NOVEMBER 29, 2014 – Ridgecrest (driving series’)

Ridgecrest is a hotbed of desert geocaching. But somehow I’d never been there. Information from friendly local cachers convinced me that the multiple series and semi-power trails would get me closer to my annual goal of 1,200 finds. I made 2 trips in 10 days. The big pluses were $36.99 online/night for a decent room [#1 on map] only 3 minutes from the start of the President Series [#2 on map].
01_motel_6
00_map
That series is similar to Planes Trains Ships & Automobiles near Barstow, flat hard packed dirt except with more bush hides instead of rock piles. It can even be done in a Prius.
02_presidents1
Someone was lazy. These tracks led directly to, and circled around, William Howard Taft (GC44A0A) the only cache that was far (200’) from the marked trail.
03_presidents2
Note that there’s no direct exit to the 395 from Grover Cleveland GC2N3DZ [#3 on map]. Instead a dirt track parallels the 395. At 1 mile North, just before reaching pavement (& the Food Series) at Bowman Rd, there is a big dip across a stream bed and a short but very steep & sandy uphill [#4 on map]. A high clearance 4WD is a must here.


The Food Series, going West from the 395 is on pavement at first. Almost all the caches are on the N (passenger) side which is good because pickup trucks speed by every minute or so. You still have to walk up an embankment each time but at least the caches are close. Most are within 50 feet of the road. After Chocolate Pretzel Rings GC3BX72 [#5 on map] the pavement ends and there’s a moderate dip before continuing on dirt.
04_food1
Once off the pavement, there was almost no traffic and it was smooth flat dirt until the W end of the series.
05_food2
There’s less desert trash farther out from the city and the scenery is better.
06_food3
These clouds looked like a fleet of flying saucers. BTW the Independence Day sequel was announced this week.
07_clouds
After finding the westernmost food cache I drove back to Motel 6. On the way I was surprised to see more food caches. And speaking of food I had dinner down the block. There I overheard 2 younger guys talking very knowledgeably about desert “TORTII.” There’s no mistake, they repeated it several times. Sorry, I don’t care what anyone says but the plural of tortoise is NOT “TORTII.”

Later I studied the gc.com map. It showed food series caches scattered E-W and that there was another group of about 40 of them a few miles outside of town to the East [#7 on map].
000_map2
I found those the next day. While looking for the starting point I drove along the back fence of what looked like a concentration camp for horses and donkeys. The facility could ONLY be government designed/run, so I didn’t take any pictures [#6 on map]. A google search showed this: BLM Wild Horse & Burro farm. Anyway the food caches East of Trona Road are on a sandy dirt single track. A 2WD car can do this part if driven carefully. West of Trona Road the road was unmaintained pavement [#8 on map].
09_food_E2
To save time I didn’t climb up to look for the non-food cache here, Tuffa Spires (GC49BX6). This was a good decision because 2 days later another cacher scoured the top and DNF’d.
08_food_E
Then I found the 40 Northernmost Trona/anorT series caches [#9 on map] for a total of 218 caches in 1-1/2 days.

Nine days later I went back to Ridgecrest and found the remaining 160 Trona/anorTs & a few non-series caches. See Trona #01 below. My understanding is that the 100 cache Trona series was placed South to North, spaced just over 0.2 miles between caches. Then sometime later another series, anorT was placed in the gaps, North to South. I saw no difference between the caches. They were all a mix of containers: 35mm, prescription, diabetes test strip holders, shotgun shell casings. About 1/3 of them were hardwired to roadside bushes. Most were less than 20’ from the road.
10_trona1
Notice the wide dirt shoulders. Any 2 wheel drive rental car can easily handle caching here. Tire tracks showed that some cachers drove completely on the dirt. But I carefully looked back and drove on the pavement between caches. The “GEOCACHING” sign on my Forester tells law enforcement or potentially suspicious locals what I’m doing. I hope that it also prevents people from wasting their time to stop and ask if I need help. I saw no Sherriffs, rangers or patrols of any type and the only people who stopped were 2 quad riders who I think wanted me to move out of their way. I didn’t and they had to make a 10’ detour onto pavement to go around.
11_trona2
In 2 trips and 15 total hours of caching I found 381. Thanks to the Ridgecrest cachers whose advice was put to good use. And thanks to everyone who took the time to hide and maintain all the caches. I know that’s not always easy in the desert. I’ll return for the hiking series (Signal, geosymbol, gridlocked, etc…) after I reach 1,200 for the year.

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3 Responses to NOVEMBER 29, 2014 – Ridgecrest (driving series’)

  1. MzBizkitz says:

    Love the sticker on the back of your Forester, you hear of so many people having to explain themselves to the police but at least you know that they’re doing their job out there! Glad that you didn’t have any problems with them in the end!
    Thanks for sharing :o) Sounds like you had a great time!
    Bex

  2. oldweeb says:

    It’s a taped-over strip of paper with 3 strong magnets. I’d rather that law enforcement or locals think, “oh another one of those,” instead of what’s that guy doing? dumping trash? taking tortoises? A decade and a half into the game I’d expect most desert people have at least heard of geocaching.

    • MzBizkitz says:

      Ahhh, a homemade sticker, I did wonder where you could get one that was so big! At least it seems to have done the trick though, I think Geocaching has been a great source of income on the power trails through the desert from what I hear…the locals are probably glad to see you!

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