Another Great Day on the Backbone Trail

October 8, 2012

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For the past several weeks, Don_J and I have been trying to schedule a hike for the easternmost segment of the Backbone Trail.  The weather hasn’t been cooperating; it’s been way too hot for a long hike.  Today, the weather was perfect for hiking.  The morning started out overcast, but the day cleared and was just right for the hike.

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Don and I met at the end of the trail–at Will Rogers State Historic Park.  Getting to the Park might have been the toughest part of the day.  The southbound traffic through Topanga Canyon was a mess.  We left my truck at Will Rogers and then drove to the beginning trailhead off of Cheney Drive, just down the hill from our first cache of the day–She Came in Through The Bathroom Window .  Driving up the hill was an adventure in itself.  When we passed a sign stating “End of County Maintained Road,” we quickly realized that no one maintains this road.  There were more ruts than road in many places.  Even so, it’s a great way to get into Topanga State Park and the trails–no parking fee and the shortest trail into this part of the park.

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There aren’t a lot of blossoming flowers along the trail this time of the year.  This was one of the exceptions.  I enjoyed the Cheney Trail.  Today was the first time I hiked it.  I was expecting a much steeper trail; there is a good elevation gain, but it’s not bad.

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At the intersection of the Cheney Trail and the Backbone, we found an interesting trail sign.  We’ve never seen one like it–trail names, directions, and interesting icons.  We also had a very nice view of Eagle Rock from here.

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Because I had hiked the part of the BBT in August, I didn’t need any of the caches between Cheney and the Hub.  However, Don needed a few and we picked them up as we headed toward the Hub.

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Once we left the Hub, the geocaching began in earnest.  There are a bunch along the trail.  Perhaps too many.  The challenge cache, Spinal Tap, may be one reason why there are so many caches along the Backbone Trail.  The challenge requires the geocacher to find all the caches within 250 feet of the approximately 70-mile Backbone Trail.  The one exception is for new caches.  A cache isn’t required until 90 days after it has been placed.  This eliminates the need to rehike the trail every time a new cache is published.

I think saturating the trail with caches eliminates the need to return and pick up a new cache.  So the BBT is now a long power trail, with caches every 528 feet or so, wherever caches are allowed.  (Geocaches aren’t allowed on National Park Service-controlled land.)  Unfortunately, trail saturation leads to the placement of caches in less-that-desirable locations, placed only because they can be placed.  One of my geocaching mottoes is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  Perhaps that would be a good motto to follow on these power trails.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with “trail saturation” on the BBT, only with the placement of some of the caches.  If properly placed, the more, the merrier.  As geocachers, I think our first responsibility is to make sure we are caring for the land and not negatively impacting it.  All our caches should be placed in a way that doesn’t create “geotrails,” doesn’t cause landslides, or cause other negative impacts on the environment.

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Both Don and I completed the Spinal Tap Challenge in 2009.  Today, we just wanted to pick up the caches that had been placed since our last time on this trail.

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At Yucca Yucca Yucca Yucca, we found what was left of a pelican.  I’m not sure why a pelican would be this far from the ocean, but apparently this one wasn’t too lucky.

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Many of the caches along this part of the trail are prescription drug bottles.  Don made the interesting observation that we geocachers must be using a lot of drugs to have access to all these bottles.

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We probably hiked 8 miles before we saw another person on the trail.  He was trail running, coming north out of Will Rogers.  Monday on the BBT was a great time for solitude.

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As we entered the sable area of Will Rogers at the end of the hike, we came upon an interesting sight.  The horses in the corral had just been fed fresh hay.  They had some mule deer as dinner guests.

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121008 with caches

It was a great day of hiking.  A bit over 9.25 miles and 29 finds for me.  Don got a few more.  The photo above and below is our track today.  The top shows the caches and the lower shows the trail profile.

121008 with profile