Sometimes Does it Feel Like You Are Walking in Circles?

February 24, 2012


When I was hiking with Mike (Lightningstar) on Christmas Eve, he told me of his plans for a series of caches that would be a 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, and a 5/5.  Finding the first 4 caches would be required to be able to find the 5/5.  I looked forward to their publication.

I found Witch Wicked Wicaan 3/3 on February 1st.  It was an interesting challenge that required projecting a waypoint to find the final cache.  The cache was a bit of a puzzle to open, but that was all part of the fun.  I got Lightningstar’s 1/1 on the way home.  It was pretty much a park and grab.

simiart and I found Painted Waterfall 2/2 and Serpents Cave 4/4 on February 6th.  We had quite a morning, climbing through caves and hiking up and down the mountain.  The full story is here:  Up, Down, Around, and Through. Rinse. Repeat.  Four down, one to go.

The problem with Cliff Face 5/5 is that it requires a rappel down the face of a cliff.  I wouldn’t be able to do it my myself, on my own schedule.  I would need to wait for some help with someone with the technical equipment and expertise to be able to find the cache.  Or at least, that’s what I thought.

On Sunday, February 12th, Mike lead a group that had found the other 4 caches up the hill with the rappelling equipment.  By all accounts, they had a great time.  RCKen found a way to get to the intermediate cache without rappelling.  Good news for him and great news for me.

This morning, I headed up the hill, armed with the coordinates for the final cache and the tools required to open the cache box.  Little did I know the adventure that was ahead.

5 5 walking in circles

Getting to the intermediate cache was a real challenge.  I had a few ideas that really didn’t work out; the area between Hummingbird Trail and the cache is full of deep crevices.  So I went up, down, and around several times before finally finding my way to the spot where the rappel takes place.   The picture above shows my Drunkard’s Path to the cache.   It took a minute or two of searching before finding Ken’s path to the cache.


Up the ledge I went until I noticed something orange in the sumac.  Success!  Then it was time to figure out my way back to the trail.



I considered calling it a day and going for the final on another day.  After a rest, some water and a snack, I decided to turn back up the hill and go for the final.

The opening photo shows the interior of the cave where the final cache can be found.  The cache was easily located, but a bit tricky to open.  Again, all part of the fun.


The way back down the hill was a combination of trails and going cross country.   A new cache , Pistachio cachio, is located on the way down the hill.  Again, it was the combination of heading directly toward the cache and of avoiding the crevices and cliffs.


Even though you can see the city below, the topography gives you the feel that you are miles from civilization.


Going for Cliff Face 5/5, and the entire series, was a great adventure.  I highly recommend it.  Just be prepared to head up and down the hill several times.  It will be quite a work out.

I didn’t include an image of the entire hike to keep the location of the final under wraps.  Come do the first four caches and you will have the coordinates for the final.

Happy Caching!



Geocaching Can Take You on Some Great Adventures

February 21, 2012

One of the great things about geocaching is the places it can take you.  This Presidents’ Day weekend, we took a drive up to the Central Coast and had a great time.  We found 35 caches along the way.  But even better than finding the caches was finding the areas where the caches were hidden.


Very close to 1 Mile Minus 50 ft? to My Favorite Mission near Lompoc, CA, this is what we see.  My wife noticed the vultures; I noticed the deer.  We did a quick U-turn to snap a few photos.  The birds weren’t too happy to see us, but they certainly didn’t venture too far away from their meal.  I’ve seen vultures cleaning up road kill before, but never a deer.


North of San Simeon, the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery is a great stop.  The elephant seals use this area year-round on a time-share basis.  Depending on the season, elephant seals in different stages of development use the beach.  December and January is the time when everyone is there at the same time.  The bulls come in a stake out their territory.  Then the pregnant females come in to give birth and nurse their newborns.  The baby are weaned after 28 days–growing to about 350 pounds.  Then the bulls mate with the females and soon both return to the sea.  The newborns teach themselves to swim and to hunt, then swim to Alaska to fatten up.


