January Was Quite the Month!

January 29, 2010

January was quite a caching month.  My previous best month of geocaching was November 2009, with 150 finds.  As of today, I have 250 finds in January.  That’s equal to 25% of the 1001 finds I had all last year.

On New Year’s Day, I did an hike in the hills north of Simi Valley and found 14 caches on the trail.  On January 2, Wendy and I did a 105-find-day (a personal best) by caching between Piru and Santa Paula.  On Monday, January 4, I found a couple on the way to work and did a fast caching run down Washington Blvd for several more.    In the first 4 days of the year, I found 134 caches.  That’s a good running start.

On January 9th, I went hiking north of Ojai with the Geo Connection group and had 61 finds.  On the 23rd, after a week of rain, I did another hike north of Simi Valley and came home with another 12 hiking finds.  (Here’s the story.) I’ve decided that a nice hike with a few finds trumps city caching with many finds.

I may do some city caching tomorrow in my home town.  It’s been a while since I’ve geocached near home and there have been quite a few caches that I need to find.  It will be a good way to top off a very good month of caching.

February 1st, I will be in Washington, D. C. for a week.  If I can arrange it, I will pick up 2 new states (Virginia and Maryland) and the District of Columbia.

1/30/10 Update:  With today’s 19 finds around Simi Valley, my monthly total is now 269, with 5554 total lifetime finds.  That excludes beta find that, once logged, will bring the numbers to 270 and 5555.


A Cure for Cabin Fever

January 24, 2010

After nearly a full week of rain, yesterday morning the sun rose in beautiful, cloudless skies.  It was a beautiful day.  I had planned on doing some urban caching in the afternoon, worrying that the trails would be just too muddy to enjoy the hike.  By the time that I was able to go, I decided to give the trails a try.  The day was just too nice to pass on the chance for a good hike.

There were several caches on a trail that I didn’t know within a few minutes’ drive from my home.  So I picked that area for Saturday’s adventure.

Chivo Canyon Trailhead

The trailhead is at a staircase at the end of Chivo Canyon that leads to the bottom of a debris holding basin.  Because of all the rain that we received, the holding basin was doing its job–holding a bunch of mud and muck.  Clearly not the best place to start a hike.  I walked farther down Cottonwood Drive to the asphalt access road and entered the canyon from that direction.  While a little bit farther, it was a good move because I avoided most of the mud.

The River Bottom

The initial part of the hike is up the creek that drains Chivo Canyon.  Normally, this is just a dry river bed.  But, because of the recent rains, there was a good creek flowing and most of the rest of the river bed was covered in silt.  There were some deep footprints in the mud, but I was able to avoid most of it by just carefully choosing my route.

Just beyond the oil seep in Chivo Canyon, there is a trail/road that leads to the west.  The road was in fairly good shape.  It was nice to get out of the river bottom and start up the trail.

GC22K9Y Chivo side canyon was my first find of the day.  It’s located near the beginning of the trail, up the side canyon, hence the name.

GC22TE8 AT THE Y is located at the junction of the 2 roads that make up the loop.  After finding the cache, I decided to take the left path and do the loop in a clockwise direction.  I’m glad a did.  I think that is the best direction.

The road starts passing though some very nice oaks.  GC2295B Xmas Tree 1, GC22TFH BURNT BUSH CACHE, and GC2295J Xmas Tworee are located along the road through these oaks.  All of the oaks have been burned, but most have done OK.  Some of the trees haven’t fared so well and have been killed by the fires and toppled by the winds.

At GC22TZK No-Doze, the road starts climbing steeper and the oaks are left behind.  [Side note and minor whine:  my log for No-Doze showed a little frustration.  The hint for the cache is what I consider a non-hint.  Non-hints are written in the Hint area of the cache page, but offer little or no help in finding a cache.  Paraphrasing,  this “hint” was along the lines of “If you found my other caches, you know what it look for.”  Not too much help if you haven’t found the hider’s other caches.  Other non-hints include “Too easy for a hint” (if I didn’t actually need the hint, I wouldn’t have looked it up) and “Under a rock” in an area that is a rock field.  Rant over.]  Even though the hint was useless, there was a geotrail that took me to a very nicely done hide.

I only noticed a few flowering plants along the route.  Here is one of them.

At the Junction

After No-Doze the trail continues to another junction.  My original plan was to continue west and get Oaky D’oaky and Groovin’ in the Grove.  Those caches are behind me while I was taking the photo above and the trail was pretty steep downhill.  Because I got a late start, I decided to leave those caches for another day and headed up the trail on the left side of the photo.  As I made my way up to the top of this trail, I wished that I had brought along a cache or two for placement.  There are a few perfect places for some other caches long this section of the trail.

GC22KAF Fountain of Youth, GC22TF7 OWL’S CACHE, and GC22TET OAK HIDE CACHE are along the downhill section of the trail.  I also spotted more blossoms.

GC22KA7 Bushwhacked is a little off the main trail on a short spur.  It’s located in another very nice grove of oaks.  I had a little problem with my directions to the cache.  The arrow was pointing (and a geotrail leaded to) the wrong bush that seemed whacked to me.  I then looked where I would have placed I cache and there it was.

