Johnson Motorway

March 28, 2011

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A couple days ago, I noticed a new power trail pop up close to home. Gummyfrog and lightningstar had loaded the Johnson Motorway with a new crop of caches. I posted a note at San Fernando Valley Geocachers that I thought the trail would be another good excuse for a group hike.

This morning, I started early working on my job hunt. [Side note: If you know anyone that needs an accomplished human resources professional, please keep me in mind and pass the information on to me. End of unpaid announcement.] I knew that I wanted to get in a short hike today for the exercise, but when I noticed what a nice day it was becoming, I thought of the Johnson Motorway trail and its new caches.

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I decided that I would take my dog, Trout, along on the adventure. The last time he was out, we needed to take him to the vet because he charged up and down the hills so fast that he ended up with tendinitis. He also is grounded from the hills once the foxtails are sharp. He once inhaled some and when they started coming out his belly, we knew he had a problem. The vet had to open him up and clean out the foxtails. One even worked its way into Trout’s liver.

To get from the parking area to the car, you need to walk through a very exclusive neighborhood of giant houses. When the area was subdivided, the developers were required to establish an easement for hikers and mountain bikers. Signs on the gate remind the hikers that if they leave the county trail, they are TRESPASSERS. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the houses.

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When we arrived at the first cache, go left young man and found a blank log, I realized that I was probably in for a string of FTFs. I haven’t tried going for a First to Find in probably 7 years and today I racked up 12 FTFs. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I had a few DNFs and also didn’t go for all the caches that Gummyfrog and lightningstar placed, so for you FTF hounds, there are still a few caches along the trail looking for a find.

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It was a beautiful day for the hike. Sunny, clear, an easy breeze–perfect conditions for hiking up the hill. Because of the recent rains, the trail was muddy in places, but, for the most part, was in good condition. One added bonus of the soft ground was the ability to do a little tracking. I was able to find several caches by following the owners’ foot prints to the caches. Many of the caches don’t have hints, so the help was welcome.

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One important note: Many of the caches are located exactly where I would expect to find a rattlesnake. Fortunately, no snakes today. [Normally I like spotting snakes, but with a very curious dog “helping” me today, I was happy not to encounter any rattlers today.] Please take appropriate caution–don’t put your hands anywhere you haven’t checked out; use a hiking stick to bang on the couple of metal culverts before reaching in; well, you know the drill. P1010982

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You didn’t know that you can find Trout in the streams on the trail, did you?

I had trouble with a few of the caches. flat top was my first DNF. I looked for too long, then e-mailed Bart for some help. He called me back and described where to look. I tried it again on the way down the hill and got the same result–DNF. The description for Cavewall warns of danger if you take a misstep. Since I was hiking solo, I didn’t want to push my luck. I checked out the appropriate and decided to wouldn’t even give this one a try today. Johnson and Johnson also gave me some trouble. I checked a lot of places, but just couldn’t find the right spot. I did find quite a bit of poison oak leafing out near GZ. I came to the same conclusion as I did with the previous cache–maybe another day.

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Even with the few DNFs, I had a great adventure today. I will hopefully return soon with some cachers who have better skills and eyes to find the caches that I missed today.

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Thank you, Gummyfrog and lightningstar for the new caches. I’m surprised that caches haven’t been placed along this very nice trail earlier.

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Today's track--with a minor glitch at the end

The out-and-back hike from the parking under the 118 at Iverson to the turnaround spot at Johnson and Johnson took me 5 hours exactly, covering 6.74 miles or so. (The last part of my track was recorded as a straight line.) Got 12 finds, 3 DNFs, and 1 DNA–Did not Attempt.

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Happy Camp Loop

March 12, 2011

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Several months ago, I noticed a series on new caches along the Happy Camp Loop and wanted to plan a trip.  Things got in the way and the trip had to wait.  I’m glad that it did because the number of caches along the trail have doubled in the last few week.  There are now more than 40 caches.

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I posted a notice on the San Fernando Valley Geocachers website and we soon had a good group for today’s hike.

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We began the hike at  Happy Camp Trailhead West about 7:45 and we were off.  Somehow our group of 17 soon fractured into 3 groups, hiking on 3 different trails.  After a bit, we were all back together and were on our way on the clockwise 12-mile hike around the loop.

