MARCH 30, 2016 – HOLLYWOOD SIGN (the hard way)

March 30, 2016

I dimly knew that it was Easter. So I shouldn’t have been shocked to find Lake Hollywood Drive absolutely packed with cars and the sidewalks jammed with people apparently walking to/from some kind of event/service. I was about to go home when a parked car pulled out. I snagged the spot and trekked thru the throng of worshippers to the public easement.
At first there weren’t many people going my way.
My first destination, the hilltop American flag was visible from the official trailhead.
Before I could start I was passed by a stream of 20 somethings.
Only my twin hiking poles let me keep up with them on the steep rocky trail.
Even then everytime I stopped to look at the view more of them passed me. Exactly 1 hour after starting I reached the top. One of the 20 somethings was explaining that the various ammo cans and boxes at the foot of the ‘Tree of Wisdom’ were geocaches! I HAD to interrupt and say, “no they aren’t.” My input was not favorably received but it stopped the misinformation.
Everyone’s attention moved on to other things and I wandered away a few feet and immediately found a cache Ben & Jayme: For the Love of Caching (CG2DD3H). It was in good shape.
I turned around and took pictures of the sea of rock cairns (new since my last visit in December 2013) and the hazy scenic view.
Only a few feet away behind the bush in the picture above stood the flag I saw from below.
I headed East toward the Hollywood sign. By now the trail swarmed with muggles. Many of them sat around resting at a wide spot. But no one knew about the convenient butt-friendly benchmark pedestal, just out of sight. As I sat on it and played with my phone a small child approached and was immediately grabbed away by a concerned parent who probably thought I was pooping behind the bush. Haha! When the coast cleared I walked 9 steps to the obvious (to me) cache Cahuenga Peak (GC5NR2C) and made the find.
I signed the log, returned the cache and rejoined the muggle stream toward the sign. From the main trail I looked down on a side trail and saw 2 men shouting, jumping around and gleefully using sticks to bang something at the base of some bushes. It was almost certainly a case of snake murder. I watched from several hundred feet away and hoped for P22 to spring out from cover and eat the offenders. What’s 2 more skulls in a remote section of Griffith Park? But it didn’t happen…
Here’s the view from there looking back to the “Tree of Wisdom.”
Eventually the trail dropped steeply. Here’s a look-back from the bottom.
Another smaller hill was easily crossed over and the trail merged into a paved road behind the Hollywood sign. The best viewpoint is at the top of the small hill on the left side.
From behind the “H” I gave a telepathic shout out to the ghost of Peg Entwistle. “Don’t Jump!! Your audition was good! You got the part!!”
The hike back was uneventful. I noted that my hiking poles let me descend the rough trail easily while those pole-less repeatedly slipped, tripped and fell.


MARCH 24, 2016 – AGUA DULCE (PCT road/town walk & 2 geocaches)

March 24, 2016

After finally admitting that it’s impossible for me to miss 5 months of work to thru hike the PCT I decided to day hike as many contiguous miles on it as I can, finding caches along the way. I went back to the innermost parking lot (all free) at Vasquez Rocks and walked to the same spot where I started southbound hikes. It was so close to the lot that I was able to turn my car alarm off and on from it.
This time I hiked North, along the edge of the park where there were few people.
But, of course, there was family playing with RC cars at the first cache. I kept hiking. Here’s a picture of the Star Trek themed container that I found there 4 hours later on my way back.
The well marked trail led to the park’s entrance/exit and continued East across the street.
This extended rural road walk was a first for me. At this point traffic was light and I could hear approaching vehicles from a thousand feet away.
The trail turned right on Agua Dulce Boulevard through the middle of ‘downtown.’ This is the supermarket (L) and pizzaria (R) of PCT through hiker legend.
Directly across the street…burgers! They serve cold drinks in Mason jars, very welcome for those who started their hiking day 11 miles away near Acton and for cachers who spent the day at Vasquez Rocks.
On the same block there’s a liquor store and a not-yet-open restaurant. Sadly there are no geocaches.
The PCT continues beyond the businesses. There’s more traffic and one potentially deadly stretch for hikers. I made sure no cars were approaching from behind and then ran through it.
Even though the trail is wider on the East side of the street there are some hard to walk sandy parts. On my way back I found that the narrower West side has less sand and is easier on the feet.
At Sierra Highway the trail turned West and then North again.
It was a relief to finally be completely away from pavement and hiking uphill toward a cache, even if the scenery still wasn’t so great. The upper hilltop in the picture is where I hiked (from the other side) in my February 29 post.
2-1/2 hours after my start I reached my destination cache, one that hadn’t been found in 3 years and 5 months. The Backpacker’s Cache (GCG5QG). I’d expected an ammo can but read on the log that the decon container I found was a replacement hidden more than 4 years ago. The decon didn’t look new but it was still completely intact. And the logbook looked like it was placed the day before even though it hadn’t seen the light of day since December 2012. I would’ve continued up the hill but there were no more caches.
I sat for 5 minutes, turned around and did a reverse hike. The round trip distance, including some side hikes in the park, was 10.05 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. The hike was mostly flat and slightly downhill going back. The temperature never breaking 70 and cool breeze made it even easier. The earliest Class of 2016 PCT thru hikers were still more than 200 trail miles South. By the time the main ‘herd’ arrives in May and June it’s going to be much hotter.