Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2006-07-30

Musings about Geocaching

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Some night caching in Mission Trails Regional Park

Since I was going to be in town to return the remains of his "Treasure Trove" cache to Latitude 32, I was hoping to take the time to find some caches.

I called duganrm after running some errands and he met me about 5:00. We hiked into one section of MTRP where, on our way back from finding a cache I DNF'd last year, we saw this huge rattlesnake.

I walked right past the snake, but duganrm saw it and said, "Keep going, keep going!"

I did, and then turned around to take the pictures. The snake got a bit angry, but since they are naturally shy, it retreated.

I didn't have my "big" camera with me which is too bad because these pictures didn't come out as well as they would have with my Olympus.

We took a short hike to a T.R. Violin cache called "Can U C Me," which I have had on my watchlist for several months. It kept showing up in my "Last 2 DNF" filter in GSAK because it gets DNFs as frequently as "Found Its."

After finding a Puzzle Cache, we walked back to the vehicle and drove to Tuxedo Park. One cache was a short walk down a steep hill to the bottom of the canyon. The other cache was in here.

The walk down to the cache location, over enormous boulders, was challenging, and fun. It was just the "jungle" that was not so fun. After we made out way through the dirty, ant-covered vegetation, I spotted the cache first, something that doesn't happen that often when caching with duganrm because of his innate Geosense.

Much later in the evening, well after dark as we did a night hike to pick up a few caches along a loop, we saw this tarantula. Once again, if I had had my other camera, the picture would have turned out better.

The last cache of the night was unfortunately a DNF. We looked for a long time, but didn't have the magic to find "Surf's Up." Maybe the owner will send me a hint. That cache is a long way from my normal route. Like "Eye Hide You Seek #4," which I finally found last night, it might take a year before I get back to that location.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A reconnaissance trip into Horsethief Canyon

When fisnjack and I arrived at the staging area for Horsethief Canyon, there were several Forest Service and fire-fighting personnel there. I wanted to just put on my pack and start walking, but we ended up talking to some Forest Service people.

One firefighter was from Idaho and was also a Geocacher. But then, two Forest Service employees came over where we were talking and when fisnjack told them we were going to check on some caches, they said, "Geocaches aren't allowed in the National Forests." Grrrrrr! Timber companies can cut down the trees and mining companies can dig holes and leave behind toxic tailings piles and off-road vehicles and ATVs can create noise and air pollution in the National Forests, and these people are telling us we can't put out a few containers to hunt using our GPSr devices.

That negative conversation was not what I wanted to have before beginning our reconnaissance mission. It made me angry. Can you imagine how many thousands of caches would have to be removed from Forest Service land if what those two people told us was true, and was enforced?

Finally, even though they said the area was closed, we asked permission to walk down the road "to take pictures." They said "Okay." We walked down the road for quite a while, trying to scope out where Night Hunter's "That Man Stole My Horse" cache was. Fisnjack thought it was in the unburned area up the north fork of the canyon.

As we got closer to a direct view up the canyon, some other Forest Service personnel drove by. They also told us not to go into the canyon. After they drove on, we continued walking. Down the road, we got to an unburned area and fisnjack and I found a trail that descended into the canyon. We took it.

We walked through the unburned area in the canyon, hoping the Forest Service personnel had not seen us from their vantage point high on the road above us. As we continued on the trail, we really wanted to see the cache in the unburned area, but didn't. Fewer than 100 feet into the burn, we found the remains of the cache.

It is hard to imagine the huge hollow log the cache was hidden in disintegrated into nothing . . .

After packing up the container and its scorched contents, we debated a little about whether we should continue the .8 distance to "Latitude 32's cache." We decided to risk it and as we continued down the trail, we tried to hide when we heard helicopters fly overhead. Hiding wasn't very easy since most of the cover is gone now . . .

The destruction in parts of the canyon was total. Most of the oak trees will recover quickly. It will take longer for the other vegetation. This is what was left of a prickly pear cactus.

When we got to this tree, I remembered it. I had taken a picture of it last spring when I was in the canyon.

There was another cache in the canyon, and I thought fisnjack had the coordinates for it. Since we left in such a hurry, I didn't load the cache coordinates in my GPSr. I remembered basically what the cache location was like before, so we looked all along the trail as we walked through the completely scorched area. We did not see the ammo can. With all the fire fighters in the area putting out hot spots and flagging dangerous hanging branches after the fire raged through, they probably saw the ammo can near the trail and grabbed it.

After walking for half an hour, only stopping to take pictures and occasionally wait under a tree as another helicopter flew over, we made it to GZ for "Latitude 32's Treasure Trove" cache. We searched around the scorched rocks and poked the ash-covered ground with our walking sticks for a long time. I was ready to leave when fisnjack hit something with his trekking pole.

This is what was left of "Latitude 32's Treasure Trove" cache.

When I found it last March, it looked like this.

After recovering all the coins and metal parts of the treasure box, we loaded up our packs and headed back the way we came.

I took this picture of fisnjack walking along the creek that used to be completely blocked from view by a dense growth of shrubs.

When we finally got back to the staging area, there was no one there to arrest us. Wheeuuw!

I am sure they will officially close the area for "habitat restoration," but since it is so interesting to see what fire does to a habitat like this, which has adapted to fire as a natural part of succession, I wish they wouldn't.

Before it is closed, I hope others get a chance to see, and photograph, the canyon.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A FTF on "Cave of Ghost Waters"

I was sitting contentedly in my house, since it was drizzling outside, until there was a knock at the door. It was fisnjack. He was going to try to get the FTF on Indiana Ed's new cache and his presence roused me out of my torpor. While I got ready, he waited patiently for me. Finally, after I was finished my preparations, we took off in his wife's little car.

Once we got to the parking, we started off in the wrong direction, heading towards "Indiana Ed's Subterranean Cache." As I posted in my log, if I had gone by myself later in the afternoon, I would still be wandering the tunnel. However, fisnjack noticed the numbers were going in the wrong direction, so we turned around.

We retraced our steps outside the channel and then jumped back in at the entrance to the "cave." We sloshed our way through water, amazed by the rocks glittering with diamond-like water droplets, as we made our way towards the cache.

As we walked along, we saw some little bats. This guy only looked at us. A few others flew out ahead of us.

At the far end, we found this little frog in the concrete channel.

After taking some pictures from the vantage point at that end of the tunnel, we turned around and looked into the tunnel. We saw lights. As we made our way, moving quickly in case we could catch up to the other person, I didn't have to watch my feet as much since I knew what to expect. I got to see more of the ceiling and walls of the tunnel going in this direction. We tried to catch up with the other person, who was Second to Find on the cache, but they seemed to be in quite a hurry.

Although he was "Second to Find," he was "First to Log" since by the time I got home, I didn't feel like turning on my computer. I'm still not feeling as "well" as I usually do, so I wasn't very motivated to do anything, once the excitement of the day was over.

That remaining excitement included hiking into the southernmost section of the burn area near the Barrett Honor Camp to see how some of the caches fared. Three of the four we checked on were fine.

SMOKEY's "cAMMO Can" was the one that didn't do so well . . . although the ammo can protected the contents, since its cammo was gone, we thought it was prudent to retrieve the container before someone else came along and saw it. Since I know SMOKEY, and since I live nearby, I can get the container back to him easily.

This is the Valley Pillar with the scorched hill behind it. The cache hidden in the rocks was fine and I was able to rescue a TB that had been there since last May.

Along the trail back to the car from that cache, we saw this amazing hollowed-out tree.

It was a great day and I am indebted to fisnjack for driving all the way out here to get me so I could join him on the adventure.


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