MAY 29, 2013 – Always Have a Back Up: Plans B & C

May 29, 2013

The new desert megatrails in Nevada and Arizona are safely out of the range of my solo weekend excursions. But f0t0m0m’s Cadiz Cache4xing (CC4X) Series of 400, South of the Route 66 Shield was juuust within reach. And I couldn’t pass up the $32./night holiday weekend rate at the Days Inn (Barstow). After a late Friday arrival, I woke up early and drove 80 miles to the Kelbaker Road off ramp. Coincidentally, this is also the off ramp for the Route 66 Shield Series. More on that later.
Some new caches on Route 66 at Cadiz got me started.
Just as I thought that my Prius would’ve been OK here, the pavement ended at a railroad crossing and the CC4X series began.
This sign was a reminder that other cachers reported flat tires and getting stuck in sand.
Immediately the road was rocky. Most sections were very wide, enough for me to drive around the roughest looking parts.
The caches were all on the right side, spaced .1 to .12 miles apart. F0t0m0m’s coordinates were ‘right on’ as usual. But I didn’t look at the arrow very much because some combination of tire tracks, geotrails and SRPs (Suspicious Rock Piles) was usually visible. Here’s an extreme example.
I carefully avoided dips in the road and sharp looking rocks. Progress was slow and steady. After cache #84 there was a 300’ dry wash crossing of deep sand. Earlier I’d crossed some smaller ones without problems. But this one looked especially treacherous. I scouted it by walking across to #85. On my walk back I decided that getting stuck, in either direction, would’ve been disastrous. So I turned around and left. Multi vehicle groups with 4WD should have no problems getting through where I turned back.
On the way out I appreciated a picturesque old railroad crossing that I hadn’t even noticed going in. Note that I didn’t see a single car or person in either direction. Weirdly for being so isolated, I had 4 bars of Verizon 3G signal most of the way. I constantly checked e-mail & facebook and even received a phone call.
There was still plenty of daylight so I switched to Plan B and went back to the Route 66 Shield to hike the 30 caches in the outside edge of the eastern “6.” As mentioned in a previous post, all of the caches in this series are green plastic prescription containers wired to bushes about 2’ off the ground. For some reason the combination of this container, its attachment and placement are extremely hard for me to handle. Finding them is never a problem. Reaching for, opening and closing them somehow throws me off balance and gives me a sore back, shoulders and hands.
After 126 total finds for the day I drove back to Barstow…only to go back to the shield the next morning. I then found the 10 inner caches of the eastern “6.” Here I learned that the series is actually NOT completely flat. There were plenty of breaks in the 4’ natural barrier to make crossing easy.
I drove to the top of the shield hoping to hike to all 60 unfound (by me) caches. The temperature felt like the mid 80’s. But after seeing 2 weather sites on my Android showing 95 degrees, I started feeling the heat and slowed down, a lot. I didn’t want to end up like this guy so I cached my way back to my Element.
Oh well, I found only 24 in the top of the shield. It was time for Plan C.
Plan C was to find the 20 caches at the west end of the Route 66 series that popped up after my last previous visit. The 20 mile drive in air conditioned comfort recharged me enough to find them all plus the legendary Can You Find It? (GC1ZP2J). I expected to DNF and really just stopped by to look at the sea of rusted old cans. I poked around half heartedly and was shocked to see the cache in about 3 minutes. At first I thought it was a throw down container dropped by some frustrated cacher who refused to leave with a DNF. But the log was full of signatures.
The next morning I got a late start and drove through the desert to Lancaster and home, stopping for 18 finds along the way. My route was: Rte 58 (fwy), Open Route 4800 (dirt), Avenue G, Avenue H, 14 Fwy, 5 Fwy, 118 Fwy, home. The total for my 2+1/2 day trip was 204 caches (70 were hiking) found with no DNFs.