Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2005-12-25

Musings about Geocaching

Saturday, December 31, 2005

A four-mile hike to place two more caches in Jamul

I haven't been feeling well lately, but I've gotten out of the house the last two days to take long hikes. Thursday, I hiked part of the way up Mt. McGinty to replace a muggled cache. It was so well-hidden, I don't know how someone found it, unless it was simply by accident as they tried to scramble up or down the steep embankment near the lonely tree.

While I was up there, I put a travel bug I intended to drop somewhere during the Death Valley adventure into one of my ammo can caches.

Finally, on the way down the hill, I checked one of my containers, and discovered the latch was broken, preventing it from sealing tight. I replaced it with a pill container hidden in another one of my rusty cans.

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Since my gas gauge is showing only a quarter of a tank of gas, and because I really couldn't spend money on gas right now, after looking at the credit card balance after my Christmas purchases, I decided to go to another nearby location Friday. I put three ready-to-go caches in my daypack, including a magnetic keyholder and a well-stocked ammo can, and took off for the Hollenbeck Canyon area.

When I got to the trailhead, which is only about three miles from my house, I reset the trip odometer on the GPSr before starting out.

The day was warm and beautiful, although the air was hazy so the spectacular views that can be seen along the trail were diffused.

After walking more than a mile and a half, I came upon a "Little Rusty Box." Actually, it is big, but not like Night Hunter's BRB (Big Rusty Box).

There were piles of rocks nearby where I could have hidden the ammo can, but I thought the key holder would be better because it will force people to find their way around it and really look at this relic from a bygone day way out in the "wilderness."

I did feel guilty about placing the Micro there because it is a long walk from any of the trailheads, so I walked a bit further and put out the ammo can. Just afer confirming the coordinates, I heard voices. Off in the distance, I saw two men. There are many criss-crossing paths through this area, probably created by all the illegal alien traffic. These two young men were very likely illegals. We spoke broken English and broken Spanish to each other and they went on their way in front of me.

The sun was getting low in the sky, so I started back up the trail. It was easier going now that the weight of the ammo can was out of my day pack.

At the very top, near my "Canyon View," I took some pictures of the late afternoon light.

As I looked around, I noticed what looked like one of NightHunter's "Stone Ruinations." It was a rock wall at the top of the canyon. I walked around the trail and made my way down to the remains of a dam. At one time, it might have held water, but behind the dam now, it is full of sandy sediment.

I took a picture of the water-smoothed rocks below The "Stone Ruination" dam.

It was an absolutely beautiful day and I was glad I got out to see it. I still didn't feel well, but it was good to get physical exercise during the day instead of just sitting at home looking at the computer monitor.

When I got back to the car and looked at the trip odometer, it reported a distance of four miles. The elevation change was almost 500 feet to the location of the ammo can cache which I named, "Elevation 999."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A new Keen People map of my finds

Pictures from the tow truck ride from Death Valley to Ridgecrest

The good thing about riding in the tow truck was the opportunity to take lots of pictures of the fabulous scenery in Death Valley. So while the vehicle's owner and the tow truck driver talked amiably, I got out my camera and took picture after picture.

At the higher elevations, it was raining and even snowing, but in Death Valley, only some verga was seen falling from the beautiful clouds.

I really loved the clouds because we don't see such beautiful clouds very often in the San Diego area.

The sand dunes rise up from the valley floor near Stove Pipe Wells.

A distinct alluvial fan formed below a mountain characterized by distinct layers.

Our handsome tow truck driver took very good care of us on the long drive from Furnace Creek to Ridgecrest.

Terrible accident mars beginning of Christmas caching trip

Christmas weekend was approaching and I had an invitation to join smilinglady13 on a trip to Death Valley. She had everything planned and had already paid for the campsite at the Furnace Creek campground.

After some initial hesitation, I accepted the invitation. We hit the road at 7:00 Saturday, Christmas Eve morning. Along the way, we stopped for a few Geocaches, including "Boron Hilton" and "Mamaloo's Mammoth Run - Johannesburg" and "Lots-of-bushes cache."

On our way north on Highway 395, I was watching my map on my GPSr, looking for caches along the way. Just about the time I noticed a cluster of caches on the GPSr map, we saw a plume of very black smoke off in the distance. The closer we got, the more we realized it was a car fire.

Finally we came upon a horrific scene. A BMW SUV was nose to nose with a completely-engulfed pickup truck. The BMW had been traveling north at a very high rate of speed, passing on a curve, when it hit a pickup truck head on.

This is the section of road where the accident happened, along with the tracks from my GPSr.

When we arrived, there were several men trying to attach a tow rope to the BMW to pull it away from the truck.

We stopped and I got out to take some pictures of all the action.

In this picture you can see the yellow tow strap attached to the BMW. This was the second attempt to pull the BMW away from the truck. The first attempt we saw, the web strap broke under the strain.

After the BMW had been pulled away, there were flames at the front of the car that people soon put out with water and fire extinguishers.

I took some more pictures of the truck and then realized a victim of the accident was being helped by some people. Since there were no police or paramedics on the scene yet, I ran back to the Jeep. Smilinglady13 is a nurse and I thought they might need her expertise.

And they did. Even after the paramedics arrived, she continued to help as they prepared that victim, Dr. Jeff Novak, the local veterinarian, and the other victim, for transport by helicopter to Arrowhead hospital and another medical center.

Paramedics from the helicopter approach the accident scene

The three people in the BMW did not survive.

After the accident, we continued on our way, trying to get over the stress of the accident scene through the diversion of looking for and finding several more Geocaches before arriving at our Furnace Creek campsite well after dark.

Footnote: On our way back from the weekend, while we waited for smilinglady13's Jeep to be fixed in Ridgecrest, we spoke to some men who knew Dr. Novak.

I showed them the pictures on my digital camera. Even though one of Dr. Novak's family members was distressed that I was taking pictures at the accident scene two days earlier, it was actually a good thing my first reaction was to get out my camera and take pictures to document the horrible scene. These two men were able to see what their friend had been through and realize what a miracle it was that he survived.


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