GC22TEK FURTHER UP THE TRAIL is farther up the spur.  I have no idea how I found it, other than dumb luck.  It’s a cammoed match case hanging in a bush. This finished the finds along the loop.  I was losing sunlight, so it was time to start for home.

GC22TDW ANOTHER TANK ON THE HILL is located on a road to the south of the loop trail of the main series of caches.  I decided to make that my last cache of the day.

I made it back to the hard surface roads just as the sun was setting.

With a few double backs (I walked by 2 caches and needed to retrace my steps a couple of times), the entire hike was just over 5 miles.  It was the perfect cure for rain-induced cabin fever.

Hike route

Dry Lakes Ridge Loop

January 9, 2010

On Saturday, January 9th, the Geo Connection did a great hike above Ojai, California.  The loop was about 10 miles and we found more than 60 caches.

We met and parked the cars at the end of the trail, near In The Middle Of The Bush In The Middle or Woodo Postos on Grouse. We then drove to the beginning of the hike and parked the cars next to Dry Lakes Trail Head, NOT.  That was my first find of the days–1st of 61 finds.   A very cold wind was blowing and I was worried that it was going to wreck the hike.  But as we started up the “trail,” the wind stopped.  By the time we got to the top, the sun was shinning and warming us.

And up it was!  More than a 1000-foot climb in the first mile.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the hardest part of the hike for me.

We had a good hiking group–12 of us–and I seemed to be in the back of the pack most of the hike–especially on the uphill sections.  I had a chance to get to know Greg (Retrofit ) and visit with Don (Don_J) as we made our way up the trail.

Because I was pulling up the rear, many of the caches were found and replaced before I arrived on the scene.  I did make a point to actually see every cache or its hiding place so I could claim the find.

The views of the valleys and the Santa Barbara Channel were spectacular.  The higher were hiked, the better the views.  We were able to see Santa Barbara Island, Anapaca Island, and Santa Rosa Island, along with the oil platform and some larger boats.

Approaching Dry Lakes View GC1TC9R

This view is what we were dealing with most of the morning–climb up a hill, just to descend so we could climb another.  And the ascents and the descends were quite steep.

Don and Marty

Descending toward Probably a Great View GC1TAR7

Ascending Again--Toward Cracker Pile GC1TFCN

Leaving Rock of Ages GC1TAND

After lunch, we were actually on a regular, normal trail for a while.  Then it became one of the worst trails I have ever hiked.  It was often a narrow channel, filled with round rocks–baseball to large grapefruit sized and larger–usually on a steep part of the trail.  It made for hard hiking.  You had to look for every step and then you weren’t sure if you were going to go for a slip-sliding ride or not.

Robb with the Final Cache of the Day-- Bienvenidos a Ortega GC1NP95

In spite of the bad condition of the afternoon trail, I enjoyed the hike.  Would I recommend it to others?  Only with reservations.  It is probably the toughest 10-mile hike that I’ve done.  Even though I had to take it slow on the uphills, I didn’t mind.  What I didn’t like was the extremely poor condition of long stretches of the trail in the afternoon.  It is potentially dangerous.  In the afternoon, when you are tired, you have to deal with the bad trail conditions.

All in all, I’m glad that I did it.  And it’s always nice to get together with the Geo Connection group.  And logging 60+ caches while hiking is another plus.

Click for Full-sized Map

Trail profile--Actual distance was a little over 10 miles

105 Finds in One Day

January 2, 2010

Wendy and I took the day and did our first true power caching day–105 finds–by doing MaxGold’s 126 on 126 series.  It was a beautiful day for caching.  The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the hills were showing off their new blanket of green grass.

My previous best single day of caching was on November 21, 2009–70 caches.  We eclipsed that and kept on going.

While it was fun to rack up a big single day number, I don’t think that I’m going to be a great power cacher.  I don’t get a kick out of getting a cache, driving 528 feet, finding another and repeating it all day long.

While the company was great and the scenery was interesting, the stop and grab, stop and grab started to get old.  Perhaps it was the headache that I had off and on all day.  I’ll probably do it again when the opportunity presents itself, but deep down, I think I am really a hiking geocacher.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010

I did some post-Christmas housekeeping jobs around the house and then decided that some New Year’s Day geocaching was in order.  There were some caches close to home that I’ve had my eye on so today was the day.

One of the great attractions of geocaching is being guided to places you that you have never visited.  Today, I found a great place to hike that less than 3 miles from my home.

The hike was windy, especially on the ridges.  The photo below was taken at Wild Animals (we are glad don’t live around here!).

I did the hike clockwise, which I think is the better direction.  After returning to the car, I decided to grab a few more.  I DNFed The big tree–too much trash in the area for my taste.  I started heading toward Above The Big Tree, but realized that the better approach would be from This is the End, so I drove to that cache and parked right next to it.  Hiked up to Above The Big Tree, then on to OUT IN THE OPEN.  There is a cache west of OUT IN THE OPEN, in the bottom of the canyon.  I didn’t want to return to the car, then walk up the canyon to I dumped my cache, so I just went cross country down the hill almost directly to the cache.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year.   And I hope to meet you along the trail, or perhaps looking under a light pole skirt.