JANUARY 29, 2014 – Completing the Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure

January 29, 2014

Completing the SuMMit Challenge motivated me to also finish the Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure (GC18DXW). The object is to find & log the 64 oldest, still active caches in the Santa Monica Mountains, all published before May 3, 2003.

When Paleolith & Don_J created the challenge in 2008 I had 38 of the 64 required caches. But many of the remainder were remote and isolated, away from other caches. Over the years I picked away at them slowly. I made no effort to go after the last 5 caches for over 3 years, until this month. Then I found them all and the final cache in 2 weekends.

The first was Night to Remember and Then Some (GC9EF9). It’s a letterbox hybrid designed to be reached by using cache page clues. Instead I used the pictures in the gallery and my trail knowledge from pre-caching days to hike to GZ. This is the starting trailhead. Years ago I almost broke my leg walking into the yellow bar on a night hike. It was painted black at the time.
SMMHA_los_padres_PH
Anyway after the find I drove West to Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park. I hiked from the parking lot, across the top (N end) of the Sycamore Canyon Trail to So Close Yet So Far (GC5244). This one is an offset cache, listed as a “traditional.” The coordinates lead to a high viewpoint bench. The cache is in the burned out canyon below. A GPSr issue and NOT reading earlier logs caused me to look for an hour before finding the cache. Read the page! And then find the cache within a minute of reaching GZ.
SMMHA_close
It was still mid-afternoon and I drove South on Portrero Road, next to CSUCI to PCH and then to El Matador (GC97AD). This is a 2 part multi cache. I’d driven by dozens of times over the years, either rushing to a trailhead for an early morning hike, or on the way home exhausted after that long hike. And until recently I didn’t know about the free street parking on both sides of PCH. EcuaDeb & mini Deb-2 joined me here and we walked down to the beach for waypoint 1. As planned, it was low tide. We saw starfish, snail shells, olive shells, anemones and some chitons on the way. The final cache was very close to where I’d guessed from seeing the gallery pictures.
SMMHA_El_Matodor
The next day saw me at the other end of the Santa Monicas for Swinging Sullivan (GCA30). It’s another 2 part multi cache. I’d avoided it because of the complicated drive through a residential area to reach the trailhead. Once there it was a short flat hike to the first waypoint. The coordinates to the final were quickly seen and followed.
SMMHA_sullivan_coords
It was a 5 minute drive South to Sunset Blvd and then to the North end of Chautauqua Blvd to reach this easement trailhead for Reservoir Dog (GC577C), a straight forward traditional cache. I walked up to the ammo can hide, 40’ short of GZ. Now, only the final cache remained before I could claim completion of the challenge.
SMMHA_reservoir_TH
I spent a restless week waiting for Saturday to find the final cache. This is the trailhead. There were no other cars in sight. Don_J supplied me with the most efficient route to GZ. Once I was there I looked and looked for the cache. Of course, I hadn’t learned from experience. Without reading the cache page I didn’t know that this was another offset. I cursed the muggle (or cache saboteur) who stole the container and starting walking away with a DNF. Then I read the page…and found that the actual cache was an undisclosed distance up a hill to the South.
SMMHA_trailhead
The hill was partially overgrown with dried out vegetation. On a bushwhacking scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being impassable, the uphill hike was a 2. My alligator-like skin got a few scratches. I was again extremely lucky to almost walk into the cache container. Had I gone through 10 feet in either direction, I would’ve missed it. After 6 years I was FINALLY DONE!! THANK YOU to everyone who hiked with me to many of the caches, to all the cache hiders, to fellow seekers whose logs I continue to read and enjoy, and to Paleolith and Don_J for creating the challenge and maintaining the cache page.
SMMHA_final
With the final find, I became the first cacher to complete all 3 local mega-hiking challenges: Spinal Tap (Jan 2009), SuMMit Challenge (Jan 2014), SMMHA (Jan 2014). Wheeeee!!!

