Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2005-04-17

Musings about Geocaching

Thursday, April 21, 2005

WooHoo . . . I got my first First-to-Find today!

This cache showed up the other day and this morning no one had logged it yet.

The description made it sound like a challenging hike, and they were right. The trail goes up and up and up and up, with no level spots, until the last .2 mile at the top of Viejas Mountain.

As I started up the trail, I really wondered if I could be the First-to-Find. Would I see Chuy or QDman coming down the trail towards me? Or would one of them start coming up the trail behind me. About then I turned around, looked back and saw someone coming. Oh No! It looked like he had something in his hand . . . and he was *running* up the trail.

As he got closer I could see that he was holding a water bottle, and the other thing he had was pepper spray, "For the mountain lions." he tells me later.

What a relief he wasn't a Geocacher, but I was still concerned that someone was already at the top. As I got closer, that seemed like less and less of a possibility, but I didn't start up the hill until nearly noon. Someone else could have started up at 6:30 in the morning and been long gone before I even got near the trailhead.

Finally at about .2 miles from the cache location, the trail leveled out a bit. This unique structure can be found near that spot:

The trail is hard to follow at times because the area is recovering well after the fires and vegetation is growing over the infrequently-traversed path that heads north towards the cache.

At the cache location, there wasn't any long search like I experienced recently. It was just there. The coordinates were right on. I grabbed the ammo can, and boy, was it heavy. My heart was skipping a couple of beats as I opened the lid and got out the log book.

WooHoo! No entries other than a little note from Tom and Barbara on the day they put it up there, April 17, 2005. I looked through all the contents and decided on some beads. I left a container that can be turned into a "micro" container. I also retrieved the travel bug, "Ova Nova."

I took a picture of the GPSr at the cache location to see how far it was up the trail.

On the way down I took my time and took lots of pictures of all the flowers and all the recovering vegetation. It was so green up there. Hard to imagine what a black wasteland it was just a bit more than a year and a half ago.

At the top near this "windbreak" there is a benchmark.

The weather was perfect today, although it was typically hazy. I only took a couple of pictures with distant hills showing in the background.

It was a wonderful accomplishment to finally get a FTF. Maybe if I had figured out how to get the newest caches delivered to my InBox a little sooner than a week ago, I could have done this earlier . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Preparation for my Geocaching trip tomorrow

I need to make a trip into town tomorrow to run some errands, so of course I will try to find some Geocaches while I'm "down the hill."

I've downloaded my latest Pocket Queries and put them into GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife). I have 478 caches in the "Not Found" database. I will narrow my choices down by doing a Filter around the area where I will be driving.

In the GSAK program, I can see at a glance if a cache is temporarily disabled, and I can also get a "pictorial" view of the last few logs--in case there have been some Notes or DNFs left.

This program, and Cachemate on my Palm M500, are indispensible, in my opinion. GSAK will export, the Palm .pdb format, the specific caches I get in the filter. I can put those in their own specific folder in Cachemate for ease of use when I'm out on a hunt in one part of town.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Well, isn't that interesting . . .

The cache I couldn't find was found by someone else yesterday.

No one had even tried to find it since early March, and then two of us attempt it on April 17, and this person writes in their log, "Nice cache." Wow, after risking life and limb to get up there over eroded ground, through tangled plants bent on tripping you up, and climbing on rocks that move when you step on them, they write, "Nice cache." Even the non-finders of this challenging cache wrote more in their logs than this lucky finder did.

In addition to the hazards I already mentioned, there was another within a few feet of the 0.00 point--poison oak:

Actually "Nice cache." is a somewhat normal comment for this particular cacher, who had only found six caches before this, However, he wrote more that in their log for the nearby mini-Altoids tin cache. Funny!

Maybe this person uses this WAP Site to log their finds while walking between caches. That would certainly explain such brevity . . . However, if that was the case, the "Nice cache." log would have been there Sunday night when I was posting my five-paragraph DNF log.

Since the travel bug is now in this person's possession, I do not doubt that they found the cache, but I'll sure be curious to eventually see exactly where the cache was hidden. Even though I had a lot of fun up in that big rock pile, it is not an experience I need to repeat very soon. I won't be attempting to find this cache again until at least one other cacher, or the cache owner, gives the updated coordinates (since the cache was apparently moved) and gives another very specific hint.

I found one other cache placed by this cache owner. It was a very good hide in another big pile of rocks--but it was findable. If I remember correctly, my GPSr was within eight feet of that one. That one was memorable because it was the same day I saw this snake at another cache just an hour before!

On my way through the rocks up to the location of the cache, I really had my eyes open for another one of those guys.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I was "Second to Find" today and four for five

I woke up at 5:00, but I tried to hold back the obsession since I just went Geocaching yesterday.

Finally, about 10:00, I took off for one where I thought I might be able to get "First to Find." I thought that would be a cool milestone for my #100 cache.

When I got to the spot, I looked around for a while, then read the description again, then expanded my search. I bent down to look in this one yucca plant and . . .

I jumped a little when I saw who "Al" was. After all, this was "Al's Cache."

What fun! So, I opened the cache and for a second thought the paper only had the cache name at the top, but no, it was Flagman's FTF and name. But, Second to Find, after Flagman, who has more than 1500 caches to his name, and he was only an hour ahead of me. Boy, next time I have a chance for FTF and I'm awake at 5:00 in the morning, I'm going.

From there I found two more caches and then climbed way up to Golden Hammer. That was an incredibly steep hill and it was treacherous. At times the vegetation was so thick, it would get tangled around my legs. Once I got to the rocks, it was fun climbing on them. I looked and looked and looked for that cache, but finally stopped and took some pictures.

I was having so much fun, I climbed around on the rocks some more and continued looking for the cache. Actually, I think I was just trying to delay the trip down through all the vegetation. I almost sprained/broke my ankle on the first step off the rocks to the uneven ground.

After each one of these trips, I wonder when I won't make it out in one piece. Taking these kinds of risks can't always have a good outcome--although I hope they do.


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