Straight Arrow

December 28, 2013

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On the way home from our Christmas visit with our family in Utah, I stopped by Straight Arrow, an interesting cache highlighting some Americana.

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Straight Arrow is located about 10 miles south of Mesquite, Nevada.  After turning off I-15 at a truck parking area, you take a so-so road into BLM-administered land to a large concrete arrow.  The concrete arrow is what is remaining of a 1920’s ground-based navigation system used by air mail pilots to fly the mail cross country.

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The arrows were accompanied by a 50-foot tower housing a 5,000 candle power beacon.  The beacon attracted the pilot’s attention and the arrow pointed the way he should fly.  More information about the system can be found at the National Postal Museum website here.

Straight Arrow is an example of what I like best about geocaching:  a cache that takes you to an interesting/beautiful/historical/unusual place that you might never otherwise find.  Thanks, Baad Daata, for bringing us here.


Christmas Caching

December 24, 2013

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Yesterday, while visiting my son and daughter-in-law and our brand new granddaughter, Olivia, I decided to see if there was a nearby cache.  There was a cache about 350 feet away, so I went for a quick walk.  The hint was “LPC,” so I figured it would be an easy find.  What I found was a light pole cover covered with snow and blocked with a pile of snow that had been scraped up by the snow plow.  It isn’t quite Simi Valley winter caching, is it?

Once I waded into the snow drift, I found an empty finding spot.  Then, a bit belatedly, I checked the latest logs.  The cache has been MIA since October.  Figuring that I had earned it, I replaced the cache and declared the find.

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I have a series of caches located on a walking/biking trail behind my daughter and son-in-law’s home in Lehi, Utah dedicated to my
grandchildren. Each grandchild has his or her own geocache. Since our last visit, Olivia was born and today was the day to place her cache.  The snow had stopped falling during the night and the weather warmed up.  The snow was a bit slushy this morning as I walked to the hiding spot.  But the day was clear and beautiful.  The cache is hidden in the fork of the tree pictured above, hopefully high enough to be found during the winter.

I’m not sure if I will be doing anymore Christmas caching while in Utah.  The snow adds a difficulty factor to even easy hides.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Conejo Mountain

December 13, 2013

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In my attempt to qualify for The SuMMit Challenge, today I hiked Conejo Mountain for the first time.  There are three qualifying caches for this peak and I wanted to get at least one of them.

The Springs Fire in May started on the north slope of Conejo Mountain.  By the time it was done, it had burned more than 24,000 acres.  Conejo Mountain got it pretty good before the fire moved south and burned most of Mugu State Park.

As I began my hike, I had a pretty good idea of where I was going and what I was in for by the view above.  From the trailhead, the Edison Road climbs about 1200 feet in about 2 miles.  If you continue on to the top of the peak, there is additional climbing, but that wasn’t in the plans for today.

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Most of the caches along the road were placed by Gordon (agouracharger) in 2004.  I’m pretty sure that I didn’t find any of the original caches.  The fire found them first.  antiflash replaced many of the original caches in September and I’m guessing that is what I found today.  Several of Gordon’s hints refer to bushes (in the bush, under the bush, etc.)  The photo above is a good representation of what the bushes look like now.

Panorama2A view to the southwest, toward the coast

As I climbed farther up the mountain, the winds became increasing harder.  I wasn’t sure if it was because of the elevation or because the winds were just becoming stronger.  When I arrived at the first qualifying cache, Edison power Cache #9, I decided to call it a day and make this the turn around point.  The 2 remaining caches were off trail and up some questionable slopes.  Since I was hiking alone, I didn’t want to risk any injuries, so I left the last two for another day.

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A View to the North

We have hardly had any rain since the fire in May, so the vegetation hasn’t yet had a chance to restore itself.  Any green is few and far between.  I did notice some severe erosion and wondered how the people at the bottom of the hill will deal with it once the rains decide to return.

 conejo 131213 trackHere is the track for the day:  4 miles, 12oo ft climb

Even though the scenery was more in the moonscape mode and the haze/fog limited the views of the coast and the Channel Islands, I did enjoy the hike today.  The goal was to get the required cache;  I found it and 8 other caches, with a couple of DNFs.


Trippet Ranch to Parker Mesa Overlook–Topanga State Park

December 6, 2013

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With the publication of fastflyer‘s The SuMMit Challenge, my interest in doing some Santa Monica Mountains caching has been renewed.  The Challenge requires finding a cache within .2 miles of the 24 named peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains.  When it was published last month, I checked my stats and realized that I needed 8 peaks to complete the challenge.  Tuesday morning, I found Briar Summit, the only qualifying caches for Briar Summit.  Today, I went for -Parker Mesa Overlook-, again the only qualifying cache for Parker Mesa Overlook.  2 down, 6 to go.

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I have a few parking passes that need to be used before the end of the year, so I parked in the Trippet Ranch parking instead of parking on the street for free.  The morning was chilly–at least for us wimpy southern Californians–about 40 degrees at 8:30 AM when I started hiking.  The skies were fairly clear and there was a moderate wind from the north.  All things considered, I enjoyed the cool rather than the 100+ degrees that can occur in the summer.

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My goal was to find -Parker Mesa Overlook-, but there were several other caches along the way.  Once I got hiking and figured a cache would be nearby, I looked at my GPS.  No caches–at least no caches along my trail.  The glitch was caused by user error–me–I maxed out the number of caches that could be installed on the GPS.  I hadn’t cleared out some old PQs from a couple of vacation trips.  While I thought I loaded the Parker Mesa caches, there weren’t added.  I kept hiking, hoping to get some Internet access on my phone so I could download the Pocket Query.  I did get some coverage and was able to enter the coordinates manually.  I’d already hiked passed half the caches and would have to get the caches on the way back.

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This was my first time hiking this trail.  I enjoyed the views–either of the canyons on either side of the trail or the Pacific Ocean ahead–the entire walk.  The only complaint–a minor one–was the trail profile.  UP, then down, then UP, down. Repeat.  But that is why I was on the trail today.  I really needed to get some good exercise and fresh air.  And I got plenty of both.

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Here I am at the end of the trail at Parker Mesa Overlook.  The view of Santa Catalina was blocked by haze, but there was a very good view of the Santa Monica Bay shoreline and all the way passed Los Angeles to the east.

I did get all the caches south of where I got their coordinates.  On the way out, I skipped 2 because I didn’t feel like going off trail and walked by The Pit Stop because I wasn’t paying attention.  I kicked myself when I got home because I need The Pit Stop for the Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure Challenge cache.  I guess I will be coming back to this neck of the woods sooner that I had planned.

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There weren’t too many flowers out.  Not really the time of the year for that.  I did see a few nice toyon bushes (see the opening photo) and this nice display.

131206 Topanga SP--Trippet Ranch to Parker Mesa Overlook

Here is the track of the hike, with a minor GPS issue at 2.25 miles.  The GPS turned off somehow.  The signs and map state that the hike is 3.0 miles one-way.  I did a bit over 7 miles.  The map is oriented with north on the left.

I recommend this nice hike.  I’m not sure if I want to do it mid-summer, but in the cool of December, it was very enjoyable.