the view looking North.

Then I turned left (West) and went up hills 4 and 5, finding caches along the way. I also checked on 2 caches that I hid in April:
After turning South it was an easy hike up hill 6.

This was the view West.

Finally there was hill 7. After 6 previous hills, this one felt much steeper than it looks in the picture.

While searching for The Top of the Cable Tower Hill (GCM9TJ) directly in front of these antennas I imagined myself being bombarded by microwave radiation and psychosomatically generated an intense headache. It quickly disappeared after I’d found the cache and was safely back behind the antennas.

The view South was across the 101 to Ladyface Mountain. No matter how many times it’s explained to me, I still don’t see any faces.

The descent back to parking was on a paved utility road.
I frequently do things backwards so my final cache found was, A Good Start (GC3KB35) by EcuaDeb near the bottom. Though my car was close by I ended up walking over a mile through residential streets to reach it.

There are currently 18 caches on the hike described above and multiple trailheads. Have fun!!

MAY 5, 2012 – Ormond Beach (Oxnard)

May 6, 2012

General stress, low energy levels and a cancelled April vacation have slowed me down but I’m still caching at a reduced level.

This weekend I wanted a small, uncomplicated (no synchronizing previous find lists and no timing gymnastics to accommodate incompatible schedules) hike. Coincidentally sissopolis and EcuaDeb were looking for a low key morning hike as well. Ormond Beach in Oxnard was our quick choice destination. It’s a favorite “go to” for me. And Siss & Deb had never cache hiked at the beach.

We had a quick talk with Walter, the official birdman of Ventura County, waved goodbye and headed down the trail.

A few hundred feet farther in, it was much more colorful than during my last trip here in January.

These 3 foot high Dr. Seuss-looking plants are always amusing.

We saw large shapes moving in the murky trailside canal. When they jumped out of the water in unison we saw that they were 1-½ foot long carp! I didn’t know that they can live in brackish (partial saltly) water. Siss took a video that I hope she’ll post.

Just beyond Ormond Beach Cache #4 (GCXA7R) we emerged into the dunes.

The seaward view could’ve been the same as 10,000 years ago. There was no sign of human activity.

But looking inland there was the power plant. Ormond Beach Cache #6 (GCXC2D) is at the end of this fence.

We turned toward the water and a few more caches.

We saw bird skeletons. This one was the cleanest of them all.

After Ormand Beach? (GC3JXCD), an unexpected co-FTF, we turned around and headed back along the water.

At the last hiking cache Ormond Beach #11 (GC3JCXB) we rested and enjoyed the sun and the sound of the breakers. Deb found objects to poke with a stick.

There were no more caches on the trail back to parking but we kept alert for odd objects in the sand.

Before the hike, we knew that there were new caches on the trail. But we were surprised to end up as (co)FTF on 5 of them!

At this point Deb had to rush home. So Siss & me drove along the surrounding fields and found (6) for me and (8) for Siss caches. After that we chose a random restaurant Pho Saigon. I’ve only had Vietnamese food a few times and don’t know the cuisine. I got lucky with a beef & rice dish and Siss enjoyed her seafood medley noodles. The super friendly and helpful staff even gave us a complimentary (and delicious) dessert! There will definitely be a return visit.

Curio: Why does Siss appear with different clothes? Are the pictures pieced together from different hikes? No! It’s layering; adding/subtracting layered tops to suit the changing temperature & wind conditions.