December 3, 2016
In late December 2014 an off road flat tire near Yermo ended my caching for the year. Because it was Christmas vacation and a replacement tire wasn’t available until January, I couldn’t complete that year’s goal of 1,200 finds. Though I eventually bought all-terrain tires I didn’t put them to serious use until last weekend.
I went back to the desert west of Barstow to find an add-on set of caches in the Planes Trains Automobiles & Ships series. The day started on a familiar road south of Hwy 58.
As I drove to look for a way to reach the new caches the horrifically revolting stench of a massive manure farm almost made leave. See the long poop pile across the middle of the picture. It was a mile away and the air still reeked. When I picked off a few stray replacement caches I learned that swarms of flies can function in 41 degree weather. I feel sorry for whoever goes caching there in warm weather.
Eventually I reached the northwestern most cache and found that the new caches were cross country, along what appeared to be abandoned airport runways. I parked and started walking and finding a cache every 600 feet or so.
This one fooled me. I picked up an ancient SPAM can expecting to find a log inside. But it was empty. The real cache was a big decorative lantern a few feet away. Oddly, one of the last finders on the log was “Team Spam.” Maybe they left the old can.
Some cachers are driving (illegally, I believe) cross country. In these cases I walked on the tire tracks that invariably stopped at every cache.
Occasionally there was a large cache. They were stuffed with swag but no geocoins or pathtags were found.
Most of the caches were smaller cube shaped tins. I exchanged signature items in some of them.
After 37 finds with no DNFs I drove back to my motel in Barstow.
The next day I drove north on the 15, exited onto Fort Irwin Road and drove to cache: Boring (GC22YRE). It marked the exit for R. Boring Rd, a way to the back end of the Phonetic Alphabet series. Caution – Starbright Mine Road is a more direct route but the parts I saw were overgrown and had deep soft sand with no end in sight. R.Boring Road, on the other hand is sometimes rock strewn but was easily passable in my Subaru Forester.
The alphabet caches placed since my 2014 visit were quickly found and I turned east toward Paradise or Devil’s Well (GC5H63D). It was a few hundred feet off road.
The arrow points to my Subaru. I was lucky to find the big cache right away. If it had been small and or if the coordinates hadn’t been so accurate, I could’ve been there for a long time. This was my 11th find of the day.
A half mile farther southeast I found a small hilltop and set up my low power (5 watt) ham radio and new loop antenna. The usual city background static was absent in the quiet desert. I was surprised to hear so many stations. I talked with some on the east coast and one on Washington Island in British Columbia, Canada. Then just as I noticed the ants crawling on me a stream of 17 motorcycles and ATVs roared by and some peeled off to ride up the back side of “my” hill. All of them were incredibly loud and kicked up HUGE clouds of dust. So I packed up and went back to Barstow. The timing was good because it started to rain an hour later.
July 6, 2016
I didn’t cache or hike for almost 2 months. Then at a biometric screening to apply for an insurance discount I was classified as “OBESE.” I got the first time participation discount but won’t qualify next year unless I’m less rotund. So I re-started doing the only exercise that I enjoy, cache/hiking. On the 4th I drove down the Camarillo Grade to PCH and found 6 easy park-&-grab caches.
At the Ray Miller Trailhead parking lot in Point Mugu State Park I immediately saw that the popular La Jolla Canyon Trail was still closed due to last year’s rock/mud slides. (‘aerial’ photos later) Possible penalties for being caught on that trail were posted as expulsion, citation and arrest. Still, hikers and dog walkers ignored the sign and walked in.
But my destination was a hike in the other direction, toward PCH and the beach.
Here’s the trailhead that I’d never noticed on previous visits. It was probably overgrown and hidden before the 2013 Spring Fire. Though I didn’t encounter another hiker all day, there were many footprints. And I’m still not convinced that it’s an official trail.
The initial climb was rock strewn and very steep. Here’s the view South along PCH. Note ‘The Great Sand Dune’ in the background and that no beachgoers were in the water. California tourism officials probably don’t want potential visitors to know that So Cal beaches in summer are often overcast. And the ocean is COLD.
The trail continued on a ridgeline with a drop off on both sides. I knew that a sudden blast of cold ocean air could send me flying over, rolling through cactus to the bottom. So it was a relief when the still steep trail grew wider shoulders.
The inland (N) view from First Flateau (GC4T1ZX) showed the rock/mud slides on the closed La Jolla Canyon trail.
This is a closeup near the top arrow. It’s what’s left of the waterfall and the trail going across and above. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be passable anytime soon.
Back to caching…
The last of the 4 trail caches was here. I found it by geosense because the coordinates bounced weirdly, more than I’ve ever seen.
Instead of continuing on (& upward) to Mugu Peak which I’d already visited via another trail, I turned around. On the way back I sat on a very flat rock to appreciate the view.
The inbound hike was a 750’ climb in 1.4 miles, unexpectedly easy for me despite being “obese.” Trekking poles are recommended, especially for the downhill return trip. Note to Spinal Tap cachers, from the same parking lot the BBT western terminus trailhead and the trail itself are open.
April 30, 2016
From Warner Springs I drove to San Diego for 2 days of bike caching. First stop, Mission Bay. Immediately the front brake assembly fell apart. So I rode around with the rear brake only. I was careful to not roll off the dock at (GC5ZWW0) Barbras Previous Intention [no typo].
Some caches weren’t so scenic or easy, Bike Bridge (GC3HNYB).
The next day I worked my way south by vehicle along San Diego Bay, unloading my bike near cache clusters. This is Harbor Island. Oddly, there’s no bike path here even though there are bikes for rent.
I stopped at a random parking lot to get my bearings and stepped out to find an easy cache just a few feet away, Marina Gateway: National City (GC1WB6J). I think that this is Supergirls’s adopted home city.
Most of the caches along a stretch of the New Bayshore Bikeway seemed to be missing. I wondered if someone removed them. The one here, a magnetized tin, should’ve been easy, Friendly Fisherman (GC4JZ4B).
The view from just a few steps away made up for the DNF. There was no cache on the pier but I rode to its end.
My luck was better along desolate parts of the bikeway where there were no muggles.
As a non-athletic 55 year old, I count myself fortunate that in 5 days I hiked 25 miles, biked 10 and found 57 caches with no bodily breakdowns. Someday if my luck runs out I hope that it’s on the trail, hiking or biking and not attached to a bunch of machines in a hospital.