Year 2000–Santa Barbara One

May 28, 2011

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Geocaching just celebrated its 10th anniversary.  I’ve been wanting to find a cache placed in 2000 for a while.  Today was the day.

Santa Barbara One GC106 was placed on December 28, 2000, so it just qualifies for a 2000 cache.  It is the closest Year-2000 cache to my home.  There aren’t that many–only 4 within 200 miles.

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The cache is located on the ridge that separates the Pacific Coast from the Santa Ynez Valley.  We drove up the hill from Santa Ynez via Refugio Road.  If you decide to go for this cache from this direction, drive to Road Closed, then drive around the blockade.  Apparently it’s there as a liability issue:  the road is open, you are just on your own.

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The road up is of mixed quality–sometimes paved, but usually dirt.  However, the scenery is top notch.

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There are 7 stream crossings at the bottom of the approach–all before the Road Closed sign.  I’m not sure how difficult the access would be after a good rain, but today it wasn’t an issue.

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The trip up to the ridge didn’t take as long as I had expected, but the drive along the ridge took longer than I thought it would.  The best we could do was about 20 miles an hour.  The views are excellent–both toward the Pacific and north to the Santa Ynez Valley and Lake Cachuma.  We drove from 452 ft at the bottom of the canyon to 4702 at the high point along the ridge.

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We enjoyed the wildflowers today.  Yellow seemed to be the color of the moment, but we were also treated with oranges and blues.


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Here is a close up of today’s track from Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara One.  Come on up; it’s a great adventure.


Las Llajas–Chumash Trail Loop

May 26, 2011

In February last year, I laid out a series of caches in Las Llajas Canyon and along Rocky Peak Road. I was hoping to encourage visits to this very nice area.  The caches have attracted attention; most have been found at least 40 times.  Today, I hiked the loop to do some cache maintenance and to pick up the caches that have been placed in the last 15 months.

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Because the day was supposed to get into the 80’s, I wanted to get an early start. I parked where Evening Sky dead ends on the east, then walked back to the Las Llajas trailhead. I began hiking about 6:00 AM.  The morning was cool and clear, with hardly a breeze–perfect hiking conditions.  I made good time up the canyon, stopping at a few of my caches to make sure they were in good shape and swapping in new logs on a few.

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There were a lot of birds active in the morning. I spotted several small coveys of quail and quite a few doves. They must like the morning because as the day got warming I didn’t see anymore quail and only a few doves.

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There are still a lot of wildflowers blooming.  I enjoyed them and so did the bees and an occasionally hummingbird.  I saw one hummingbird that was really going to town on the blossoms on an oak.  That was a first for me.

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When I first hiked this trail and put out my original caches, it was February. All the grasses were green and new. In late May, it was a different story; most of the grasses have dried up and they were much taller and denser. That made for tougher searches for some of the caches.

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I saw lots of lizards today, but only this one  gopher snake.  He was lying along the road, holding still for the photo.

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When I reached the location of Jackpot, I decided to take a 4-mile RT detour to pick up a couple of caches in Devil Canyon.  It was a steep descent on a freshly graded road.  I immediately wondered if this was the best idea; every step down meant a step up on the return trip.  Even with the second thoughts, I kept going.

Don’s He Made Me Do It! was my first stop.  The cache hasn’t been visited since 2009 and I couldn’t find it.  I placed a replacement cache, so if you want to give Devil Canyon a try, this cache at the top of the canyon is available.

Devil Canyon was a nice visit.   I’d only visited once before on a clockwise hike up the canyon, then down Rocky Peak Motorway.  That was almost 5 years ago.  Things had changed quite a bit.  There have been at least 2 fires in the area.  There were a lot of very large oaks that have split in half and have been felled by either winds or by being off balanced.

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The other cache that I wanted to visit is Elin’s Daniel Webster.  This cache has seen better days.  I found it in a hole created when the oak toppled over.  It appears to have been baked in a fire, then rusted out by the rains.  Here are a couple of photos of poor Daniel Webster.

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After finding Daniel Webster, it was time to head back UP the hill to continue my loop.  It was now midday and the sun was a lot warmer that it was on the downhill leg.  This is when I really started to question the wisdom of the side trip.  I just took it slow and returned to the main trail so I could climb another steep pitch.

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Why is it when the trail is the steepest, it’s usually blocking the cooling breezes?  That was the case today–too many times.

