Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: A hike through the burned area around Lake Hodges

Musings about Geocaching

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A hike through the burned area around Lake Hodges

Although I can't log a find on my own cache, the "San Diego 'Historic' Cache Adventure," I really would like to find all the caches on that list. Fisnjack is also working on that list, so we decided to take a drive up to Rancho Bernardo to find "Number One Son" and "Old Glory" Fletcher Point Peak." We drove to the park first, where we found a couple of well-cammoed caches placed by The Senior Sleuths. All the trails had "Trails Closed" signs, which was a bummer. We had driven a long distance and wanted to figure out a way to get to the caches.

We worked our way through nice neighborhoods where the vagaries of the wildfires burned down a few homes in the middle of the block where all the other houses look normal, with their well-manicured lawns and perfect landscaping. Cleanup crews were working and had cleared some of the lots of debris, but other lots were untouched since the fires raged. All that remained was a tangled pile of debris with only brick fireplaces still standing . . .

As we routed up the streets, I saw a little treasure chest on my GPSr, so we checked the cache in the Palm. It was a short Multi-cache by Shandon. After working out the numbers, we discovered the final was only 500 feet away. We walked down the narrow trail through green iceplant into a canyon that had been scorched by the fire. We were surprised at the devastation because none of the houses on the streets had burned.

The people who live in the houses above the canyon must feel very blessed to still have their homes.

At GZ, the palm tree that hid the container was scorched. The palm skirs that surrounded the trunk must have burned spectacularly.

One of the recent finders of this cache replaced what he thought was a missing container. No doubt it got lost in all the palm fronds, but now there were two scorched containers with only ashes inside.

Since the fires raged through here just over a month ago, and since we haven't had any rain, I was surprised at the new growth emerging in the canyon.

After we replaced the log in one of the tins, we rehid the container under a couple of rocks next to the tree. We walked back to the car and worked our way up, up, up, driving past one of the apartment complexes that burned during the fires. That was one of the places the news covered because it affected so many people. The other buildings in that complex were untouched.

Finally we got to a place where we could access a power line road and another road we hoped would give us access to "Number One Son" and ""Old Glory" Fletcher Point Peak."

The landscape we walked through was a moonscape of bare ground and black ash.

Since I had never been there before, I didn't have any idea what it looked like previously, but I'm sure it was normal, impenetrable, dense chapparal. It is hard to believe the area, which now looked like a desert, was once solidly covered with vegetation.

We got to the top of a hill and looked down towards the reservoir. Neither one of us expected we would have to lose that much elevation to get to our goals . . .

Once we made the steep descent, as we were walking across the level penisula, fisnjack said, "Look at that." I glance over at two rocks and a squarish shape and didn't recognize what I was looking at until I got closer. It was an ammo can, with the Geocaching sticker.

Since neither of us had it in our GPS units, I thought it was either an Archived or Disabled cache. It never crossed my mind that is was a Puzzle cache by FlagMan, "Mont-Saint-Michel."

Inside the can was another tin, but something had melted so completely we couldn't get anything out to check it, although I tried, and got my hands black and sticky with the attempt . . .

We found the cache on the top without too much difficulty. I imagine it was much harder to find when the bushes were thick and healthy. The wind was blowing, but the flag was wrapped around the pole. I walked up and untangled it so Old Glory could fly free on Fletcher Point Peak.

Fisnjack took this picture of me right after I made the "adjustments."

After signing the logbook, we started towards "Number One Son." There was not much of a trail along the hill to the cache and that three-quarters of a mile was really tough at times. This was one area of slickrock exposed and accented by the ash-covered ground on all sides.

The Nolina plants survive the fires, although what is left behind doesn't look like a Nolina, but more like a pineapple.

The late afternoon light, and the high clouds in the sky, made the area look beautiful, the way the desert looks beautiful, to the "trained" eye.

A gorgeous sky behind some sycamore trees that will probably survive.

Today was another great adventure and I am grateful to fisnjack for wanting to go there and for driving from La Mesa, where I met him at the Park 'n Ride, up to Rancho Bernardo. It was good to find out the caches are still in place, but I'm going to change the requirements for my "Historic Cache 'Adventure'" because I don't think others should be attempting to find the caches while the area is closed and recovering from the devastating fires.


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