AUGUST 27, 2012 – Backbone Trail (BBT) North

August 27, 2012

We were still reeling from the 110 degree temperatures of 2 weeks prior. Though it’d been much cooler for a week, the consensus for our upcoming hike was for the earliest possible start. Seven of us drove in 2 cars to a previously unknown (to me) trailhead at NACMR with Free Parking (GC3ECBF). Well known for my inability to wake up early, I staggered out and followed GeoCraig, Albackore, sissopolis, EcuaDeb, Foocachers (Sr) and BWidget into the foggy gloom.

The main goal for most of us was to find the 8 BBT (Back Bone Trail) caches placed since our group visited the area on July 21. As usual there was a lot of discussion at each early cache.

But when we moved it was at a fast pace. We sped through the Musch Trail to the Topanga Fire Road.

After sitting on a rare red-ant-free spot, snacking and then almost being run down by an aggressive mountain biker we went uphill to Eagle Rock. Three of the new BBT caches were along this stretch of trail. And despite being careful, sissopolis (not Albackore!) got a painful ant sting.

At one cache the subject of PI arose. I started, “3.1415926535” and EcuaDeb recited the next 40 digits. The rest of the group looked at us with varying degrees of awe, annoyance and pity. In their minds I think that Deb & I were elevated to the upper echelons of nerddom. Not much else was said until we reached the new benches and still-under-construction outhouse at The Hub. Those who needed the 2 caches beyond kept going and passed “The Cathedral.”

Our reunited group went back to The Hub and then onto the Eagle Springs Fire Road. Sissopolis spotted “Tree Tobacco.” Unless convergent evolution is in force here, it’s clearly related to “Purple Bells” which Siss discovered in Rustic Canyon in June.

We found all 3 new (non-BBT) caches and an old one on this section of the hike. One particularly wide and rock-free segment was unexpectedly treacherous underfoot. I watched GeoCraig slip and fall, twice. Then I stepped in the same place, slipped and fell too. We were both lucky to walk away unscathed.

Here are GeoCraig and sissopolis returning from a side hike to find a cache the rest of us logged on earlier hikes. Note “The Cathedral” in the background, now over a mile away.

Hiking up the steep S side of the fire road and seeing the unofficial side trail ahead, everyone agreed that, “the hike is mostly flat,” on the way to Pizarro’s Flaking Maneuver (GCRK7K). I found it in 2006 so I waited here.

From back on the fire road our cars were visible below but still almost 2 miles away by trail. What a great parking area and trailhead. Thanks Bill (BWidget) for discovering it!

This huge Hydra-like tree used to creep me out on windy moonlit night hikes in my pre-caching days. In daylight it’s just a curiosity.

It was a welcome relief to reach the Upper Entrada main parking lot…where our cars were NOT. But there were benches, REAL restrooms and an outdoor faucet to rinse off. Our cars were .2 miles away as the crow flies and about double that by hike.

At the cars a large shaggy dog carrying a tennis ball appeared. He dropped it at our feet. Foocachers, BWidget & Albackore threw the ball about 20 times and the dog always brought it back. There was no readable name tag on his collar. So, throwing the ball FAR, we drove away and then saw the dog standing with his owner just around a bend.

The hike was 7 hours and between 9 and 11 miles depending on the different number of side hikes taken. Sissopolis, who’d never cached in the area had 37 finds, the most in the group. I had the 12, the fewest.

We ended with a pre-dinner at Abuelitas Mexican Restaurant in Topanga. 3pm was a good time to be there. It was uncrowded and relaxed. We had a quaint dining room to ourselves. The flow through ventilation and local artworks on the walls kept us comfortable and interested. The nouveau Mexican food and pitchers of margaritas (for those of us who drink) were good too.

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AUGUST 6, 2012 – Puerco Mesa

August 6, 2012

EcuaDeb & sissopolis asked for hike suggestions. After a huge exchange of e-mails 7 of us ended up in the parking lot at the N end of Corral Canyon Rd where it meets the Backbone Trail.

I waited in the lot with Albackore while EcuaDeb, sissopolis, BWidget and both Foocachers went W to find 3 traditional caches (we’d already found), a puzzle cache and an earthcache. Here they are a ½ mile away.

When the group returned we all went E on the BBT toward No Swimming (GCW5MH).

We passed a strange triple pointed outcropping. I wonder whether it erupted violently or if it stayed in place while the ground around it wore away over the millennia.

Here’s sissopolis at Eagle’s Eye (GC1KTVE). I was with LAEd in 2009 when he hid this cache.

My signature phrase, “It’s mostly flat,” was true, at least in the beginning.

Albackore, BWidget & I had already found all except 2 of the BBT caches so some of our time was spent waiting while the rest of the group searched for the other caches.

Then the Foos had to turn back when Foo Jr aggravated an old ankle injury. Feel better soon, Cameron!

The timing was right because the next section of the trail was definitely NOT flat. Note the rock on top that looks like a giant lizard.
At Mesa-Puerco Cache (GCM75F) we left the BBT and turned S toward the ocean. That’s Albackore scouting ahead.

After an initial uphill and a side hike, the trail was all downhill with caches every 1/10 of a mile.

Near the bottom we passed an uncompleted house. It looked like construction stopped years ago.

The final stretch of the trail was a wide winding unpaved road. It was a relief to finally reach our cars at the red arrow.

Depending on how many caches we’d already found on previous hikes, today each of us logged between 20 and 40 caches and hiked between 7.5 and 11 miles.