Sycamore Canyon and Environs

January 31, 2009

I did a 10-hour, 19-mile journey in Sycamore Canyon and some of the trails leading out of it today on the quest to find all the Backbone Trail caches.  Got 16 finds and a couple of DNFs.

Looking North from the trail to 180-Degree Canyon View

Looking North from the trail to 180-Degree Canyon View

I parked on PCH walked through the campground.  My first find, A cache for Mrs Richmond’s Class, was at 7:00 AM.  I continued through the Canyon, picking up caches without much problem.  On the Found List were Crack Up, Time Out Log, Sycamore Rest Stop, and Seek-a-more Canyon Cache.  Then it was time to head up the west side of the Canyon to find 180-Degree Canyon View and Between Main Trails.  Just as I started up the hill, the sun came over the eastern ridge.  Its warmth was welcome because it was pretty cool in the bottom of the canyon.  I had to be alert on the trail because I was sharing it was a bunch of mountain bikers.  It was interesting how different their reactions to me were.  I greeting each one.  Most of the time they smiled back and said Good Morning.  But there were others who just rode on by without any acknowledgement.

A Peek of Boney Peak from Overlook Trail

A Peek of Boney Peak from Overlook Trail

View from near Two Foxes Burnout

View from near Two Foxes Burnout

After Between Main Trails, I headed back down the trail.  I found She was Wrong! and Two Foxes South, but didn’t have any luck at all with “Bent”, even with some help from Ken (OLdweeb). I looked and looked in all the nooks and crannies, but came up empty.  I found Two Foxes Burnout, then it was on to Hideout.

Hideout was the big disappointment of the day.  I looked everywhere I could think that a cache might be lurking, but only spooked a few lizards.  I decided to take a break and have some lunch.  Perhaps my luck would improve.  Nope, still couldn’t find it.  I figured that I would keep going and give it another try on the way out.

Along the road

Along the road

Love Shack from above

Love Shack from above

I found Two Foxes North quickly.  It just took a little time to extract it from its hiding place.  Then, armed with info from Ken, I headed off for Love Shack.  He and Marty found it a couple of weeks ago and told me that it was on the ground.  I didn’t know that Erik had been by since and that restored the cache to where it should have been.  So it took a little longer with the help than without it.  Then it was on to Danielson’s and up the eastern ridge.

Boney and Toyon

Boney and Toyon

Wildflower along the trail

Wooly Paintbrush along the trail

Blooming Laurel Sumac

Blooming Lemonade Berry

Blooming Ceanothus

Blooming Ceanothus

The trip up the hill took me longer than I wanted to.  I’m sure it was a combination of being too out of shape and the remainder of my bad cold last week.  I did enjoy the views of Boney.  And it was a great day for hiking.  I needed 2 caches along this stretch–BACKBONE ON BACKBONE and A Not So Familiar RingBACKBONE ON BACKBONE is a fun cache–just about what I was expecting.  When I hiked the entire BBT a year ago, I walked by A Not So Familiar Ring and by the time I realized it, I didn’t want to turn around.  So today I had to go all the way back for it.

After Familiar Ring, I continued on to the trail junction and realized that I had cell coverage.  I made a few calls regarding Hideout.  I learned that I was looking in the right location.

Sycamore Canyon from Toe Stubber Trail

Sycamore Canyon from "Toe Stubber Trail"

Time to go down the hill (actually, there is a little bit of elevation gain) to the bottom of the canyon.  I stopped at Not the Backbone, but didn’t do much of a search.  I was tired and it appeared I was going to expend more energy than I wanted to, so I just kept on trucking.  I walked about 250 feet past Toe Stubber Trail before I realized that I had gone too far, so I turned around and went back for it.  I realized that I was quickly running out of gas.

Once I got to the bottom of the canyon, it was time to try Hideout once again.  I really worked that log over.  I didn’t want to need to come back just on this one cache.  I tried everything that I could think of and then a few other tricks.  Nothing!  I finally gave up and headed for home.  I really have my doubts that the cache is there.

Along the 3-mile walk from Hideout to the car, I was feeling that I had really put in a good day’s hike.  I checked the GPS and realized that the hike was going to be 19 miles.  I don’t think that I’ve walked that far in a long, long time.  I also wondered if I had walked all the way to tropical Mexico–I looked up in the nearby tree and saw a flock of yellow and green parrots.  An interesting way to end a very nice (but long) hike.


Plan B

January 24, 2009

I had plans today to hike the east 11 miles of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.  I was going out with several other geocachers.  However, that didn’t quite work out.  The last several days, I have been trying to find off a cold.  I think the cold has won.  I woke up early, looked at the rain outside, and decided to forget about the hike.  It was a good decision.   I’m feeling lousy enough just sitting at home; I’m sure that I would have had a terrible time hiking today.

An e-mail from Don verified that the group went, got rained on for the first 20 minutes, then only needed to deal with some sprinkles off and on and some wet fog.  They also placed several new caches–something to look forward to when I do this stretch in a couple of weeks.


Blood, Sweat, Tears, and a Very Good Day of Hiking

January 17, 2009
Sunrise Over the Pacific

Sunrise Over the Pacific

I had a very good day of caching today.  Three separate hikes and a lot of driving in my quest to log all the caches along the Backbone Trail so I can qualify for a very good challenge cache–Spinal Tap.

