Caching Point Mugu State Park

September 24, 2012

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This morning, I started hiking the Backbone Trail from the Ray Miller Trailhead along PCH.  I got an early start–6:45 AM–trying to beat the heat.  A couple of days ago, the temp for the area was forecast as a high of 75 degrees.  Not so.  The cooler temps are just a figment of some forecaster’s imagination.  The early start was nice, but it did get a lot warmer later in the day.

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Here is the official start or end of the Backbone Trail.  The first time I hiked the entire thing, we hiked east to west and this was the end of the trail.  Today’s hike began here and headed up the trail.  One of the interesting things about hiking from this trailhead is the sound.  Even though I was hiking up a hill, it sounded like I was hiking on the beach.  I could heard the surf for a surprising long time.

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Most of the grasses are dead and brown, there still are a lot of patches of green in the area.  The micro-climate of this area so close to the ocean is equal to about an extra 10 inches of rain,  even though it rarely rains.

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As I approached BBT – Little Birdie a Chirp’in, I turned toward the cache and a guy on a bike asked me, “Did you find it?”  It was Big Eagle.  I had met him at the SMMNRA Visitor Center once, but it is always nice to meet a fellow cacher on the trail.  We talked about the BBT and the Spinal Tap Challenge and then off we went.

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Shortly after meeting Big Eagle, I had a decision to make:  stay on the loop or drop down into Sycamore Canyon for a few more BBT cache.  It was still early and it wasn’t too warm yet, so I decided to go for it.  Down I went on the Vista Trail, losing most of the elevation that I had gained all morning.

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While I was coming down the trail toward this cache, I almost got run over by a speeding mountain biker.  The guy was a complete jerk.   I met up with him at GIMMIE A BREAK TOO.  I asked him if I hadn’t jumped out of the way, would he have been able to stop. His answer gave me the idea that he wouldn’t want to get his bike messed up in a crash.  Told me that I should confine my hiking to trails where bikes aren’t allowed.  Not a great ambassador for mountain bikers!

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After topping off my water bottles at fire hydrant at GIMMIE A BREAK TOO, I headed west to regain all the elevation that I had just lost.  When I got to the junction of Wood Canyon and Hell Hill, I started in the correct direction (to the left and UP), but So Out of Place was in the GPS and the needle was pointing in the other direction. I didn’t realize the mistake until I had found this cache and Trail’s End up the road. Then it was time to turn around and head up the correct route.

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I had a rough time head UP Hell Hill today. It was noon, the sun was hot and there was no real shade. And it was UP. I’ve hiked this hill before several times with Boy Scouts and have always had to deal with a slow poke or two. Today, I was the SLOW POKE.  It took me about 3 days to get up the hill.

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Once I finally got to the top of the ridge, it was nice to walk on some level ground and also get back on a single-track trail.  And also get back in the business of finding caches.  There are quite a few along the La Jolla Canyon Trail.  I only had a couple of DNFs in this stretch–mainly because I was too hot and tired to spend the time required to locate the caches.

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It was a great day of hiking and geocaching.  12.4 miles and 36 finds.  Today’s track and trail profile is below.

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120924 mugu with caches


Another Morning on the Backbone Trail

September 18, 2012

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This morning, I was back on the Backbone Trail.  Today, I began at the Piuma Parking area (right near DE-COY DE-RAIL ON THE BACKBONE) and hiked west UP the hill.  This was my third time on this section of the trail.  However, the other two times, I hiked east from Corral Canyon.  Today, it was an out-and-back trip to pick up the 6 caches along this stretch that I didn’t have.

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I started hiking at 9:30.  The skies are clear and the morning was warm–warm nice, not HOT like it has been the last few weeks.  The first part of the trail was mainly in the shade and there was also a nice cool breeze to help keep things comfortable.

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All the caches were pretty straight forward, with the exception of HOLE IN WALL.  I DNFed this one in May 2010 and I was on my way to another DNF this morning.  Like my try before, I looked in all the wrong places and was about to give up when I spotted the hiding place.  The next problem was retrieving the cache from behind the cammo.  Not an easy task.  While I was poking at it, a woman came hiking around the corner.  She was able to unblock the cache (perhaps my fingers were just too big) and I had the cache in hand before she headed up the hill.

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The hillside is still quite dry.  About the only flowers in full side are the buckwheats.  I’m hoping that we can make it through the fire season without another disaster like we had when the Angeles National Forest went up in flames.

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The trip UP the hill (including finding the six caches) took about 90 minutes.  1.75 miles and 1065 vertical feet up.  The trip down was quite a bit quicker.  Even though the road is steeper than I like, I made good time.

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Here is the cache list for this morning:

Squeezed In

Yet Another Dam View on the Backbone Trail

HOLE IN WALL

Beside the Slide

In His Majesty’s Secret Service

Scraper  (perhaps my favorite of the day)

I also picked up Malibu Canyon park-n-grab on the way to the trail head.

