Not Quite

October 9, 2010

My goal today was to get at least one find in each of the 5 quads that I still needed to complete the Ventura County Quad Challenge. I had it all planned out and figured if I could finish it today, I would find the final tomorrow as a 10.10.10 find.

All the quads that I still needed were in the northwest corner of the county.  I wanted to get an early start, so the hiking part would be done in the cool of the morning.  The first quad on the list was Topatopa Mountains, north of Ojai and east of Hwy 33.  It was about an 80-mile drive from home and I started hiking at 7:50.  I walked directly to the first cache in the quad, A pillbottle for Topatopa Mountains.  The 2.6 mile hike took 50 minutes.  I then cached my way back to the truck, getting 17 finds in all.

The next needed quad was Rancho Nuevo Creek.  There are several caches in the quad right on Hwy 33.  I stopped at Manzanita Cul De Sac for a quick find, then got an Earthcache a little farther up the road–Pine Mountain Fault.

The next quad on the list was Apache Canyon.  This would require a 6 mile drive from 33 to the cache on a dirt road.  This is where my plan ran into a roadblock–a literal roadblock.  Just off the junction, the Forest Service placed a big “Road Closed” sign and several barricades.  So much for being able to get a find in all the quads today.

On to the next quads.  Cuyama Peak and Ballinger Canyon quads can be accessed from the Off Road Vehicle area in Ballinger Canyon.  This was my first experience driving in 4-wheel drive.  The roads were really something else.  I took it slow and did OK.  The truck ended up with some new pin striping courtesy of the bushes and scrub oaks along the very narrow “roads.”  Canalón de Agua was a quick find for Cuyama Peak after a long drive.  I decided to keep going farther into the area to find Ballinger Trail 17 for the Ballinger Canyon quad.  That was the most challenging part of the 4-wheeling experience.  The road was steep, narrow and rutted.  When I arrived at GZ, all I found was a chewed up log book among pieces of what used to be the cache container.  I replaced the cache with a round metal tin.  I’m not sure how it will do in the elements, but at least it won’t get eaten.  The drive down the hill and out to the hard surface road was easier than driving in–probably because I knew what I was in for.

One more quad to go–Santiago Creek.  There are 3 caches along the road in Ventura County.  I drove by the first two by mistake, so I turned around and got Orange You Glad We Didn’t Say…,, completing 4 of the 5 needs quads.  Time to head for home.

It was a long day–250 miles of driving in about 11 hours.  The route took me through 4 counties:  Ventura, San Luis Opisbo, Kern, and Los Angeles.  The unfortunate part is that I need to go all the way back some day to get a find in Apache Canyon.   Next time I’ll make sure the road will be open for me.