The blood—the result of putting my first find–“It starts…!” –back without being careful enough.  Some scratches that wanted to bleed for a while.  The sweat–from hiking 14 miles on a beautiful, and sometimes hot, January day.  The tears–ask me about it when we meet on the trail someday.

The Beginning of the BBT--Ray Miller Trailhead

The Beginning of the BBT--Ray Miller Trailhead

I started hike #1 just before sunrise at the Ray Miller trailhead.  I needed 4 caches along this section of trail–“It starts…!”, Ocean Pacific, This Bud’s 4 U, and Two Views.  While I was at it, I also found The Remains of Eeeww Zoo.  The roundtrip hike to Two Views was about 7.5 miles, with about a 1300-foot elevation gain.

The views of the ocean and the mountains were fantasic.  I could see Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and Catalina.

Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands

Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands

The views of Boney Mountain was also a good one.

Boney Mountain

Boney Mountain

I shared the trail with a number of mountain bikers and quite a few trail runners.  The trails were getting well used today.

La Jolla Valley--One of the views from Two Views

La Jolla Valley--One of the views from Two Views

Two Views was the turn around cache for hike #1.  This hike was my favorite of the three today.  There wasn’t much blooming today, but the Toyon did have some good berries.

Toyon

Toyon

Blooms along the Ray Miller Trail

Blooms along the Ray Miller Trail

I was having some battery issues with my GPS, so I decided to find a store so I would be trying to find caches with a dead GPS.  I drove down the coast to Trancas.  The Howe’s Market had there barbecue fired up, so I treated myself to a tri-tip sandwich.  I wasn’t the best sandwich, but it certainly beat the English muffin and cheese that I had packed this morning.

Along Agony Trail

Along Agony Trail

Restocked with batteries and lunch, I drove up Encinal Canyon and picked up 3 quick caches along the road–Eeny Meany, Southern View, and Take De Tour.  I found the eastern trailhead for Bagonybone and quickly found the cache.  I continued along the trail, found Peak of Agony, and then my problems began.  I decided to make a loop hike, continuing down Agony Trail.  I figured that I could make a quick bushwack from the trail to the highway.  The trail went the wrong way and the bushwhack was a little more than I figured on.  I don’t recommend this loop.  It wasn’t dangerous, just too fatiguing.   I then walked the road back to my truck.  The loop was 1.5 miles.

To get to hike #3, I drove up Encinal Canyon Road, south on Kanan Dune, down the coast to Corral Canyon, and then up Corral Canyon.  I was planning to drive to the end of the road, but that wasn’t necessary.  There is a trailhead about a half mile before the end of the road.

I needed three caches along this section of trail–Reckless Disregard, Caves along the Backbone Trail Cache:, and Hiking the Backbone Trail with some old fossils.  Reckless Disregard and Caves along the Backbone Trail are located in a very interesting geological area.  Here are some photos around this caches.

Near Reckless Disregard

Near Reckless Disregard

Along the Trail

Along the Trail

More Rock Formations

More Rock Formations

The trail had some ups and some downs.  There were great views all along the way.

Oaks along the Way

Oaks along the Way

Palos Verdes and Catalina Island

Palos Verdes and Catalina Island

Hiking the Backbone Trail with some old fossils is located near an abundant field of fossils.

View from Hiking the Backbone Trail with some old fossils

View from Hiking the Backbone Trail with some old fossils

I am writing up an Earthcache to submit for this area.  Here is a photo of the fossils in the roadbed.  They are of the genus Turritella.

Turritella

Turritella

Hike #3 was a 5-mile round trip.  I finished this segment at 5:00.

The total mileage of the 3 hikes was 14 miles, with 2450 feet of elevation gain.  A good day of hiking.


Revisiting the Backbone Trail

January 13, 2009

The Backbone Trail of the Santa Monica Mountains runs from Point Mugu on the west to Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades on the east.  I originally hiked the entire trail as part of National Park Service-sponsored monthly hike from October 2006 to June 2007.  I was the only geocacher in the group, so it made caching, especially for the hard ones, difficult some of the time.  However, I did OK and found most of the caches along the trail.

In mid-December, paleolith and DonJ created a great challenge cache, Spinal Tap, requiring a geocacher to find all the caches along the BBT to be qualified to find and to log the final cache.  The challenge is too good to pass up.  When published, I had 56 of the required 88 caches.

I plan on spending the next 3 Saturdays on the trail.  Hopefully, by the end of January, I will have most of the caches required for this fun challenge cache.



The Bridges are Back

January 13, 2009

After a 10 month wait, my series of caches of historic bridges crossing the Los Angeles River is active. As mention here, in February I placed a series of 10 caches on the historic bridges in honor of them being names as historic-cultural landmarks. All 10 caches were rejected because they were placed on bridges. So I just abandoned the idea of the Bridge caches.

A month or so ago, I decided to relocate the caches off of the bridges and place them near the bridges. Apparently, that’s OK with the guidelines.

Here is the list of the Bridge (near, but not on) Caches:

Riverside-Figueroa Street Bridge 1939
Buena Vista Viaduct 1911
Spring Street Bridge 1928–Still in development
Main Street Bridge 1910
First Street Bridge 1929
Fourth Street Bridge 1930
Sixth Street Viaduct 1932
Seventh Street Bridge 1927
Olympic Blvd Bridge 1925
Washington Blvd Bridge 1931

The area isn’t the prettiest.  In fact, not much about it would bring you here.  But the bridges are interesting.