JUNE 23, 2012 – mid Backbone Trail (BBT)

June 23, 2012

Over the years several of us, SFV Geocachers, met the Spinal Tap (GC1C4Y4) challenge. In early 2009 I needed 96 BBT caches to finish.  But it’s a moving target.  The required number increases as new caches are added.  Today 190 BBT cache finds are needed to log Spinal Tap.  Most finishers continue to find more BBT caches afterward.  They’re tracked on the Spinal Tap cache page’s running scoreboard.  I hadn’t looked there in months and was surprised to see only 1 (known) SFV resident in the top 20.  Almost all of the others are Conejo Valley cachers.  So I made it a goal to break back into the top 10 by picking off the newer caches.  BWidget (Bill) conveniently needed almost the same caches so we carpooled.

On Saturday morning we parked in a small dirt lot at the SE corner of Malibu Canyon & Piuma Roads.  Parking there must be OK because I’ve seen hikers’/bikers’ cars there on weekends for at least the last 10 years.

Our first objective was ‘Round the Bend (GC2HQ94), a lone remaining unfound (for us) BBT cache SE of the intersection.  Other SFV Geocachers had advised that it could be reached from a small BBT trailhead on Piuma Road.  Thanks!  I would’ve walked right by it if Bill hadn’t seen  the marker.

We walked in.  The trail led behind the California Wildlife Center, through some switchbacks (the bends) to the easy cache.  After signing the log we backtracked and emerged onto Piuma Road through the wildlife center’s driveway, about 200’ E of Piuma Puma (GCNXNW).  That’s an old non-BBT cache that I hadn’t logged.  Thanks Bill for noticing, or I’d have walked right by this one too. We continued back to the car and drove a few hundred feet S to the official parking lot for the trail W.  Note, it’s $10. For the iron ranger.  And the restrooms are “closed for repair”.

SFV Geocachers know that hiking this trail E to W is NOT the recommended route because it’s very continuously steep on this end.  The preferred alternative is a 6 mile W to E car shuttle hike.  But the caches we needed were on the E end…  As we started climbing we saw a dam? that I’d never noticed before.  It’s dry now.

Our only DNF of the day was ‘Hole in Wall (GC1WTRR). Coordinates pointed to a perfect spot, one that I remembered from a previous hike.  But there was no cache.  Bill even climbed up the hillside about 8 feet to check other possibilities.

The switchbacks have great views toward Malibu and cool ocean breezes.  They’re ideal resting spots.  Verizon 3G signals are strong (no 4G detected) so you can make calls and check in on Facebook.

Brent’s Staircase (GCM766) is at the top of this peak to the N.  Only 15 cachers have logged it since 2004.  It’s waaay too steep for me.

We found all of our needed caches E of the Puerco Mesa and turned around and beat the incoming ocean overcast back to the parking lot.

Here’s an interesting foot wide plant we saw culstered on an E facing Cliffside.  I think that it’s called a “Live Forever.”

And these bright yellow flowers were abundant, especially near the trailhead.  Golden Yarrow?