There are several geocaches near the rookery:  SE AL Elephants is located in the parking area near one of the main organized viewing areas.  San Simeon Seal and Sunset Spot is located along the bluffs above the beach and is an very nice walk.  This trip was found White Rocks, located north of the Piedras Blancas Light.  Not far from the cache, we found a great location for viewing the elephants seals.  The bluff is only 5 feet high, so we were able to get very close to the seals without threatening them.  It’s a great spot.


We got a couple of nights of great sunsets along the coast.  This shot was taken near Peace Pipe.


Sunday morning we drove farther up Highway 1 into the southern part of Big Sur.  There were great view of the rugged Central California coastline.  Cash Cache and Slide were a couple of quick stops along this scenic road.  The photo above was taken above Ragged Point Booty, near the Ragged Point Inn.  Because the cache was rated a T4, I was a bit intimidated, but once arriving at the photo site above, I realized that the cache was just down a steep staircase, not really a T4.


I didn’t even mind the DNFs.  Here is the view (photo above) from Shiver me Timbers.  Even though I didn’t get the cache, I got to see some great scenery.


This is the view of the weaners (the weaned seals that are probably 45 days old) view from the area near White Rocks.


We finished our day with a find on the bluffs south of Cambria.  Bushwacker is located along a boardwalk in the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.  It was so nice at sunset, we decided to return the next day.




On our way up the coast, we stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Preserve south of Pismo Beach.  It’s the site of the now archived Virtual cache, Monarch’s Rest.  It’s a place where the monarchs spend a few month in the winter.  Their numbers peaked at about 22,000 this year, but many were gone during our visit thanks to 50-mph winds a week before.  A docent told us that the grove in Goleta had more than 55,000 butterflies, so we stopped there on the way home.  Butterflies! is a cache located in the Coronado Butterfly Preserve.

We arrived about sunset and the weather was very cool.  Almost all the butterflies were hanging together in clumps on the eucalyptus trees.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, geocaching can take us to some great places.  This certainly was the case on our Presidents Day weekend adventure.

All the Way to Bill’s Rule

February 11, 2012


This morning, Foocachers, Gummyfroglightningstar, pianofab, and I set off for Bill’s Rule and points closer about sunrise.  We met at the trailhead near  Roscoe – Valley Circle Park Trailhead, quickly found this cache, then started up the hill.  The last time I was here was Christmas Eve morning.  Gummyfroglightningstar, and I were hiking this as a second leg of the morning.  The idea was to go all the way to Bill’s Rule, but it was clear to all of us that the last four caches along this trail would have to wait for another day.  The wind was blowing too hard and we had used quite a bit of our time and energy hiking down from Woolsey Canyon.  See my blog entry for that hike here.


After a short, but steep, climb to the ridgeline, we waited for Kenyon (Foocachers) and Fabrizio (pianofab) to find and log GC40DC Witchy Wealth  before we headed west up the hill.  There are a number of caches along the trail for Kenyon and Fabrizio to pick up that the rest of us had found on previous visits.

I did identify a spot along the trail that qualified for a cache, so I placed GC3CE25  Bill’s Rule Corollary.  Bill’s Rule states that when hiding a cache on a new trail, always put it at the absolute end of the trail. This way, new cache hides won’t cause you to walk the entire trail a second time.  Bill’s Rule Corollary states that when hiking along a trail that you don’t particularly want to revisit, make sure that no return visit will be necessary by placing caches in all the open spots along the trail.   Kenyon also placed a new cache, Squeezing in a Foo cache .  This will hopefully prevent another climb UP this ridge.


The trail is OK at best and quite steep until it reaches GC194KM You’ve Got Mail.  The trail then becomes a “trail” and sometimes a “??trail??” as it first descends and then resumes the climb.  When we did find a trail, with was very overgrown with brush and we had to fight our way through it.  Often the brush won.