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It was a perfect day for geocaching–not too hot, not too cold, not wind, and a nice sun.  We did the entire loop without a DNF and also picked up 3 FTFs along the way.

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We encountered 2 nice-sized rattlesnakes, but they were both too timid to pose for photos.

I enjoyed the day every much.  It was a very nice hike.  It was nice collecting 43 finds without a DNF.  And it was especially nice sharing the day with a very nice group of friendly geocachers.


Santa Susana Pass Park Revisited

March 10, 2011

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This morning I went back to Santa Susana Pass Park to look for a few
caches that I didn’t have time for last Friday.  I parked at the
trailhead entrance near GC2G5RZ through the back door and made the short walk to PARK VIEW CACHE.    I then made my way over to GC2NHW8 IN THE CORNOR.  Both caches were quick finds.
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I wasn’t so lucky with  GCZ7T4 Earthquake.  A previous log mentioned that it was a quick find.  I even called the John,
the cache’s owner.  Even with his help, I couldn’t locate it. It was then on to ALONG THE ROAD for another quick find.

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The final cache on my list for this morning was another of capdude’s caches, RockyView.  I had the same results as I did with Earthquake, a DNF.  I approached from the wrong angle, couldn’t figure out the correct elevation, and just generally had a tough time with it.  I guess it just wasn’t my day for John’s caches.

Even with the 2 DNFs, I had a great morning walk.


Conquering Stoney Point

March 8, 2011

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For years, I have let “Stoney Point” intimidate me.  It’s one of the earliest geocaches in the area, having been placed on July 4, 2001 and sporting the low GC number of GCF9C.

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Some of the photos on the cache page show children, so I figured if they could do it, so could I.  I asked Don for the best approach and I was ready to go.  I started for the cache just as the sun was rising this morning.

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I stopped at Time Heals All on my way in.  I DNFed it–the last few logs say that it’s in bad shape, so maybe I’ll have better luck after it’s replaced/repaired.

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When I arrived at  “Stoney Point” ‘s GZ, I started my search and came up with nothing.  I was about out of time and was just about ready to settle for a double DNF for the morning.  I looked in the first place I looked one more time and there was the cache!  Success!  I just didn’t look far enough under the overhang.

 

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The last log mentioned that the cache was hard to open and I found the same problem; I used my knife to pry to lid open.

It’s nice to have this one finally in the found column.


Santa Susana Pass Park

March 4, 2011

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I started the day with the idea of going the Stoney Point for several of the caches in the area.  When I got out of the truck, I was almost blown over, so I opted for a quick Plan B.

Plan B was a stop for Grave Guard.  Nope, not today.  I wrote the owner and learned that I was looking in the right spot.  It’s either MIA or my geo-senses are getting dim.

After the visit to the cemetery, I decided to go for Don’s Stairway To Heaven.  First, I stopped by CEMETERY VIEW before heading up the hill for the stairway.

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I always enjoy the view of the sandstone cliffs on the west end of the Valley.  The walk to the cache allowed for an up-close-and-personal view.

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The approach to the cache required climbing steep “stairs.”  I didn’t have too much of a problem going up; it’s going down that my knees don’t like.  The photo above is the view from the cache.

After descending the Stairs, I decided to find some of the other caches in the area.  I enjoyed walking around the area while finding LOOK TO THE PEAKS, Y IN THE TRAIL, and Boulder Cache! The soft grass is still out and the foxtail aren’t yet in the pokey stage.

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The last cache of the day was The Edge.  The cache is about 300 feet off the trail, but that doesn’t really describe the approach.  It’s 300 feet of moderate bushwhacking while climbing to the base of the cliffs and then up on to it.   The final approach requires some crawling along a narrow ledge to get to the cache.

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This is the view from the cache.  It’s a great view, but sometimes I wonder about some of the things we do to get a find.  I didn’t think that it was dangerous–if it was, I wouldn’t have attempted it–but it was a bit challenging.

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The photo above shows the location of the cache from a distance.  The photo below shows a closer view.  It’s on the angled rock in the middle of the photo.

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The rains have started the wildflowers.  I had some other photos, but today’s wind made sure the flowers were out of focused and blurred.

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It also looks like it’s going to be a good year for poison oak.  It’s leafing out big time.  Here is a large clump near the trailhead, backlit by the late morning sun.

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The Google Earth view of my wanderings today is below.  Six caches in a little more than 2 hours of running up and down the hills.

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