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JANUARY 8, 2014 – Completing the SuMMit Challenge

January 8, 2014

In early December I became aware of the SuMMit Challenge (GC4R94P). The object is to find at least 1 designated cache on or near 24 named summits in the Santa Monica Mountains. Thanks to 9 years of non-stop caching I’d already logged a qualifying cache for 22 of the 24 summits. But my priority was to find 200+ caches to reach my annual goal of 1,200 finds. After that was accomplished on Dec 23, I hiked to log the last 2 summits. First was Mt. Cahuenga.
001_hollywood
The parking area at the North end of Beachwood Drive was full of loud tourists and cars were lined up waiting for others to leave. So I drove around looking for another access point. One false start led to a nice overlook above the Hollywood Reservoir. Later I found free street parking on Lake Hollywood Drive. The cars there REALLY looked like they belonged to outdoors people. Sure enough a carload of well-equipped hikers arrived. I followed them up what turned out to be an easement through a long private street to an official trailhead.
002_reservoir
The hike was a steep switch backing single track up the side of Burbank Peak. I didn’t need this peak for the challenge but I didn’t want to pass up logging Ben & Jayme: For The Love of Caching (GC2DD3H) hidden just a few feet from this viewpoint tree. I looked for a long time, ignoring the big tool chest summit register at the tree base. Eventually I found an ammo can which I thought was the cache. I signed the log and took the ladybug travel bug. Then I walked along the ridgeline and down to a Mt. Cahuenga cache, Cahuenga Flat (GCHPVW). Peak #23 down. A few hundred feet later I noticed that my Garmin Montana was missing. It’s such a troublesome unit that I briefly considered abandoning it. Remembering that it cost $600+ made me retrieve it.
003_viewing_tree
Back at home I was stunned to discover that the ammo can I thought was “Ben & Jayme” was really Thoughtful Spot (GCHPVW) a cache that was last found on 1/29/2009 and archived on 7/11/2010. The TB listed in that cache was in my hand!

Three days later I found myself near the SuMMit Challenge “final” cache. Its page states that finding it before logging all 24 summits isn’t preferred but is acceptable. Here’s the trailhead at the Northeast corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes.
004_mulholland_las-virgenes_TH
The trail runs along and above Las Virgenes Blvd. This bench is close to the trailhead. The water fountain doesn’t work.
005_bench
I wonder what’s being grown below.
006_farm
In my first find of the day I left the TB that was stranded for 5 years in the archived cache.
007_rescued_TB
I found more caches and then the challenge final. I logged a note for it. Then I continued North, hiding 4 caches of my own:

The Fence Walker (GC4W55B)
Split Rock Decon (GC4W55P)
Excalbia (GC4W566)
The Friend Zone (GC4W56T)
008_beyond
On the way out I took a side hike and found a cache here Foundation! (GC1N3C7).
009_foundation
Then on January 1, I woke up early and left to find peak #24, Tri-Peaks (any of 4 potential caches in the same general area).
010_sandstone
I reached Tri-Peaks from Sandstone Peak about 20 years ago after a big fire by walking across burned out ground.
011_tri-peak
But 2 tries in my caching years were unsuccessful due to bad weather and my inability to find a trail. This time I was glad to see signs and thought that the hike might be easy.
012_tri-peaks_sign2
But I lost the trail over loose rocks.
013_lost_trail
I ended up at the eastern edge of the May 2013 Camarillo Spring fire burn zone and had to descend into a ravine to keep moving forward.
014_burn
I hiked through narrow gaps and passed cave entrances.
015_gap
I carried my pack to squeeze between these small trees. It could be days before anyone getting stuck there is found.
016_ravine
Here are the first footprints I saw after crawling through a rock hole and out of the ravine.
017_room_depart
Then the way to South Approach to Tri-Peaks (GC1DRCN) was clear!
018_gz1
It was an easy find and the cache counted as peak #24. Notice that the container is heavily fire damaged. The contents were unburned.
019_melted
From there it was an easy walk on a visible trail to Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View (GCF3B5), a cache that also counts as peak #24 for the SuMMit Challenge. I chose to list this one as my official #24. Additionally, it also counted as a required find for the Santa Monica Mountains History Adventure (GC18DXW).
020_palos_sta_barb_view
Hiking back was scary because I was tired. I avoided the ravine and got through by carefully hugging rocks above it. Somehow I found a marked trail and got home at 5:15pm.
021_sunset
I then logged the SuMMit Challenge as “found!”