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Here is a view of my track.  I did not, however, take a zipline or escalator down the hill as the track may suggest.  Equipment malfunction in the tracking function, I suppose.


Ormond Beach

September 8, 2012

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My original plan for today was to do some hiking along the Backbone Trail.  However, with temperatures predicted in the high 90s, I decided on Plan B–a hike along the ocean at Ormond Beach.

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I felt a bit out of my biome.  Usually, I’m hiking in chaparral or through the oak woodlands.  Today was different.  Instead of watching out for poison oak, I had to keep my eyes open for pieces of jellyfish.

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As you can tell from the opening photo, I pretty much had the beach to myself.  Because it is so isolated, the beach and the adjacent dunes are about as close to being wild as you can get around here.  I saw the remains of plenty of former residents of the area, from this pelican to lots of unidentified bones, and even what is probably a harbor seal.

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I understood this walk to be a loop, so I started with the ocean side as my first leg.  I only passed 3 people in the almost 2-mile stretch that I walked up the beach.  I stopped for the occasional geoache along the route before heading inland.

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The area includes two large fenced areas that protect the nesting grounds for the least terns and the snowy plovers.  To get where I thought I needed to go, I had to get to the other side of the northern fenced area.  That took me through a dune area with an occasional patch of plant life holding the sand together.

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A wetlands area is located between the beach and “civilization.”  My route took me between the fenced area and the wet area.

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As I made the turn south, I found an abandoned railroad track which doubled for a trail for me.  It was apparent that I wasn’t where the caches were located and I decided that I was on another Adventure.  So fancy footwork and some creative routing got me back to where I thought I was supposed to be.

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I got fairly close to Ormond Beach Cache #6, but the arrow was pointing on the other side of the fence.  I was sure that the CO wouldn’t have crossed over into forbidden territory, so I kept looking for the cache.  I finally gave up and headed toward the ocean.   After a few minutes, it dawned on me:  the cache wasn’t on the wrong side of the fence, I was.  I found a good place to jump the fence and I was back on the right side of the fence and on the right side of the law.  (I spoke with the land manager near the parking area and told him about my misadventure.  He said “No harm, No foul”  or perhaps “No Fowl” because the nesting season is over.)

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My expected path didn’t materialize for quite a while.  It was free style hiking through the sand dunes until I finally came to this path that lead to the beach in one direction and to the parking area in the other.  My feet enjoyed walking on firm ground.  At this point, I looked up the beach and saw a group of six or seven people heading up the beach.  At the next cache, I learned who they were–a group of Ojai Valley Cachers.  This meant two disappointments:  one, I missed the chance to meet some cachers along the trail and, two, I was probably missing some new geocaches because it seems that the OVC group always places new caches when they go out.  [Note:  Sure enough.  Sunday, 4 new caches were published for this area that I just covered.]

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As I headed back to the car, I enjoyed watching the birds fishing for their lunch in the waterway east of the trail.

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I had a great morning of solitude walking Ormond Beach.  My loop was a bit over 4 miles.  13 finds and the one DNF on the “wrong side of the fence.”  After knocking off the sand, I spent the remainder of my afternoon caching in the Port Hueneme area.  An overall fine day of geoaches in the cool breezes of the Pacific Ocean.


Returning to the BBT

September 4, 2012

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Last Tuesday, I picked up a few caches along the Fossil Ridge section of the Backbone Trail (BBT), with the intention of crossing the street and doing part of the Saddle Peak section of the BBT also.  I decided last week to wait for another day for the second part.  This morning, it was the “another day.”

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Today was a bit cooler than last week and I also got an earlier start.  I think this might be the only section of the BBT that I haven’t hiked more than once.  The first time that I did this section was way back on December 9, 2006.  At the start of today’s hike, before the water tank, I was greeted by a very healthy looking deer.  It was a good way to begin the hike.

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There are plenty of birds calling the holes in the rocks home.  This morning must have been a good time for a meal.  I saw lots of birds reducing the insect population.

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We could easily name this section of trail the Manzanita Motorway. In fact, the final find along this trail for me today is called Manzanita PathwayDirty Harry’s Manzanita is another cache along the way–named for Eastwood Manzanita.
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Today’s hike was an enjoyable 2.7 miles.  The track, with elevation profile, is at the end of the entry.  I found 5 more BBT caches:  To View Two Views…, Saddle Peak Preform, Saddle Peak Shadow, Corner Hangout, and Manzanita Pathway.

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This is the trail head sign that is located on Stunt Road, west of the parking area.  I guess this is the official trail.  I took the path that can be seen from the parking area (it climbs the knife ridge across the street from the parking) on the way in and took the “official” trail on the way out.

120904 Saddle Peak BBT