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Once back on the main route, I picked up several more caches.  Some of them were a lot harder than I wanted.  I was tired and while stopping for a cache is usually a welcome rest, today it was hard because whenever I stopped, my leg would start to cramp.  It was easier to just keep going.

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The last cache of the day, Make-Up your mind Retro Fit’s, was a particularly hard one for me.  It was hidden under a SPOR–Suspicious Pile of Rocks.   My problem was that I didn’t see any pile of rocks, suspicious or not.  I kept looking because I didn’t want to come back just for this single cache.  Finally I gave up.  As soon as I said, “OK, I quit,” I looked up and saw the cache.  No DNFs today!

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It was a very nice hike, even with the climbs.  Total elevation gained on the 14-mile hike was about 3000 feet.  I recommend the Las Llaja-Chumash loop, but probably wouldn’t recommend the extra 4-mile excursion down into Devil Canyon.  At least not a round trip.

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I’ve included two photos of today’s track.  The first one below shows the track and the caches that I found.   The second one adds a couple of graphs.  The pink line is the elevation profile.  The spiky, purple graph shows my hike speed.  You can easily see where I stopped to search for a cache and also for a rest.

If you haven’t done this loop, or haven’t done it in a while, come on up before the weather gets too warm.  It’s a great hike.


Revisiting Tapo Canyon

May 19, 2011

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I wanted a short, easy hike this morning, so I decided to revisit the trail that I did on April 6th.  My son, Michael, is home for a few days and wanted to go hiking, so off we went.

I missed Groovin’ in the Grove the first time, so that was first on the list.  It was an enjoyable walk to the cache.  There were lots of birds along the way, including quite a few quail.

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The wildflowers are still looking good.  The bees are really enjoying them.   After finding Groovin’ in the Grove–my first try was completely in the wrong place; looking in the right place really increases your chances of finding the cache–we turned around a headed toward Wrong Way “Foo” and Lost in Marrland.  Both were quick finds.

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We saw a bunch of lizards, but this guy was a special find.  I think they look like prehistoric monsters.

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I forgot to reset the track on my GPS, so I wasn’t able to geotag the photo and include a track map of the walk.  It was a perfect morning for caching–sunny, no wind, just great hiking conditions.  On the way home, I got BlowHard, a very cool hide.  I recommend it.  It was my 6800th find.


10 Years of Geocaching

May 6, 2011

W1000074At the Poas Volcano, Costa Rica

Ten years ago today, I found my first geocache.  Actually, I found two that day:  Sage Ranch Park GC2CC and Rock Peak GC217.  I found 4 within the month, then stopped geocaching for almost a year.  Life was busy, too busy I thought for geocaching.  Then I realized that if I kept up that pace, I would soon get burned out.  I needed a hobby.  Geocaching seemed to be just the thing.  I started caching again in April 2002 and haven’t looked back.

DSCN1794At the US-Mexican Border after finding None More Southwesterly GCJMVQ

As of this morning, I have 6,795 finds.  I’ve cached in the United States (27 states and the District of Columbia, so far), Canada, and Costa Rica.

La Jolla HikersAtop Mugu Peak at GC9BD7 Mugu Peak

I’ve found most of the caches solo, but have also enjoyed hiking with friends along the trails in the nearby hills.

At GC18Q79 Poppy’s and Lupin on Figueroa Mountain, Santa Barbara County

My wife, Wendy, is my favorite geocaching companion.  We enjoyed going to places that we would never have know if it was for geocaching taking us there.

IMG_1719In Rural Ohio at GCVJM1 Riverside Village – South

I remember when finding 4 or 5 in one day was a big deal, requiring planning and travel, not the results of 3 minutes driving on a power trail.

Spinal TapCompleting Spinal Tap GC1C4Y4

I’ve hiked the complete Backbone Trail once, then went back and redid most of it in my quest to complete the challenge cache, Spinal Tap.  I’ve quit counting how many poison oak break outs I’ve had along the way.  [And, yes, I do know what it looks like.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I get poison oak by looking at it.]

Heart attack waiting to happen! GC1TARV
Heart attack waiting to happen! GC1TARV on Galveston Island, Texas


Descending into Matilija Canyon near GC1TYC4 Werewolves of London

On top of Stoney PointAt GCF9C Stoney Point, Chatsworth, California

So Happy Anniversary to me!

Here’s to another 10 years of discovery.