Central Coast

February 20, 2013

My daughter’s family came from Utah for a nice vacation from the snow and the cold. They were nice enough to invite us along for an adventure along the Central Coast. It’s always great to have a chance to be a grandpa.

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The first stop was the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach. It was also the first cache of the trip–Monarch Parking. We found several people using a phone trampling around, looking for something. We said hello, introduced ourselves, and learned that this was there first cache search. I looked for the cache exactly where it was hidden, I just didn’t look well enough. Which was great, because once I realized the cache was probably where I had looked, they were able to make the actual find.

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The weather was especially warm for February and the butterflies were extra active. They put on a great show.
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The next destination was the elephant seal rookery north of San Simeon. However, we made a quick stop at Yipes Stripes! There is a group of zebras pastured along the road. Unfortunately, the herd was smaller than I’ve seen and a bit far away for a good view. It was then on to the elephant seals.

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The elephant seals are a great wonder of the Central Coast. The current residents are a mixture of females who have recently given birth, their offspring, adult males looking to mate, and sub-adult males getting ignored.

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The official elephant seal viewing area is always crowded with visitors. There is a smaller parking area a couple hundred yards north that is a better spot to park. And if you want a more private viewing experience, check out the beach adjacent to White Rocks.

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Our rental house was between Stairing at the Sea and Cambria TB & Coin Motel. I found Stairing at the Sea and also found a beautiful area of tidal pools. We spent the morning exploring the area. Later, we visited a park where the Cambria TB & Coin Motel is hidden.

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The ammo box is an easy find. However, it’s hidden under a large clump of poison oak. Why would anyone hide a cache in poison oak?

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There are plenty of geocaches in the Cambria area. I had the chance to find a few others, but the purpose of the trip wasn’t geocaching. It was family time. And we had a great time doing exactly that.

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Hiking Happy

February 6, 2013

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For one reason or another, I haven’t done much geocaching in the past two months.  In fact, the 28 caches that I found today is more than what I I’ve found in December and January combined.  And it seems like forever since I’ve been hiking.  I have had my eye on hiking Happy Camp for awhile.  When the Come On Get Happy 2.0 Event was planned, it seems like a good way to get back to Happy Camp.  However, I was still too under the weather with a bad cold to make the event and the attached hike.  Today, feeling much better, I decided to get back in the hiking game.

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The day started out very foggy, but after the first cache find, the fog started to lift and the weather was beautiful the rest of the day.  I parked my truck at  Another Way to Be Happy, which is billed as an alternative way to get into Happy Camp.  It is; however, the trail leads to the overlook in the above photo.  It’s a VERY steep trail down into Happy Camp.  It’s a 180-foot drop.  It took me about an hour to realize that going down meant going up on my way out–when I’m tired.  It wasn’t that bad; but I think next time, I’ll park at the usual trailhead parking lot.

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There weren’t a lot of blooming wildflowers today, but the flowers that were blooming usually had some activity around them.  There was a beautiful hummingbird enjoying breakfast at this plant.  He was camera shy and didn’t stick around for a photo.

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The trail up the canyon is full of oaks and grasses.  And apparently mistletoe, too.

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Since I had already hiked the Happy Camp Loop, I had found most of the caches along the route.  Today, I was looking for about every third or fourth cache–those placed since my last visit.  Instead of stopping for a cache every 530 feet, the caches I needed were often 2000 to 3000 feet apart.  It made for any easier hike–not needing to stop every few minutes.

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I only had one DNF on the trail–Another Happy Find.  I thought the name of the cache was a bit ironic.  I spent too much time looking for this one only to be rewarded with a DNF.  But that’s geocaching life.

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The Happy Camp Loop is two trails–one low in the canyon; one high on the ridge–connected by a fairly steep section that climbs about 500 feet.  The first time I did this section, I was really dragging.  Today, it wasn’t too bad.  I think having caches to find breaks the climb up a bit.

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Once I arrived at the top, I realized that the 2 caches located east of the trail junction required some more climbing.  I almost decided to skip Happily Ever After and Happy Ending.  But since I’d come this far already, why not go for it.  Up I went.  Near Happy Ending, I kept getting buzzed by a buzzard–a vulture, actually.  I was hoping that I wasn’t smelling like I was dead.

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This is a view of the Happy Camp canyon from the ridge above.

 

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Along the ridge, there were several Ceanothus in full bloom.  From a distance, they appear like they are covered in snow.  Instead of snow, they were covered in bees.  I hoped to get a photo of the bees for Albackore, knowing how much he appreciates bees.  Again, they, like the hummingbird, were too camera shy to hang around.

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It was a great hike today.  I found 25 caches along the trail and had that one DNF.  Unlike my last visit where we found rattlesnakes at 3 consecutive caches, today’s hike was completely reptile free.  And it was human free (not counting myself) until the very end of the trail when I saw 3 women cross country runners doing some hill training.  A total of 10.4 miles in 6 hours 30 minutes.

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