APRIL 10, 2013 – Chatsworth Nature Preserve / Sage Ranch Park

The Chatsworth Nature Preserve was opened to the public for 1 day, last Saturday. I alerted my SFV geofriends and several showed up. We parked alongside the fence on Valley Circle Boulevard and walked through the open gate.
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Around the first turn there was a row of tented booths belonging to the DWP and various nature oriented agencies and groups. One had live birds on display and another had reptiles.
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As interesting and worthy as the exhibits were, I was eager to explore the preserve. From last year’s reports, I expected that walk throughs would only be allowed with a docent escort. I waited for a half hour with EcuaDeb, Capdude and Capsbug but no docents appeared. Many other attendees started walking so we followed and arrived at the lake 3 minutes later.
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An old dam with a trail on top bordered the lake’s southern edge. Looking South across the non-lake part of the preserve, we saw DeVry University.
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Years ago, while caching in the DeVry parking lot, I looked into the preserve and saw deer nonchalantly walking 20’ inside the fence. On Saturday’s trip we saw a running coyote. It’s a nature preserve after all so there’s lots of cover where wildlife can hide.
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The eastern edge of the preserve is bordered by a huge hilltop estate.
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Turning North, the path continued through some strangely shaped oak trees. The main branches all pointed down. We wondered if they were a different species from the ones we’re used to seeing.
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Near the end of the loop there was a strange, out of place, outhouse. It was locked.
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We finished the loop as some kind of Chumash ceremony was taking place at the tents. While I appreciated the opportunity to walk through the preserve I wanted to look for caches.

EcuaDeb and I drove our cars to the nearby (and little known) Sage Ranch Park. Note, that first parking lot is free, but that the 2nd lot at the trail head below is $5.00. We quickly found the parking lot cache Sage Ranch Sunset (GC1E5TD). I’d forgotten my hiking stick so I was glad to find a 6’ long broken PVC pipe next to the cache.
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The foxtails weren’t dried out enough yet to detach (and attach to us) in large numbers.
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A cool breeze kept us comfortable on the “top” of our counter clockwise loop. The air was exceptionally clear. We had great views of Simi Valley.
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I’d previously (2005 / 2008) found 5 of the caches, including the one at “Turtle Rock.”
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I’d also found Sage Ranch Park (GC2CC) atop this uplift area. But it was fun to revisit again.
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We spent a long time searching for this one – which will remain unnamed here. In the end the coordinates were right on. But Deb & I agreed that the cache (a small green camo’d tube in a bush) and placement (straight up the side of the trail) were unnecessarily difficult. It’s not as though any muggle (we didn’t see ANYONE on the trail) is going to accidentally find it.
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It took us just over 2 hours to complete the 3 mile loop. Deb had 12 finds and I had 8.

Yesterday I learned that the nature preserve docents eventually showed up and that people were then required to sign-in and only allowed to hike in escorted groups.

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