I’ve been working on two very nice challenge caches, both focused on caching in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure requires finding all the active caches that were placed in the Santa Monica Mountains during the first 3 years of geocaching, that is before May 3, 2003. There is also an “all but two” provision. Currently, there are 64 required caches, plus the final. That means to qualify, you need to find 63 caches. The SuMMit Challenge requires finding a cache within .2 miles of 24 named peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains. I love hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, so going for these challenges was a natural.
When I learned of The Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure, I had exactly half of the required caches. I wanted to work on the challenge, but didn’t make it a priority. When The SuMMit Challenge was published, I had all but 8 of the summits. Several of the 8 summits that I needed coincided with caches that I needed for the Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure. I decided to work on both of the challenges together, with the goal of finishing as soon a possible.
Today’s hike would complete both challenges. I needed one cache on TriPeaks to complete The SuMMit Challenge and I needed Diamond in the Rough Returns and Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View to complete the Santa Monica Mtns History Adventure. Well, almost. I also needed Sherwood Forest………….at night! and tried to get it last night, but it just didn’t work out. I did, however, pick up Sherwood Forest………….at night!, with EcuaDeb’s help, on the way home from our TriPeaks hike today.
Debbie Checking Out the Ridge and Balanced Rock
This morning, EcuaDeb, OLdweeb, sissopolis, and I met at the Sandstone Peak parking lot and headed UP the trail to the Mishe Mokwa Trail junction. The plan was to do hike a counter-clockwise route. It was the first time any of us had geocached on the Mishe Mokwa Trail. Ken thinks he may have hiked it in the pre-geocaching days, perhaps 20 years ago. It’s a great trail, with fantastic views.
To get to Diamond in the Rough Returns, you need to leave the trail and take a route that is better suited for a mountain goat than for a geocacher. Ken, applying the wisdom of someone who knew what was ahead, stayed behind while Debbie, Christine, and I made our way up the iffy trail to Balanced Rock. We usually chose the right way to go. Christine stayed at the bottom of the final pitch and Debbie and I continued on to the Rock. After a few photos and enjoying the view, we headed back to the main trail.
We continued up the Mishe Mokwa Trail until we reached the cut off for TriPeaks. After a few minutes of climbing up the trail, Ken and Christine decided that today wasn’t the day for TriPeaks. Christine was still coming off of a terrible cold and the exertion just wasn’t helping her lungs at all. Debbie and I wished them well, then headed up the trail. Or perhaps “trail.” Tri-Peaks is a pile of Swiss cheese rocks. Finding the way through the jumble was a bit tricky, but the photos posted by I assume Faveral, the original cache owner, helped us find our way.
Trying to Figure Out the Path to Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View
Debbie at SOUTH APPROACH TO TRI-PEAKS
After working our way around and through the rocks, we aimed for SOUTH APPROACH TO TRI-PEAKS, a fairly well melted cache from the Springs Fire in May. Then it was on to Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View. When we arrived at the top, there was a solitary hiker enjoying the peace of the summit. He came up from the north. I don’t think he was too happy to share the summit with us and soon left. Other hikers arrived shortly after we did. Palos Verdes to Santa Barbara View is a decon container. Perhaps I should say that it is 2 decon containers. When I found the cache, we noticed that the last logs were done in 2010. We signed in, but the fact that the log was missing names we knew had found the cache really bothered Debbie. She checked in an adjacent bush and found Decon #2, complete with Ken’s wooden nickel.
fefe158 and His Dad, John
We also found a couple of geocachers–9 yr-old fefe158 and his dad, John. I always enjoy meeting fellow geocachers on the trail.
After a quick lunch, it was time to head down the hill. Debbie needed Buddah’s Belly? for the SMMHA and we figured why not go for it since we were so close. So off we went. And so did my energy. I did OK on the level or downhill, but even just a slight grade uphill just slowed me down, often to a stop. For some reason, I was just out of gas. But, slowly–very slowly, we made our way back to the parking area. Total distance was somewhere between 9.7 and 10 miles. Debbie’s going with 10 and I’m happy to agree. Total elevation gain: 2611 feet. Time: 7 hours 20 minutes.
It was a great day of hiking, even with the problem of the “dry gas tank.” I appreciate the efforts of paleolith and fastflyer for setting up these great challenges. I enjoyed finding the “oldies” and remembering how geocaching was done when I started. I enjoyed the challenge of summiting places that I probably never would have visited without The SuMMit Challenge. These challenge caches are geocaching at its best.