We had no luck with Skull Mountain, but had a good idea that it was missing before we left.  Don, the cache’s owner, gave us a new ammo can for a replacement cache.  Delta Quadrant – Beyond the Pale, Rock Garden Surprise, and Bill’s Rule were all straight-forward finds.  The problem, of course, was getting up the hill to find them.

Delta Quadrant – Beyond the Pale, Rock Garden Surprise, and Bill’s Rule hadn’t been found in a year.  Skull Mountain was last found in June 2010.


It was a very good hike today.  Personally, I found the five caches that I set out to get, placed a cache and have a beta find on another.  And my count for my 5-mile radius is now down to only three.

to bills

The hike covered 2.65 miles and we climbed (and descended) 1140 ft.  It took 2 hours going up to Bill’s Rule (including the wait to find GC40DC Witchy Wealth) and about an hour to return.  The trail profile above it a bit deceptive–the x-axis is too long.  The slope of the trail is MUCH steeper that it appears on the graph.  ; }

Up, Down, Around, and Through. Rinse. Repeat.

February 6, 2012


Today’s adventure was to bag Painted Waterfall 2/2  and Serpents Cave 4/4  of lightningstar‘s series of new caches in the Hummingbird Trail area.  Because Serpents Cave 4/4 requires climbing in caves, I didn’t want to do this alone and invited simiart to be my hiking companion for the day.  LAEd is a co-conspirator on this adventure; he cheerfully rendered telephone assistance at several points along the way.

We parked at the Kuehner trail head and headed toward Painted Waterfall 2/2.  Some of the cachers who found the cache last week had some troubles on their approach to this cache.  We did OK, finding the cache without too much problem.  It was then on to the main event of the day:  Serpents Cave 4/4.


Serpents Cave 4/4 requires finding a series of 3 waypoints, each containing the coordinates of the next waypoint before finding the final cache.  Each step takes you to a cave in the area.  The first cave was the most challenging.  It’s a long, narrow crack that sloped up as you proceed farther into the cave.  It’s a one-way trip, with the cache in the middle of the cave.  Both Art and I missed the cache on the first trip through, so I had the privilege of conquering this cave twice.


The is the interior of the cave.  It’s a tight squeeze.  Luckily, we didn’t get too scratched up.


Art was so excited to have survived the first cave, he couldn’t stop smiling!  I asked him if he would like to go through it again and he told me that he would think about it.  He only had to think for less than a second before figuring out that once was plenty.


The second “cave” wasn’t too far up the trail.  We had to phone Ed for some help with this one.  We were looking in all the wrong places.  Ed vectored us in for the find.  Unfortunately, the coordinates at Stop #2 directed us down the hill, almost where we started after finding Painted Waterfall 2/2.    So down the hill we went.  In fact, we went too far down because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to where we needed to leave the trail.  It was a little extra down and then up, but it wasn’t too much of a problem.


Once we got to Stop #3 and retrieved the next set of coordinates, we had a choice to make.  Did we want to head back up the hill or go home and save the final for another day.  We decided just to take it slow and then headed back up the hill.


We saw lots of rabbits on the trail today.  Another thing that I noticed since my visit a couple of weeks ago was a lot of trail work.  Someone or some group has placed barricades, rocks and brush where mountain bikers has cut the switchbacks and have eroded the trail.  Whoever did this work, Thank You.


We made it to the final and I descended into the cave.  I wasn’t sure how far to go, but I was sure that I wasn’t finding the cache.  I asked Art to place another call to Ed, but I forgot that my phone was locked.  Art didn’t know the code and I could hear him top-side.  While I was waiting for the call to be placed I kept looking and soon had the cache in hand.  The opening photo is the final cache.  It’s a puzzle box that  Mike (lightningstar) built.  I was afraid that I was going to have trouble with the box because I’m notoriously bad with things like that.  It wasn’t too much of a challenge.  I enjoyed Mike’s workmanship on the cache container.  I think it took me longer to but it back together than it did to open.  Remember, this is all done in the bottom of a dark cave with only the light of a flashlight.


