JANUARY 27, 2016 – Indian Creek Trail Head (PCT)

January 27, 2016

With my friend Christine (cacher sissopolis) I tried to drive to Messenger Flats Campground in the Angeles National Forest. Our plan was to hike from there to Mount Gleason summit. She likes forest & snow hiking and I wanted to find the summit cache. But we were thwarted on every attempt by private property and road closures. The route recommended by a hiking blog led to a private animal sanctuary. A helpful local told us that everything beyond was also private property. He pointed us in the general direction of possible routes but we found them also blocked.
012316_02_closed_cme
The left fork here was the wrong road, but it was closed anyway.
012316_01_closed
The right fork ended at an active mine/quarry.
012316_01a_closed_cme
Instead of driving around all day we went to the Indian Canyon parking lot (see Dec 22, 2015 post) where the PCT (mile 444.2) intersects Soledad Canyon Road.
012316_03_parking
We hiked South on the PCT. The trail was immediately uphill. An ammo can cache Cherokee Warrior (GCZQPF) was a welcome stop. Just ahead there were 2 long ago crashed cars in a canyon below the trail.
012316_04_wreck1
There was ample evidence that a lot of shooting goes on here.
012316_05_wreck2
Trail intersections were helpfully marked.
012316_06_sissopolis
From here there was a long flat stretch.
012316_06a_OLdweeb
We met a Northbound hiking Australian family, probably from the parking lot RV. They were worried about large animal tracks they’d seen. I think those were made by dogs. We said goodbye and kept hiking. The sun broke through the clouds and made me regret leaving my sunglasses in the car.
012316_07_colors
At just under 4 miles (PCT mile 440.3) we decided that we were losing more altitude than we wanted to make up on our return trip. We sat down, enjoyed the view for a few minutes and hiked back to the parking lot.
012316_08_clouds
Back at home I read a warning that there’s a big stretch of the infamous Poodle Dog Bush ending at mile 440.0. I’ve always wanted to see it but missed it by 0.3 miles! Pictures 2 & 3 are by Christine, cropped by me.


JANUARY 3, 2016 – vacation’s end

January 3, 2016

Two days after hiking in Acton my new Black Diamond Trail Pro trekking poles arrived. The next day I used them to hike up a hill in Agoura that my geofriend EcuaDeb calls “Heartbreak Hill.” It’s the one on the South side of the 101 at the Liberty Canyon exit. I needed 7 finds to reach 15,000.

I started badly by not finding her trailhead cache Heartbreak Hill (GC46CDN). It was later determined to be missing. Oh well. Anyway, the trail looked innocent enough at the beginning.
01_heartbreak_hill

Then it went up steeply, flattened out, went down and then almost straight up.
02_heartbreak_hill
Finally, at the top I turned South on a ridgeline. One cache was rusted shut. I carefully used my Leatherman Skeletool CX to wiggle open the lid. The log & contents were in good condition. I left a Don_J memorial wooden nickel.
03_rusted_shut
A few more finds but two more DNFs (I think they’re truly missing) had me worried that I might not reach 15,000. In the end I backtracked North and turned West along another broad ridgeline and found #15,000 Ogling The Lady…face (GC2HRK0). “Lady Face,” refers to a neighboring hill said by locals to resemble a lady’s face, when viewed from the North.
04_15000
The trail crossed a paved utility road that I used to descend back to the street. It dropped me a mile West of the trailhead. The walk back was easy.

On Christmas night I drove through light traffic to my desert standby, Barstow. My Garmin Oregon was fully loaded with thousands of powertrail caches. I planned to wake up early and drive 120 miles East to reach them. But dawn temperatures in the 20’s convinced me to stay in bed for a few more hours. By then I decided to stay near Barstow to find caches hidden since my last visit a year earlier. It was still 37 degrees when I reached the Planes Trails Automobiles & Ships series 25 miles West.
11_PTSA
Only 3 caches in, I noticed the bright yellow low tire pressure light. The right front tire looked low and my compressor failed in October. I didn’t want to be stuck so I rushed back to Hwy 58 and to American Tire Depot in Barstow. The crew fixed a nail and pumped up all 4 tires to optimum, FREE! Thanks Manager Mike!! I went back to the PTA&S series and found 7 more caches. Some were within a few steps of the (“open route”) trails and others were park-&-walk. The temperature reached 47 but by then it was windy and it felt colder than ever in my short sleeves & hiking shorts.

The next day I again chose not to go toward Needles. I went back to Hwy 58, exited South on (unpaved) Helendale Rd and turned East on my favorite Open Route, #8800. I took various short side trips to find caches. This one is the most original, best constructed I’ve seen in years.
12_geofrog
The next one contained a $5. bill! Joshua trees in the area are few and scrawny compared to the ones in Palmdale. A rare giant exception contained a cache. I extracted it cautiously without drawing blood.
13_joshua
The temperature again hovered between 37 and 40. I wondered how reptiles could function. The guy below didn’t make it. And no, it wasn’t a cache container.
14_vacant
I usually solo hike on New Year’s Day. But this time the hike was on December 31, with sissopolis & EcuaDeb. We started at Rancho Sierra Vista from the Satwiwa parking lot.
21_group
We went East toward the waterfall & the Danielson monument/grave. That’s Tri-Peaks / Boney Mountain ahead.
22_onward
The waterfall was dry except for a puddle at the bottom.
23_dry
A brief stop at the monument where we rehydrated and ate cookies was interrupted by numerous hikers. Sunlight shining through the leaves made it impossible to take usable pictures. Rested, we continued upward on the Old Boney Trail.
24_boney
Eventually we reached 1,850 feet before gradually (& sometimes not so gradually) descending. We found 9 caches including one at an area with a lot of fossil bearing rocks.
25_fossils
We hiked 8.3 miles in just under 5 hours. The elevation difference between high & low points was almost 1,400 with some ups & downs in the middle.
26_return

I spent New Year’s Day recovering. On January 2 I drove to Zev Yaroslavsky Las Virgenes Highlands Park and was pleasantly surprised to see an official parking lot & trailhead. For years there’d been no signage, confusing chain link fences and a locked gate. Some cachers turned back, afraid of being arrested for trespassing. Now there’s no doubt that it’s a public park. I knew it was, from the beginning when I watched the dedication ceremony on TV. My goal here was to archive 4 caches (NERD, DORK, GEEK, DWEEB) that I hid in January 2011. A fire since then and regrowth totally changed the vegetation. The caches were now in less than ideal spots. I placed a new cache BIRD BRAIN (GC6934N) just inside the trailhead gate.
31_zev
This is the trail going up.
33_burnout
And this is looking back from my 2nd new cache BONE HEAD (GC6935D).
32_lookback
This is ground zero for my 3rd cache DIM WIT (GC6935P).
34_dingbat
I hid 1 more “DING BAT” before continuing up to find 3 caches hidden by others. At the top I looked into a landfill. It seems to be growing!
35_landfill

Tomorrow, I’m going back to work after 16 consecutive days off. Next hike? Probably on MLK Day!