Art and I had a nice adventure together.  One of the good things about geocaching is it takes you to places to would otherwise miss.  That was certainly the case today.  We were up and down and up and down and up and down the mountain in some places we would have never seen.

Thanks lightningstar for the nice adventure.  Art and I would like to talk to you about the sequence of these hides.  ; }

Why Do it the Easy Way When You Can Have an Adventure

February 2, 2012


This morning’s hike was supposed to be done on Saturday in 3 parts.  Because a change of plans, I moved the hike to today, with the 3 part idea still intact.  The plan was to go for 4 geocaches:  1)  Park at Lilac Lane and hike down the hill to get  6K Finds Cacher, then return up the hill.  2)  Drive to Chatsworth and walk up the hill to get Rocky View, then go back to the car.  3) Drive back to the Rocky Peak Rd bridge and hike down the hill to find the cache in a crack coordinates and also find Cliff Bottom.  These 3 hikes would clear out the last caches I need in the Santa Susana Pass Historical Park area.


I did start at the Lilac Lane trail head and headed down the old Stagecoach Road trail.  It was a very nice morning–cool, no wind, and clear air.  I was quickly rewarded with the sight of 2 deer bouncing up the hill in the area near Ribbit Ridge .


As I was going down the hill, I began to hatch a new plan.  “What about trying to make this a loop trip?,” I thought.  It would probably be less hiking and would sure to be a better adventure.


About the time I found 6K Finds Cacher, I decided to see if I could make a loop out of this hike.  6K Finds Cacher hadn’t been found since September 2010, but I found it in the first place I looked.  The trail was a bit overgrown, but that wasn’t much of a problem.  It was then on to try Rocky View.



The last time anyone had tried to find Rocky View was a year ago and that visitor was me.  I had the same luck today as I had back in March–a DNF.  I called capdude, the cache owner, and got permission to replace the cache.


The next goal was to find a way to Cliff Bottom .  It was a combination of cross country travel, with an occasionally animal path, and sometimes something that might pass for an actual “trail” that got me to the cache.  Once there, I found a real trail.  Cliff Bottom took a bit of searching; there are a lot of potential hiding spots.  I soon found a suspicious placement of rock and found the cache.


With my newly found trail, I had a pretty good idea how to get where I needed to go next:  cache in a crack.  After hiking a while, things started to look familiar.  I had been in this area a few times before to find Beyond Solstice Stone  and Lizards & Lions & Snakes…OH MY!!   It didn’t take long to work my way back to the old Stage Road and “find” cache in a crack.  Find is in parentheses because the cache is a multi.  I only found the first part.  It contains the coordinates to the final cache.  To find it, I’ll need to rappel down a cliff.  That’s something that I haven’t done in years and I’m looking forward to it.


After finding the cache, it was back to the truck.  Once I got to the road, I walked west to the trail head of another “Stage” road.  This one leads from the road back to Lilac Lane.  I have a couple of caches hidden along the way:  Geocaching 365 Day Challenge  and   Historic Stagecoach Trail–The Phoenix.

My cell phone rang while I was walking through this area.  It was a recruiter for a job for which I had applied this morning.  We had a very nice telephone interview while I was standing in the trail.  Hopefully, something will become of it and I won’t have quite so much time to geocache during the week.

120202 chats loop

Today’s adventure was 3.45 miles, with elevation change of 1345 feet.  It seemed a lot longer for some reason.  It was nice to explore a new area for me–the “trail” between Cliff Bottom and Rocky View.  I enjoy getting off the trail from time to time, especially when it’s a successful cross country trail without injury or poison oak break outs.  Time will tell if I avoided the dreaded PO.  I’ve already do 2 break outs this year.